How to identify a Tarpon

The body is compressed and covered with very large scales. The lower jaw juts out and up. The teeth are small and fine, and the throat is covered by a bony plate. The dorsal fin consists of 12-16 soft rays (no spines) the last of which is greatly elongated. The back is greenish or bluish varying in darkness from silvery to almost black. The sides and belly are brilliant silver. Inland, brackish water tarpon frequently have a golden or brownish color because of tannic acid found in the water.

Where to catch Tarpon

Occurs in warm temperate tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean. This coastal fish can be found both inshore and offshore. Because of its ability to gulp air directly into the air bladder by rolling at the surface, the tarpon is able to enter brackish and fresh waters that are stagnant and virtually depleted of oxygen. Such areas are relatively free of predators, thus offering a convenient refuse for the young.


How to Identify a Tarpon
 1 The dorsal fin consists of 12-16 soft rays (no spines) the last of which is greatly elongated

 2 The lower jaw juts out and up

 3 The body is covered with very large scales with a greenish or bluish back


  • Backflow
  • Bays
  • Breakers
  • Jetties and Breakwaters
  • Mangroves
  • Piers, Docks and Pilings
  • Surf and Shore

  • Baitfish Patches
  • Bays and Estuaries
  • Channel Entrances
  • Man-Made Structures
  • Night Fishing
  • Saltwater and Tides
  • Tidal Flats

Acknowledgements:  We thank TAKEMEFISHING.org (www.takemefishing.org), Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Indiana Department of Natural Resources for their contributions to these FISH FACTS.