Tarpon season in the Florida Keys runs from April through June. If you’ve ever caught and released a silver king, you know it’s an addictive, heart-pounding, adrenaline rush. If catching and releasing your first tarpon is still on your angling bucket list, this may be the year to cross it off.
The Seven Mile Bridge, only a half mile from Captain Pip’s Marina & Hideaway, ranks among the world’s best spots for tarpon. Spring and early summer bring schools of mullet and pilchards to the area — two of the tarpons favorite snacks. It’s common to see these beautiful fish rolling everywhere around your boat as they feast.
Once hooked, hold on. You’re in for a ride — literally — these monsters will strip line off your reel faster than a 4G connection. Trying to turn the game of tug ‘o’ war in your favor may put you and your boat on near collision courses with bridge pilings and anchored anglers. The battle isn’t all about brute force. These fish punctuate long runs with athletic leaps that would make a gymnast jealous.
There are few fish that can make a twenty minute fight seem like it lasted hours, days or even weeks. The tarpon can and will. Once to the boat and safely released with a trophy picture, you’re left with quivering arms and a smile as big as the silver king you just released to fight another day.
Here are ten interesting facts about the Silver King.
-World record is 286 pounds 9 ounces. The Florida record is 243 pounds.
-Tarpons have been recorded up to 8 feet 2 inches in length and weighing up to 350 pounds.
-A Tarpon’s mouth is turned upwards and the lower jaw contains an elongated bony plate likened in hardness to concrete, which makes setting the hook difficult and frequently results in the fish throwing the hook on one of its many jumps.
-An experienced angler may land a Tarpon in less than an hour. The average angler may take longer, perhaps up to three hours.
-To gain a predatory advantage when oxygen levels in the water are low, Tarpons can fill their swim bladder with air, which acts like a primitive lung.
-Atlantic Tarpons have been reported as far north as Nova Scotia, as far south as Argentina and as far east as the Atlantic coast of Southern France.
-Great to catch, not good to eat. Their flesh is undesirable and bony.
-Florida and Alabama require a special permit to kill and keep a tarpon. Fortunately, most tarpon fishing is catch and release.
-Fishing techniques include: bait, lure and fly on spinning, conventional or fly rod. Heavy monofilament leaders or tippets are required because of the Tarpon’s rough mouth.
-To marine biologists the tarpon is known as Megalops atlanticus.
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