These hard-fighting fish are excellent sport and even better on the table, being one of the most prized examples of table fare from the sea.
We’re fishing Tampa Bay and working a variety of locations, from hard, sandy/shell bottom, to passes, under bridges and along the troughs along the beaches. Pompano feed in these areas, allowing the tide to sweep crabs, sand fleas, minnows and shrimp by, which they eagerly gobble up.
Pompano are focused on the bottom for their food, so that’s where we’re focused. Using small live shrimp, live fiddler crabs or sand fleas with just enough weight and small hooks, we’re “hopping” our baits along the bottom until a pompano detects the movement and pounces.
Artificial baits are working, as well, and we’re using Banana-style Docs Goofy Jigs with accent feathers in red or pink. We like a quick, snapping motion when jigging, which really turns on the pomps.
When pompano fishing, there’s always the chance of picking up a flounder or a mangrove snapper. Both like the same types of baits and feed on the sandy bottom. It’s a bonus when we get them and we definitely don’t complain when these species horn in on our pompano baits.
Pompano are great fighters on light tackle. They have to measure 11 inches to the fork of the tail to keep, and right now keepers are no problem.
On the table, they are hard to beat. I have a couple of great recipes on my fish cookery page: Panko Pompano with Creamy Grits and fresh Pico topping and Pompano A La Chuckie, so be sure to check them out here.