Can You Eat Tarpon: (Tips, Tactics & Precautions)

Catching a tarpon is quite a challenging task which is why enthusiastic anglers are always up for it. The difficulty that lies in catching a tarpon makes the whole task more enjoyable. On the other hand, eating a tarpon is a whole different realm, with many conflicting opinions.

Some people shy away from cooking and eating tarpons as the fish have a pungent smell. Along with the smell, there are a gazillion bones to pick. However, despite all the challenges that lie in the way of catching and cooking tarpons, many people, including me, enjoy eating them. In this article, I have shared all the information I possess regarding tarpons and whether or not you can eat them.

Also, Read Our Review On Top Spinning Fishing Reels For Saltwater.

Can You Eat Tarpon

What is Tarpon?

Tarpon is an enormous air-breathing fish that is mostly found in saltwater. These fish are silver in color from the front; the back is darker in color than the front, ranging from dark green to shades of gray.

They are considered one of the best gamefish as catching a tarpon is quite a sport that a novice can not handle. The difficulty in catching a tarpon makes it a fun and challenging activity for anglers.

Tarpon Underwater View
Tarpon Underwater View

Can They Be Eaten?

Most people stay away from the idea of eating tarpons due to their strong smell; however, tarpons are edible. Another reason why people usually avoid bringing tarpon to their feasts is that eating a tarpon can become a challenge due to the large number of small bones in them.

Eat Delicious Tarpon
You Can Eat Delicious Tarpon

If you do decide to eat them, from my experience, a single tarpon will be more than enough to feed a large family. In fact, I had to cut up the fish into smaller pieces to be able to cook it properly.

Related Guide: Can You eat bass fish?

Cooking Tarpons

Those who do not shy away from the strong smell or the presence of gazillion bones enjoy cooking and eating tarpon. There are many methods of cooking a tarpon. The most common method of cooking a tarpon is poaching.

Poaching a tarpon is common as this method covers up the aroma of the fish, and the spices bring delightful flavors to the meal. Fishcakes can also be made out of tarpons.

Cooking Tarpon
Cooking Tarpon

Eating Tarpons Raw

Despite common belief, tarpons can also be eaten raw. However, if you decide to devour a raw tarpon, make sure you catch one from saltwater. Saltwater washes off all the parasites and germs from the skin of the tarpon. If it is not from saltwater, then avoid eating the fish raw.

What Do Tarpons Taste Like?

The taste of tarpon is not very delicious, which is why most people do not prefer eating it as they do not find it worth the effort. In addition to that, the smell and the presence of hundreds of bones further ruin the experience.

However, with the right method of cooking and the perfect amount of spices, a delicious meal can be prepared out of a tarpon.

How To Catch A Tarpon?

If you wish to get your hands on a tarpon, then you need to find the best fishing gear. In addition to the fishing gear, you need a few pairs of strong hands that will help you hold the fish while it wrestles to go free. Tarpon fish love crabs and mullets. So, if you can get any of these on your hook, then your chances of catching a tarpon will increase.

Moreover, tarpons are mostly found in warmer seasons, and Florida is famous for tarpons, so you need to head there in summer to catch one.

Catch 5KG Tarpon
Caught 5KG Tarpon

When Can They Be Caught?

Tarpons are usually found in saltwater regions. However, some of them also live in freshwater areas like lakes. Florida is known for being the best spot to catch a tarpon. Boca Grande in Florida houses the largest number of tarpons in the whole world. If you wish to catch one of the best game fish, head to Florida.

However, catching a tarpon is not as easy as catching other fish. Tarpons do not stay hooked to the line easily; these boys fight back and keep wrestling to free themselves.

Caught Tarpon

Some Precautions Regarding Tarpons

The first precaution that you need to keep in mind is if you decide to cook the fish, remove all the fat and the skin properly. These two parts of the fish house many types of germs and bacterias that can be hazardous. Moreover, make sure to cook it until the temperature reaches 145°F.

The most important precaution you need to keep in mind is that taking a tarpon out of water completely is illegal without a permit. It would be best if you held the fish in a way that at least 40 inches of its body should be underwater at all times. However, if you have the permit, you can take it out and keep the fish.


Are tarpon fish good to eat?

Tarpon fish are edible, meaning they can be cooked and eaten. However, tarpons have quite a strong smell that many people find off-putting. In addition to that, tarpons have a large number of small bones in their body that makes eating them quite a sport, which is why people avoid eating them.

Is it legal to keep tarpon?

There are many states where it is illegal to keep a tarpon. In addition to that, people are only allowed to hole the fish to take pictures with it, and even then, at least 40 inches of the fish’s body needs to be underwater. However, if you possess a permit, then it is permissible to keep a tarpon.


The difficulty that comes with catching and eating a tarpon turns the whole job into one big challenge. However, with the right method of cooking, you can prepare a delicious meal with the tarpon you caught. I hope this article gave you all the necessary information and precautions regarding tarpons.

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