Tarpon: Megalops atlanticus


Florida Regulations:  

RegulationsGulf State WatersAtlantic State Waters
Minimum Size Limit No Minimum Size Limit; Tarpon over 40 inches MUST remain in the water
Daily Bag Limit

Tarpon is a catch-and-release only fishery.

One tarpon tag per person per year may be purchased when in pursuit of an International Game Fish Association (IGFA) record. Vessel, transport and shipment limited to one fish.


Boca Grande Pass Regulations:

Learn more about recent regulation changes by reading our Frequently Asked Questions.

Unsure if the gear is prohibited? Call the regional office at 863-648-3200.

Map of Boca Grande Pass

Several buoys marking Boca Grande Pass were moved by the U.S. Coast Guard in 2016 to better align with the shifting channel. One buoy specifically (Flashing Red Buoy #12) was a reference point marking the boundaries of Boca Grande Pass for the purposes of specific gear restrictions. Red buoy #12 was removed and replaced with a new buoy (Charlotte Harbor Channel LB 6). This new buoy is about a quarter mile East-Southeast of the old buoy.  Please note that due to this buoy change, the boundaries of Boca Grande Pass have also changed. (see map below)

Boca Grande Channel Redesign 2016 web.jpg


Gear Requirements:

Tarpon handling guidelines 


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

Keep head and gills in the water

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

Other tips

State Waters Harvest Seasons


Habitat and Fishing Tips: 

Tarpon are found throughout Florida’s coastal environment during the summer months. During the winter months, coastal water temperatures in much of the state drop significantly and cause tarpon to concentrate in South Florida. Tarpon, which feed primarily on fish, shrimp and crabs, are powerful, explosive and acrobatic fighters. Tarpon also have great stamina, making them one of Florida’s most challenging and exciting nearshore sportfish. Tarpon can be caught on flies, streamers, floating and diving lures, jigs, live bait and dead bait. The tackle to be used depends largely on the type of bait used, the location and the size of fish being targeted. While tarpon are not a toothy predator, a long, heavy monofilament leader is very important to protect your line from being cut by the gill plate or tail. Tarpon have poor food value and are almost exclusively a catch and release fishery. If you intend to keep a tarpon, you must purchase a tarpon tag in advance.         


State Record:

243 lb, caught near Key West

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Tarpon Genetic Recapture Study Not a Mobile-Enabled Link (Video)



Image Credit:Diane Rome Peebles

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