By Ed walker
Tarpon season is in full swing. A week ago there were some fish cruising the beaches but not as many as there are now. It seems the entire migration has now arrived. At that time numerous offshore boaters reported seeing huge schools of tarpon as far out as 120 miles from land. A few days ago we started noticing big bunches of them arriving at the beach from due west. These are likely new arrivals, coming here to join other tarpon for a month or two and feed on the abundant food supply that pours out our estuaries on the strong tides of summer.
Some of these incoming pods have not even chosen a direction to travel when they hit the beach. They may mill around in the same spot for a while making them easy targets for anglers. Once they begin movement north or south along the coastline they almost never change direction. North of Boca Grande, all the way to Clearwater, tarpon generally move south along the shoreline. Interestingly almost all tarpon found along the beach south of Boca Grande Pass are moving north. In other words, most tarpon that arrive on this part of the Florida peninsula swim toward Boca Grande Pass. When the biological and lunar timing is just right, giant schools of tarpon exit the pass and march rapidly to the edge of the Gulfstream over 100 mile offshore, where spawning is believed to take place. No one has ever actually seen tarpon spawning in the Gulf of Mexico which somehow helps maintain the mystique of our greatest gamefish.