General: Tarpon are found in inshore and offshore waters, sometimes in brackish and fresh water, and are capable of existing in oxygen depleted water due to their ability to take in air directly from the atmosphere with their lung like bladders. The tarpon was probably the first marine species to be declared a game fish, and is still one of the most popular of the larger marine sport fish. When hooked, the tarpon has great endurance and offers a tremendous fight with spectacular leaps. They are not recognized as an edible table fish. Tarpon are only in Sarasota during the summer and the best time to fish for them is May and June as they move along the beaches in schools.
Distribution: Tropical, subtropical, and occasionally temperate Atlantic waters.
Family: Elopidae, TARPONS
Description: last ray of dorsal fin extended into long filament; one dorsal fin; back dark blue to green or greenish black, shading into bright silver on the sides; may be brownish gold in estuarine waters; huge scales; mouth large and points upward.
Similar species: (as juveniles) ladyfish, Elops saurus.
Where found: primarily INSHORE fish, although adult fish spawn OFFSHORE where the ribbon-like larval stage of the fish can be found.
Size: most angler catches 40 to 150 pounds.
Remarks: slow grower, matures at 7 to 13 years of age; spawning occurs between May and September; female may lay more than 12 million eggs; can tolerate wide range of salinity; juveniles commonly found in fresh water; can breathe air at the surface; feeds mainly on fish and large crustaceans.
Florida record: 243 lbs.