- Black sea bass have dangerously sharp spines on their dorsal fin that can puncture human skin.
- The all-tackle world record for black sea bass is 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
- When hooked in deep water and brought quickly to the surface, a black sea bass will often regurgitate its stomach contents.
Considered one of the worlds premier saltwater gamefish, the tarpon is a large and powerful specimen. Its long, thick and streamlined body, which is covered in large scales, is a blue-gray to green-gray in color on its back and varies in darkness from silver to nearly black. On it sides and belly, the tarpon is a shiny silver. In brackish waters, tarpon may take on a golden or brownish tone whenever tannic acid present in the water. The tarpon has a large mouth with a prominent bony-plated lower jaw that protrudes upward. The dorsal fin, which begins just past the origination of the pelvic fin, has distinctive a long trailer at the end of the lowest ray. The base of the tail is thick and the large tail fin is widely forked.
In the western Atlantic, tarpon are common to the tropical waters between North and South America, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Their expanded range stretches from Virginia to central Brazil, depending on annual climate. In the eastern Atlantic, tarpon are common in the waters off the coast of western Africa from Mauritania to Angola. The eastern Atlantic tarpon may also range as far north as Portugal, southern France and the Irish coast.
The tarpon is an inshore species that primarily inhabits coastal waters and estuaries. Tarpon can also be found in bays, passes, canals, offshore marine waters, brackish river, mangrove-lined lagoons and sometimes around coral reefs. They may be found as deep as 100 feet, but generally are shallow-dwelling game fish. They seek warm waters and water temperatures in the 66 to 86 F range and can survive in waters with varying degrees of salinity. They are susceptible to stress in waters below 55 F.
Tarpon scatter their eggs in the open water where they are externally fertilized. Although specific locations are not exactly known, tarpon typically spawn offshore from late spring through summer, depending on latitude. Prior to the spawning, tarpon gather in schools near the coast where they swim in a circular motion called a daisy chain. This activity is believed to be a type of prespawning ritual. Depending on the size of the tarpon, a female can lay from 4 to 20 million eggs. The eggs hatch into leptocephali, ribbon-like larvae with fang-like teeth. These leptocephali then drift inshore into estuaries, where they lose their teeth, shrink in length and begin to transform into small versions of adult tarpon.
Tarpon generally travel in schools and are opportunistic carnivores by nature. They will feed both day and night, and although they will move lazily in foraging areas, they can strike quickly when their prey has been identified. Tarpon feed on crabs and a variety of fish, including sardines, anchovies, mullets and pinfish.
Because of its strength, stamina and fighting (often for hours) and jumping abilities, the tarpon is one of the most sought after fish in salt water. The tarpons bursts of speed, as well as spectacular leaps that can reach 10 feet, can test the skill of the most experienced angler. Anglers are often satisfied just to see a few leaps before a powerful tarpon can shake free of a hook. Making the tarpon an even more challenging catch, they will mix surface sprints with deep-water runs.
Successful angling usually occurs in the spring and fall, although they are caught throughout the year in warm waters. Night fishing is popular to coincide with the active night feeding of tarpon. When casting, anglers commonly sight fish, waiting for the tarpon to come within casting range before beginning the official pursuit. A variety of plugs can be used to catch the tarpon. Shallow runners jerked and paused will often work. Sometimes a tarpon may be finicky and simply just refuse to take the bait.
Live baits including crab, shrimp and small fish such as mullet are normally used while an angler is drifting or stillfishing. In addition, some angler choose to jig in deep water and passes, while others may choose to troll along the ends of flats close to deeper water.
Tarpon are easily lost on one of their powerful jumps or fast runs. The tarpons bony mouth and tough gill plate make it a necessity to have extremely sharp and strong hooks as well as strong leaders. Standard tackle for pursing tarpon includes at least 200 yards of 12 to 20-pound line on a baitcasting rod. Flycasters should use at least a 10-pound tippet.
- Tarpon are not known for their table fare. In fact, most tarpon caught by sports fisherman are fished for sport only and are released after catching. Outside of the North American there is some commercial interest for tarpon, but due do its bony nature they have not caught on commercially in the United States.
- Fossil research shows that the species has been swimming in the oceans since prehistoric times.
- The swim bladder of the tarpon is attached to the esophagus and can be filled directly with air. This allows the tarpon to survive in low-oxygen water as well as breath by gulping air while out of the water for extended periods of time.
- The all-tackle world record for tarpon is 283 pounds.