San Juan Fishing Charters


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Puerto Rico is a light tackle fishing paradise. Tarpon, jacks, and snook are the options available to you on a light tackle guided fishing trip. We generally use all spinning rod outfits with 10-15 pound rods for snook, jacks, and barracuda. When we are fishing for bigger species such as tarpon we fish 30-50 pound fishing rods. You are, of course, welcome to bring and use your own light tackle gear, but if you don’t have gear that is fine too. We can provide our light tackle fishing customers with Penn Fishing Rods and/or Shimano light tackle fishing rods. Depending on the species of fish we are targeting and the time of year, fishing light tackle involves using artificial lures and/or bait. So, if you are looking for a world class light tackle guided fishing trip, consider a tarpon light tackle fishing trip with us. We very much look forward to guiding you on a light tackle fishing charter in Puerto Rico that you won’t soon forget.

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Sight Fishing for Tarpon Helped by Surface Roll

Tarpon roll with mouth agape at the surface to inhale air which is held within the tarpon’s swim bladder. The tarpons swim bladder performs a bit like an air breathing mammal’s lung. Tarpon also breath by way of their gills. This may help explain the tarpon’s stamina, Tarpon are better able to keep their blood-oxygen level up as they rip through the water. The swim bladder breathing capability also allows them to cruise with no difficulty through stagnant, low oxygen baring water. Partially as a result, tarpon are perfectly at home in freshwater as well as salt. As a Tarpon fishing guide I have seen how these capacities give tarpon a broader range and access to more food sources. Tarpon spawn offshore in the spring and summer.

A mature female tarpon will lay more than 10 million eggs. At early stages of life, tarpon larva absorb nutrients. Tarpon larva that is carried into rivers and bays soon graduates to eating bugs and minnows. Fully grown, tarpon often hunt at night aided by huge eyes. Tarpon have tiny teeth. Because tarpon swallow their prey whole they don’t need big teeth. Adult tarpon feed on schooling fish and shrimp. Tarpon will pluck crabs off the bottom. An adult, healthy tarpon is formidable, but if a tarpon is injured, or sick or occasionally if they are on the end of a fishing line, they may be attacked by sharks. Attacks by porpoise have been recorded in fishing records.

Tarpon are not considered to be edible in most communities. Fishing guides stalk tarpon for the spectacular show they present when hooked. Tarpon are jumpers. Airborne, it is possible to hear their big gills rattle. Even a relatively small tarpon, two or three feet long, are exceptionally game fish. Despite their fierceness, wild tarpon have been trained to take fish from a human hand. Female tarpon are bigger than male tarpon. Biologists say female tarpon can live more than 50 years. Male tarpon may reach more than 30 years of age.

Live bait tarpon fishing in Puerto Rico

We specialize in live bait tarpon fishing in puerto rico and use perch, pinfish, greenbacks and herring. The basic live bait technique is to anchor our boat and free line a lively bait to areas we know hold tarpon. Sometimes the bait is weighted to get it near the bottom. Weights vary with the speed of the tidal current. Heavy weights can cause hooks to pull out. To correct this we use light copper wire to attach the weights to our line so they will easily drop off and not be a hazard when we fight the tarpon. Sometimes a small piece of Styrofoam is rigged as a breakaway float to suspend the bait. Tarpon are powerful and have hard rough mouths, sharp gill plates, and abrasive scales. For tarpon fishing leaders we use about 5 to 8 feet of heavy monofiliment or fluorocarbon line from 50 to 80 LB test. Tarpon fishing hooks will vary with the size of the bait and hook brand. A 4/0 to an 11/0 circle hook is what we like best. It’s important to rig the live baits in the most natural way possible. For tarpon fishing with live bait you should hook a perch in the mouth, greenbacks, greenies and mullet are hooked through the mouth either vertically or horizontally. An experienced tarpon guide will use various sizes and types of bait for the conditions. As you can see there are lots of variables to consider as well as other fish to catch while you’re fishing for tarpon. When we are tarpon fishing we like to keep a bait on the bottom and one or two baits free lined at different depths. For the best results we will use 3 or 4 different baits at the same time until we find what the tarpon prefer. If the tarpon don’t bite change your bait, change your rigging, change your leader or change the depth you are fishing. If that doesn’t work move to a new location.

Tarpon fishing with artificial baits

Although we specialize in live bait tarpon fishing in puerto rico we have had good luck with big top water baits and minnow imitations as well as soft plastic baits. For top water tarpon fishing casting big chuggers and sliders like the Zara Spook can be productive. For chuggers and poppers we like to use a “chug and pause” presentation. For sliders you can’t beat “walking the dog”. You can fish big minnow baits with a fast retrive and add a pause or stall to make the retrive more erratic. It is always a good idea to try different speeds of retrive depending on current conditions. Some of the best artificial baits for tarpon fishing in puerto rico are big soft plastics that immitate bait fish, eels and sea worms. These can be weighted to fish deep and are versital substitutes for live bait. We fish these baits slow and like to free line, dead drift them deep or rig them on jigs just like live bait. Casting across the current can also be effective.

Tarpon fishing rods and line

For tarpon fishing and smaller tarpon you could drop down to 12 or 15 LB tackle depending on the size of the tarpon. We have found Ande or Trileen Big Game monofilimant line to be good choices for cost and performance. Mamoi Hi-Catch or Diamond Premium is more expensive and is a good line as well as good leader material. You should also have some Florocarbon leader for the tough bite. We also use braided line and like Power Pro 30-50 pound. Our reel of choice would be a Shimano zaragosa. Penn, Shimano, Diawa and Fin-nor all make good 30 LB spinning reels for tarpon fishing. Shimano, Diawa and Penn make decent rods. We like a 7 foot rod.

