SPECIES IDENTIFICATION - GET TO KNOW YOUR FISH!

 
 

FISHING THE FLORIDA GULF WATERS IS SECOND TO NONE!

TARPON

The Tarpon is a spectacular, and unmistakable fish which rightly carries the name, "Silver King", and for most anglers', a favorite to catch, fight, boat, and release.

SCIENTIFIC NAME:  "Megalops Atlanticus"

APPEARANCE:  The Tarpon is bright silver along the sides and belly with large scales. Along the back tarpon usually appear dark blue to greenish-black. However, the color may appear brownish or brassy for individuals inhabiting inland waters. The dorsal and caudal fins have dusky margins and often appear dark. The tarpon has a superior mouth with the lower jaw extending far beyond the gape. The fins contain no spines, but are all composed of soft rays. The tail fin is deeply forked, and the lobes appear equal in length. 

HABITAT:  Tarpon populate a wide variety of habitats, but are primarily found in coastal waters, bays, estuaries, and mangrove-lined lagoons within tropical, subtropical, and temperate climates. Although a marine fish, tarpon can tolerate living in fresh, brackish, or salt water and often enter river mouths and bays and travel upstream into fresh water.

Tarpon inhabit a large range on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The range in the Eastern Atlantic extends from Senegal to the Congo.

In the Western Atlantic, the fish primarily inhabit warmer coastal waters concentrating around the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, and the West Indies. However, tarpon are not uncommon as far north as Cape Hatteras.

SIZE:  Angler caught Tarpon are in the 40 to 100 lb range with fish over 150 lbs being rare. Female tarpon can grow to lengths of 8 feet and reach weights of 300 lbs. The male Tarpon are generally smaller.

Tarpon are slow-growing fish and do not obtain sexual maturity until reaching an age of 6-7 years and a length of about 4 feet. Tarpon may live longer than 50 years

FLORIDA STATE RECORD:  16 LB 3 OZ, CAUGHT NEAR ISLAMORADA, FLORIDA

EATING HABITS:  Adult Tarpon are strictly carnivorous and mostly feed on mid-water prey such as mullets, pinfish, marine catfishes, Atlantic needlefish, sardines, shrimp, and crabs. Tarpon feed during both day and night. The tarpon have minute teeth only and usually swallow their prey whole.

FISHING TIPS AND FACTS:  The ensuing fight is dramatic, marked by leaps from the water and shaking of the body, so be up for an EXHILARATING day of fishing when Tarpon are your target.

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