Best Time to Catch Tarpon – All about Seasons & Time of Day

Popular in North America, tarpon is among the hardest-fighting species. Mastering how to land tarpon as a novice is a pure gamble. It takes many trials and errors. However, a lead that can make this not last long is heading to the right spot at the perfect time.

After prepping your combo and collecting a list of potential locations from your fishing buddies, what you need to know next is the best time to catch tarpon.

What is the Best Time to Catch Tarpon?

Ask a tarpon captain about the perfect time to comb the waters for this species and they will tell you. In most places, tarpon hunting is considered an all-year-round activity. But, specific seasons and times of the day will greatly influence your day’s limit.

Overall, the best time of day to fish for tarpon is in the early mornings and late afternoons especially in early fall, summer, and spring months. Tide phases are also a primary determinant of tarpon action.

Let’s dive deeper into this topic and prepare you for your next tarpon fishing adventure.

Best Time of the Day to Fish for Tarpon

There is a bunch of aspects that influence the behavior of tarpon from migration to feeding and windows. There has been an unending discussion between recreational and serious tarpon anglers about the time of the day to get the best tarpon.

I will briefly explain below to help you make a concrete decision for greater success.

Morning

Most tarpon fishing is done in the early mornings especially in the summer. At this time, the water is cool and there is very minimal overhead light. It is easy to get up to one and a half dozens of tarpon. If you targeted your morning spot right, they’d weigh between 60 and 210+ pounds.

Afternoon

Midday can be a great time to comb waters with deeper structures. Look for areas with sandbars and wrecks. For midday tarpon fishing, tides will greatly influence your success. In high tides, tarpon swim heading to the shallow waters for food. Avoid the high tides if you want to catch them in large numbers.

As water flows from the bays, identify channels. Tarpon gather in the channels and it will be easier to cat at them. Late afternoons of summer also yield more like the mornings because of reduced light and cooler water.

Night

Can you fish for tarpon at night? Yes. Select a perfect location and have a ton of patience. Tarpon love to congregate near certain structures for protection from the hammerhead sharks and bull. They also gather to feed.

Head to the sandbars, wrecks, and rocks causing drop-offs. Tarpon don’t find it easy locating food in the night. Using a fresh dead bait or live bait will yield more. Allow the baits to soak. This also gives tarpon enough time to spot the meal.

Stay away from lures is targeting them when there is a full moon. Fishing topwater can be successful but using live baits is preferred.

Best Time to Catch Tarpon by Season

Sometimes referred to as Silver Kings, Silver Sides, or Sabalo, Tarpon love to cruise in waters with temperatures between 74 and 88 degrees F. These aren’t seasonal species that is why you can hook them throughout the year.

Spring

The early season begins in March when temperatures are slightly above 71 degrees. You can get numerous hook-ups in early spring with rivers yielding between 20 and 70 pounds of tarpon. Head there in the early mornings. Late spring comes with the migration of Tarpon in some areas. Overall, spring is one of the best seasons to hook tarpon.

Summer

Early summer is a peak time for tarpon fishing. Head to the beaches for sight fishing. Towards mid-summer, the yields aren’t as bad. You might need more drifting at this time. Late summer is when the prime season dwindles. This doesn’t mean that you will always return empty-handed in August. Resident tarpon in most waters will be in slightly higher numbers.

Autumn

Tarpon fishing in early autumn is similar to late spring. However, the resident tarpon have the most action at this time. There is also little to no traffic for your chances of landing a good one are high. Head to the deeper water structures and bays. On some days, the beach is scattered with tarpon swimming southwards for warm waters. 

Winter

Head to the backwater canals and rivers in early winter. Though might not be much to land in December, it is a good time to prep for the peak seasons. January has a few of them in rivers and others in power plants. In February, tarpon become sensitive to temperatures and will bite on warmer days.

Best Time to Catch Tarpon - Conclusion

When most active, tarpon can jump as high as 10 feet above the water. They love to rattle their gills during jumps and can grow into trophy sizes. They are edible though not as popular as trout, salmon, cod, and haddock. Their bodies are full of tiny bones making it difficult to clean and eat them often.

However, if tarpon is your favorite species to catch, the early mornings and late evenings are the best times to head out especially from spring to early autumn.