TARPON: The Silver King!
Tarpon are also known as The Silver King and for good reason! Tarpon are large, hard fighting fish and are judged by many to be the world’s most exciting game fish on both fly and spinning reel. Once a tarpon is hooked, it begins a spectacular display of leaping and twisting acrobatic displays into the air. Tarpon are generally between 25 to 80 pounds on average but can range from a few inches in length to almost 300 pounds. The world all tackle record is 283 pounds 4ounces, a truly mighty fish! Tarpon eat crabs, shrimp, pinfish and mullet.
You really need a game plan if you are going to be a successful light tackle tarpon master. Tarpon are powerful and have hard rough mouths, sharp gill plates and abrasive scales. They have extremely tough mouths that are hard and boney and it takes special skill to successfully stick the big ones and get a good hook set. Rule number one – use a sturdy sharp hook and re-sharpen it often! Because of their sharp gill plates and equally sharp tough scales leaders and leader materials are very important I suggest tarpon fishing leaders should be about 6 to 12 feet in length and of heavy monofilament or fluorocarbon line from 60 to 125 LB test. A 6/0 live bait hook to an 11/0 circle hook is a good place to start when selecting a hook. Your choice of rod and reel is less important – spend your time on a variety of fresh live bait and on your terminal tackle and on getting it right.
Catch and Release!
We don’t eat Tarpon– they are strictly a catch and release game fish. Always take the greatest care with these beautiful prehistoric sea creatures. These incredible fish were made for angling and you should do everything possible to preserve our tarpon fishery for the generations to come. When using live bait tarpon fishing with circle hooks are the best for releasing the fish unharmed. Try not to fight a tarpon so long that it becomes completely exhausted- their perfect shark food in this state. Releasing tarpon at the side of the boat without lifting the fish out of the water produces the best results for the health of the tarpon. Lifting a tarpon out of the water or dragging a tarpon over the side of a boat for a photograph will potentially kill or damage the fish. Wear gloves to the leader and handle a tarpon so you can leave the tarpon in the water and grab the lower jaw you’re your gloved hand to remove a hook. If you can’t remove the hook don’t panic- just cut the leader as short as possible- the saltwater will dissolve the hook and the fish will recover fine.