It’s been an amazing summer so far and this Tarpon fishing report for 2019 is about tarpon, redfish, and more. With over a month to go, I am on track to set a personal best. As of yesterday, a total of 100 fish were caught…finishing up the day with John and his boys, Jack and James. I have already surpassed last season by 2 fish!! Fourteen year old, Jake, caught his first tarpon on fly yesterday and jumped 2 more off. It was some insane sight fishing with tarpon laid up for acres……tails bobbing out of the water. It’s not an everyday sight but becoming more and more common here in Georgia. I have to give a huge thanks to D.O.A. Lures for making “hands down” the best tarpon lure for N.E. Florida and South Georgia tarpon fishing & E.P. Flies for making those Flies that tarpon just Cannot resist!
I’ve been guiding now for over 2 decades and “Damn that statement makes me feel old”. I have to say though that one thing I love about this job is how I continue to learn and be amazed year after year. I have found myself every year being more and more excited for the pelagic to show up in early Summer…….like a child waiting on Christmas. It’s kind of silly I know, but; our winter inshore shallow water red fishery has really declined. In the last 8-10 years, flats that once held hundreds of reds are empty so, until Georgia’s DNR (Department of Natural Resources) and the State make some major changes; I don’t see a recovery any time soon.
Cause from a guides point
It all started with the 2011 freeze which I believed pushed the majority of our fish south and offshore. The same freeze killed millions if not billions of: trout, black drum, Snook, tarpon, bonefish, redfish, stripers, and many other species from North Carolina to the Florida Keys. There was a complete closure of Snook in Florida and Speckled Sea Trout in South Carolina and North Carolina. Here in Georgia, we moved on like we always do….”business as usual”. Our spawning stock isn’t getting the replacement it should because less juveniles are making it to the adult “spawning” age which led to a bad circle of disaster. It’s really a shame more wasn’t and hasn’t been done.
Now, don’t take what I’m saying to be that there are not fish. Some flats still have small schools of reds on them. We just have to work harder and some days travel farther to catch them. Trout have made a good recovery. The state did raise the minimum size from 13 inches to 14 a couple years ago. At that time, the trout population was thriving, so; that’s good for them on making that change. I ask myself daily, “Why not make reasonable changes to the creel limits of red drum to maintain a healthy and sustainable stock for years to come?” In my opinion, 5 fish per person with no boat limits is just an irresponsible limit and management of our fishery.
We have a 14-23 slot and anyone who fishes for red drum knows how easy it is to clean out a creek in the fall when it is full of 14-16 inch fish. It’s part of the problem. I see boat after boat come in from Sep.-Dec. with 10-25 little redfish and it is just sick. What’s worse is that after they kill every fish in a spot; those same people will say…..”Well, I guess they moved on!!” They act like it’s an unlimited recourse and it’s not. I am completely against any kind of closure for the record but we have to do something to ensure a sustainable healthy stock for future generations of fishermen and women.
Back to the Tarpon fishing report
So, I can say one thing I’m happy about is that I have hooked every Tarpon but ONE….Yes ONE… on artificial lures or fly this year. Throwing the cast net and cleaning the boat after a day of bait fishing hasn’t been something I have missed. (Laughing) My clients and I have not had to deal with sharks, catfish, rays, and other unwanted critters while tarpon fishing either. All of these things do add up to action and bent rods but when you are trying to target and catch tarpon; they are just a waste of time.
This year was the first year, as many of you know, that I didn’t head to the Florida Keys to chase Tarpon, Permit, and Bonefish while leaving Capt. Rob to hold down the fort here in Georgia. The reason I bring this up is because I am normally in the keys until around June 1st. This year, I stayed in Georgia because rentals in The Keys are not easy to come by after Hurricane Irma and are extremely expensive now.
As I was moving through May; I kept thinking about a satellite tag that Bonefish Tarpon trust asked me to find. It came off a tarpon early and at a cost of over 3k; they were eager to have it back. It was lost about 8 years ago and it was a long shot to find with a contraption that looked like someone had made from the 60’s. I was determined to find it though because they offered to share the data with me and that’s like an inside look at a tarpon’s thoughts and secret life. Sound funny? Well, we found it and the data was amazing. Where and what that tarpon did was mind blowing. That fish swam over 50 miles up a fresh water river and back to the ocean in less than 30 hours! Thats 100 miles in basically a day. It also came right by my favorite tarpon spot in early May which was over 6 weeks before most anglers really started fishing for them here in Coastal Georgia.
Why did I bring all this up?
Well, I bring this all up because my client and I caught our first tarpon on May 20th which officially started my 2019 season. The question I ask myself now is: “Could I have caught one on the 19th or the 15th?” I guess next year will answer that question.
Future posts and videos
People keep asking me for more info on whats going on and how we are catching fish so I will be starting to do more posts and video both informative and just everyday life. Please take a min. and follow this LINK and subscribe to our You Tube channel.
Booking Your Trip
Remember that during the peak season, we book up fast. We suggest calling as far in advance as possible and not to wait. Booking several months out is smart and suggested from March 1 – September.
Call 912-270-7300 or click here to request more info.
Thanks for Reading and tight lines
Capt. Scott Owens