Tarpon are another lesser known saltwater fish that can be caught in the Mid Atlantic. During the summer, these enormous gamefish migrate into coastal estuaries as far North as the Chesapeake Bay and Eastern Shore of Virginia coastal bays.
Although the appearance of tarpon in some areas can be unpredictable, they are sometimes abundant enough for anglers to target them specifically. In other situations, tarpon are one of several species of gamefish that may appear together.
In North Carolina, known tarpon fisheries occur in the lower Neuse River, Pamlico River, Albemarle Sound, Pamlico Sound and other areas. Occasionally, tarpon are caught in Virginia, especially in the shallow coastal bays near Oyster. Tarpon have also been caught in the Chesapeake Bay as far North as Onancock.
Tarpon feed primarily on small fish including menhaden, striped mullet, silversides, herring, and spot. They are caught with live baits as well as artificial lures.
Occasionally, anglers in the Mid Atlantic region encounter tarpon in clear, shallow waters where they can be targeted by sight casting with spinning tackle and fly-fishing gear.