Florida Fishing for Pompano
Every fisherman who has ever thrown his bait into the Gulf of
Mexico likes to fish for Pompano. They're the best tasting fish
in the gulf, bar none. They're also fairly easy to catch from June
until the middle of December. Winter and spring months are only
fair because they are scattered and generally smaller than the one's
caught in the summer and fall. The Pompano were running up and down
the Gulf of Mexico this fine Fourth of July weekend. This is a fish
that truly loves warmer water, with their preferred water temperature
being between 82 and 98 degrees Fahrenheit.
Walking along the beach just after first light with the smell
of the ocean and the spray from the surf leaving the taste of salt
on your lips is an absolutely wonderful way to start the day. The
sun, just peeking through the mist, will soon burn away any lingering
wisps of fog remaining on the beach. Seabirds fighting over remnants
of a mysterious sea object that has washed ashore, reminds me to
protect the shrimp I had stored in a bucket next to my beach chair.
A solitary pelican has just crept within 15 yards of me and is staring
at the bait bucket as though he can see inside. He must have heard
the shrimp moving around.
This beautiful morning I was fishing off the beautiful sugar
white sand of Mexico Beach, just east of Port St. Jo and just down
the road from Panama City, Florida. One of the few areas that is
not overly populated, either by local fishermen or by tourists,
it was a surprise to find myself relatively alone. Looking up and
down the beach you could only see an occasional beach walker searching
the sand to see what secrets the sea had washed ashore on the early
Pompano are not fish eaters so the first thing you have to do
when fishing is to secure your bait. Besides the shrimp I had already
bought, I had to have sand fleas. They're on any Pompano's menu
and they're usually plentiful along most beaches. The easiest and
cheapest way to obtain these them is to catch them yourself! They're
found at the waters edge as it recedes back into the sea. As the
water rushes back from the beach, you'll see small holes appear
at the water's edge. Those holes are where a sand flea is burrowing.
Immediately dig down and you'll find them.
For my sand flea hunting I simply use a sturdy bucket that I've
drilled many holes in the bottom and sides. This allows the water
to flush out of its container and leave the sand fleas on the bottom
when I dig for them. There are several types of sand flea rakes
you could buy, but making your own is more fun. I've even seen kids
on the beach digging for them with a stiff toy beach bucket. Just
use whatever is handy. After you catch a dozen or more, put them
into your bait bucket with a little sand and water and you're ready
to start fishing. You can always catch more fleas when you run out
of the ones you've already caught.
Pompano run in schools. Where you find one, you will usually
find many, so remember that when you're catching sand fleas. Pompano
also eat shrimp with live ones being the better bait but dead ones
will work if your bait shrimp is not alive.
I use a weight 5' rod and a light reel with 8 to 10 lb test line.
I use this because I know that most pompano are between 1 pound
and 3 ? pounds. I also keep a 7' surf rod and surf reel with 15
lb test line in the other line holder just in case I hang a bigger
The rig that has worked well for me starts with a barrel swivel
on the end of my line. I'll then tie a 3' to 4' foot of 30 lb leader
to the swivel. After that comes the two 8" lengths of leader on
which I will tie 1/0 circle hooks. I'll tie those about 12" apart.
After that, all that remains is tying a 2 ounce egg sinker to the
bottom of the leader. Then all I have to so is bait my hooks and
throw the rig as far out on the gulf as I can. That's usually about
30 to 40 yards.
There are other more sophisticated and expensive ways to catch
both pompano and sand fleas, but I choose to keep it simple and
as cheap as I can. Vacations are costly enough without spending
a lot of money on bait and the fish you will catch with them. Most
of us, if we add up the cost of a fishing trip and divide that into
the amount of fish we catch, would be much better off going to a
good restaurant. I figure that counting the gas for the trip to
the beach, lodging, food, bait and a few souvenirs, each fish I
caught that day cost me approximately $438.00 each.
Bob Alexander is well experienced in outdoor cooking, holiday
eating and leisure living.
Bob is also the author and owner of this article. Visit his sites