Tarpon: Megalops atlanticus
New Management Update:
At the Sept. FWC meeting in Pensacola, the Commission approved a two-part proposal that adds language to the current statewide snagging definition for tarpon and modifies what types of gear can be used when fishing in Boca Grande Pass. These changes go into effect Nov. 1.
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
||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.
- 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
State Waters Harvest Seasons: Gulf of Mexico Atlantic
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 and crabs, are powerful, explosive and acrobatic. 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.
243 lb, caught near Key West
Tarpon Genetic Recapture Study (Video)
Image Credit:Diane Rome Peebles