The dog days of summer are here and August is a great month to catch what I call the “Big Dogs.” This trio of tackle-busters, all available near or inshore, offer anglers big game thrills. Two of these fish, the tarpon and the blacktip shark, often weigh over 100 pounds and put on awesome aerial displays.
People usually catch the big blacktip while tarpon fishing or vice versa, making it easy to get two of the three “Big Dogs” in one spot. The third is the jack crevalle, weighing up to 40 pounds. But hold on! These fish fight like 100 pounders. The tenacious jack crevalle often takes much longer to bring to the rod tip than the other two, even when they are twice as big.
Recently, while fishing for Spanish mackerel with light tackle, a huge jack inhaled a live menhaden. The 20-pound test line was no match for this fish and we chased him two and a half miles for just short of two hours. The jack (in the picture) weighed over 35 pounds.
The big jacks offer no aerial displays, but will burn a reel up with long searing runs. Roaming the sound and sandbars in large packs, they are visible on the surface with their fins sticking up. Anglers then present a fly or a popping lure. Whether on a lure or live bait top water strikes come swiftly, usually accompanied by an explosion.
The tarpon and blacktip are more often than not fished while on anchor. Chumming helps and live or dead menhaden are effective. It’s good to have an anchor ball ready to pitch when the hookup ensues because there is little time to pull the anchor in. These fish can take hundreds of yards of line in just a few minutes.
Written by Captain Miles Altman of Bayrunner Fishing Charters, who has more than 42 years experience fishing the waters surrounding Hilton Head Island. Don’t miss the new “Finatic” boat, which can accommodate up to 12 passengers and features a special three-hour shark/dolphin eco-tour trip. Contact Miles at (843) 290-6955 to book an unforgettable inshore or offshore charter fishing trip, departing from Shelter Cove Marina.