The Tarpon is a large thick-bodied fish which is generally silver in colour along its flanks, silver on it’s belly and ranges anything from black or grey to a dark green along its back. Its scales are large and thick making it look very shiny as if wearing a coat of armour and cover nearly the entire body. It has a large head with an oversized scoop-shaped toothless mouth which seems to open and close laterally, making it able to suck in food that may otherwise appear too large. It is easily identifiable due to the last ray of its dorsal fin being greatly elongated.
With life spans averaging 55 years Tarpon are able to grow extremely large reaching over eight feet length and weighing over 300 pounds.
|Scientific Name||Megalops atlanticus|
|IGFA World Record||286lb 9oz (Max Domecq), Rubane, Guinea-Bissau, 2003|
|Florida Record||243lb (Gus Bell), Key West, USA, 1975|
|Other Names||poons, silver king, sabalo|
Tarpon are found in shallow coastal waters throughout the Atlantic Ocean; from Angola to Senegal in the east; from Brazil to North Carolina, sometimes appearing as far north along the American coast as Nova Scotia and Canada. They also happen to be no strangers to the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Tarpon migrate with warmer salt-water currents spawning offshore between May and September, returning to grow and thrive in bays, estuaries, shallows, mangrove-lined lagoons, and flats along the coast. Extremely sensitive to cold weather Tarpon may show up during warm periods in winter months but will not regularly appear until water temperature reaches 75 degrees or better.
Adult Tarpon feed predominately on Shrimps, Crabs and other fish such as Mullet, Sardines, Pinfish, Marine Catfish and Atlantic Needlefish, whereas the juveniles will feed on zooplankton, insects, and small fish. An elongated bony plate along the upturned lower jaw allows them to crush crustaceans and other food that they cannot consume whole.
Tackle and Methods
Several different methods can be used to catch Tarpon, including fly fishing, trolling, live baiting and lure fishing.
A heavy duty 4.5 tc 7ft rod with a good through action, and multiplyer reel with 15 to 20 lb monofilament test line connected to several feet of 80 – 100 lb test monofilament shock leader is ideal for live baiting, with a size 4/0 to 7/0 hook, For the tail end of your tackle rig, it’s wise to double about six feet of line with a bimini twist and then tie on a strong black barrel swivel.
For the fly fishermen amongst you the best flies to use for these fish vary from place to place, and time to time, but generally large baitfish patterns that stand out in the water work best. Traditional Tarpon flies such as the cockroach and black death work in clear waters for selective fish. The rod should be an 8/9 weight saltwater rod with an appropriate reel loaded with at least 200mtrs of 15-20kg backing and shock tippet of 20kg mono.