I am confident that I am not alone when I say pompano is a tasty fish. Many gourmet experts say this popular dinner entree is the world’s most edible fish. I entered the pompano tournament at Gulf Breeze Bait & Tackle and had big plans to fish for my delicious pompano dinner frequently this year. As happens in life, this plan has not played out as I had hoped. I now have time to discover and share with you all a little bit about this popular fish that is coveted by so many anglers (but, to be honest, I would rather be out catching ‘em).
Pompano (Trachinotus Carolinas), also known as Florida pompano, common pompano, Atlantic pompano, sunfish or butterfish, is a member of the jack family. These fast-growing fish normally weigh less than 3 pounds with an average weight around 2 pounds and are about 18 inches long. The IGFA world record of 8 pounds 4 ounces (wow!) was caught in St. Joe Bay by Barry Huston while fishing for trout with a Mirro-lure. It was a “Mirrocle"! I read two other fascinating fish tales of massive pompano being caught by anglers in Vero Beach, and I will be sharing the links at the end of this post for those that are interested.
Physical characteristics of pompano consist of a small mouth, blunt nose, football shaped deep-body and sharply forked tail fin with smooth sides. They are blue green dorsally (upper), fading to silver laterally (sides) and the ventral (lower) surface tends to be silvery yellow in color. The fins, especially the anal (butt ;D) fins, are yellow in color. Fun fact, pompano are one of only a few fish that are more colorful after they die than when alive.
Pompano are fast swimming fish found along shorelines in warm waters along the coast from Massachusetts to Texas and prefer water temperatures in the mid eighties. They will form large schools and feed together as they migrate and will break into smaller schools as the water temperature increases. Pompano are toothless fish with strong jaws that can crush shells of the food they eat, and interestingly, their digestive system does the “chewing”, removing all of the meat and allowing the shells to pass. They feed primarily on sand fleas, shrimp and small fish, in addition to other crustaceans and mollusks. Schools hang out nearshore because the wave action along the shoreline helps expose these prey creatures to the pompano.
One of the best fighting fish pound for pound, pompano are faster and stronger than other fish their size. Because they like to congregate in shallow water surf and around piers, pompano anglers normally either pier fish or shore fish. The clever pompano is good at detecting thick lines and large hooks so using lighter tackle is recommended. They love sand fleas and shrimp so I like to use those on my pompano rig but every thing from fishbites to fiddler crabs to jigs will work. Go find your favorite set up and catch a world record pompano so I can put you in my next pompano post! In the comments, attach a picture and let me hear about the largest pompano you have caught. I love hearing fish tales!
Links to “fish tales”-