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While Tarpon Springs is known as the “Sponge Capital of the World,” we promise that these waters boast much more impressive creatures than sponges. But locating these behemoths means venturing far offshore and exploring the Gulf of Mexico’s depths. So, if you’re up for the challenge and a battle of epic proportions, go deep-sea fishing in Tarpon Springs.
If you decide to uncover what the bluewater hides, prepare for an adventure because deep sea fishing in Tarpon Springs is exactly that. Not only will you enjoy the journey, but you’ll love your final destination and the sound of reels screaming while you’re fighting deep-sea giants.
Sounds almost too good to be true, right? How about we dive into the details? Keep on reading and find out just what monsters live here and learn how to catch them. We’ll also cover the best fishing spots and regulations surrounding your hunt. So, without further ado, let’s see what deep-sea fishing in Tarpon Springs has in store for you.
What are the top Tarpon Springs deep sea catches?
The hype is real – Tarpon Springs is home to incredible beings like Sailfish and Tuna. But apart from the giants, these waters are brimming with somewhat smaller but equally satisfying species to catch such as Snappers and Groupers. Here’s a breakdown of the most sought-after deep sea fish species in Tarpon Springs.
It’s only fitting to kick off this section with the royals. No fish are as prestigious as Sailfish. It comes as no surprise that they’re your ultimate opponents when deep-sea fishing in Tarpon Springs. Muscular and acrobatic, these beasts will put up a spectacular show for you. The moment you hook them, they go airborne. And you then get to see what the buzz is all about.
Sailfish are topwater predators, so more often than not, you’ll spot them swimming closer to the surface. That is your sign to treat them with delicious mullet or blue runner baits. Once they fall for your decoy, get ready to play tug of war with them. So, gear up with top-notch equipment and be sure to wear a fighting belt as a back-breaking action is guaranteed.
While extremely thrilling, chasing Sailfish is quite a feat. Mind that you’ll need a couple of hours just to reach them. We’re talking about 80 miles offshore only to try your luck at clashing with these titans. That’s not an easy task, but Sailfish are well worth it!
While not as intimidating opponents as Sailfish, Blackfin Tuna are admirable foes. These distinguished members of the Tuna family are known for their fighting abilities and finger-licking good meat. This is great news for you – reel them in and you’ll have a lot to brag about. Not only will you show off your angling skills, but you’ll also surprise everyone with an exceptionally tasty dinner.
First things first: let’s see how you should go about luring these sturdy fellas your way. While chumming works wonders (more about it later), Blackfin Tuna won’t be able to resist your live bait. This is especially true if you make them chase it. So, trolling with rigged baits is the name of the game for grabbing Blackfin Tuna’s attention.
It’s virtually impossible to go deep sea fishing in Tarpon Springs without crossing paths with Mahi Mahi. These photogenic brutes are globally famous for their looks, and mouth-watering bites. Similar to Blackfin Tuna, Mahi Mahi will not only cater to your deep-sea fishing needs but they’ll also reward your palate. An added bonus is a picture-perfect catch!
While fast and furious, Mahi Mahi aren’t the smartest fish in the sea. But this is great news for you because it means you won’t have to obsess too much about attracting them. Throw them squid or ballyhoo and get ready for the action. Also, don’t be surprised if you unlock a Mahi Mahi bonanza. They rarely swim alone, so if you catch one, a ton more will follow.
Snappers and Groupers
We just didn’t have the heart to separate these two, so they’ll have to share the spotlight. Snappers and Groupers somewhat go hand in hand as they do live in the same area. Unlike the above-mentioned surface visitors, Snappers and Groupers are primarily bottom residents. This means that bottom fishing will be your go-to approach to harvesting them.
You’ll also find them closer to the shore than that’s the case with Mahi Mahi, Tuna, and Sailfish. You can spot them anywhere in depths from 30 to 600 feet. Both Snappers and Groupers patrol the area around the offshore structures in search of food. They’ll eat just about anything, from small fish and shrimp to crab and squid.
You can stumble on numerous Snapper and Grouper species. Red Snapper are the most popular members of the Snapper family, but you can also catch Mangrove and Vermillion Snapper. As for Groupers, expect anything from Snowy, Yellowedge, and Scamp, to Calico, Coral, Red, and Gag Grouper.
You didn’t think that Tarpon Springs deep sea fishing list ends here? While we could easily rest our case of how incredible these fisheries are with Sailfish, Blackfin Tuna, Mahi Mahi, Snappers, and Groupers, the reality is that you can cast your line in these waters and end up with more species.
Besides Blackfin Tuna, you may test your skills against Yellowfin and Bluefin Tuna as well. Sailfish aren’t the only leaping giants around here – Marlin will make you break a sweat, too. And speaking of strong fighters, let’s not forget about Amberjack, Kingfish, and Wahoo. You get the picture – deep-sea fishing in Tarpon Springs is all about variety. But don’t take our word for it, hit the deep blue on your own and experience everything first-hand.
When can I go deep-sea fishing in Tarpon Springs?
Deep sea fishing in Tarpon Springs is a year-round activity. You can explore the Gulf of Mexico any day and end up with a catch or two. However, it’s important to know that some species follow a season and they aren’t available for fishing throughout the entire year. Others might not have a strict season, but their numbers can vary depending on the time of the year.
Mahi Mahi, Kingfish, Sailfish, and Blackfin Tuna make their way through these waters during the entire year. But your chances of landing impressive Blackfin Tuna specimens are higher in spring and fall. Meanwhile, Mahi Mahi peaks with the blazing summer sun while Sailfish prefer winter.
