Inshore fishing for tarpon and snook is very popular in Florida. Fort Lauderdale has a great tarpon and snook fishery throughout the backwater fishing canals of the Intracoastal Waterway. Tarpon are an inshore gamefish that thrive in the warm South Florida waters. Tarpon range anywhere from 20 to 300 pounds and can reach up to 7 feet in length. They are commonly found around backwater canals with mangrove trees, the rocks bordering an inlet and docks with fish cutting facilities. Of all the gamefish in the ocean, tarpon put on the most ballistic jumping, head shaking and tail walking display of any fish that I’ve encountered. They are a sheer thrill to catch and for the ultimate challenge, can be caught on light tackle.
Tarpon feed on live prey such as mullet, pilchards, shrimp and blue runners. They can also be found catching an easy meal around dock fish cutting tables. They eat the fish heads and scraps that the mate throws overboard. Good luck trying to catch them around these dock fish cutting tables. There are always plenty of pile-ons for a smart tarpon to cut your line off against. We have some great inshore spots that we fish around our inlet, Port Everglades. One of my favorite inshore fishing techniques is to drift along the jedi rocks which line the inlet entranceway. Live shrimp and pilchards are deadly baits, especially just before dusk. Another great spot is down the canal for the power plant cooling station. The waters down that canal are a few degrees warmer than everywhere else and can hold some awesome fish at times. Lastly, there are some great inshore fishing mangrove canals, where mangrove trees line both banks down the canals. Little shrimp and small baitfish hide among the mangrove roots and provide easy meals for tarpon and snook. These inshore canals are great spots for some light tackle gamefish.
Snook are the other gamefish which we catch while inshore fishing. Snook are a back country fish that live in the same areas where you find tarpon: rock piles, mangrove tree canals and dock pile-ons. Snook are highly prized fish because of their cunning. They are extremely smart and can often outsmart an angler while hooked up. Snook have sharp gill plates which can cut the line, can run you to the bottom and cut you off, and are notorious for wrapping you up in the mangrove roots. An inshore fishing guide can be a great help in providing tips to successfully capture these snook. For snook, drifting live shrimp around a good area is hard to beat. Casting for snook is fun too. Casting retrievable rapalas and other lures is a great way to catch snook.
There are some really awesome inshore fish here in Florida. Don’t think that the big game fish are only caught deep sea fishing. Besides tarpon and snook, you can also catch other big game fish like barracuda, jack crevale, mutton and mangrove snapper, grouper and even sharks while inshore fishing. Inshore fishing is fun for anybody, but light tackle enthusiasts will particularly enjoy this fishing technique.