The tarpon is a large thick-bodied fish generally silver in
color other than its back, which can range from a dark green
to gray. It has a large scoop shaped mouth and the last ray of
its dorsal fin is greatly elongated. Its scales are large and
thick like a coat of armor.
The Tarpon is a
large, hard fighting fish and is judged by many to be the
worlds most exciting gamefish. Once it feels the hook being
set it begins the spectacular display of frequent, twisting,
acrobatic leaps into the air to free itself from the hook.
Most Tarpon landed
are between 25 to 80 pounds on average but can range from a
few inches in length to about 300 pounds. The world all tackle
record is 283 pounds 4ounces.
Tarpon are found
in the western Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean,
the west coast of Central America and the coast of northwest
Africa. They prefer water temperatures in the 74 – 88°
Tarpon can be
found through out the coastal areas of Florida. On the
Atlantic coast they are most prevalent in the southeast areas.
They can be found from in large inlets such as Port
Everglades, Government Cut and south to Biscayne Bay from
January to June and along coastal beaches and inlets during
late summer. They are caught all the way up to Amelia Island
but the fishing in south Florida is the best.
On the West Coast
of Florida Tarpon can be caught from the Everglades up to the
Panhandle. The most renowned area for Tarpon is Boca Grande
where during May and June hundreds, if not thousands of fish
are caught. Also in this area is Homasassa Bay has great
shallow water flats fishing for Tarpon during May and June.
Apalachicola Bay and St George Sound also offer good fishing
during the summer.
National Park and Ten Thousand Islands area has Tarpon fishing
year round with the largest fish being caught from mid-spring
The Keys also
offer year round Tarpon fishing. The best times to fish are
mid-March starting on the Florida Bay side through mid-July on
both the Bay side and Atlantic side.
Tarpon come in all
sizes and can be caught with all kinds of fishing equipment
and using various methods. These fish can be caught with
artificials and natural bait by casting, drifting, trolling
and still fishing. Those big fish anglers will need some
sturdy medium to heavy rods with 30 to 50 pound saltwater
reels and lines.
For average and
smaller tarpon just about all medium baitcasting, spinning and
fly fishing tackle can be used effectively. Baitcasting and
spinning gear should be equipped with 15 pound line and
heavier leader material based in the size of Tarpon you are
pursueing. Fly fishing tackle should consist of a 10 –13
weight rod a high quality reel with a capacity to handle 300
yards of 30# backing.
Natural baits used
in the pursuit of Tarpon can include live shrimp, live crabs
and live baitfish such as Pinfish, Mullet, Pilchards and
There are many
locations around the state that a particular method of fishing
for Tarpon works best. Check at the local Bait and tackle
Shops for advice or hire a Professional Guide to teach you the
techniques for a particular area to catch this spectacular