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This exceptionally fine creature is a prehistoric animal and only fish with an air bladder. This allows it to absorb oxygen and live in waters with very low oxygen content. You can see them gulp air at water surface. Tarpon are also called poons, tarpum, sabalo real, cuffum, silverfish or silver king and belong to bony fish family Elopidae. The Latin designation is Megalops atlanticus.
While only microscopic at birth, tarpon have been documented at lengths of more than eight feet and weighing 280 pounds. Catches weighing more than 200 pounds, while uncommon, do occur. Many fish caught are well over 100 pounds. Their growth rate is slow, taking 8 to 10 years to reach maturity, and generally those over 100 pounds are female. Tarpon can live 55 to 60 years. They are greenish or bluish on top, and silver on sides. The large mouth is turned upwards and lower jaw contains an elongated bony plate. The last ray of dorsal fin is much longer than others, reaching nearly to tail.
They are found primarily in shallow coastal waters and estuaries, but they are also found in open marine waters, around coral reefs, and in some freshwater lakes and rivers. Their normal migratory pattern ranges from Virginia to central Brazil in western Atlantic, along coast of Africa in eastern Atlantic, and all through Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea. Florida is widely regarded as having many of best tarpon fishing locations in world, especially world-renowned Boca Grande Pass in Southwest Florida.
Fishing for tarpon can at times be an excercise of patience and discipline. You may be surrounded by large schools of rolling tarpon containing hundreds of fish and they will not hit anything you throw at them. Other times, it is a feeding frenzy. So, go fishing for tarpon every chance you get, that next world record catch may be waiting just for you.
Greg Smith is a life-long fisherman and publisher of fishing information websites. For more information, tips, tricks, techniques and charter guide resources for the most popular tarpon fishing locations in Florida and beyond visit http://www.tarpon-fishing-i.com/