What's hot: Summer is a great time to target pompano in the North Suncoast area. These delicious members of the jack family are generally quite elusive, but with some basic knowledge and persistence you can improve your chances of bringing a few home for dinner.
Technique: Pompano feed primarily on crustaceans and mollusks. Stomach content analysis has revealed that they eat a lot of coquinas, which live in the clean sand along the beach. They also love mole crabs, usually called "sand fleas," which are abundant in the surf zone. Start your search where there is clear, swift-moving water and a sandy bottom. Passes are ideal, as are the swash channels between the beach and the outer sand bars. If you are looking by boat, watch for pompano "skipping" out of your wake as you run. This unusual leaping habit has helped commercial fishermen locate schools of pompano for decades.
Tips: For fishing the beach, it's hard to beat a small yellow hair jig. The rapid vertical action of this bright colored lure is irresistible to pompano and small permit. Jigs also cover a large area in a short time, so they are good for prospecting. For natural bait in the surf, sand fleas are the top choice. Leader size should be no more than 15-pound test, and monofilament line is preferable to braid due to the keen eyesight and spooky nature of these prized fish.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at lighttacklecharters.com or at (727) 944-3474.