Tarpon Fishing in South Florida
Tarpons are the most non-discriminate big game catches in the world due to their habitat of close proximity to the shoreline. They are caught by fishermen from all walks of life and social stature. They can be taken from piers, docks, roadsides, causeways, bridges, bays, rivers, beaches, passes and jetties. They are fished from kayaks, canoes, rowboats, jon boats and jet skis to $50,000 skiffs and million dollar yachts. They are tackled on everything from Zebco Rhinos to $1500 fly rods and everything in between. While by the nature of tarpon habits, physique and temperament they may not be for everyone who likes to go catching. However, they are the pinnacle in the hunt for big game and for those with the passion for the sport of fishing. Giant tarpons are the ultimate aquatic safari and championship of fishing equivalent to Super Bowl, the World Series, the Daytona 500, Tour de France and the World Cup.
Let's begin this introduction to tarpon fishing with a tip to all anglers in pursuit of any game fish anywhere in the world: Get to know the species you are after. So exactly what do we know about the Megalops atlanticus? Well, actually not much. Research of the tarpon fish has been minimal compared to some other species of fish. This is because tarpon have no food value. Most of the tarpon research has been funded by private funds and via the state's revenue generated by the sale of Florida tarpon tags. Recently and in recognition of the economic impact of tarpon to Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has allocated funds to the Florida Marine Research Institute to study tarpon statewide over a five year period.
We know tarpon are prehistoric animals, traveling the warm seas back as far as 100 million years ago. They are one of the few fish known to us as possessing a swim bladder. This unique organ is attached to the esophagus and acts much like a lung allowing them to actually breathe from the atmosphere. They obtain this air by "rolling" on the surface and taking a gulp. Tarpons use this exclusive feature to survive in fresh water and oxygen-depleted, stagnant waters. The swim bladder plays a key role in the survival in juvenile tarpon life. Juvenile tarpons are dependent on breathing air from the atmosphere as it permits them to exist and mature in places where only they can survive, thus preventing their natural enemies (sharks in particular) from reaching them. The swim bladder is a gift to tarpon anglers from the fish gods. Tarpon rolling makes finding and fishing Florida tarpon a wee bit easier.