The inshore and nearshore fish that puts up the most spectacular fight is the tarpon. Fortunately, as it’s called by many, the silver king is found in the coastal waters of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. As a result of its extensive range, anglers can catch them in all three states. Learn what a tarpon fish is and how they are caught.

How Do You Identify A Tarpon

Tarpon is called the silver king for a reason. The large silver scales along each side shine brightly while the top along the dorsal fin is colored green. 

A key feature of the tarpon is the mouth. The lower jaw of the enormous mouth is angled upward, which is why the fish inhales large live baits at a moment’s notice. 

Lastly, the eyes are massive, round, and glassy. From just behind the eye and gill plate, a lateral line extends to the tail.

What’s The Biggest Tarpon Ever Caught?

The biggest tarpon ever caught was 286 pounds and 9 ounces. Silver kings this size are uncommon, particularly in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. 

In the southeast, anglers primarily catch tarpon between 30 and 50 pounds. However, it is not uncommon to push the scale over 100 pounds. No matter the size, the aerial show will surely be a treat.

Is Tarpon A Good Fish To Eat?

No, it is not worth the effort of catching, killing, and filleting a tarpon for consumption purposes. 

First off, the fish has a strong smell, leading any angler to throw it back instead of in the cooler. Second, the flesh, when cooked, is known to hold a fishy taste. Lastly, the silver king has an unprecedented number of bones and, as a result, is challenging to remove. 

Believe us, the fight will be impressive enough that you will want to release it to enjoy for another day. 

Can You Keep Tarpon

While tarpon is not a fish consumed by anglers, some prefer to keep the fish as a wall mount for their home or office. Here is a state-by-state breakdown in regards to keeping silver kings.


The state of Georgia allows one tarpon to be kept per day. However, remember to check the size regulations.

South Carolina

Coastal fishers in South Carolina are also allowed to keep one tarpon per day. Again, check the current size requirements.

North Carolina

Unlike South Carolina and Georgia, the possession of tarpon is illegal in the state of North Carolina. 

Lastly, because silver kings are known for their fighting ability instead of table fare, it is best to practice catch and release to have the opportunity for another fight. 

How Do You Catch Tarpon Fish

When it comes to catching tarpon, they can be hooked in a variety of ways. The most popular methods include trolling, live bait, and cut bait. Depending on the size of the silver king in the area, the most versatile setup is a medium-weight rod, 30-pound line, and 5,000 size reels. 

Cut Bait

The best cut bait is mullet. Place the mullet on a circle hook with a weight and send it to the bottom where silver kings are present. The process requires patience but be prepared for a decisive strike. 

Live Bait

Both live crabs and live mullet fished on a circle hook at the surface of the water is highly effective. The natural movement of the bait in combination with the vibration it exudes will draw hungry tarpon to the meal presented. 


Surface poppers are the most intriguing because of the explosive bite from a silver king. The fish will launch from the water like a rocket as it strikes.

 In addition to poppers, shallow running Yo-Zuri and Rapala lures which imitate local food sources, will draw more bites. 

Time To Head Out Tarpon Fishing

One of the most memorable experiences is battling a silver king at the end of the line. The jumps in combination with drag screaming runs will be forever engrained in your mind. Remember, not every tarpon is landed due to their fighting habits, so don’t become discouraged. For those who are lucky enough to land one, capture a few pictures.