As we approach the peak of fishing season for one of the most sought-after saltwater species in Texas waters, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is encouraging anglers to report when and where tarpon have been spotted or caught.
Anglers can report sightings or catches using the online Tarpon Observation Network, maintained by the TPWD Coastal Fisheries Division. Angler reports will help biologists learn more about the silver king’s life cycle, habitat use and migration patterns.
Tarpon are both one of the most desirable and difficult to catch game fish, and the Texas gulf coast has long been a prime place to find them — in fact, from 1896 to 1911, Port Aransas was known as Tarpon, named for the fish that were so abundant there. They can grow to more than 300 pounds and more than 7 ½ feet in length. Known as vigorous fighters, it is estimated that seven of every eight tarpon who are hooked manage to escape. In 1937, President Franklin Roosevelt was drawn to Port Aransas to try his hand at tarpon fishing — he managed to land an 80-pounder.
However, by the 1960s, overfishing and habitat destruction had taken their toll and the tarpon population in the Gulf began to decline. The goal of the Tarpon Observation Network is to use volunteer observations as a part of the effort by TPWD to help manage and conserve the Gulf’s tarpon population. So far, more than 300 observations representing roughly 400 tarpon have been registered into the application, primarily from TPWD records and observant anglers.