Late summer is a great time to target pompano along the gulf beaches. Although they are among the most elusive of inshore species, these tasty members of the jack family can be caught with some consistency if you are willing to put in the time.
Where to look: Pompano feed almost entirely on crustaceans and mollusks, most of which they find in or near sand bottom. Spots where the sand is regularly shifted, such as in inlets where tidal flow constantly changes the bottom or in swash channels between the beach and outer sand bars where the longshore current does the same thing, are common feeding areas. When searching by boat, idle along the sandy edges of these areas watching ahead and behind. The mirrored sides of the pompano reflect their surroundings, making them difficult to see. It is sometimes easier to see their shadows. The most important place to look is behind. Pompano have a habit of "skipping" or leaping from the water sideways out of the wakes of passing boats.
How to catch them: Bounce small hair jigs rapidly along the bottom. As the saying goes: Any color will work as long as it is yellow. The best jigs have a one-eighth- to quarter-ounce lead head and sparse bucktail tied to it. Too much body and the lure sinks too slowly. The one-piece lead-bodied lures known as Doc's Goofy Jigs are also pompano favorites.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs and can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 944-3474.