For the next 90 days, South Carolina anglers can expect a good shot at hooking up with a tarpon, one of the biggest targets that frequent inshore waters during the summer. For most fishermen, large live baits free-lined or anchored to the bottom are the No. 1 technique, but for adventurous anglers, artificials can also produce. Fishermen who target silver kings in the Georgetown area have some favorites.
Capt. Tommy Scarborough of Georgetown Coastal Adventures, who has fished for tarpon from Florida to North Carolina, has narrowed his choices to three artificials.
“I use the MirrOlure Catch 5 Suspending, (the) Top Dog Topwater and D.O.A.’s Swimming Mullet,” says Scarborough (843-543-3280). “Even if they don’t hook up, getting them to blow up on an artificial lure is well worth the morning!”
Tarpon rarely go anywhere without having their favorite foods too far away; most anglers around Georgetown will find them shadowing huge schools of menhaden. When they are in a feeding mode, lures that resemble large menhaden or mullet will tempt a 100-pound fish into slurping up what looks like an easy meal.
Capt. Jordan Pate of Carolina Guide Service catches his fair share of silver kings every year, and he also prefers D.O.A.’s Swimming Mullet when he’s around feeding fish.
“The swimming mullet has good action with the hollow body cavity, and it is the size of the larger finger mullet the tarpon are feeding heavily on already,” said Pate (843-814-7900). “Tarpon feed more aggressively on finger mullet during the run.”
Additionally, Pate loves the fact he can cast D.O.A.’s Swimming Mullet very long distances.
“You don’t always get too many chances to put the lure or even a live bait right in front of a feeding fish. Being able to cast a lure long distances is critical,” says Pate. “When you are using live bait on a float or free-lined, your casting distance is very limited. A good-casting artificial lure with life-like action can sometimes be better than live bait especially when the fish are on the move.”
Capt. Steve Roff of Barrier Island Guide Service easily jumps 100 tarpon every year around Georgetown, and many fish are striking at artificials. He likes them because they can imitate a stunned or wounded baitfish.
“I use D.O.A’s BFL Swimming Mullet in natural color,” said Roff (843-446-7337). “I remove the lip and work them slow and stupid.”
But Roff will also use large Heddon Zara Spooks on occasion when a little bit of surface disturbance seems to bring the fish in.