Photo Credit: Justin Hoover
The “Silver King”
The Atlantic Tarpon, Megalops Antlanticus, they are also called “silver king” and “poon”. With their primitive appearance, it is not hard to imagine seeing one of these creatures gulping for air with dinosaurs in the background. When hooked, these fish are true fighters, their aerobatic displays are second to none. Many consider this fish to be the premier of all sport fish.
With its protruding lower jaw, large silver scales and antennae like dorsal fin ray, the Tarpon was built to last. At maturity, 7-13 years they range from four to eight feet long and weigh from 60-280 pounds. The body of this fish is primarily silver, with green or blue near the top. The large eyes and other pronounced characteristics make this fish hard to confuse with any other species.
The Tarpon is a pelagic fish, their territory depends on the water temperature. They migrate as far North as Nova Scotia and as far South as Argentina. Their habitat can vary greatly, from fresh water to offshore. Due to their air bladders, they can survive in low oxygenated waters. Unlike other fish that user their bladders for buoyancy and a defense mechanisms only, the Tarpon uses it's bladder to breath. if forced to stay below surface for long periods of time, this fish will die. When the silver king comes up for air, it appears to be rolling on the top of the water. Tarpon spawn from May through September offshore.
Tarpon prey on schooling fish and crabs. Shrimp, sardines, crabs, pin fish, mullet, and other bait will lure these big fish . Poon can also be caught using artificial lures. Once this fish is hooked, you better have fairly heavy equipment and line to handle this fighter. The aerobatic show these fish can put on is spectacular. Experienced Tarpon anglers will understand the term “bow to the king”, a technique in which the angler bows as the fish jumps, so they don't throw the hook. These monster have worn out many an anglers arms due to multiple runs and a great fight.
This sport fish is not for table fare, they are boney and just not good to eat. The Tarpon is on many angler's “bucket list”. There are many major tournaments for this game fish. During “season” this fish attracts a crowd, they can turn a pass into a parking lot. Landing a Tarpon while fly fishing is considered by many to be the ultimate experience. Tarpon are truly an amazing inshore sport fish.