If pompano aren't on your list of species to target, they should be. These sought-after game fish are highly valued by veteran and novice anglers for their tasty flesh and endless pulling power.
Tampa Bay area residents Neil Burke, Larry Moffit, and Bill Whipple found out recently why they're so valuable.
One of the most popular techniques for catching these golden nuggets is drifting the gulf passes. The trio started at the mouth of a pass and allowed the incoming tide to push them along while they cast their baits up current and bounced it along the bottom, typically known as back drifting.
Their bait was a half-ounce, pink G3 Doc's Goofy Jig. The jig itself wobbles from side to side, imitating an escaping shrimp or crab, two of the pompano's favorite dinner items. The G3 also comes with a small flashy pink hair stinger hook attached to the main jig to give it a more lifelike appearance.
"Whatcha' got, Neil, another ladyfish?" I asked.
"No, this one's not jumping; I think it's a pompano," he yelled.
Sure enough, he was right. After a few line-pulling runs, Burke brought the average-sized pomp (about 2 pounds in our area) to the landing net.
After a couple more pompano went in the cooler (limit of six per harvester per day aggregate with permit), the bite dropped off and the anglers opted to catch Spanish mackerel. Mackerel are abundant now and easy to catch, especially with frisky live scaled sardines.
Using long-shank 3/0 Aberdeen hooks, the three anglers hooked their baits through the pectoral fins so the sardines would move more erratically than traditional nose-hooked baits. It was just a few minutes before all three were pulling in 3- to 4-pound Spanish mackerel.
Rick Frazier runs Lucky Dawg Charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 510-4376.