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Pompano Fishing in Florida

Written by Capt. Noah on Wednesday, 29 May 2013. Posted in Fish Info

Marine fish of the Caringidae family, Pompano belong to the Trachinotus genus and there are twenty species falling into this category, including the permit. A prized game fish, Pompano are also an immensely popular delicacy. During the springtime, hordes of anglers congregate along the Gulf coast and anticipate the arrival of these fantastic fish. Found in the western Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida Pompano has navy ships and cities named after it.

Pompano have deep bodies and are typically silver in color. These fish have a forked tail which is extremely narrow at the base. The Florida Pompano generally weighs about 3.30lbs and measures around 18in in length. The permit is the biggest of the Pompano family and measures about 35in and exceeds 32lbs in weight.

In Florida, Pompano are highly sought-after and they are exceptionally hard fighters. These delicious game fish are immensely exciting to catch and anglers waste no time targeting them for dinner. Here are some tips to help you catch Pompano in Florida:

Tackle for Pompano

The goal is to be able to cast as far as you can when necessary. To propel baits vast distances, an 8ft graphite rod is best. A 10lb spinning reel must have a smooth drag for the first run. Pompano run hard and fast, so ensure your gear is of superior quality or they will break down the drag. A light 12lb outfit will do a great job. Use either monofilament or braid line and a fluorocarbon leader that is lighter than 15lbs. Keep your hooks small, ideally of 1/0 size.

Bait for Pompano

The best bait to use is a live Sand Flea (otherwise called a Mole Crab). Although these can be bought at most bait and tackle shops in Florida, it is always best to catch your own fresh, live baits. You can dredge them up in the surf with a sand flea rake. As the waves recede, you can see them burrowing into the sand. Avoid putting them in a bucket with sand because their urine will kill them. Rather use an oyster bag with ice and newspapers. Keep them cool and out of the sun. Otherwise, small live shrimp work well, as do fiddler crabs and specialized lures.

Techniques for Pompano

Pompano have an unusual behavior that makes catching them particularly fun. We usually use a teaser such as chum to attract them once located. These are some techniques that you can use to catch these feisty fish:

  • Finding Pompano is the hardest part of catching them. Pompano are unique because they display unusual behavior called “skipping”. They literally skip across the surface of the water when disturbed, and you can use this to your advantage. Run your boat randomly along the shore and when you see a school skipping along the waves, you have found them. Stop, drop your anchor and throw some chum to get them close to your boat. When they begin their feeding frenzy, you can drop your hooked baits in.
  • A small yellow jig with a hooked sand flea or shrimp will also catch Pompano. Jump the jig in short hops to mimic the natural movements of your bait. A sand flea will jump before burying itself in the sand and they have a bright orange egg sack. You can add a small bright orange bead to your leader to emulate this too. Pompano rely on their eyesight for locating prey, so take full advantage of this fact by adding split shot to your leader. The more commotion you cause on the bottom, the more fish you will attract.
  • Often prey can be found just offshore of the last beach trough. This is where you will find plenty of Pompano. By anchoring there and casting into the trough, you will catch many of these feisty fish.
  • Tide and current move shrimp, small crabs and crustaceans into troughs, inlets formed by granite boulders, jetties and other low-lying holes. This is important to remember because these are feeding zones and attract hungry Pompano in large numbers. Cast your lines into these places, because at some stage during the high tide these fish will be feeding there.
  • When the surface water temperature reaches 68 degrees, Pompano season has arrived. In fact, this temperature makes a myriad of fish active.
  • If you really want to have success with catching Pompano, get there early and leave late. The full moon days in April and May are considered prime times and try to plan your trips around them where possible.

Call today to book your Pompano Fishing Charter in Florida and exhilarate in these delightful fish.


About the Author

Capt. Noah

Capt. Noah

Noah is a United States Coast Guard licensed captain and PADI divemaster. He grew up in South Florida and has a passion for all things involving water. He is one of the rare bread of boaters who loves sailing and power boating. Noah sails competitvely and enjoys travelling, photography, and cooking. 


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