When the Gulf of Mexico off Panama City Beach is crystal clear, there’s red and silver mixed with the emerald green palette. In this week’s episode of Chasin’ The Sun, Capt. Justin Leake and lifelong friend Ricky McNaron plan a day targeting redfish but shift their focus to early season tarpon when “silver kings” suddenly appear.
It’s early spring and the water temperature has risen to 75 degrees, attracting huge schools of baitfish and the gamefish that prey on them. The tarpon bite typically heats up in the summer so the schools Leake and McNaron discover might not be actively feeding, but just getting a shot at them is something neither can angler can resist.
“As much as I love redfishing, tarpon fishing is the thing that I love even more,” says Capt. Leake. “It doesn’t get any better than to have an unexpected chance to hook a tarpon.”
As co-host Capt. Travis Holeman explains, water temperature affects both the timing and route of the tarpon’s annual migration but they eventually end up in one of two major spawning areas: the Florida Keys or the mouth of the Mississippi River at the Gulf of Mexico. “There’s so much that we don’t know about tarpon but genetic studies and fin clippings prove that they’re all interconnected – it’s one population,” he says.
After a few hits and misses with the highly-prized tarpon, Justin and Ricky shift their attention to redfish and round out an exciting day on the water.
Also featured is a Dolphin Cruise, one of the many aquatic excursions available to Panama City Beach visitors.