Occurs in warm temperate tropical and subtropical waters of the
Atlantic Ocean. This coastal fish can be found both inshore and
The body is compressed and covered
with very large scales. The lower jaw jugs out and up. The teeth are small
and fine, and the throat is covered by a bony plate.
The dorsal fin consists of 12-16 soft rays (no spines) the last of which
is greatly elongated. The anal fin has 19-25 soft rays. The lateral line
is straight, even along the anterior portion with a scale count of 41-48.
The back is greenish or bluish varying in darkness from silver to almost
black. The sides and belly are brilliant silver.
They may shed up to 12 million eggs. The eggs hatch at sea and the eel-like
larvae drift in shore where they undergo a metamorphosis, shrinking to
half the size previously attained and taking on the more recognizable
features of the tarpon as they begin to grow again. Tarpon, bonefish,
ladyfish and eels all undergo a similar leptocephalus, but the first three
fish all have forked tails even at the larval state, whereas the eel does
Tarpon grow radar slowly and usually don't reach maturity until they are
six or seven years old and about 4 ft (12 m) long. Fishing methods include
still fishing with live mullet, pinfish, crabs, shrimp, etc., or casting
or trolling with plugs, or other artificial lures. The best fishing is
at night when the tarpon is feeding. They are hard to hook because of
their hard, bony mouths. Once hooked they put up a stubborn and spectacular
fight, often leaping up to 10 feet out of the water. The tarpon was one
of the first saltwater species to be declared a game fish.