Tarpon can be found in the temperate and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. These fish are prolific swimmers—tarpon tagged in Florida were later found as far away as Louisiana and South Carolina. This Florida fish species is also unique among sport fish because they can “roll” on the surface, “gulp air” and subsequently travel far into stagnant, brackish waters with little oxygen.

Tarpon can only be fished recreationally in Florida. In 1989, the state began charging anglers $50 for the right to kill and keep a tarpon, a trophy fish most people consider unsuitable for the dinner table. Before the passage of the “tarpon tag” law, anglers killed about 2,000 fish a year. Today, the state sells 300 to 400 tarpon tags annually, and about half of those are actually used by anglers. Limit two per day.

Florida Keys Outfitters for Tarpon Fishing

Our Florida Keys marina is home to numerous Tarpon fishing charters, attracting ambitious anglers looking to hook the silver king.

Anglers can cast live bait at schools of tarpon as they swim a few hundred yards off the beach. The fish sometimes travel in pods of 100 or more. Small groups are often observed swimming in circles, or “daisy chaining,” a courtship ritual. When tarpon fishing, anglers search for these schools and try to lay their baits ahead of the pod. The small schools are notoriously skittish, and as a result, there is a strict code of conduct among those tarpon fishing the Florida Keys—if a boat is casting to a pod of fish, an approaching fishing boat moves quietly down the beach and awaits its turn.

About Tarpon

Tarpon can grow to 8 feet and weigh 280 pounds. They are found throughout the estuaries and coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea and in the eastern Atlantic as far north as Nova Scotia. Tarpons are scavengers and will eat just about anything. Despite their large size, they feed on surprisingly small organisms, including mullet, ladyfish, pinfish, grunts, crabs, threadfin herring, scaled sardines, and even catfish.

Tarpon, thick-bodied monsters with mouths like 5-gallon buckets, are known for their fighting prowess and jumping ability. Female tarpon are the larger of the species and can achieve lengths of 8 feet and weigh more than 350 pounds. Biologists believe some tarpon may live to be 60 years old. The largest tarpon on record was caught in 2003 off the coast of Africa and tipped the scales at 286 pounds. The largest tarpon caught in Florida weighed 243 pounds.

This post was written by a professional at Copeland Outdoors. Welcome to Copeland Outdoors, where the sun always shines and the fish are always biting! Right in the heart of St. Petersburg, Florida, our charter, owned and operated by the legendary Tyler Copeland, promises an adventure like no other. Embark on an inshore fishing trip and reel in some of the most prized catches The Bay area has to offer. Tyler, with his years of experience and a knack for finding the honey holes, will guide you to where the fish are practically jumping into the boat! For those craving a bit more adrenaline, why not try your hand at duck hunting,Tarpon Fishing Tampa or alligator hunting near you? Grab your sunscreen, your sense of adventure, and come join us at Copeland Outdoors. Let’s make some waves and reel in some memories together!

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