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Free Tips...

Tips To Help You Take More Tarpon

1) TARPON RIGS --You can buy a Mustad No. 14 circle hook, 4 feet of 150-pound test monofilament leader and an 80-pound-test barrel swivel and make up your own tarpon rigs. However, you must use vise grips to open a hook up until it's a U-shape. Then you must snell the hook on the leader.

Or, you can buy hook, leader and barrel swivel already made up for $2.50 per rig at Indian Pass Marina from Captain Greg Fletcher. Call ahead to (800) 852-1814 or (850) 229-6004 to speak with Fletcher or anyone at the marina to make sure Fletcher has the number of rigs you think you'll need for the number of days you plan to fish or will make them up.

2) NUMBER OF TARPON RIGS -- To decide the number of tarpon rigs you need to take with you on a tarpon-fishing trip, try to estimate the number of sharks you'll find in the pass on the days you fish. On a good day when not many sharks have come into the pass, you'll probably use fewer than 50 rigs. On a day when numbers of shark swim with the tarpon in the pass, you may use many more than 50 rigs. But if you plan to fish for tarpon for at least two days at West Pass near Apalachicola, I suggest you start with 50 rigs.

I know that seems like a lot of rigs, but to fish where the tarpon stay, you will catch some sharks. Too, you will break off and get bitten off by those sharks. I don't advise anyone's putting his or her hands close to a shark's mouth to save a $2.50 rig. Once you have a shark beside the boat and have taken its picture or looked at it, cut the rig off at the barrel swivel and tie on a new rig.

3) TARPON BAIT -- If you want to spend an hour or two looking for bait and if you can throw an 8- to 12-foot cast net accurately, you can catch all the free pogies you need for bait to fish for tarpon. But if you want to save time and money, you can buy fresh pogies at Indian Pass Marina at Apalachicola for $1 each with a minimum buy of $20. I don't know of any cheaper, faster way to get the bait you'll need with the least amount of hassles.

4) CAPTAINS FOR TARPON -- All the suggestions made above will help you if you plan to take your own boat and fish with your own tackle. But if you charter with a captain like Mike Parker of Destin, Florida, he'll have all the bait, tackle and rigs you need. You simply can get on his boat, the Silver King, fish, and get off the boat when the day ends. Contact Captain Mike Parker at 408 Lee Lane, Destin, FL 32541, (850) 837-2028.

5) DAYS NEEDED -- Tarpon fishing, just like any other kind of fishing, may mean you'll catch a tarpon the first thing in the morning and can leave at lunch. Or, you may fish all day for three days and not get a bite, although you'll see tarpon rolling all around you. But on an average day, you can expect to at least jump a tarpon (have one on) in two days of fishing if the weather cooperates. Call Mike Parker before your trip to learn how the tarpon have been biting, what he's seeing and how many fish everyone's catching. On the 1 1/2- days I fished with Parker, we saw more than 100 tarpon and only caught one and missed one. Few anglers want to spend more than 3 1/2-hours fighting a tarpon.

If you go with Parker or fish West Pass or Indian Pass at Apalachicola, Florida, e-mail me and let me know how you did at nighthawkpub@mindspring.com. If you get a big tarpon, send us a color picture that we can't return to you to Night Hawk Publications, 4112 Camp Horner Road, Birmingham, AL 35243. We'll scan the photo and include it on our website. Include the date you fished and where, the size of tarpon you caught and any other pertinent information.

* Tell your friends about our website.

* Buy one of Night Hawk's books, and John E. Phillips will personally date and remark it, if you so request. Browse both the Hunting and Fishing book sections.


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