Tarpon, also known as the “Silver Kings” of Florida’s waters, are famous for their acrobatic leaps and the tough challenge they provide to anglers. To catch these strong and agile fish while ensuring their safe release, anglers should use medium to extra-heavy rods, large reels, and heavy pound test lines. This setup helps manage the fight and reduces stress on the fish. Non-stainless, non-offset, barbless circle hooks are crucial when using bait to make hook removal easier and safer.

It’s important to match your tackle to both the fishing conditions and the size of the fish. For larger tarpon, spinning rods with 5,000 to 10,000 series reels and 50 to 60-pound braided line, along with 60 to 80-pound monofilament or fluorocarbon leaders, are recommended. This gear will help you catch tarpon efficiently and minimize the fight time. Fighting belts or chairs offer extra support, and long-handled dehooking tools make removing hooks easy, which is crucial when predators like sharks are nearby.

Careful handling and quick release are essential for the well-being of tarpon after a catch. Tarpon over 40 inches must remain in the water unless you’re going for a state or world record with a tarpon tag. For smaller tarpon, handle them with wet hands and support them horizontally if they need to be removed from the water. Minimize air exposure and avoid touching their gills or eyes. Use no-touch release techniques, or cut the line close to the hook if it’s deep inside the fish.

Staying informed and practicing these techniques will help protect tarpon populations so they can continue to thrive in Florida. Visit MyFWC.com/Tarpon for more information on tarpon fishing practices and regulations. Following these guidelines ensures that tarpon remain Florida’s iconic “Silver Kings” for future anglers.