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Powerful pompano a pleasing pursuit

Doc Hart of Largo and creator of Doc’s Goofy Jigs displays a pompano caught last month fishing the Pass-A-Grille channel using one of his pink jigs. Pompano like turbulent sandy areas for foraging.

Rick Frazier | Special to the Times

Doc Hart of Largo and creator of Doc’s Goofy Jigs displays a pompano caught last month fishing the Pass-A-Grille channel using one of his pink jigs. Pompano like turbulent sandy areas for foraging.

Pound for pound, the pompano has as much speed, power and heart as any fish its size.

They pull like there's no tomorrow, and they don't ever give up.

And on top of all that, they're nicknamed "golden nuggets."

Pompano inhabit sandy, turbulent areas along the Gulf Coast. Passes are especially productive. In our area, Pass-A-Grille channel, Bunces Pass, Blinds Pass, John's Pass and Clearwater Pass are all known pompano hangouts.

It's also not uncommon to find them in Tampa Bay where there's rapid tide movement, usually meaning around bridges and jetties. The Gandy, Skyway, Tierra Verde, and Bayway bridges are also hot spots.

Both piers at Fort De Soto are great locations as well. In fact, Doc's Goofy Jig, one of the best pompano jigs ever made, was designed at the Gulf Pier.

Jigs are the best artificials to use for pompano because they mimic crustaceans, which are the pompano's favorite food.

The typical technique for drawing strikes is to bounce the jig along the bottom, creating puffs of sand.

The weight of the jig will depend on the depth and strength of the current. The most popular size is a quarter-ounce, but they're available as heavy as 1 ounce for those fishing from high structure.

Yellow or pink are the best colors, and pompano anglers will argue which color produces best. Wise anglers carry both, so if one doesn't produce they switch to the other.

Pompano are in the jack family, but unlike other jacks, pompano will not eat a whitebait or greenback. They prefer shrimp or crab.

It's best to use a typical bottom rig with live bait so the bait stays in contact with the bottom. The weight on the rig depends again on the depth and current, but the lighter the better. Start with a half-ounce weight and go heavier from there. Double-swivel weights are preferred since they don't chafe the leader like egg sinkers.

The state record for pompano is 8 pounds, 4 ounces, but normally the ones caught in the bay area are less than 3 pounds.

Pompano look similar to their cousin the permit, which is larger and averages in the 25-pound range. Aside from obvious size difference, pompano can be distinguished from permit by their short dorsal and anal fins.

Another easy way to tell the difference is pompano have yellow on the throat and pelvic area as well as the anal fins. Permit may have just a touch of gold around the breast area.

Look to target pompano throughout the rest of this summer. One rule of thumb is the best time to target pompano is during the months of hurricane season.

They prefer warm water and they're movements are influenced by these conditions.

Rick Frazier runs Lucky Dawg Charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 510-4376. If you've had a great day fishing from land, contact the lubberline at (727) 893-8775 or e-mail captainrick@luckydawg.com.

Pompano

Regulations: Not less than 11 inches or more than 20 inches, measured to the fork. No closed season in Florida. Bag limit is six per person per day aggregate of pompano and permit. May possess one over 20 inches of either pompano or permit.

Where found: Inshore and nearshore waters, especially along sandy beaches, along oyster banks and over grass beds, often in turbid water.

Of note: Pompano feed on mollusks and crustaceans, especially sand fleas. Their local movements are influenced by the tide, seasonal movements by temperature.

Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Powerful pompano a pleasing pursuit 09/04/08 [Last modified: Thursday, September 4, 2008 4:33am]
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