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Small Craft Tarpon Fishing

By June 6, 2017Fishing
A fisherman catching a atrpon from a round boat. The tarpon is jumping.

Tarpon season is upon us here in Florida. These silver kings begin their migration along the coast of Florida and can be seen rolling in big schools close to shore. This excites fisherman from all over the world that strive to check off that once in a lifetime bucket list fish. Their power, size and high-flying acrobatics are what keep anglers up at night during this, the time of the tarpon.

Long hours and patience is key when targeting poon within the shallow waters of Florida’s many miles of bays and estuaries. You’ll see large flats boats poling the shallow waters on high platforms watching for tarpon activity all throughout the bays, but what youll also see may surprise you. Small craft fishing is becoming more and more popular. These tiny boats can range from kayaks, canoes, paddleboards or the latest craze; the Roundabout watercraft. Fishing from these much smaller vessels is a whole different animal, especially when it comes to fishing for the silver king. So lets talk about what it takes when getting ready to go in to battle with Floridas trophy tarpon from a small craft.


First and foremost, fishing from a small vessel poses problems that sometimes arent as big of a concern than when fishing from a larger boat. When venturing out in a small watercraft, keeping an eye on the weather and water is one of the most important safety issues there are. Many of these small crafts are either human powered meaning they are being paddled or pedaled, or propelled by a small electric or outboard motor; it is safe to say that they are not very fast. Not only is watching the weather beforehand important, but keeping a close eye on it throughout the duration of your fishing trip is equally as important. Summers in Florida are known for pop up thunderstorms that can leave you in a bind in a blink of an eye. Having a VHF marine radio on board is a great way to keep tabs on unsuspecting weather and also offers a way to radio for help if needed.

Since these small watercrafts have low sides that often leave you in close proximity to the water, wearing a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is also highly recommended. Finding one that is cool and comfortable is the ideal way to ensure that you will wear it at all times. A flare gun, whistle, and a 360 degree coast guard approved light are other safety essentials to have on board. Always leave a float plan with someone at home. Let them know where you are going, what you are doing and when you plan on being back. This will help rescuers locate you quickly and efficiently in the case of an emergency. Accidents happen, so be prepared.

Roundabout in Choppy Waters Video


Roundabout Stability Video



Tarpon are no joke. They require tackle that are bigger and stronger than for most inshore species. Medium-heavy rods and a 6000 series spinning reel spooled with about 50lb test braided line and 80lb mono leader make an ideal tarpon setup. Many different types of lures will work when trying to entice a tarpon bite, but live bait is hard to beat. Pinfish work well in these instances and can be caught via hook and line or by a simple pinfish trap. If you plan on catching your bait, be sure to bring along a lightweight rod and reel with a sabiki rig and cut frozen shrimp. This will be your quickest method in catching baitfish. Don’t forget that you will need to store your fresh bait once caught, a small aerated bait tank will keep bait lively and ready. Hook one beneath a cork or freeline a live pinfish and await your tarpon.

Roundabout Watercrafts Livewell Video


Fly fishing is also a popular way to target tarpon, but again, size is key. Many anglers opt for a 10-12 weight fly rod with the appropriate reel and line to match. However, when fly fishing, you may want to consider some sort of line management system such as a stripping mat, to help corral your line.


With all the above mentioned gear crammed into a small watercraft, things can easily become a bit combobulated. This is where organization plays a significant role when targeting big fish from a small boat and is easily the single most important aspect when fishing. Most kayaks, canoes and paddleboards can be outfitted with different storage options to help make organization easier, but the Roundabout Watercraft already has that covered.

With four sub-floor storage compartments, everything can have a place. Safety gear in one, tackle in another and food, snacks, drinks and personal items in another, everything is always where it belongs and within an arms reach. With the 360 degree seat, you can spin to your desired storage compartment for easy access. If you practice organization techniques, your time out on the water will be utilized to its fullest capacity. When done with items, be sure to return them to where they belong. This takes out the guess work when its needed in a pinch.

Fishing for tarpon from a small watercraft can be very rewarding if the proper precautions and management systems are utilized and put into place. The options are endless therefore allowing you to personalize your craft to fit your particular fishing style and needs. Have fun, be safe and tight lines!


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