Florida Tarpon Tag Rules (Again)

September 5, 2008 By: Marshall Cutchin

A response to a board poster from Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Commission seems to make it clear that it is in fact OK to lift a tarpon out of the water for pictures or measurement without first placing a tag in the fish’s jaw. The poster quotes the FWC as saying “Rules pertaining to Tarpon do not in fact explicitly prohibit anglers from bringing these species into the boat. Unless the angler has obtained a tarpon tag and intends to the keep the fish, there is no reason to bring the fish into the boat. However, if it is safer for the fish and the angler to bring the fish into the boat in order to remove the hook, the rules do not prohibit that activity.” You can read the FWC response to the poster on Dan Blanton’s bulletin board, and the relevant statement can be found here.
If you remember, last winter there was quite a hubbub over FWC’s interpretation of tarpon tagging rules, which some said led to unnecessary damage to the fish and forced tournaments to adopt some strange rules for scoring, like requiring anglers to purchase $50 tarpon tags for each fish they expected to catch and release. There were even questions raised when former president George Bush appeared to have boated a tarpon without a tag in place (witnesses later confirmed that the fish had been tagged).