How to Hold a Tarpon, 04/01/2024, #14

How to Hold a Tarpon, 04/01/2024, #14

DISCLAIMER! The illustration for today is an April Fool's joke. That is the incorrect way to hold a tarpon. I will get into the proper way to hold a tarpon a little later.

The inspiration behind today's illustration is 1.) it's April fool's day, 2.) this will get people bent out of shape, 3.) this is a good learning experience for those who don't know how to hold a tarpon.

Most tarpon are found in Florida in the United States. They are a migratory fish when they go to spawn in other states. Since tarpon are such a quintessential gamefish in Florida there are laws about how to handle them.

The official Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission guidelines are: 

"Tarpon is an iconic saltwater fish. When handled properly, these large fish are more likely to survive and evade predators. Follow these guidelines to ensure tarpon remains the strong and viable fishery it is today.

Know tarpon regulations:

  • Tarpon over 40 inches MUST remain in the water unless a tag is used.
  • Keep tarpon, especially the gills, in as much water as is safely possible. 
  • Tarpon tags may only be used to harvest potential state record or IGFA record-sized tarpon. Taxidermy mounts can be made with length and girth measurements and a photograph.

Don't tow a tarpon unless it is necessary to revive it. If you must tow, go as slow as possible while still moving water over the gills.

Do not target from bridges or piers - Releasing tarpon from bridges or piers requires specialized lifting gear or cutting the line, which leaves long amounts of line trailing behind the fish.

Use proper tackle:

  • Use barbless, single, non-offset circle hooks for natural bait.
  • Use single hooks rather than treble hooks.
  • Use tackle heavy enough to land the tarpon quickly, minimizing exhaustion, and helping the fish avoid predators after release.

Other tips:

  • Do not drag tarpon over the gunnel of a boat.
  • Use a dehooking tool.
  • Tarpon smaller than 40” should be supported horizontally when removed from the water. 
  • Do not fish for tarpon when large predatory sharks are in the area feeding.  If sharks show up, move to another fishing location."

In many other states that tarpon are caught, many anglers and especially fly fishermen follow these same guidelines. This is the standard. However, if you're unsure about a situation of holding a tarpon- play it safe!


Hope this was an entertaining, and educational April Fools joke. 

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