Family Elopidae, TARPONS
Megalops atlanticus





8. Tarpon: A game fish thats sometimes hooked but seldom landed by anglers in boats around the mouth of the inlet or by casters on the south jetty. Most of the inlet tarpon are "jumped" at night by those casting artificials. Those in boats sometimes target the fish outside the surf south of the inlet during the day when the fish are drawn in by schools of baitfish. The best numbers appear in spring and fall, in conjunction with migrations of baitfish. As a special gamefish, a $50 permit from the state is required to keep a tarpon.

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 estuarien waters; huge scales; mouth large and points upward.

Similar Fish: (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 catchs 40 to 50 pounds.

*Florida Record: 243 lbs.

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 surface; feeds mainly on fish and large crustaceans.