I am very fortunate to live and fish daily in the epicenter of the world’s best tarpon fishing hole during this edition of GAFF Magazine. So far, this year’s tarpon bite has been the best we’ve seen in years, and it’s expected to get even better through June. Daybreak begins onboard the Tail Chaser Charter Boat in awe as endless pods of 100 or more of these beautiful fish surface and gulp air in and around the pass as the sun rises in the background over the east side of Charlotte Harbor. Most of our outstanding readers have seen television shows featuring the spectacular tarpon fishery Boca Grande Pass has to offer, but rarely do you see the outstanding action that occurs throughout the day along our Gulf beaches from Boca Grande north to the Keys of Sarasota. The majority of my June tarpon charters play out along the beach, sight casting live crabs or threadfins from the tower of my versatile 24-foot Pathfinder bay boat. There are many advantages of fishing along the beach, but having an entire pod of well over 100 tarpon all to yourself is serene and truly hard to beat. The key to finding and hooking up with a beach tarpon is patience. Using a trolling motor along with getting ahead of a migrating school and turning off the big motor cannot be stressed enough. Another great tip is to use multiple slip corks freelined around the boat when you have tarpon schooling in the area. Hanging live baits around the boat under the corks with 8 feet of 60-pound fluorocarbon leader and a 7/0 Mustad Demon circle hook is a deadly technique when chasing the giant silver king.When not in pursuit of tarpon, my typical summer day begins guiding guests to countless snook under dock lights and area bridges well before dawn. Many anglers enjoy fishing under the stars without the heat and hazards of the sun. Night fishing is what I call “easy fishing,” typically producing 50 or more snook in two or three hours of sight fishing to mobs of hungry snook. Tying up to private docks and making excessive noise is a no-no, so be smart and you will have a great time catching lots of fish. Pitching live pilchards into the feeding frenzy zone is great fun and the easiest way to catch countless snook in this setting. Work lures and live baits utilizing the flow of current and work them from the shadow into the light, just as it would naturally present itself. While the majority of our local captains are on the hunt for tarpon, the pristine backcountry waters in our area are left alone to the fish. Translation: no pressure equals world-class, early-morning inshore fishing for big snook and redfish. It is not unusual to steer my guests into a backcountry honey hole on the way to Boca Grand Pass and throw a Bomber Saltwater Grade Badonk-A-Donk topwater lure as the sun rises. The sheer exhilaration of witnessing a big push of water and a giant snook or oversized redfish blasting the world’s best topwater lure into the air is extremely hard to describe. Cast the Badonk-A-Donk lure in their vicinity, give it a twitch, twitch, walk-the-dog and it’s FISH ON!Besides the aforementioned world-class fishing opportunities, we have a multitude of other species to target. It simply does not get any better than this folks.If you are on the hunt for “WOW” fish, this is the time. If you are considering a charter, I invite you to visit my website at www.tailchasercharters.com or give me a call (941) 270-7867.
Capt. Chris O’Neill owns and operates Tail Chaser Charter Services in Englewood, Florida (The Tarpon Capital of the World). Capt. Chris specializes in shallow-water adventures that put his clients within “tail chasing” distance of tarpon, goliath grouper, sharks, redfish, snook, etc. From April through August, it is not uncommon to hook a Boca Grande Pass tarpon in the morning, a 400+ pound goliath grouper before lunch, then end your day with a 500-pound bull shark. August through March offers world-class, shallow-water, backcountry fishing for snook, tarpon, tailing redfish, and plenty more. Capt. Chris is the founder and co-host of SW Florida’s No. 1-rated “live from the water and in-studio” syndicated radio show (Reel Saltwater Outdoors), broadcasting six days a week. The show has become a big hit for SW Florida anglers that want to get a real-time snapshot of what’s biting and how to catch them. His sponsors include: Bomber Saltwater Grade Lures, Pure Fishing, PENN, Ingman Marine, Gasparilla Marina, Minn Kota, Humminbird, Buchans Landing Resort, Freedom Hawk Kayaks, Sampan Screenprint and WENG/WSRQ Talk Radio.Contact info:Capt. Chris O’Neill(p) 941 270-7867(w) tailchasercharters.com(e) firstname.lastname@example.org(w) youtube.com/tailchaserfishing(streaming radio) wengradio.com