The only time to hang a tarpon on a scale is when it's a world record.
Updated: May 15, 2019
Check out our collection of tarpon pictures, featuring some of the largest tarpon ever caught.
Largest Tarpon Ever Caught
Before Patrick Sebile designed artificials for Sebile Lures, he guided anglers to record-size tarpon in Africa’s Guinea-Bissau.COURTESY IGFA / IGFA.ORG
Angler Max Domecq (left) landed this 286-pound, 9-ounce tarpon on a mullet in March 2003. It’s currently the largest tarpon ever caught and recorded, according to the IGFA, landed in a little over an hour.
Using 30-pound tackle and a mullet, Jarland’s catch tops out as the largest tarpon ever caught by a lady angler, beating out higher 80- and 130-pound tackle classes. According to this tarpon chart, a 249-pound tarpon measures anywhere from 81 to 90 inches (or about 7 feet in length).
A Junior Record
Junior angler Amanda Noviello fished in Cannon Island, Honduras in July 2002 to land this 128-pound tarpon. By now, Noviello is likely eligible for all line-class records, but her record still stands today.COURTESY IGFA / IGFA.ORG
We Love the 90s
Can you tell Elizabeth Hogan’s catch is from the 90s?COURTESY IGFA / IGFA.ORG
In May 1991, Hogan used 2-pound-test line to catch this 56-pounder in Marathon, Florida Keys. The Florida Keys are one location where fishermen target tarpon all year long, making it one of the best tarpon fisheries in all the world. In fact, all U.S. IGFA tarpon records were caught in the state of Florida.
Record Fly Caught Tarpon
Fly angler James Holland fished out of Chassahowitza to land a 202-pound, 8-ounce tarpon on 20-pound tippet.COURTESY IGFA / IGFA.ORG
Boca Grande gets all the fanfare, but the central northwest waters of Florida probably have the best tarpon fishing that not many know about. And the local anglers want to keep it that way! But with world record catches in the IGFA record book, that might be hard to do. He enticed the tarpon with a Kilpatrick’s Slick Slider and the landed the fish in just under two hours, making his tarpon the largest ever caught on fly.
One Record That’s Hard to Break
Natural bait isn’t the only way to catch tarpon, even if a surprising number of records are caught on mullet. Gus Bell fished out of Key West, Florida, to land his 243-pounder on a pinfish. His 20-pound-class tackle record has stood the test of time since February 1975.COURTESY IGFA / IGFA.ORG
In May 2010, fly angler Thomas M. Evans, Jr. landed a 194-pound, 8-ounce tarpon on 12-pound tippet in Pine Island.COURTESY IGFA / IGFA.ORG
The west coast of Florida easily trumps the east coast in terms of record tarpon catches. His record catch — which was completely legal — drew some criticism because it edged on the side of “trophy hunting” rather than “conservation.” In Florida, tarpon are highly protected and can’t be kept for harvest unless submitted for record consideration.
A Magical Catch
Harry Potter has nothing on Alex Nicolson when it comes to fishing. The smallfry angler fished out of Barra do Kwanza, Angola, to land this 142-pound, 10-ounce tarpon on a sardine.COURTESY IGFA / IGFA.ORG
Tarpon have huge appeal across much of the world, including countries in Africa, but also numerous hot spots in the Americas like Trinidad and Tobago and Puerto Rico.
George Hogan Jr. went as light as possible when he used 2-pound-test line to land his 106-pound tarpon at Marathon Key. The tarpon hit a mullet and came to boatside in just half an hour. The entire portion of the Keys sees a strong migration each spring, making all the Keys from Key West to Key Largo popular for fishermen.COURTESY IGFA / IGFA.ORG
There’s something about watching a tarpon explode on your artificial offering that leaves you completely addicted. Fly angler Dotty Ballantyne traveled all the way from Bozeman, Montana, to fish for tarpon in Florida’s Big Pine Key. She used a shrimp pattern to tempt a 13-pound, 12-ounce fish, claiming the women’s record on 4-pount tippet. Nice catch!COURTESY IGFA / IGFA.ORG