Tarpon season in South Carolina is just around the corner. As the water temperature increases, huge schools of Atlantic menhaden will begin to arrive throughout the areas’ nearshore and inshore waters.
As the baitfish arrive, so too will the thousands of huge adult tarpon on their annual migration up the Atlantic coast to feed and spawn. Tarpon in the 100-200 pound range is often caught.
These tarpon are incredibly powerful, you have to feel them to understand how strong they really are. They are also amazing acrobats. Imagine the sight of a 150-pound tarpon, nearly 7 feet long, jumping entirely out of the water while flipping and twisting in an effort to get unhooked.
For this reason, it is common that more tarpon are hooked than are successfully brought to the boat.
The coastal areas south of Myrtle Beach are a tarpon fisherman’s paradise. Miles of undeveloped beaches, coastal marsh, rivers, inlets, and passes can be found in the areas of Winyah Bay, the Santee Delta, and Cape Romain.
These areas are excellent for fishing due to lower pressure and a healthy marine environment.
One of the most reliable ways to locate and catch tarpon is locating the massive menhaden schools. They can be found just off the breakers near the beach, near deep cuts, on inshore flats, or in deep sections of the area’s rivers.
The first step is to castnet a bunch of menhaden. Once the live well is well stocked with bait we will pick a spot based on the bait and tarpon activity in the area.
Often the edges of passes, near sand bars are a good location to increase the chances a hungry tarpon will find your bait.
The baits are rigged live on a large circle hook, with 50-80 pound fluorocarbon leaders, 30-40 pound braided line on a large 6000+ series spinning reel, and heavy rod.
This heavy gear is needed to catch the fish as quickly as possible to ensure the fish swims off strong to continue their journey to the spawning grounds.
Another option is to find clear deep channels and put out cut menhaden on the bottom. The tarpon will stack up in deeper sections of the river and will gulp up dead baits that they encounter.
Captain Jordan Pate, the owner of Myrtle Beach Guide Service, has years of experience catching tarpon on the South Carolina coast. From now until August-September the tarpon fishing will continue to get better.
Now is the best time to schedule your tarpon charter while spots are still available.