Skip to main content


State and Federal Waters of the Gulf and Atlantic


Minimum Size Limit: None. Tarpon over 40 inches MUST remain in the water unless in pursuit of a state or world record using a tarpon tag. Keep tarpon, especially the gills, in as much water as is safely possible. 

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 a Florida state or world record. Vessel, transport and shipment limited to one fish. 


  • 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

Boca Grande Pass

Jig head and body

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 when fishing for any 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.

If the weight can slip down the shank to the bottom of the hook, as demonstrated in video below, it is prohibited.

During the months of April, May and June, no more than three fishing lines may be deployed from a vessel at any one time AND no person shall use, fish with, or place in the water any breakaway gear.

Learn more about these regulations by reading our Frequently Asked Questions.

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

Tarpon Jig Prohibited Example

(NOTE: This video has no audio.)

Boca Grande Tarpon Gear Boundaries map

Map of Boca Grande Pass Boundaries

Charlotte Harbor Channel LB6 (26 degrees, 42.299 minutes north; 82 degrees, 16.551 minutes west)

Concrete Pier (26 degrees, 43.165 minutes north; 82 degrees, 15.778 minutes west)

Phosphate Dock (26 degrees, 43.216 minutes north; 82 degrees, 15.517 minutes west)

Intracoastal Waterway (26 degrees, 43.216 minutes north; 82 degrees, 14.703 minutes west)

Flashing Green #75 (26 degrees, 42.299 minutes north; 82 degrees, 14.580 minutes west)

QR Test Buoy (26 degrees, 42.002 minutes north; 82 degrees, 15.448 minutes west)


Tarpon Best Fishing Practices

Tarpon is an iconic saltwater fish. When handled properly, these silver kings are more likely to survive and evade predators. Follow these guidelines to ensure tarpon remains the strong and viable fishery it is today.



Courtesy of Capt. Bryon Chamberlin

Set up for success with these spin or conventional gear recommendations to catch tarpon quickly and minimize fight time.

  • When using bait, use non-stainless, non-offset, barbless circle hooks.
  • Use single hook rigs.
  • Use tackle heavy enough by matching tackle to conditions and targeted fish size.
    • Example: If targeting large tarpon, consider using medium to extra heavy spinning rods with 5,000 to 10,000 series spinner reels and at least 12 pounds of drag, 50 to 60-pound braid, and at least 60 to 80-pound monofilament or fluorocarbon leader depending upon the selected crimp or knot-system. Use 6/0-10/0 circle hooks depending on brand and bait type.
  • Have a fighting belt or chair available for additional support during the fight.
  • Have a long handled dehooking tool to quickly and easily remove hooks.


Jumping Tarpon

Courtesy of Capt. Bryon Chamberlin

Aim to minimize fight time of tarpon and use these fighting techniques to reduce stress on the fish.

  • If the tarpon rises to the surface or jumps, point rod tip towards the fish and drop rod tip down while reeling in.
  • Counter the tarpon’s run by using the backbone of the rod to pull in the opposite direction and use short turns of the reel to bring line in.
  • Put the butt end of the rod into your hip or use a fighting belt or chair to get leverage for the fight.
  • If the fish tries to go under or around the boat, move to the front of the boat to prevent the line from breaking or becoming entangled.
  • Sharks are known to prey upon tarpon during the fight. If a shark shows up, help the tarpon survive by quickly bringing the fish to the boat and cutting the line as close to the hook as possible.
  • Move to another fishing location if sharks are in the area.


A tarpon alongside a boat

Courtesy of Jeff Stephens

Keep handling to a minimum and be sure to work quickly to allow for a successful release. 

  • Tarpon over 40 inches MUST remain in the water by rule, unless in pursuit of a state or world record using a tarpon tag.
  • Tarpon smaller than 40 inches should only be handled with wet hands and be supported horizontally under the belly, if removed from the water.
  • Keep the gills of tarpon in the water to minimize air exposure.
  • Keep fingers away from the gills and eyes.
  • Avoid dragging tarpon over the gunnel of a boat or over rocks or railings.
  • Avoid delaying release by having a camera at the ready if you're planning to take a quick picture


Catch and release tarpon as quickly as possible to reduce stress on the fish. 

  • Consider a no-touch release by either using a long handled dehooking tool to remove the hook or cut the line as close as possible to the hook.
  • If the tarpon is gut hooked or the hook is lodged in the throat, cut the line as close to the hook as possible.
  • Revive lethargic tarpon by ensuring water passes through the mouth and then over the gills or hold it horizontally in the water to allow it to pump water through its gills.
  • Shorten future fight times if tarpon appear lethargic during release.

Additionally, it is also recommended to avoid fishing for tarpon from bridges or piers. Only tarpon under 40 inches may be removed from the water, so if you did hook up to a large tarpon from a bridge or pier, you would have to cut the line and leave long line trailing behind the fish, leading to entanglements and reducing survivability.

Florida Rule