In 1885, the first tarpon ever caught on a rod and reel was documented in Southwest Florida. Anglers flocked to Florida from around the world to see if the reports were true—that a prehistoric silver fish weighing more than 100 pounds would present them with the fight of a lifetime. 

The tarpon became world-renowned as the mighty “Silver King,” known for its brute strength, majestic acrobatics, and relentless spirit, revolutionizing big game fishing forever. Today, tarpon fishing is the premier saltwater angling pursuit that still draws thousands of anglers to Southwest Florida and means big business for those who make their living in the state’s $9 billion fishing industry.

In April, tarpon begin their annual migration along the coast of Florida before heading offshore to spawn. While many eager anglers will venture to Boca Grande Pass, the renowned “Tarpon Fishing Capital of the World,” the dialed-in locals know to keep their eye on the neighboring estuary, Charlotte Harbor.

Charlotte Harbor is the second largest estuary in Florida, covering 270 square miles and directly connecting to Boca Grande Pass. Thousands of tarpon will congregate in these waters during their migration, keeping professional fishing charter and hopeful anglers entertained for months on end. 

Local guides, bait and tackle shops, and tourism rely on the annual tarpon craze to bring business to the area and look forward to the season as a holiday to be celebrated. 

Captain Josh Greer knows better than anyone the importance of the local tarpon fishery. A Florida native and fly fishing guide, Capt. Josh explains, “Tarpon fishing is the lifeblood of Charlotte County. Historically, that’s what the first visitors came here for and, today, much of the local economy is driven by the tarpon fishermen. Without tarpon fishing, Charlotte County would not be what it is today.” 

The Charlotte County seal once featured a tarpon, representing the importance of the species to the county’s heritage and economy.

If you’ve never felt the adrenaline-inciting thrill of reeling in the mighty Silver King, visit us in late April through June to try your hand. Visit our dedicated Tarpon Fishing page for more insights and find your next great fishing charter here. Prepare yourself for the ultimate saltwater fishing experience!