The Flats and Backcountry Fishing Report

Tarpon Release. Tarpon Release

A tired tarpon gives up the leader for a good catch.

April 23rd 2015 – The weather has been a godsend to us this April. Warmer temps and light winds have ushered in the summer pattern earlier than expected this spring. Just yesterday it rained for the first time in over a month. I was like, wait, whats that noise? Early in the morning we had our first Tropical downpour much like we typically see in mid to late may. So, setting the clock ahead a little has also adjusted some fish and their schedule which is plainly evident in our Atlantic facing beaches and on the flats East and West of Key West.

Typically this time of the year we are slam busy with tarpon fishing season. Nothing is different this year with our schedule but where we are fishing for tarpon these weeks has pleasantly changed. The tarpon migration has began a little sooner than usual. In my logs of the 20 years I have been guiding tarpon fishing charters with artificial baits and fly fishing the average seems to be around May 4th. back and forth a week or so. This year it seems to have started very early, like April 15th. Not a terrible thing just an adjustment to how we fish for them. More sight fishing techniques and stealthier approaches with lighter presentations in the low winds and calm waters as the fish make their way through the shallows.

Tarpon Release.

Here I am handling a large tarpon one of my anglers caught this week. 

Pro Tip
This tarpon season so far I have been fishing mostly artificial baits. Carrying a few live baits to be the “back up plan” my anglers and I have been working some special channel edges and rips that are holding a good amount of fish. The Hogy Lures  &” Original baits (black, White, Bally Smoke) are the ticket to great success. Anywhere from the swim bait none waited barbarian hook to the 6/0 barbarian .38 once jig head works really well. Adjustments depend on the situation and conditions. When casting at rolling tarpon try and have the bait cross the tarpons path and let them run into it. Book a trip with me or any of my tarpon guides here at Dream Catcher Charters and you are guaranteed a Hogy Lures Education. If you do not want to wait for shipping on your Hogy Lures just go into your local West Marine or tackle shop and they may have them in stock.

DID YOU KNOW? That most ethical tarpon fishing tournaments recognize a Leader touch by the fishing guide as a released tarpon? There is no need to handle every tarpon you hook. Hit the leader and call it a catch! Do it early in the fight and get back in the line up. Saves the fish and gives the angler more shots at more fish.. Win Win!

Tailing Permit

Tailing Permit on the edge of a flat. Nikon D810 @200mm

Flats fishing not only have tarpon moved in to the shallows but we also have permit back in large numbers from their yearly spawn to the reef. In my adventures out to the flats the last few days I have not only seen copious amounts of tarpon but also nice sized bonefish causing the flats and mudding along like they own the place. I was fishing a very low incoming tide a few evenings ago and saw some really good tailing permit on the edges of the flats. (see photo). I really can’t wait to get out there again and take some shots at some of the permit on the flats. One of my favorite things to do. On spinning rod I use crabs for bait for permit, crabs have been in short supply here in the lower Keys but I have some pinned up and ready to roll at a moments notice to go do battle with a permit..

Flats fishing can be done on either my traditional 17ft flats fishing skiff where I can take 1 or 2 anglers or on board one of our 24ft bay boats where we can take up to 3. Either way anglers have shots at the fish and make it happen. Fly fishing or spin fishing – Your choice…

As the days go on here at Dream Catcher Charters we are getting busier and busier. The backcountry fishing charters are definitely the most popular trip that people are booking. It makes sense to book a trip where you have a shot at Monster tarpon and be able to fish the shallows as well in a boat that is a steady casting platform and nice dry ride, two of our boats even have bathrooms. Add “fast” to that list if you are on one of my 24 ft Yellowfin Bay Boats. With these new bay boats we are able to offer the best of all worlds in backcountry fishing with Flats, backcountry and reef fishing if weather permits.. To do all of those in one day.. Check into our All In Wonder Fishing Charter where we do everything we can in a day of fishing.

May Is coming up soon. Its not to late to get on our boats.
We have some flexibility in our schedule and other fishing guides we work with to help you get on the fish.
Call Our Office and set something up 305-292-7212

About Capt. Steven Lamp
Dr Catcher Is - Capt. Steven Lamp - Owner of Dream Catcher Charters is a veteran Key West fishing guide for flats fishing, deep sea fishing, wrecks and reef fishing, and fly fishing. An expert waterman and licensed captain since 1986. A Veteran of the United States Coast Guard Heavy Weather Search and Rescue, I.G.F.A. Certified Captain and Standing regional board member of The Florida Fishing Guides Association