The tarpon fish or the Atlantic tarpon is quite an aggressive fish which put up a challenging fight on being caught, hence makes it a much sort after game fish by the experienced anglers.
It is famously known as the ‘Silver King’ due to its enormous size, and considered a prized processions among anglers testing one’s patiemce, strength and skill.They are known by many different names abalitsa, Atlantic tarpon, atlantischer tarpun, bass, big scale, tarpone, tarponi, tarpum, trapoen, silverfish, silver sides, and sabalo
About Tarpon Fish
The tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) belongs to the Megalopidae ( Elopidae) family. These fish appear silvery or shiny when viewed form the side and has a dark blue to greenish-black bodies.These ray-finned, long elongated fishes have large scales, a slightly upturned face with the lower jaw extending beyond the upper jaw. They have soft, lobed fins which appear all shiny from the side.
The caudal fin is deeply forked with a triangle shaped anal fin. The dorsal fin appears high anteriorly and contains 13-15 softrays. The anterior part of anal fin has 22-25 softrays. The tarpon has large pelvic fins, and long pectoral fins containing 13-14 softrays. They have very small tweet, which is why they’re often seen swallowing their prey whole.
The tarpon larvae feed by directly absorbing nutrients from the sea water initially aftr which they gradually move on to feeding on zooplankton, insects and small fish. As they grow their diet inclines more towards poecilids,cyprinodontids, larger invertebrates such as shrimp,crabs. Full grown adults prey on mullets, pinfish, marine catfishes, Atlantic needlefish, sardines, shrimp, and crabs.
Average size of tarpon fish
Tarpons grow to about 4–8 ft (1.2–2.4 m) long and weigh 60–280 lb (27–127 kg). The highest recorded size of Tarpon is about 8 feet long and weighed a massive 350 pounds!
The tarpons are generally slow-growing fishes with the females growing larger than their male counterpart.
Where to find tarpon fish
The Trapon fish are native to the tropical and subtropical areas along the Atlantic Ocean, extending from Senegal to the Congo. In the Western Atlantic region they are found around the the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, and the West Indies. However, tarpon are not uncommon as far north as Cape Hatteras, and the extreme range extends from Nova Scotia in the north, Bermuda, and to Argentina to the south.
Tarpon have alos been found at the Pacific terminus of the Panama Canal and around Coiba Island.
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.
Best live and artificial baits
If you’re using the shrimp bait then it is recommended to use a 2/0-4/0 hook size, under its horn on the head or thread and free line it. While using the pilchards, mullet and pinfish as baits then use a 6/0-10/0 hook behind the anal fin or in front of the dorsal fin.
Spinning lures, imitation shad, topwater plugs in bright orange or silver colors.Red, black, or green plastic worms, Rapalas, Rebels, and round-headed Crappie Jigs about 1/8 ounces, Minnows, Cockroach fly.
How to catch tarpon fish
A spinning reel in the 5000 to 7000 size paired with a medium-heavy rod is a great all-purpose outfit for tarpon fishing. The reel should be fully sealed to guard against corrosive saltwater and have a strong, smooth drag to quickly tame your quarry. 50-pound test braided line of about 250-300 yards will be required as a standard for tarpon.
Rigging for Tarpon is a simple procedure, all you got to do is start with a 3-foot Bimini twist tied to 5 feet of 80-pound leader with a Bristol knot, and with a short piece of 90-pound fluorocarbon between the mono and the circle hook. Slide in the brightly coloured floats on to the leader prior to tying up the hook and make sure you secure it at the top.
Position yourself up-current and let your bait drift towards the fish. When trolling around for tarpon, deploy two baits, one fished about 30 feet along the current, and the second fished about twice that far back. If possible try to have another angler pitch a free-floating bait a few feet away from the main live bait or alternatively bounce a white jig along the bottom with a long grub tail attached.
When fly fishing for tarpon, steer clear from using the trout set, instead use the strip-set. Strip until you feel weight and then strip hard before raising your rod tip. Sometimes, anglers strip the fly out of the fish’s mouth before it’s closed, which keeps it in front of the fish and in the zone.
Best time/season to catch tarpon fish
It has been suggested that spring and summer are the best time to catch the tarpon fish. Given their excellent vision in low-light, dawn and dusk time are preferred to catch these fishes, days with overcast skies also turns out to be more productive than bright,sunny days.
Tips on how to catch Tarpon fish
- The tarpon fish get easily spooked by human presence, make sure stay still and patient while looking for the big tarpons.
- Tarpons are caught near shore, rivers and estuaries.
- Live or dead baits can be used in flats.
- Artificial lures also work best in flats.
- Bite with circle hooks give you best results while catching tarpons.
- If you spot a pod, don’t scare them away by casting into the pod. Instead, cast nearby where they’ll notice but not get startled.
- Use a lighter line and cast close enough to sighted fish for them to see your lure.
- Use single hooks which do not give leverage for the fish to shake it loose.
- Once you have the Tarpon hooked, the fish almost immediately starts thrashing round, there have been quite a few cases of people getting hurt because of such violent behaviour of these fish. So as to avoid any untoward experience, as soon as the fish gets in the air, drop the rod immediately and make the line slack. This is called “Bowing to the King”. If you keep the line taut as the fish thrashes around, the chances of the line snapping are much higher.
- It is important that your line always be moving. If line is not peeling off your reel, you need to be reeling. If you let the fish rest they will take much longer to catch.