Key West Updated Fishing Report:
May 18, 2005
Tarpon Season 2005 Fishing this spring has been pretty great and compared to last season. Although tarpon have been not as strong as recent years for May, it’s been good and fly fishing for them is a great way to get them to eat when they are not feeding like crazy.
Tarpon can be found migrating from the Marquesas Keys all the way up the Florida Keys island chain. Typically the migrating fish travel along the oceanside flats but there will be layed up tarpon just about everywhere in the backcountry. Tarpon will hang around and move through the Keys for another month or so and then the rest will hang around in the shallower flats and channels throughout the summer.
Bonefishing and Permit fishing are still great. Lately my anglers have wanted to concentrate on tarpon fishing while they are here. I’ve seen permit on deeper flats while tarpon fishing this season but the majority of them are still offshore spawning for a few more weeks. The population on the flats has been stronger than I’ve seen in recent years.
The Palolo Worm Hatch is something tarpon anglers and guides look forward to during the Full or New Moon phases in May and June. This Atlantic Palolo Worm Hatch is one of the unexplained rituals in saltwater fishing and until you see it with your own eyes, you will not understand.
The Palolo Worm hatches from hard coral rock that mainly covers the bottom of the Atlantic side of the Keys. These tiny worms look like a red and white earth worm. They hatch and head for the surface of the water. The neatest thing is that they all travel in the same direction, towards the reef located offshore. Meanwhile the tarpon gather together and eat these worms. It seems to have an intoxicating effect on the tarpon and the only time I really hit a hard worm hatch, I could see tarpon rolling as far as I could see.
I’m sure there are more scientific articles about this worm hatch. I kept one in a glass of saltwater for two days. It just kept swimming in circles and eventually it’s red color faded. I have done some research on this ritual and the tarpon fishing that follows, but not many articles are written on it.
If you are fishing the flats this year in May or June and happen to stay out for the sunset, take a look off the beach and maybe you will see some tarpon shining in the water munching on worms.
September & October are spectacular for bonefish and permit. If you can’t make it down here in the summer, try our fall fishing. The winds are light and despite our hurricane season the weather is pretty nice.
Warm Regards from the Florida Keys