5 Tips For Handling/Releasing Tarpon That Are Better For The Fish


written by staff writer

Tarpon aren’t the tastiest fish, so these silver kings are best caught and released. Often over four feet long and weighing over 100 lbs., tarpon put up a fight and are famous for leaping spectacularly out of the water. Here are some tips for releasing these beauties so they can live to fight another day:

1. They like water

Always use clean, wet hands when touching a fish. Keep the fish wet at all times, if possible. Never use lip-gripping tools. These can hurt their jaws.

2. Hands off the gills

Keep your fingers away from their gills. If you accidentally damage their gills, it makes it harder for them to breathe.

3. Revival of the fittest

If the fish is too exhausted or dazed to swim upright yet, revive it by moving it forward so water passes through it front to back. Once it can swim upright, let it go. Make sure it has enough energy to swim away. A tired tarpon can be easy prey for bigger fish.

4. Watch out for jaws

Speaking of bigger fish, watch out for sharks—they’ve been known to take a tarpon right at boat’s edge. If sharks are in the area, let tarpon go before they’re too exhausted to escape predators.

5. Size matters

If your tarpon is under 40 inches, support its head and belly if you have to take it out of the water but keep air exposure to a minimum. If you land one over 40 inches, avoid removing it from the water. (If you’re fishing in Florida, this is the law.) Taking larger tarpon out of the water can cause too much damage and stress and decrease its chances of survival.

If you have to remove tarpon from the water for any reason, remember if it’s not dripping water—it’s been out of the water too long.

If a tarpon's out of the water, control its head. Even if it seems to have lost all fight, a tarpon can suddenly explode with energy. Its hard-boned head can cause some damage.

If you want to calculate your catch’s weight, quickly measure the length and girth. Then later you can calculate the weight using this online tarpon weight calculator.

Finally, if you want to take a pic to impress your buddies on Instagram, get the shot set up before you remove your tarpon from the water.

For more on tarpon fishing, watch this Silver Kings episode, “Keys Strong,” as Captain Jared Raskob introduces his anglers to the challenges of fly fishing for Tarpon.




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