Red Snapper, on the other hand, are up for grabs during a limited time frame in June and July. The same goes for Amberjack – you’ll usually have around a month in late summer to go after them. So, if you’ve set your mind on targeting a specific fish, align your vacation with its season.
How can I go deep sea fishing in Tarpon Springs?
If you’re thinking about conquering the bluewater kingdom, know that you can’t do this on your own. Heading into the unknown to battle offshore monsters in the open waters demands first-class vessels, top-tier equipment, and the expertise of seasoned captains. So, deep sea fishing in Tarpon Springs means teaming up with one of many certified charter operators.
These guys specialize in big game hunts. Your captain will mix and match angling approaches until you hit the jackpot. But it won’t hurt if you go prepared and read a bit in advance about what you may expect. Here are the three most commonly used angling methods to pursue deep sea fish.
Trolling is the name of the game when targeting speedsters such as Wahoo, Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and Sailfish. These predators love to chase their bait, so trolling is an easy and efficient way of attracting them by imitating their prey. Plus, you can place multiple lines in the water and lure more fish at the same time.
The crucial aspect of successful trolling is bait presentation, or to be more specific, the speed at which you present your bait. Depending on your target catch, you’ll either employ high or low-speed trolling. Sailfish and Tuna are hooked on fast-paced runs, while Mahi Mahi fall for less intense bait movements that resemble jumps of flying fish.
Unlike trolling, which aims to outsmart game fish swimming closer to the surface, bottom angling (as the name suggests) focuses on the fish patrolling the seafloor. Snappers and Groupers are the most commonly targeted bottom dwellers when deep sea fishing in Tarpon Springs. You’ll usually find them around reefs and wrecks.
These guys love their dinner served at the bottom. You’ll have to use sinkers to lower your bait properly and make Snappers and Groupers notice your decoy. Both trolling and bottom fishing can be used individually, but you can also pair them up with some other techniques for better results. Bottom angling, for example, goes well with jigging. Go ahead, give it a try.
Chumming works like a charm with species such as Tuna. The finely ground bait is tempting to them and they can rarely resist it. And that’s all according to plan – you want them to fall for the chum you scattered around. You can either make your own chum or buy a pre-made one.
But chumming is rarely used as a standalone method. Its primary goal is to intrigue Tuna enough so you can get one step closer to hooking and reeling them in. So, make sure to chum within the casting range. And don’t worry – just chum and the fish will come!
Where can I deep-sea fish in Tarpon Springs?
Deep sea fishing in Tarpon Springs entails offshore trips far into the Gulf of Mexico. This equals open waters and endless possibilities. So, pinpointing an exact hotspot where to fish in this vastness is solely reserved for fish finders and experienced captains. We can, however, highlight three prolific areas. Take a look at them below.
- Middle Grounds. Middle Grounds stretch at around 80 miles offshore. These reefs are home to more than 170 fish species and almost 50 feet tall underwater pinnacles. It goes without saying that you’ll battle all the above-mentioned celebrities. So, make sure you have enough room on your boat to store all the trophy fish you catch here.
- The Elbow. This is probably the best region to truly feel what deep sea fishing in Tarpon Springs is all about. You can find it as far as 100 miles from Florida’s coast, so prepare yourself for an extended offshore trip. The area boasts hundreds of yards of reefs, wrecks, and corals. It’s the perfect hotspot for deeper bottom fishing.
- The Mexican Pride. If you’re up for an adventure but you’d rather give it a try with the fishery a bit closer to the shore, you may want to ask your captain to take you to the Mexican Pride grounds. This region is less than 50 miles south of Tarpon Springs but offers equally satisfying angling opportunities as its more famous neighbors Middle Grounds and the Elbow.
Tarpon Springs Deep Sea Fishing Rules
Since deep-sea angling involves longer offshore trips, you’ll most likely be fishing aboard one of many Tarpon Springs fishing charter boats. What this means for you is that your captain will take care of everything and you don’t have to worry about purchasing a fishing license. The same goes for fishing regulations as your guide will make sure the rules are followed.
In case you’d like to find out more about what species you may keep and how many of them you may return home with, check out the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s official website. They’ve outlined season, size, and bag restrictions for every deep-sea fish. You’ll also find information on what species you aren’t allowed to take (e.g. Goliath Grouper).
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Tarpon Springs deep sea fishing charters kid-friendly?
While charter operators welcome kids, not all trips will be suitable for the little ones. If you’d like to go on an extended 12-hour Sailfish adventure, then you might want to reconsider bringing infants aboard. Give it a try with a shorter 6-hour trip and see how it goes.
What should I bring on my Tarpon Springs deep-sea fishing trip?
Since your captain will take care of the fishing license, rods, reels, lures, and baits, you should only bring your personal items and food. While there’s almost always bottled water waiting for you on a boat, you may also pack your own refreshments. And don’t forget to wear sun-protective clothing.
What are the dates for the Red Snapper fishing season?
The exact dates vary and they’re announced a couple of weeks before the actual season starts. You can read more about the Red Snapper season in our annually updated blog or on the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council’s website.
Tarpon Springs: Where the Deep Sea Giants Rule
We believe that the long list of bluewater residents speaks volumes about how incredible deep-sea fishing in Tarpon Springs can be. Whether you’re up for a full day trip or an extended offshore adventure, you’re in for a treat. But don’t take our word for it – team up with a top-tier charter operator and see for yourself (and then tell us all about it). Tight lines!
The post Deep Sea Fishing in Tarpon Springs: The Complete Guide appeared first on FishingBooker Blog.
This article originally appeared here and was republished with permission.