Tarpon Fishing Charters in Boca Grande, Clearwater and Tampa Bay Florida!

Choosing a Tarpon Guide

Tarpon are a special breed-the mightiest inshore game fish in the world. And being special, a specialist in finding and catching them is what’s called for.

Many guides run tarpon charters, but it is the guide who has made tarpon his top priority-his specialty and main pursuit in the world of sport fishing that offers you the best chance of success.

Think about it: Guides, their equipment and tactics have evolved over the years, and like doctors, they now specialize. You wouldn’t go to a brain surgeon for a heart bypass, would you?

The consequences of choosing the wrong guide in your quest for tarpon are not nearly as grave as opting for the wrong medical specialist, but if you are paying for a tarpon experience, you deserve the experience only a tarpon specialist can deliver. Otherwise, why go tarpon fishing at all?

Capt. Mike Manning is a tarpon specialist with two decades of stalking and catching the silver king under his belt. Capt. Mike is a proven tarpon tournament angler, and master of tarpon on the beaches, backcountry and the world famous Boca Grande Pass.


4,532 (about 650 per season) tarpon hooked 2010-2017
What a few people had to say:

I wanted to tell you how much we appreciate the time and effort, plus tremendous angling expertise you have provided over the years. Aside from all the tarpon you have put us on (dozens of fish, including my first tarpon ever), I want you to know how much fun we have just being there with you. Your boat and gear are always immaculate and first class. You always make our tarpon fishing trips perfect in every way. I think we have tarpon fished every Memorial Day weekend for the past 15 years! – Warm regards,

I’m from Maryland and I fish all over the world, but I always enjoy going Tarpon fishing in Boca Grande with Captain Mike. Whenever I go fishing in Florida I go with him. He has the skill and expertise to catch the biggest and best Tarpon. – John from MarylandGoing Tarpon fishing in Tampa Bay is as exciting as it sounds! Go with an experienced guide like Captain Mike. He understands how to catch Tarpon in Tampa Bay and Boca Grande Pass so it just makes the experience that much better. Each trip has been great! – Lisa from Clearwater, FLOnce you have hooked a tarpon, you are hooked for life! I’ve been Tarpon fishing at Boca Grande and in Tampa Bay for the last 10 or 12 years with Mike and I have never had a bad trip. We always catch fish. – Bill Smick from West VirginiaWhat can I say, Mike is a great captain, but more importantly he is a terrific person. I have been fishing with Captain Mike for 8 years and each trip has been loaded with action, fun and new adventure. – Danny from Buffalo, NY

Tarpon fishing done right

Tarpon My Way

Tarpon at the boat – mission accomplished

There are lots of ways to fish for tarpon in Boca Grande/Charlotte Harbor. They all have their appeal, but my way of fishing is fish stalking with lighter tackle and live bait during daylight hours. My way catches tarpon for my clients and provides a high level of excitement and satisfaction; it’s that simple.

Sight casting live bait on spinning tackle is not just exciting, but one of the most productive ways to catch tarpon. For those hunters out there, tarpon fishing is a lot like hunting. We start out looking for a school of what we call “happy tarpon.”  They are generally slow rolling, floating on the surface, or just finning. There is nothing like sneaking up on a happy school of tarpon with our trolling motor, and slinging a crab out and watching a giant tarpon sky rocketing out of the water 10 feet into the air.


Tarpon fishing in the peak of the Boca Grande/Charlotte Harbor season means lots of charter boats carrying clients are on the water. Unfortunately, many of those client-anglers have no idea they made the wrong choice for their charter captain.  I hate to see it, so DON’T BE THAT GUY.

Don’t be that guy stuck on a boat that doesn’t even have a trolling motor.
Don’t be that guy on a boat without live crabs in the live well
Don’t be that guy who booked a captain just because he has a couple of tournament trophies. Charter fishing isn’t tournament fishing, after all.
Don’t be that guy who fell for the “no-pay-tarpon guarantee.” The guarantee usually is that you will hook or jump a tarpon. It sounds great until you realize your guide stepped down to 30-pound-test leader just to get a bite, but the fish quickly cuts through the leader. My job is to not only find and hook tarpon, but ensure you land one.
Don’t be that guy who believes the guarantee means your guide will work harder for you because of a guarantee. In fact, it can be just the opposite – he won’t even try. I see it every year when a guarantee guide cancels your trip just because the fishing was a little tough the day before. He’s spooked by his own guarantee and the prospect of giving away a free trip, so you miss out while others booked with better guides are on the water catching fish
Don’t be that guy who booked a guide who only knows one way and one place to catch tarpon. Ask him where he plans to fish, and if he says Boca Grande Pass, ask him what happens if the fish are not there. Can he fish the beach, the harbor, the Hill?
Don’t be that guy who is embarrassed by his guide, because instead of finding tarpon for his clients, he follows reputable, fish-catching tarpon guides around in hopes the better guide will lead him to the fish. There is nothing more mortifying for those poor clients. I know, because I’ve seen it when those captains follow me.
Don’t be that guy who opts for a booking service thinking it’s the best way to go. While booking services do feature good tarpon guides, the downside is that many guides who have trouble booking trips also are part of these services, and there’s a reason they have trouble booking trips.


