Yes, removing a scale from a tarpon, or any fish for that matter, can cause it harm. Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Institute recommends that a fisherman use a wet hand to wipe slime from the fish’s body back over the area where the scale was removed. Fishy slime actually protects the animal from bacterial infection. Though tarpon can naturally lose scales in a “fish fight”, it is not recommended that a fisherman intentionally do so.
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