The large fish called tarpon belong to the genus Megalops, the only members of which are two. One species is native to the Atlantic while the other to the Indo-Pacific Oceans. Growing to more than 7 feet long and over 300 pounds heavy, tarpon is typically sighted close to shore, which makes it the perfect target for someone who doesn’t own a big watercraft. Primary food for tarpon are crabs, shrimp and fish. The large scales of tarpon make a great souvenir. Tarpon are not good for eating due to their plentiful bones so they end up being released after getting caught.
The largest tarpon are all captured in Africa, with Sierra Leone being popular in this respect. It is said that you may not get plenty of tarpon there but the few you do get are quite huge. Costa Rica on the Caribbean side shows plenty of potential for tarpon fishing. In Nicaragua, there is a small fishery near the Rio Indio Lodge that enables easy access to the open ocean compared to plenty of spots in that region.
Hooking a tarpon is a huge challenge because its mouth is uncommonly bone-tough. Tarpon can put up a big fight when hooked, attempting to throw you off by getting rid of the hook or a section of the leader when it does battle with you. Tarpon can thrash wildly about, making big leaps almost twice the length of its body as it tries to free itself right out of the water. Baits and hooks seem to work well where lures only lose you more than you actually land.
Tarpon is considered one of the great saltwater game fish thanks to its enormous size and the fight it can give you due to its ability to make high leaps. It is also present on fisherpants.com in their top 10 fighting fish. Fishing tarpon doesn’t require heavy duty tackle. You can even land a 100-pound tarpon using just an 8-pound line, if you are a seasoned angler who relishes the challenge. If not, go for a 30-pound test line, which would be light enough to withstand a fierce battle but with enough heft not to get the fish extremely tired. Monofilament line can take the violent struggle the fish makes although braided line can work fine as well. Juvenile tarpon will not need such super heavy tackle despite the fact that they are also not that easy to land as their larger counterparts.
Try your hand at tarpon fishing nearshore and in estuaries and rivers. You can hook the fish on jerkbaits but be prepared for the treble hooks to get dislodged. Tarpon will succumb to different lures such as poppers, jigs and soft plastics. Go for lures with a single hook, if possible, so the fish won’t have too many opportunities to shake the gear loose. Hooks outfitted with slide-away lures provide less leverage for the tarpon.
A hooked tarpon will nearly always leap high in the air instantaneously and start thrashing violently around. Keep a slack line to offset all the wild activity. An overly tight line can snap easily. When the fish leaps back into the water, that’s the time you reel the line tight and raise the fishing rod. When the tarpon ceases to leap, apply as much pressure as you can and shift your angles often so as to get the fish disoriented and to help you land it more quickly. If you don’t do so, the tarpon can easily become aware of the pressure it needs to exert against your unidirectional and constant pressure and it is most likely to bring the fight to you once again. The constant pressure also gives the opportunity for the tarpon to get a breather so it can come up for air and then do battle with you again.
If you want to see a giant tarpon caught in Florida, you can watch this video: