Captain Matt Ercoli

Tarpon Fishing Charter Captain Bio

Hi, I am Capt. Matt Ercoli. I have been a fulltime charter captain for almost 20 years now. I started right out of high school and it is the first and only job I have ever have. When I was a youngster and asked, “What are you going to be when you grow up”, I always answered with, “a professional fisherman”. Little did I know what kind of professional fisherman that I was going to become? Come to find out I was going to be a Florida charter captain specializing in Tarpon. I do fish for other species as well, but once the Tarpon move in, and the fishing is right, I switch over to nothing but Tarpon. It’s what I am most known for in my profession, It’s what I feel it takes to be on top of my game and have the confidence to know I will produce each and every day. To be honest, Tarpon are my very favorite fish to target. There is nothing like stalking Tarpon, hooking, and watching them fly 6ft into the air. The excitement it produces in my boat is the whole reason I am in the business.

Tarpon is serious business. If one is going to be consistently successful it takes serious commitment. I feel that Tarpon are by far the most technical fish to fish for. When the puzzle is put together correctly it’s easy to hook them up, but leave out one piece and you could come home empty handed.

My real busy season starts in February, but at that point I am just backwater and offshore fishing for other species. Even that far out I’m in the prep mode for Tarpon. Get up early, casting my bait net every day, getting my body use to the 5am starts and 10 plus hour days on the water. I am getting in Tarpon shape is what I call it. Yes we do catch Tarpon in March and April but it’s not the same as fishing the main migration. When the last week of April gets here I am in full prep mode. At that point I am in good shape, ready to spend every day swaying high in my tower for the next 3 months. It’s at that point we outfit the boat with 8 hp of trolling motors, along with 3 group 31 batteries. Enough power for a full day of chasing schools of Tarpon down quietly. It’s also at that point which we start catching crabs and penning them up, a procedure that goes on throughout the next 3 months that I target tarpon. It’s that last couple days of April to the first couple days of May that I switch over to near 100 percent Tarpon fishing. From that point on if the sun is shining I am Tarpon fishing until about the 2nd to 3rd week of July.

Every morning the boat is loaded down with enough crabs, lively threadfins, 100 plus pounds of dead bait as I prepare my fishermen for battle. On an average day I expect my fishermen to hook between half a dozen and a dozen Tarpon, on my good days 15 or 20, and on my very best days we have hooked over 40. On my tuff days we may only hook 3 or 4 fish or less, but sometimes those are the most rewarding days of all for me anyway. I love the challenge of landing Tarpon in adverse conditions. It’s what separates the good Tarpon captains from the small percentage of truly great charter captains. I eat, sleep, and breathe Tarpon during May, June and July. It totally consumes my life at that time of year, and is what I am told by people that know me best. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

There is nothing like the thrill of a tarpon
exploding out of the water after the hook set.

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