Tarpon

Tarpon: Megalops atlanticus

 

Florida Regulations:  

Regulations Gulf State Waters Atlantic State Waters
Minimum Size Limit No Minimum Size Limit 
Daily Bag Limit

Tarpon is a catch-and-release only fishery.

One tarpon tag per person per year may be purchased when in pursuit of an International Game Fish Association (IGFA) record. Vessel, transport and shipment limited to one fish.

Learn more about recent regulation changes by reading our Frequently Asked Questions.

Boca Grande Pass Regulations:

  • Fishing with gear that has a weight attached to a hook, artificial fly or lure in such a way that the weight hangs lower than the hook when the line or leader is suspended vertically from the rod is prohibited. This change will apply to fishing for all species year-round within Boca Grande Pass. If this gear is on board a fishing vessel while inside the boundaries of the Pass, it cannot be attached to any rod, line or leader and must be stowed. Natural bait is not considered to be a weight. If the jig fishes in an illegal manner it is prohibited. Any jig that allows the attached weight to slip down the shank so that it hangs lower than the hook while the line or leader is suspended vertically from the rod is prohibited, and must be stowed so it is not readily accessible.
  • During the months of April, May and June, no more than three fishing lines may be deployed from a vessel at any one time.
  • During the months of April, May and June, no person shall use, fish with, or place in the water any breakaway gear.

FWC law enforcement is patrolling the waters in Boca Grande Pass, assessing what types of gear are being used and educating anglers about the recent changes. Without properly inspecting it, it is impossible to know with 100 percent certainty if the gear in question is legal or not. Learn more about recent regulation changes by reading our Frequently Asked Questions.  

Unsure if the gear is prohibited? Call the regional office at 863-648-3200.

Map of Boca Grande Pass

Boca Grande Pass Map

 

Gear Requirements:

  • Legal Gear: hook and line only.
  • Snagging, snatch hooking, spearing and the use of a multiple hook in conjunction with live or dead natural bait is prohibited

Which rigs are prohibited?

When fishing for tarpon, gear is limited to hook and line only and you cannot use multiple hooks in conjunction with live or dead natural bait. When fishing in Boca Grande Pass (for any species, year-round), gear that has a weight attached to a hook, artificial fly or lure in such a way that the weight hangs lower than the hook when the line or leader is suspended vertically from the rod is prohibited. For the purposes of this rule, live or dead natural bait is not considered to be a weight. If this gear is on board a fishing vessel while inside the boundaries of the Pass, it cannot be attached to any rod, line or leader and must be stowed.

This is an example of prohibited gear:

bottom weighted jig

 

What rigs are legal?

Here are some examples of gear that are considered legal.

Jig tied to weightJig with bead

These jigs would be allowed so long as the weight cannot slip down the shank to the bottom of the hook while being fished.

But if the weight can slip down the shank to the bottom of the hook, as demonstrated in this video, it is prohibited.

 

 

Examples of other gear that is allowed:

Jigs

Jigs, such as the ones pictured, are still an allowed gear.

Hi-Lo Rig

Hi-Lo or Chicken Rig used with live or dead bait to target bottom fish and reef species.

Bottom-rig

Bottom rig used to target a variety of fish species with live or dead bait.

Jigs_and_spoons_2013.jpg

Butterfly jigs and spoons used to target a wide variety of fish species.

State Waters Harvest Seasons:   Gulf of Mexico icon_PDF.gif     Atlantic icon_PDF.gif

 

Habitat and Fishing Tips: 

Tarpon are found throughout Florida’s coastal environment during the summer months. During the winter months, coastal water temperatures in much of the state drop significantly and cause tarpon to concentrate in South Florida. Tarpon, which feed primarily on fish, shrimp and crabs, are powerful, explosive and acrobatic fighters. Tarpon also have great stamina, making them one of Florida’s most challenging and exciting nearshore sportfish. Tarpon can be caught on flies, streamers, floating and diving lures, jigs, live bait and dead bait. The tackle to be used depends largely on the type of bait used, the location and the size of fish being targeted. While tarpon are not a toothy predator, a long, heavy monofilament leader is very important to protect your line from being cut by the gill plate or tail. Tarpon have poor food value and are almost exclusively a catch and release fishery. If you intend to keep a tarpon, you must purchase a tarpon tag in advance.         

 

State Record:

243 lb, caught near Key West

Florida Rule icon_external.png

Tarpon Genetic Recapture Study Not a Mobile-Enabled Link (Video)

 

 

New Management Update:

At the Sept. 2013 FWC meeting in Pensacola, the Commission approved a two-part proposal that added language to the current statewide snagging definition for tarpon and modified what types of gear can be used when fishing in Boca Grande Pass. These changes went into effect Nov. 1.

Changes include:

  • Adding language to the snagging definition to prohibit catching or attempting to catch tarpon that have not been attracted or enticed to strike an angler’s gear. This change will apply to tarpon fishing statewide.
  • Prohibiting fishing with gear that has a weight attached to a hook, artificial fly or lure in such a way that the weight hangs lower than the hook when the line or leader is suspended vertically from the rod. This change will apply to fishing for all species year-round within Boca Grande Pass. If this gear is on board a fishing vessel while inside the boundaries of the Pass, it cannot be attached to any rod, line or leader and must be stowed. Natural bait is not considered to be a weight.

The FWC Commission also approved several changes to how tarpon is managed at the June meeting in Lakeland. These changes went into effect Sept. 1, 2013, and include:

  • All harvest of tarpon will be eliminated, with the exception of the harvest or possession of a single tarpon when in pursuit of an IGFA record and in conjunction with a tarpon tag.
  • Tarpon tags will be limited to one per person, per year (except for charter boat captains).
  • Transport or shipment of tarpon becomes limited to one fish per person.
  • One fish per vessel limit is created for tarpon.
  • Gear used for tarpon will be limited to hook-and-line only.
  • People will be allowed to temporarily possess a tarpon for photography, measurement of length and girth and scientific sampling, with the stipulation that tarpon more than 40 inches must remain in the water.
  • Tarpon regulations will extend into federal waters.
  • Tarpon tag cost will remain $50 per tag but tag validity will change from July through June to January through December. Tags purchased from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2013, will be good through Dec. 31, 2014.
  • Prohibit the use of a multiple hook in conjunction with live or dead natural bait to harvest or attempt to harvest tarpon

 To learn more, read our Frequently Asked Questions about these changes.


Image Credit:Diane Rome Peebles



FWC Facts:
The FWC protects and manages more than 200 native species of freshwater fish and more than 500 native species of saltwater fish.

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