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"The Tarpon Era" spotlighted in new museum exhibit

Rene Lopez and his tarpon
Posted at 5:33 PM, Feb 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-20 18:33:02-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — "The Tarpon Era" exhibit made its debut at the Port Aransas Museum this afternoon.

It provides an inside look at how the popular tarpon fish has influenced the city of Port Aransas.

Rene Lopez has been fishing in Port Aransas for decades.

He says there's nothing like catching a tarpon.

“It's one of those prize fish that everyone wants to catch,” Lopez said.

He is one of a handful of people who can say they've caught a tarpon.

"It's hard to catch and I'm lucky enough to be one of the few people to catch 'em,” he said.

Cliff Strain, the Port Aransas Museum’s executive director, marvels at the site of a freshly caught tarpon.

“When they come out of water, they're shining, they're shaking their head,” Strain said. “It’s quite a magnificent site to see."

Strain says that overfishing and tarpon’s choice habitat – they stay a mile from the jetties – have caused the local tarpon population to decline over the last 50 years.

“For a long time it was the major activity and the draw for people to come to this town,” Strain said. “There's still a few people here who don't know we used to be called 'Tarpon, Texas.'"

Even the city's biggest fishing tournament, the Deep Sea Roundup once was called the Tarpon Rodeo, as the competition was exclusively for tarpons.

Strain has spent the past six months helping create "The Tarpon Era" exhibit.

He said residents and visitors will appreciate learning more of what the city was once famous for.

“You know, kind of bring back some memories that maybe some people never knew existed about Port Aransas,” Strain said.

The exhibit is free for everyone to enjoy.