Tuesday, May 29, 2001
Updated: May 2, 8:33 PM ET
Mega lops atlanticus
poons, silver king, sabalo
Tarpon are blue-gray on the back with silver sides. They are easily identified by their large scales, strongly protruding lower jaws and small dorsal fins that have an elongated ray. These combined characteristics separate tarpon from their closest relatives, the ladyfish and the bonefish.
The species is most abundant in south Florida, the West Indies, and Central and South America. The preferred habitat is coastal waters such as lower rivers, passes between islands and mangrove-lined lagoons. In these waters, the peculiar rolling movements of the fish while feeding at the surface are familiar sights to fishermen.
Favorite foods are crabs and fishes such as sardines, anchovies, mullets, silversides, hardhead catfish, and atlantic cutlassfish.
Age and Growth
Tarpon grow rapidly, attain a large size (up to 8 feet and 350 pounds), and may live as long as 15 years. Average tarpon of 12 years is 65 inches.
As a game fish, the tarpon has few equals. The fighting quality, characterized by an initial hard strike followed by a series of leaps and runs, is superb. When a tarpon strikes, there is no doubt what has taken the bait. Conventiaonal-tackle sportfishermen use two basic methods to catch tarpon: casting artificial lures from an anchored or drifting boat and float fishing with live bait. For casting, a 6 1/2 to 8-foot rod, levelwind casting reel with star drag, and 150 to 200 yards of 15-to 20-pound test line are standard. Some anglers prefer saltwater spinning tackle. Because tarpon are temperamental regarding lure type and color, anglers should keep their tackle box well stocked; that includes surface plugs as well as deep-running and slow-sinking lures of all shapes and colors. Given a choice, however, most experienced tarpon fishermen would probably choose a yellow and silver mirror-sided lure. Most of the fish are caught from March through June and in October and November.
The tarpon is not considered a food fish in the United States.
283 lbs. (tie) Sherbro Island, Seirra Leone and Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela
75 to 90
Material from eAngler.com.
Visit the web site at www.eangler.com