Capt. Mike Manning

Capt. Mike Manning is a tarpon specialist with two decades of stalking andcatching the silver king under his belt. Capt. Mike is a proven tarpon
tournament angler, and master of tarpon on the beaches, back country and the world famous Boca Grande Pass.

With nearly all of his professional fishing charters dedicated to tarpon, anglers can be sure they have chosen a guide who is laser-focused on the prize.  For Capt. Mike, it’s eat, sleep, and breathe tarpon every day from April to November. It’s his relentless passion and commitment to the silver king that makes Capt. Mike the right choice when catching tarpon is your goal.

Capt. Mike is well known and respected by his peers, the industry, the community and within his strong client base. He has been featured on several television fishing shows, newspaper articles, and is a featured guide writer for the St. Petersburg Times.

In addition to leading successful Florida fishing charters, Capt. Mike serves as a field consultant for Mercury Outboards, Andros Boats, St. Croix Rods, Berkley Fishing Line, Shimano Reels, Motor Guide Trolling Motors, Mirr-O-Lure, and 12 Fathom Jigs.

Capt. Mike runs an impeccably kept 24′ Avenger. The boat features a “tuna tower” for the advantage of spotting fish on the shallow flats from great distances. The boat is powered by a “state of the art” current year model, Yamaha 300. The boat is specifically and uniquely designed to fish the backwaters to the near shore reefs of the Gulf Coast. The “hi tech wonder” draws just inches of water, yet offers a full transom and adequate freeboard to safely fish in most any conditions. A high thrust electric trolling motor is utilized in stalking wary tarpon and a push poll is used to creep up on fish in shallow water. She comfortably and safely fishes 1 to 4 people. The boat is equipped beyond all Coast Guard standards. A VHF radio and cellular telephone are always on board.

“Call or email me and I’ll be happy to discuss the best tarpon charter option for you.” – Capt. Mike Manning

Call: 727-243-8918

Mail: 6030 Boca Grande Causeway unit 14, Boca Grande FL. 33921

Email: captmikemanning@gmail.com

My Boca Grande tarpon charters depart from the Boca Grande Guide Docks:
580 5 St East Boca Grande FL. 33921




“Call or email me and I’ll be happy to discuss the best tarpon charter option for you.” – Capt. Mike Manning

Call: 727-243-8918

Mail: 6030 Boca Grande Causeway unit 14, Boca Grande FL. 33921

Email: captmikemanning@gmail.com

My Boca Grande tarpon charters depart from the Boca Grande Guide Docks:
580 5 St East Boca Grande FL. 33921


Tarpon Specialist

Tarpon fishing chartersTarpon fishing charters Tampa, Clearwater, and Boca Grande areas of Florida are some of the best areas in the world to catch tarpon. Tarpon are one of the largest game fish that roam the shallow flats. The fish (also known as the “silverking”) are one of the most powerful fish, pound for pound, in the world.

Not only are they powerful, they make spectacular jumps. On just about every hook-up there will be a display of acrobatical jumps.There is nothing like it when bright silver “SILVERKING” weighing anywhere from 100 to 200 pounds clears the water by six feet.

We catch these mighty silverkings in several different areas along the West Coast. The large tarpon show up in the mouth of Tampa Bay in March. These fish move throughout Tampa Bay all summer long, leaving sometime in October. On our charters, we catch these fish several different ways. These techniques include sight fishing with artificial lures to live bait fishing with threadfins and blue crabs.

For anglers trying to beat Florida’s hot summer days, our night tarpon fishing charters around local bridges is a great alternative while fighting your trophy silverking.

