AMI Excursions Anna Maria Island Fishing Charters with Captain Nate Costello
Book Your AMI Tarpon Charter Boat Now with AMI Excursions of Anna Maria Island, Florida!

Book Your AMI Tarpon Charter Boat Now!

If you’re not familiar with fishing here in the Anna Maria Island area, then you might not guess that Sarasota Bay and the surrounding waters are annually home to some of the greatest saltwater sport fish period: tarpon.

These monster “silver kings” might be between 50 and 80 lbs., although full-grown adults (around 15 years old) are usually 100 lbs., and it’s not unusual to see them top 200. And believe it or not, they fight even heavier.

Better still, you don’t have to venture miles out into the Gulf on a deep-sea fishing boat to go after tarpon. In fact, despite their monster size, tarpon are primarily an inshore fish.

Still, even though you don’t need to go far to find them, you do need to plan ahead. Tarpon season is arguably the biggest, busiest time of year for Anna Maria Island fishing charters. If you don’t book early, you’ll get stuck on an uncomfortable boat with an inadequate captain who doesn’t know these waters well enough to put you on the fish.

Tarpon Habitat in Spring and Summer

Tarpon love relatively shallow, warmer, estuary waters—which is exactly the kind of haven they find in April and into the summer every year on the east side of Anna Maria Island in Sarasota Bay.

As our waters warm up starting in the spring, the tarpon move in and set up shop. In fact, just south of Sarasota County (and connected to Sarasota Bay by the Intracoastal Waterway), Boca Grande hosts world-famous tarpon fishing tournaments every year.

When and Where to Fish for Tarpon Off AMI

Spring is the start of spawning season for tarpon. Despite their preference for inshore waters, tarpon actually spawn offshore. That means we look for them on the outgoing tides, especially in the morning and evening. Longboat Pass to the south and the area north of AMI are both places where tarpon will stream out from the bay to head to deeper waters for spawning. And they’ll be looking to hunt and to eat the whole time they’re moving.

That being said, you can really find tarpon just about anywhere in Sarasota Bay, including our lush grass flats, and various places in the Intracoastal, too. People even successfully go after these monsters while shore fishing. Trust me, on my boat, we’ve got plenty of options.

How to Fish for Tarpon

You’ve got options for what technique, tackle, and bait you use for tarpon, too. Live bait, cut bait, and jigging are all highly effective. Tarpon love mullet as well as crabs and shrimp. And fans of fly fishing absolutely gear up for AMI tarpon season, too.

But remember, we’ll be using heavy test with our modest bait. You typically want at least 50-lb test on your reel, with at least a 60-lb leader to keep the fish from breaking off. Tarpon fight long and hard, and there’s nothing like the heartbreak of fighting one for 20 minutes and then feeling the line snap and the fish going free.

Tarpon are a Highly Regulated Game Fish

Lastly, tarpon are ultimately a game fish. They’re not good for eating, so we’re just out here for the thrill of the fight. It is well worth it to be able to tell people your tarpon story and show the pictures.

Keeping that in mind, tarpon in Florida are a catch-and-release fish. (You can purchase a tag for $50 a pop, per year, to take home a single tarpon as a trophy.) And whenever you plan on releasing a fish, you want to keep them as happy and healthy as possible—and FWC regulations make tarpon handling pretty clear: Tarpon over 40 inches must be kept in the water throughout the catch-and-release process. (Pulling them out stresses the fish and can cause internal damage.) So if you want the ultimate Anna Maria Island Excursion, then this is your company. Book your charter now, and we’ll have a tarpon adventure together.

Be sure to share this great article!
Article Written By

Nate Costello

Are You Ready for Your Adventure?

More AMI Excursion Articles