The Hunt For Juvenile Tarpon (Everything You Need To Know)

Do you want to know everything about catching juvenile tarpon?

In this video, we break down how and where we target juvenile tarpon.

In this new tea time, you’ll learn:

  • Where you can find juvenile tarpon
  • The right gear and line to use for juvenile tarpon
  • Different lure options
  • And much more!!!

Check it out below!

The Hunt For Juvenile Tarpon [VIDEO]

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We covered a ton of information so here’s a timestamped version:

  • 1:52 – Where you may find juvenile tarpon
  • 2:56 – What areas should you specifically look for
  • 4:32 – Resident juvenile tarpon
  • 5:29 – Differences in appearance between juvenile tarpon and larger tarpon
  • 6:10 – Juvenile tarpon school up in the same size range
  • 7:09 – Take some time in your fishing area to look for tarpon
  • 7:44 – Tarpon food sources
  • 8:53 – The best lure to throw for catching tarpon
  • 10:16 – Differences when targeting redfish, snook, seatrout
  • 10:42 – Tarpon response to lures
  • 12:31 – Presentation and retrieve of lures
  • 13:09 – Jigheads and weighted hooks
  • 14:55 – Pay attention to tarpon behavior (How they are rolling)
  • 15:50 – Do tarpon need to come to the surface and breathe air?
  • 16:50 – Other lure options to try to catch tarpon
  • 17:49 – Tarpon are profile oriented hunters
  • 19:01 – Advantages of fly fishing for tarpon
  • 20:56 – Instinctual reaction strikes
  • 22:58 – Topwater lures
  • 25:34 – Leader choices
  • 28:46 – Rod choices
  • 30:13 – Hook sets
  • 31:23 – Fighting juvenile tarpon
  • 33:43 – Sweet spot to find juvenile tarpon


best tarpon tips

Juvenile tarpon can create some awesome, fun action if you hook into one.

It is all about the finesse approach and making sure all of your gear and lures are in order to form the best presentation possible to juvenile tarpon.

Be sure to remember to have your gear sorted and spots picked out because the chaos begins once you hook into these rambunctious fish!

Have any questions about fishing for juvenile tarpon?

Let us know down in the comments!

And if you know an angler who wants to catch more juvenile tarpon, please TAG or SHARE this with them!

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Steve Dupree
1 year ago

You mentioned that you felt that a more moderate or moderate fast rod would be appropriate. Luke’s article on soft plastics discussed how the moderate rods seemed to be weaker in hook sets with weedless soft plastic baits. My St Croix Avid Medium Fast ( I understand that there is no real standard with respect to action and power) was the very rod that seemed to cause issue. Given the balance between hook set and the juvenile tarpons nature of jumping and throwing the bait what specific rods would you suggest? I’m trying to find the balance.

Steve Dupree
1 year ago
Reply to  Justin Ritchey

So I already have the answer. Like you said I have to keep trying. Thanks

Pam Walter
1 year ago

Luke, fun video! Where and what month would I be able to hire a guide to take me out fishing for juvenile Tarpon? I have put it on my bucket list.

Philip Stoddard
2 years ago

Saturday I had the kayak out fish-watching in my favorite tarpon spot, a saltwater lagoon. The tarpon were feeding furiously on the surface against the shoreline. Today, I was rigged to fish and the 30 inchers were rolling farther out from shore, but not feeding. They wouldn’t hit anything I had, including the 4″ Gulp Swimming mullet and the Bugg tarpon weighted fly. Same time of day, and an hour later, the same tide phase. Cloudier today than yesterday. Any ideas why they feed hard one day and not the next?

Philip Stoddard
2 years ago
Reply to  Justin Ritchey

Thank you Justin. I have to get some 1/16 oz jig heads. I have weedless 1/16 oz pin-grip hooks that I use for shrimp when hunting bonefish in shallow water. I can try those next time I’m out and see if I get a hit. It’s so much easier when they’re actively rushing the bait schools.

2 years ago

I want to recommend using a Ned Rig. An 1/8 red jig head with a Zman white TRD. In late May, in the Keys, there is a small worm that hatches and the Tarpon really go for this. It’s about the size of a TRD and it’s also white and red. I don’t know if these worms are in other parts of FL, but it can’t hurt having a bait that is the same size as the small minnows and the size and color of this worm.

William Perryman
2 years ago

I’ve found 10-12 pound tarpon in a pool on Duck Key fed by a culvert and they jumped into the mangroves after being hooked and it was so much fun taking my nephews and we fished off of a cleaning dock WooHoo 🙌

Daniel kolk
2 years ago

#64 rubber bands cut into a strip and put on small hank brown jig head. Smallest you can throw. I fish these everywhere and sometimes soak the rubber and pieces in gulp juice. I use 8# braid and 12# fluro. Don’t land the big ones but hook up is way better than a treble hook.

Greg Latta
2 years ago

One other comment regarding landing them…. which can be a serious challenge. The fist several I hooked shook the lure on one or two jumps. Even bowing to the King isn’t always enough with rigid braid. Now after hook set I lighten the drag significantly to reduce tension on the jumps … then let them tire out. Works well.

Greg Latta
2 years ago

Hey a couple comments on tarpon fishing I fish for them off my dock. After they roll they generally go straight to the bottom so it’s critical whatever lure you are using is close to the bottom. I’ve had very good success with Vudu shrimp as well. It’s very much sight fishing. Need to cast on their nose. Of course nothing beats live bait in my opinion…. they will go out of their way for that
Best Greg

Ron Whetstone
2 years ago

I love fishing for tarpon! I have a few pointers to share. I fish east central Florida like Tony. One thing I would add about location is that if you find them active in a shallow area they are more likely to eat. Also tarpon is one fish that I will throw a bunch of different lures at. I have caught them on a ton of different lures. To many to list hear. If I have actively rolling fish and don’t get a hit on something fairly quick then I switch it up. Sometimes just changing colors can make them bite. I do have some go to lures though. My number one lure is a Rapala Twitching Rap, unfortunately they do not make it anymore. Its a balsa wood lure with no rattles. I truly believe that tarpon prefer lures that don’t rattle. I’m still looking for a replacement for this lure. My second favorite lure is DOA’s Terror Eyz in the regular and tiny sizes. Rootbeer and purple for colors. These things straight up catch tarpon of all sizes. My favorite top water is a Heddon tiny Zara Spook. Its smaller than the Jr and does not rattle. I agree with Justin on the MirrOlure’s MirrOdine. When fishing it though I have had my best luck by using a straight even pull and pause then repeat. Another great bait is a live shrimp tail hooked and retrieving with a straight even pull and pause then repeat.

Ron Whetstone
2 years ago
Reply to  Ron Whetstone

P.S. If you fly fish they are a great target and love to eat a verity of flies. One of the best is a Gurgler.

Ray Markham
2 years ago

Spooks, MirrOlure Top Dogs, Rapala Skitterwalks, and all of the walking baits can be kept in nearly the same place without moving it forward, thus keeping it in the strike zone very long if you are working it correctly. Just twitch the rod tip sharply, but end with the rod tip back at the lure. The lure will walk in nearly the same spot. Use braid vs. mono, since mono stretches and acts like a rubber band. When the line stretches it wants to come back to the same length, thus propelling the lure in a forward motion. You can still do it with mono but it takes a little more finesse.


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