During cooler months, juvenile tarpon can be caught in local rivers and residential canals. These fish range from 10 to 40 pounds. When using 8 to 10 pound test tackle these fish are real tackle busters.

later fisherman still flock to the well known areas where tarpon congregate on a seasonal basis. Fisherman still want to experience the unique trill tarpon provide.

Tarpon fishing has turned into an obsession with anglers who plan their whole year’s schedule around the tarpon season and tarpon runs.

It is easy to see why tarpon fishing is so addictive. Tarpon grow very large and are plentiful. Tarpon take a wide variety of baits, lures and flies. The fight of a hooked tarpon is one truly awesome experience in the world of sport fishing.

Tarpon are known for their initial jumps and powerful runs. Even with modern gear tarpon are strong adversaries and are not easily taken. They are legendary for their ability to throw hooks because of their bony mouths make hook setting difficult. Hooking a tarpon is like trying to penetrate steel. Combine this with violent head thrashing jumps some as high as 10 feet. It becomes very clear why tarpon are able to not only throw hooks but break lines and leaders. A technique which is a lean toward the tarpon when it is ready to break surface known as “a bow to the king” creates a slack in the line to help keep the tarpon from throwing the hook. In spite of the many challenging traits tarpon have catching a world class tarpon still remains a highlight of many anglers.

Tarpon/ Megalops Atlanticus

Ever since the first one was caught on rod and reel in Florida around 1885, the tarpon has been one of the most sought after game fish in the world. For years prior to that catch it was considered impossible to land a tarpon, many have tried and failed. The 93-pound tarpon caught by H.H. Wood of New York City made world news in the sporting industry. The race began then to catch more tarpon and even larger tarpon.

In 1898 Edward Hofe , a noted fishing reel manufacturer, caught a 210 pound tarpon in southwest Florida. He proved that very large tarpon could indeed be caught. The tarpon fever became an epidemic and it appears that there is no cure in sight.
Now over 100 years

Where to find tarpon

Tarpon range in warmer saltwater areas from Virginia to South America. They have a year round presence the center portion of this range, most notable in Florida. Tarpon in the upper and lower extremes of their range tend to migrate to reach preferred water temperatures. This explains why tarpon are often caught along well-established migration routes. Tarpon are long-lived species that can grow incredibly large. Many tarpon are over 200 pounds. With the current all tackle world record standing at 283 pounds, 4 ounces. There have been a number of fish seen that would easily top the 300 pound mark. The 300 pound tarpon is one of the Holy Grail of salt-water fishing. It is still sought by a number of fanatical sportsmen.

Small tarpon are found just about anywhere that warm water and brackish estuaries exist. Small tarpon are occasionally found in land locked lakes such as those found in south Florida. The fish are limited in size due to the lack of food available. It is not known how the fish got to those areas.

The Tamiami Trail in south Florida is a good example of prime habitat. The “Trail” as it is called locally was built in the early part of the century by a crew that dug a ditch from Miami to what would years later become Marco Island. The spoil from the ditch was piled next to the dredge to form the roadbed. The ditch from this project still exists today and is full of small tarpon. This is a great place for those who like to cast from shore and try their luck at tarpon fishing. Similarly the numerous creed and bays of the Everglades National Park have miles of mangrove shorelines and are prime spots to search for your small tarpon.

As tarpon mature they move out onto open water flats and often congregate in large schools. Bays inlets and intracoastal waterways in Florida are all areas that have a good number of schooling fish. These mid-sized fish are numerous along many coastal bays on the shorelines of the Gulf of Mexico.

GROUND ZERO for tarpon fishing is Boca Grande Pass on the West coast of Florida. This deep water pass is the primary opening into Charlotte Harbor and lies between the southern point of Gasparilla Island and the northern shore of Cayo Costa Island. Large amounts of water flow in and out of this pass and carry with it huge amount of food for the tarpon that arrive by the thousands. The fish begin to show up in early April and congregate in the 80-foot deep hole just off the tip of Gasparilla Island. Tarpon continue showing up in the pass feeding on the thousands of small crab that flow out to the Gulf from Charlotte Harbor. With the arrival of the tarpon comes the arrival of the tarpon fishermen eager to tangle with one of the great silverkings.

Boca Grande has become a very popular place to fish during this time. Each year seems to get more popular. It is a very exciting place during the tarpon season due to the number of fish in the pass. Schools containing hundred of tarpon will roll beside your boat. The atmosphere in the pass is electric when the bite is on with as many as 20 fish being fought at the same time. Boca Grande offers the best opportunities for anglers to catch a giant tarpon.