Persnickety Pompano: A Fish Worth the Effort

“If it don’t come easy, you better let it go.” – Country music icon, Tanya Tucker

Just a guess, but I’m thinking Ms. Tucker didn’t spend a lot of time fishing for—much less eating—pompano. True, this neurotic little fish certainly does not come easy, but once you’ve fought this spirited fish on light tackle and enjoyed their firm, mild filets, letting them go will be sacrilege.

Fall’s a great time to target pompano throughout much of the Southeast. The fish are on the move, pushing south toward warmer waters and feeding heavily.

Any time of year, pomps are a here-today-gone-tomorrow species, so don’t expect much consistency. You basically have to commit some time to working likely areas, but once you find a school, multiple hookups are common. Stay sharp and move with the fish and you can stretch a bite for hours.

Shallow flats are your most common scenario and broken bottom—random splotches of grass and sand—seem to offer the highest probability. Repetitive appearances on the same flat are rare and a lot of pompano are located incidentally when they skip boat wakes. Keep your peripheral vision sharp and if you notice a few silver saucers flying from the white water, circle back and work the area.

From beaches, piers and coastal inlet bridges, mole crabs (aka “sand fleas”) fished on double dropper rigs dressed with gold, orange or red beads are a good bet for pomps.

If you're covering water in a boat, you'll do well by blind-casting small bullet head jigs with short nylon skirts, or one of the keel-weighted jigs like Doc's Goofy Jigs or Love's Lures. Yellow, or yellow and white are always good, but sometimes the pomps prefer pink. Tandem rigs with a small nylon fly positioned above the pompano jig double your chances of attracting attention.

However you catch your pompano, mind these points: These fish sport a row of spikes ahead of their dorsal fin so handle with care. Pompano offer some of the sea’s finest filets, so keep them fresh by thoroughly icing your catch.