a picture of Tarpon with Carolina Guide Service

Tarpon Fishing

Average Size: 80-100 pounds

South Carolina State Record: 154 pounds
10ounces (1987)
Season: May-Oct (best Aug, Sept, Oct)
tarpon fishing in south carolina

Tarpon migrate annually to South Carolina waters. Their much anticipated arrival typically starts in late May and many of these tarpon will stay until the water begins to drop below 70 degrees, which often doesn’t occur until the middle part of October. The best months for tarpon fishing in South Carolina are August and September during the annual Mullet run. This event triggers a large scale feeding frenzy as tarpon and other apex predatosr fish take advantage of the large ammount of mullet. On average, the larger tarpon are caught in South Carolina later in the season, and fish in excess of 130 lbs are common.

Fishing tactics for South Carolina tarpon vary from live bait, to artificial lures and fly fishing. Live baiting a medium sized mullet, menhaden, or other small fish is one of the most productive methods for catching tarpon. We will often drift live baits into a pod of feeding tarpon, or cast plugs and baitfish imitation flies. Tarpon diet consist of mullet, menhaden, pinfish, ribbonfish, croakers, crabs and shrimp.  Heavy tackle, strong drags and stout rods are required to land a fish quickly so they can be released healthy.

As a sub-tropical fish, Tarpon are able to survive in areas with very low salinity. Tarpon also have the ability to breath air as they “roll” on the surface. This unique ability to survive in low oxygenated areas gives them a wide range so they can be caught miles up the river as well as miles off the beach. Techniques vary from location to location and time of the year therefore having a  understanding of the local waters is helpful when tarpon fishing in South Carolina.