Pompano are often overlooked, but they shouldn’t be, they’re fun to catch, fight hard and are great to eat.
Pompano are in the jack family and first cousins to permit. Juvenile permit and pompano school together in many areas and are often difficult to tell apart.
Since the net ban, pompano populations have increased tenfold giving local anglers a chance to catch fish. Pompano are found in the warm waters of Tampa Bay and shorelines of the gulf beaches.
In the last few years I’ve noticed warmer water temperatures and have seen an increase in pompano populations on the flats and around the bridges. Bridge fishermen can catch their share of pompano by using live shrimp.
Pompano fishing is very time consuming and lots of work, they can be caught from the shore around bridge pilings and working the grass flats. An old trick to finding them with a boat is to run on plane through the flats and watch for them skipping in your wake. Once you see them skip, work the area with jigs or live shrimp while drifting the flats.
My favorite tackle for pompano is 10 to 15-pound braided line on a medium spinning reel on a seven foot fast action spinning rod. I’ve found that using 20-pound fluorocarbon leader works best with a #2 J hook and a fiddler crab or shrimp. When fishing the beaches sand fleas are also good bait.
Live baits fished on the bottom with a small split shot that drags along the bottom and stirs up some sand will draw the attention of pompano. My favorite is using jigs; they give me the ability to cover a larger area. Bounce the jig off the bottom so that when it falls a puff of sand pops up making it look like a crab trying to bury itself.
Some of the best jigs I have found are quarter and three eighths of ounce. Pompano jigs are shaped like a banana and come in pink, white or yellow, another good option is feathered jigs with chrome heads and white, red and silver feathers.
If you’re using a jig from a bridge, drop it along the pilings and bounce it off the bottom. Find the area with the best current flow for best results, tipping the jig with cut fresh shrimp will help increase your strikes. When fishing around bridges or docks, increase your leader size to 30-pound test to avoid break offs.
Captain Sergio Atanes is a native resident of Tampa and has been fishing the waters of Tampa Bay and Boca Grande for over 40 years. He is the owner and operator of S & I charters which is one of the largest charter booking services in the West Coast of Florida with 55 professional captains on staff. Capt. Sergio Atanes can be reached at (813) 973-7132 or www.reelfishy.com