The Tampa Bay Times
By Ed Walker
After a slow start, the 2021 tarpon season is officially here.
Yesterday we observed one of the most epic tarpon migrations I have seen in my 30 years as a tarpon guide. Early in the morning, on a remote stretch of beach, we found several schools of fish and started casting at them. There were no boats around. Then we noticed bigger schools of fish moving in from due west, which is unusual. Then more and more fish came. It was a sight to behold. By 4 PM massive schools of tarpon were continuously pouring in from the west and landing in this same area. There were literally thousands of tarpon flowing toward the shore from straight out in the Gulf for as far as we could see. Each of these schools would arrive at the beach then linger around for a while then slowly move either north or south along the coast. When we grudgingly left at 5 pm the fish were still coming from over the horizon. I feel lucky just to have been there to actually see the arrival of a significant portion of the Gulf migratory tarpon population to our shores.
If there was a downside it was that almost none of these fish would bite. In an entire day in their midst we coaxed just 3 bites, landing two. We fished live thread herring, live crabs, and even dead baits on the bottom. We anchored, drifted and even trolled only to be largely ignored by the masses. For all onboard however, just seeing and being among that many tarpon all day was the most memorable part of the experience.