Tarpon are a fish that have gained their own unique following, nicknamed the silver king, they are notorious for heroic leaps and reel screaming runs. Taking up residence in the Atlantic Ocean, they can be located anywhere from the southern Caribbean up to the United States and as far east as the west coast of Africa. The fish range in sizes from baby tarpon (5 – 20 lbs) that often hold within mangrove lagoons, larger resident fish (20 – 60 lbs) and then the giant migratory tarpon (60 – 200 lbs+).
Picking the right destination is key when tarpon fishing, depending on whether you are after numbers of fish or looking for that one giant. With this in mind we have singled out six of our favourite tarpon destinations around the World below.
Gardens of the King – Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba
Cayo Santa Maria is a land-based operation that offers a chance to target the big migratory tarpon on Cuba’s famous north coast. Jardines del Rey and UNESCO has declared this region a biosphere reserve. It is also referred to as Gardens of the King. This stunning area of channels, mangroves and flats has world class tarpon fishing with fish from 10 lbs to 40 lbs present year round and migratory fish 80 lbs to 160 lbs showing up in great numbers from March onwards.
Santa Maria is very much a tarpon fishery with other species available, but not the focus. For those looking to hunt the silver king then this is the spot you should focus on. It is possible to target bonefish and permit, they are normally found on deeper flats which are fished for from the skiff rather than wading. Wading opportunities are very limited in this area.
Accommodation for fishermen is at the at the Iberostar Ensenachos resort which is very comfortable and perfect for non–fishers as well. The season runs from March to September with prime time April to July.
Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth), Cuba
Isla de la Juventud, or the Isle of the Youth, in Cuba is the country’s second largest island and famed for fly fishing for giant tarpon. Sitting to the south of the mainland of Cuba it is a year-round fishery and focus on the huge chain of keys and islands that lead eastward. A wonderful array of pristine saltwater flats and deeper channels, a perfect place for tarpon of all sizes, big bonefish and good numbers of permit too. The best tarpon fishing is often found in the spring and summer months but the fish are resident and can be caught in all months. They are often found in the deeper channels that run like a highway network between the flats, but fish of 30-80 lbs can regularly be sight cast to on the shallow flats. Stretching eastward, the large area of marine park provides a pristine environment similar to that of Jardines de la Reina with a combination of marl, sand, and turtle grass providing a perfect environment for fly fishing from a skiff. Aside from the numerous tarpon, these flats are also home to big bonefish and good numbers of permit too. While you are in Isla de la Juventud, accommodations are provided aboard Jardines Avalon F1. The boat offers a unique and comfortable experience.
Tarponville, Costa Rica
For years, fishermen have heard rumours of large tarpon in great numbers on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, near the border with Panama. At Tarponville, tarpon averaging 90-120 pounds are consistently caught on by both lure and fly. Ten hook ups in a morning have been accomplished, and tarpon weighing over 200 pounds have been landed on a fly. Furthermore, the fishing waters are situated in a wildlife and marine reserve, which insures management and protection of the fish and habitat. Complete Tarponville fishing packages include accommodations in a clean and comfortable beachfront lodge located just outside the village of Manzanillo. Each room at the lodge has two beds, ceiling fans, a private bathroom, and a beachfront view of one of the most beautiful coral reefs in the Caribbean. Meals at the lodge will be prepared by local cooks and the menu will include such items as snapper, local fruits and vegetables, and other local delicacies.
Sette Cama, Gabon
There are very few places where you can target giant tarpon off the beach and the only one where you do it in the company of forest elephants, buffalo and gorillas. This is the longest and wildest stretch of coastline left on the African continent, and it is hard to put into words how special and unique Sette Cama is. The massive estuary system is rich in nutrients, offering the avid saltwater fisherman the opportunity to experience the thrill of targeting the unique species of West Africa with both spin and fly tackle. The abundance of large and aggressive game fish, all eager to attack a well fished lure, is complimented by Africa’s most pristine tropical rain forest which creates the back drop to this one of a kind saltwater fishing experience.
Tarpon Town Lodge – Campeche, Mexico
Tarpon Town Lodge, in the heart of the historic district of Campeche, is a perfect base from which to explore the prolific tarpon fishing around the north east shore of the Bay of Campeche. This mangrove preserve holds tarpon in the weight range of five to 40lb with an average of 10 to 12lb. The different areas around the Bay of Campeche offer a range of casting opportunities, from targeting baby tarpon against the mangroves to patrolling offshore turtlegrass banks holding schools of packed juvenile tarpon. The lodge is an old family home has been converted into comfortable accommodation, comprising three double rooms with space for up to six guests. Each room has two full size beds and an ample private bathroom. Guest can also enjoy two private courtyards with manicured gardens, pool, and comfortable patio chairs.
Tarpon Cay Lodge, Mexico
Tarpon Cay Lodge is located in the northern part of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in the small coastal port of Rio Lagartos. The lodge sits on a marine reserve and offers anglers excellent opportunities at catching baby tarpon. For anglers specifically targeting baby tarpon, this is one the best fisheries in the world. The tarpon generally range from five to 15 lbs with the occasional fish in excess of 20 lbs. Migratory tarpon can occasionally be found as well as barracuda, jacks and snook. As the fishery is primary in shallow water, often with surface flies, you will find fishing at here utterly captivating.
For more information about the various tarpon destinations we offer or for a specific itinerary and quote please contact us or call our office on +44(0)1980 847389.