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Tarpon (Megalops atlanticus)

Photo of tarpon jumping


Other Names
Silver King
Game fish - see bag & size limits

The tarpon, a spectacular large fish which rightly carries the name of Silver King, is unmistakable. Characteristics include large flat scales up to three inches in diameter, an elongated dorsal fin, falcate anal fin and large bony underslung jaw. It has been known to exceed 300 pounds, but the Texas record is 229 pounds, 90 inches, 2017. To report tarpon landings or sightings, please contact the Coastal Fisheries Outreach Specialist, Holly Grand, by email at
Life History
Little is known of the tarpon's spawning activity or growth. Tarpon of six to 18 inches have been found in river mouths, lakes and bar-ditches and sometimes in polluted areas. Young tarpon often go into the brackish water of small marsh channels, while adults may swim far up the larger rivers of South Texas, perhaps in search of food. Most commonly found off the beachfront in the Gulf.
Adult tarpon live in Gulf open waters, but young tarpon may be found in brackish water around marsh channels. Adults sometimes may also move up larger rivers that empty into the Gulf.
Tarpon may be found throughout the Atlantic Ocean, through the Caribbean to Brazil.
How To Catch
Tarpon will hit trolled spoons and jigs and also will take live pinfish and mullet under a cork and menhaden using drift fishing methods. The ensuing fight is dramatic, marked by leaps from the water and shaking of the body.
Where To Catch
Tarpon of any size are most often caught off the beachfront in the Gulf. Southern Texas has the most directed tarpon fishing and a number of guides that specialize in tarpon are available.
How To Eat
The flesh of tarpon is edible, but not usually eaten in Texas.
Threats and Reasons for Decline
Decline of this species in recent years has been attributed to damming of rivers, droughts, pesticides and overfishing -- or a combination of these.
Photo of tarpon being caught