Tarpon fishing tips

1. Setting the hook.

Live bait tarpon fishing in Puerto Rico will be done with circle hooks. You don’t need to set the hook hard with tarpon. Because of the tarpon’s hard mouth the best approach is to drop back about 10 feet of line and let the line tighten up or, for the inexperienced, just leave the rod in the rod holder until the tarpon is stripping line off your reel. Another trick is to put the rod tip in the water and reel fast! All of these tarpon hook setting techniques allow the hook to hit one of the three soft spots in a tarpons mouth, the corners on either side or the button in the middle.

2. Set the drag right.

Many anglers set the drag to tight for tarpon fishing. 20% to 25% of the line weight is a good rule. Remember knots weaken your line up to 25%. If we are tarpon fishing in puerto rico with 20 pound test line we set the drag at 4 to 5 pounds.

3. Let the tarpon run.

Tarpon are strong and usually give you a very hard initial run. When tarpon fishing often lines are broken starting the drag. While fishing with us let the tarpon run until it looses some steam then apply pressure. When we are fishing around obstacles that might cut the line we use heavier line and tackle, put more pressure on the tarpon and chase the tarpon with the boat.

4. Good knots.

Best knots for tarpon fishing would be a snail know for our circle hook and uni to uni to attach the leader to our braided line. For heavier mono we try a clinch knot or uni-knot. For joining heavy leader to the main line a surgeons knot is our favorite but a well tied blood knot or a uni-knot work. We make sure we pull our knots up tight!

5. Proper leaders.

A tarpons body and gill plates are abrasive and can damage line in hurry. A light leader set up for tarpon fishing would be 5 feet of 50 LB fluorocarbon leader attached to 15 or 20 LB doubled main line. For bridge tarpon fishing try 6 to 10 feet of 60 to 80 LB leader tied directly to 50 LB braid main line. If you use lead weights be sure to attach them with light copper rigging wire so they will drop off before the fight, they can be like bullets when a tarpon throws the hook.

6. Fight a tarpon right.

While tarpon fishing in puerto rico and you hook up with a tarpon be ready for a strong run and some jumps. This is not the time to apply a lot of pressure. After the initial frantic run start to apply pressure. The rod is for fighting the tarpon, the reel is for storing the line. Try to avoid fighting the tarpon with the rod high over your head. Keep steady pressure on the tarpon by holding your rod tip down and pump up, reel down, pump up and reel down. Use the rod to pull the tarpon to you without reeling, use the reel to pick up the line you have pulled to you by dropping the rod toward the tarpon and reeling fast. When the tarpon jumps let off pressure or “bow to the king”, this keeps the line from being cut on the tarpons gill plates and body. If you feel a strong run point the rod tip at the fish and let it run on the drag resuming pressure as the run slows. When you feel the pressure let off pick up the slack by reeling fast until you can put the pressure back on. It’s always best to fight a tarpon as close as you can without getting to much line out. This will reduce the chances of getting cut off and makes it much easier to control a tarpon. The most common mistake anglers make is not being alert and prepared for the power these fish have. Trust your drag and put plenty of pressure on these big fish.

7. Keep the tarpon’s head up.

When you get the tarpon close to the boat keep the tarpon’s head up so it won’t start another run. During the fight when you are gaining line keep it up. Pump hard and fast to control the fish. Learn what pressure is to a 100 LB tarpon and keep the pressure on!

8. Catch and release tips.

At Backwater Tarpon Fishing Puerto Rico we take the greatest care with these beautiful prehistoric sea creatures. These incredible fish were made for catch and release and we should do everything possible to preserve our tarpon fishery for the generations to come. For live bait tarpon fishing circle hooks are the best for releasing tarpon unharmed. Don’t let the tarpon run too long with the live bait before setting the hook and try not to fight a tarpon so long that it becomes exhausted. We release the tarpon at the side of the boat without lifting them out of the water. Lifting a tarpon or bringing a tarpon aboard for a photograph will kill it. Wear gloves to leader and handle a tarpon. You can leave the tarpon in the water and grab the lower jaw with a gloved hand to remove a hook. If you can’t remove the hook cut the leader as short as possible, the salt water will dissolve the hook.

All Fishing charter trips include a captain, live and/or dead bait, beverages rods/reels.

Also ask for our Fly Fishing charter! We currently carry the new Helios 2 Fly Rod! What a great Rod! Come test it out!


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Light Tackle Fishing PR Charter Rates

Half Day (4hrs) Light Tackle Fishing Charter

$350 – 1 person

$375 – 2 Person

$400 – 3 Person

$450 – 4 Person

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– 7:00 AM and 2:30PM charters available other times available upon request.

Charter includes:- Rods, reels, live and/or artificial bait, water, ice, and sodas.

3/4 Day (6hrs) Light Tackle Fishing Charter

$475 – 1 person

$500 – 2 Person

$525 – 3 Person

$575 – 4 Person

Reserve online now!
– 7:00 AM and 2:30PM charters available other times available upon request.

Charter includes:- Rods, reels, live and/or artificial bait, water, ice, and sodas.

Tarpon Fishing in puerto rico


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