The silver kings show up in July
Tarpon make a big move this month, traveling from Florida into North Carolina’s waters. Capt. Jot Owens catches them in numerous locales all around Wrightsville Beach beginning in July and through late September.
“These big silver fish are making their way up from the south. The long trip has made them hungry, and hungry fish are easier to catch, most of the time,” said Owens (910-233-4139).
Owens said with the keen eyesight of tarpon, anglers should opt for Berkley Pro Spec fluorocarbon in 60- to 80-pound test for their leader.
He uses Trokar AP circle hooks in sizes 8/0 and 9/0, and said anglers really need to be ready for a jarring strike and a hard fight when a tarpon hits.
“If you hook into one of these tarpon, hold on tight. They fight very hard,” he said.
Even when targeting other species of fish this month, Owens is always looking for tarpon, which often show themselves right at, or just under the surface. So he keeps a heavy duty rod handy. And he said this time of year, a tarpon can appear just about anywhere along North Carolina’s coast.
“I look for tarpon around local inlets, shoals and hard bottoms close to shore,” he said.
As far as bait goes, that’s an easy one. Owens said live or fresh, dead bait like menhaden or mullet do the job just fine.
“Fishing those baits on the bottom, and free lining them (with no weight on the line) are the best bet for getting a bite out of these beasts,” he said.
When it comes to having the proper rod to fight tarpon, Owens prefers a PENN Spinfisher VI 6500 and 7500, or a PENN 20LW mounted to either a PENN Rampage or Carnage II jigging series rod.
Sharks are also active
When the tarpon are especially uncooperative on a day he’s targeting them, Owens said the sharks are always willing to play. He said this is a great way to get kids involved, and even adults enjoy fighting these fish, which can test an angler’s skill.
“In July, the bigger sharks really start to show up. Catching these sharks on light tackle is always good for a fight,” he said.
He catches numerous species of sharks with a wide array of baits this month. And in a wide variety of places.
“I drift live and fresh, dead bluefish, Spanish mackerel, mullet or menhaden in 30 to 45 feet of water, just offshore,” he said.
Many of these sharks range from 20 to 100 pounds, and anglers always have the chance to hook into one even bigger, he said.
When specifically targeting sharks, Owens uses 7/0 circle hooks attached to 1 foot of 90-pound wire, and an 80-pound mono leader that is 6 to 8 feet long.
“You can free-line the bait and/or put a small egg sinker on to keep the bait close to the bottom,” he said. “You’ll know when you get a bite!”