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Pompano (Trachinotus carolinus)
Pompano are easily confused with their overgrown relatives, Permit. Even though they're small, these are, pound for pound, some of the best fighting fish you can find.
Pompano are schooling, bottom feeding fish, mostly associated with surf and pier fishing off shallow, sandy, beaches. They're finicky eaters, but, if you manage to get them the right bait at the right time of the day, you've got yourself a fight... And, hopefully, a dinner.
They rarely grow over 3lbs and 17'', with the largest fish reaching 8-9lbs and 26''.
When & Where
Pompano are native to western Atlantic waters from Massachusetts to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the West Indies, but excluding the Bahamas. They move locally based on tides and regionally based on the seasonal water temperature shifts.
They're most abundant in Florida. On the Atlantic coast, they can be found in the surf zone from New Smyrna Beach down to Miami, with hotspot beaches being Playalinda, Juno and the strip between Melbourne and Sebastian inlet. On the Gulf coast, you can catch them from St Pete to Ft Myers and off beaches in the Panhandle.
October to December and April to July will be the best months, in the flood tide, either early morning or at dusk, preferably with the wind blowing towards the shore.
Dinner all around! Served after a trip with Hemingway Fishing Adventures in Naples, FL
How to catch
These fish are picky about bait, and the best natural options will be small sand fleas (better known as mole crabs), clams or shrimp (the best option is combining these two and freezing them together). Artificial alternatives include plugs or various fly choices.
The proper way of catching Pompano is by casting your bait into the receding wave and then reeling when it moves in. If using artificials, twitching the bait off the bottom in order to stir up sand puffs every 4-5s is recommended. Once hooked, use the water to your advantage to reel in fish caught in the incoming wave.
Check out a phenomenal guide to Pompano beach fishing equipment and techniques HERE.
Good to eat?
The delicious white and flaky meat is one of the highest costing marine foods in the US.
Fish Species Similar to Pompano
Jack (African Pompano)
Top Pompano fishing Destinations
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