First Tarpon Caught off El Salvador

Atlantic tarpon in the Pacific are marching north as a tarpon caught off El Salvador, more than 800 miles north of the Panama Canal, proves.
A small Atlantic tarpon caught off El Salvador
With tarpon now being caught in El Salvador, how long till they start showing regularly in Mexican waters? Courtesy Paco Saca / IGFA Rep, El Salvador

The first documented tarpon caught off El Salvador last week suggests that the species continues to expand its range in the Pacific. The country’s International Game Fish Association representative, Paco Saca, tells Sport Fishing that the 13-pounder was caught by an artisanal fisherman on a live finger mullet.

While many tarpon have been caught off Panama and even Costa Rica in recent years, “This is proof that tarpon have made the journey 800-plus miles from the Panama Canal north to make El Salvador their home.”

Map showing location of El Salvador
El Salvador is locaed in the middle of the Central American Pacific Coast. Courtesy Google Earth

Saca says since this photo has been posted on Facebook, “other El Salvador fishermen have come forward with accounts of having caught big ones in nets.”


While there remains no irrefutable evidence that tarpon in the Eastern Pacific are spawning in rivers here, rather than simply transiting through the canal, speculation by anglers and others that the species is establishing residence in the Pacific has been widespread.

Saca reports that the fisherman kept this tarpon. “They tried to eat it,” he explains. “But that was impossible, so the next ones will be released for sure.”