NEW: Boca Grande Pass boundary has changed.
Tarpon: Megalops atlanticus
||Gulf State Waters
||Atlantic State Waters
|Minimum Size Limit
||No Minimum Size Limit
|Daily Bag Limit
Tarpon is a catch-and-release only fishery.
One tarpon tag per person per year may be purchased when in pursuit of an International Game Fish Association (IGFA) record. Vessel, transport and shipment limited to one fish.
Learn more about recent regulation changes by reading our Frequently Asked Questions.
Boca Grande Pass Regulations:
- Fishing with gear that has a weight attached to a hook, artificial fly or lure in such a way that the weight hangs lower than the hook when the line or leader is suspended vertically from the rod is prohibited. This change will apply to fishing for all species year-round within Boca Grande Pass. If this gear is on board a fishing vessel while inside the boundaries of the Pass, it cannot be attached to any rod, line or leader and must be stowed. Natural bait is not considered to be a weight. If the jig fishes in an illegal manner it is prohibited. Any jig that allows the attached weight to slip down the shank so that it hangs lower than the hook while the line or leader is suspended vertically from the rod is prohibited, and must be stowed so it is not readily accessible.
- During the months of April, May and June, no more than three fishing lines may be deployed from a vessel at any one time.
- During the months of April, May and June, no person shall use, fish with, or place in the water any breakaway gear.
FWC law enforcement is patrolling the waters in Boca Grande Pass, assessing what types of gear are being used and educating anglers about the recent changes. Without properly inspecting it, it is impossible to know with 100 percent certainty if the gear in question is legal or not. Learn more about recent regulation changes by reading our Frequently Asked Questions.
Unsure if the gear is prohibited? Call the regional office at 863-648-3200.
Map of Boca Grande Pass
NEW: Earlier this year, several buoys marking Boca Grande Pass were moved by the U.S. Coast Guard to better align with the shifting channel. One buoy specifically (Flashing Red Buoy #12) was a reference point marking the boundaries of Boca Grande Pass for the purposes of specific gear restrictions. Red buoy #12 was removed and replaced with a new buoy (Charlotte Harbor Channel LB 6). This new buoy is about a quarter mile East-Southeast of the old buoy. Please note that due to this buoy change, the boundaries of Boca Grande Pass have also changed. (see map below)
- Legal Gear: hook and line only.
- Snagging, snatch hooking, spearing and the use of a multiple hook in conjunction with live or dead natural bait is prohibited
Which rigs are prohibited?
When fishing for tarpon, gear is limited to hook and line only and you cannot use multiple hooks in conjunction with live or dead natural bait. When fishing in Boca Grande Pass (for any species, year-round), gear that has a weight attached to a hook, artificial fly or lure in such a way that the weight hangs lower than the hook when the line or leader is suspended vertically from the rod is prohibited. For the purposes of this rule, live or dead natural bait is not considered to be a weight. If this gear is on board a fishing vessel while inside the boundaries of the Pass, it cannot be attached to any rod, line or leader and must be stowed.
This is an example of prohibited gear:
What rigs are legal?
Here are some examples of gear that are considered legal.
These jigs would be allowed so long as the weight cannot slip down the shank to the bottom of the hook while being fished.
But if the weight can slip down the shank to the bottom of the hook, as demonstrated in this video, it is prohibited.
Examples of other gear that are allowed:
Jigs, such as the ones pictured, are still an allowed gear.
Hi-Lo or Chicken Rig used with live or dead bait to target bottom fish and reef species.
Bottom rig used to target a variety of fish species with live or dead bait.
Butterfly jigs and spoons used to target a wide variety of fish species.
State Waters Harvest Seasons
Habitat and Fishing Tips:
Tarpon are found throughout Florida’s coastal environment during the summer months. During the winter months, coastal water temperatures in much of the state drop significantly and cause tarpon to concentrate in South Florida. Tarpon, which feed primarily on fish, shrimp and crabs, are powerful, explosive and acrobatic fighters. Tarpon also have great stamina, making them one of Florida’s most challenging and exciting nearshore sportfish. Tarpon can be caught on flies, streamers, floating and diving lures, jigs, live bait and dead bait. The tackle to be used depends largely on the type of bait used, the location and the size of fish being targeted. While tarpon are not a toothy predator, a long, heavy monofilament leader is very important to protect your line from being cut by the gill plate or tail. Tarpon have poor food value and are almost exclusively a catch and release fishery. If you intend to keep a tarpon, you must purchase a tarpon tag in advance.
243 lb, caught near Key West
Tarpon Genetic Recapture Study (Video)
New Management Update:
At the Sept. 2013 FWC meeting in Pensacola, the Commission approved a two-part proposal that added language to the current statewide snagging definition for tarpon and modified what types of gear can be used when fishing in Boca Grande Pass. These changes went into effect Nov. 1.
The FWC Commission also approved several changes to how tarpon is managed at the June meeting in Lakeland. These changes went into effect Sept. 1, 2013, and include:
- All harvest of tarpon will be eliminated, with the exception of the harvest or possession of a single tarpon when in pursuit of an IGFA record and in conjunction with a tarpon tag.
- Tarpon tags will be limited to one per person, per year (except for charter boat captains).
- Transport or shipment of tarpon becomes limited to one fish per person.
- One fish per vessel limit is created for tarpon.
- Gear used for tarpon will be limited to hook-and-line only.
- People will be allowed to temporarily possess a tarpon for photography, measurement of length and girth and scientific sampling, with the stipulation that tarpon more than 40 inches must remain in the water.
- Tarpon regulations will extend into federal waters.
- Tarpon tag cost will remain $50 per tag but tag validity will change from July through June to January through December. Tags purchased from July 1 through Dec. 31, 2013, will be good through Dec. 31, 2014.
- Prohibit the use of a multiple hook in conjunction with live or dead natural bait to harvest or attempt to harvest tarpon
To learn more, read our Frequently Asked Questions about these changes.
Image Credit:Diane Rome Peebles