Tarpon, aka the Silver King, is arguably the most sought after gamefish in the state of Florida but a 6-footer was just caught off the beach in Cape Cod.
20-year-old Hans Brings Jr. reeled in a ‘trophy’ tarpon while fishing off the beach in Mashpee, Cape Cod. Suffice it to say there is no possible way he knew it was a tarpon that ripped his hook when the rod first bent over.
The Megalops atlanticus is found throughout the Southeast. They can be targeted in North Carolina during the Summer and they’ve caught some big fish there, including a state record 193 lb. 5 oz. fish caught in 2008. And some fish are sparsely caught north of NC in Maryland and Virginia but beyond that they are exceedingly rare.
To catch a tarpon in Cape Cod is virtually unheard of. But they have the video to prove it happened!
Brings Jr. told Boston 25 News “I could not believe my eyes when I saw it, it was truly incredible.” Adding that “It was the best fishing day of my life and it’ll be hard to top in the future.”
His father says that tarpon measuring 5 feet in Florida are considered trophy fish which, to a certain degree, is accurate.
Here in Florida, tarpon are almost an exclusively catch-and-release species. Anglers can purchase a Tarpon Tag in Florida to keep 1 fish per year if an angler is chasing a state fishing record or a fishing world record.
So, measuring tarpon in Florida is done by taking tail to lip measurements, a girth measurement, and estimating the weight of a fish. Anglers use the ‘Babcock 1936 formula’ which is: (Length x Girth(2)/800= weight, then adding 13%, and that yields a proper estimate of the fish’s weight.
All that is to say, we don’t really focus on the length of a tarpon as whether or not it’s a trophy fish in Florida, it’s more about the final weight estimate. But any fish can be a ‘trophy’ fish if it matters enough to the angler, at least I’ve always believed so. The first tarpon I ever caught was a tiny juvenile tarpon caught on light tackle that jumped and flipped nonstop like an acrobat. That fish was more memorable to me than a lot of big fish I’ve caught.
Best Chance To Catch A Tarpon (Hint: Not in Cape Cod)
Tarpon season in Southwest Florida had wound down from the May/June peak. But these fish can be caught year-round in the Sunshine State, particularly in The Florida Keys which offers some of the best tarpon fishing around.
This species can be targeted year-round throughout the Caribbean Sea and stretching from Africa to Mexico. But the arguably best time to target big fish, ones weighing 100 or more pounds, is in late Spring and early Summer in Southwest Florida.
The big fish migrate from the Atlantic Coast of Africa through the Caribbean and up the SW Coast of Florida. From Boca Grande Pass to Tampa Bay the tarpon fishing is on fire for about two months.
The fishing itself can turn into a bit of a rodeo with tons of boats piled up on each other near Anna Maria Island and in Boca Grande but the juice is worth the squeeze. These powerful acrobatic fish offer a fight unlike any other, and it’s catch and release so the fish gets to live and fight another day.
As for tarpon fishing in Cape Cod, anglers could spend their whole lives fishing those beaches and never see one of these fish. This catch appears to be a complete anomaly.