Tarponby Geoffrey English
Tarpon, scientifically known as Megalops Atlantics, are nicknamed “The Silver King”. Tarpon prefer warmer waters, and can be found mostly in the tropical areas of the Atlantic Ocean, although some migrate inland and live in fresh or brackish water. They have been seen as far north as Nova Scotia and as far south as Brazil.
Megalops Atlantics a.k.a. Tarpon
Tarpon can survive in freshwater where oxygen is almost non-existent because they are able to take air directly from the surface of the water. This allows them to enter freshwater areas where there are fewer predators. They still prefer to live in temperate waters, but they have adapted their bodies for other ways of survival.
The Silver King can grow up to six and a half feet in length, and can weigh up to an amazing 350 pounds. They are easily recognized by their large oval bodies that look compressed. They have very small teeth, and lots of them. Their skin is dark on top and fades towards their bellies, going from almost black to silver, and almost completely covered in scales. They have a blue or green overtone on their whole body. Some of the fish live in acidic areas that may turn their coloration to bronze, so it isn’t always easy to identify them by color.
A female Tarpon can lay up to 12 million eggs, but they aren’t able to do so until their sixth year of life. Spawning takes place away from the shore where the babies are safer from harm. Some females go as far as 125 miles away from the shoreline to lay their eggs. The babies are microscopic at first, and some are mistaken as particles floating in the water. Once the larvae have been ejected, they shrink slightly, then grow into Tarpon. This takes time and many don’t make it through that stage. Those that do though can live up to 55 or 60 years, surpassing many other fish of similar build or habitat. The oldest Tarpon that ever lived in captivity grew to be 63 years old. They have been around since prehistoric times and are some of the wisest fish in the sea.
Some of the best ways to catch Tarpon are through casting, trolling, or fishing with live bait. Some of the best baits include pinfish, crabs, shrimp, and artificial lures. The best time to fish for Tarpon is at night, since they are somewhat nocturnal and are often times more actively feeding. They are extremely difficult to hook because of the bones and cartilage in their mouth. The bones act as an armor that can be difficult to pierce through. The first step in catching a Tarpon is the hook-set, and is actually the hardest part. Many anglers can’t get the right hook or the right timing, and end up moving on to catch other, less challenging fish instead.
Popular baits include live crab, shrimp and artificial lures