Kingfish and Tarpon Surprise!

We had an interesting turn of events to kick off our first trip of the month (8/1). Nicolas, Juana, and Constantino joined us for an edge fishing trip with the ultimate goal of fishing inshore for sharks. As with any shark trip, the trick is to load up on fresh bloody bonito. We left the dock promptly at 5p.m. and headed out to bug light to see if any pilchards were still prowling the grass flats to the south of the tower. For the last few months, bait has been extremely consistent near the bug light…but it appears our luck is finally starting to wear off. This was the second trip in a row where pilchards were not plentiful around the bug light.  We worked the tower and caught a few small jacks, then headed over to the red marker in search of threadfins.  The water was clear which made catching the threads difficult.  With about two dozen baits in the well, we headed out to the yellow can to start our first drift.

As we pushed past the 130′ mark, the water was very dirty – and remained dirty out to 300′! The current was non existent, despite a slight edge around 190′.  We made our first drift right on the edge, which ended in a few tangles and no fish. We pressed farther out in search of slightly better water and set up in 220′ just as the sun was starting to get low.  Not 10 minutes after resetting the spread, the stern line starts screaming! This was no bonito! We got tight on the fish and Constantino went to work on him. After a 15 minute fight, we had a 25lb king at the boat! The circle hook did its job – as this fish was hooked right in the corner of the mouth. An impressive feat considering we rigged with a 50lb fluorocarbon leader! Congrats to Constantino on his personal best kingfish!

Big Miami Kingfish caught on a miami fishing charter

Constantino with a big Miami Kingfish


Juana was very brave and helped land the fish!

We reset the spread one more time before the sun went down but couldn’t manage a bonito. Although bonito’s make for excellent shark fishing, we figured a big oily kingfish would work just as well. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset and made our way back to our favorite shark spot.

Miami sunset over the ocean

The light faded quickly once the sun dipped below the  horizon, but the moon was glowing bright.  The night before the full moon always delivers crazy tides, which makes for strong current in our shark spot. The stronger the current the better! We anchored up and butterflied the kingfish to get the chum slick in action. Normally, we fish very heavy tackle for sharks (you never know what lurks in biscayne bay!) – we rigged a 6ft steel leader with a 9/0 J hook and sent it back in the slick with a bloody piece of kingfish.  While the bait marinated, Contstantino went to work fishing a jig off the bow while Juana helped rig a small jack on a baitrunner.  While we were working on the rig – a huge splash erupted behind the boat and the line started screaming!  Carlos was quick to grab the rod – let the fish run – then set the hook masterfully! We were all confused because most sharks we catch in the bay don’t come flying out of the water behind the boat!  After Nicolas and Constantino worked the fish for a few minutes – we couldn’t believe our eyes when an enormous tarpon came leaping out of the water again!  It defied all logic – but one of the biggest tarpon i’ve seen in Miami ate our kingfish bait – steel leader and all! After several blistering runs, the tarpon wore down and we were able to bring it boatside for a few pictures before releasing him to fight another day.

Nigh Time Tarpon Fishing Biscayne Bay

A bruiser tarpon at the boat

Capt Charlie Ellis Releasing a Miami Tarpon

I’ve caught well over a 100 tarpon in my lifetime, but this was one of the larger fish i’ve landed in Miami.  Congrats to Nicolas on wrangling this bruiser tarpon to the boat with poise and skill.  I’m still shocked the fish ate a chunked piece of kingfish on a steel leader – in my experience i’ve never seen this happen.  All the tarpon i’ve ever caught have been with mono or flourocarbon leader…a fish this big taking a bait on a shark rig astounds me.

Shortly after we released the tarpon we packed up and headed home. Another victory aboard the Marauder.  Congrats to Constantino on his personal best Kingfish and Congrats to Nicolas on his personal best Tarpon!


Capt. Charlie Ellis

Capt. Charlie Ellis

Captain at Miami Fishing Charters LLC
Capt. Charlie Ellis of Miami, FL has 25 years experience fishing for big game species like Bluefin Tuna, Sailfish, Swordfish, and Sharks. Capt. Charlie is also an avid scuba diver, world traveler, writer, and entrepreneur.
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