Fish Facts » Pompano
The body profile is relatively short, deep, and moderately compressed. Color is typically blue to greenish dorsally, fading to silver laterally, with the ventral surface tending to be silvery to yellow in color. There are no visible vertical bars on sides. Fins are dusky or yellowish in color, particularly the anal fin, which can be lemon yellow in young specimens (Gilbert 1986). The pectoral fins are shorter than the head, with the pelvic fins even shorter than the pectorals. The spinous portion of the dorsal fin has 6 spines that are set close to the body. The anterior portion of the second dorsal fin is elongated, with 22 – 27 (usually 23 – 25) soft rays that extend nearly to the caudal peduncle. The anal fin mirrors the dorsal fin, but has 20 – 24 (usually 21 – 22) rays and originates somewhat behind the dorsal fin. The caudal peduncle is moderately deep and lacks scutes and finlets. The caudal fin is deeply forked. The head profile slopes to a blunt snout, with the mouth somewhat inferior. Teeth are small and conical in young fish, but disappear by the time young grow to approximately 20 cm (7.9 inches). There are no teeth on the tongue at any life stage. There are 8 – 14 gill rakers on the lower limb of the gill arch. Well developed pharyngeal plates are present. Scales are small and cycloid. The lateral line arches to the midpoint of the soft dorsal fin and then becomes straight toward the caudal fin (Berry and Smith-Vaniz, 1978; Gilbert 1986).
Pompano are common along Gulf beaches and passes where they feed on beach fleas, shrimp, small fish and animals buried in the sand. In September and October, adults move into the bays. These deep-bodied fish flash their silver sides and yellow bodies when they jump in the wake of boats in the coastal bays.
The pompano feeds on mollusks, crustaceans and other invertebrates and small fish.
Pompano have fairly small mouths, so baits and hooks should be small. Generally live bait or bits of shrimp are the best bait, although some lures can be successful. Best fishing is in summer and fall, since the fish may move offshore in winter.
The pompano grows to 43 -63 cm (17 – 25 inches) in length.
Though uncommon north of Chesapeake Bay, Florida pompano occur in nearshore coastal waters from approximately Cape Cod, Massachusetts south to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico, Central America, and patchily in some parts of the West Indies (Gilbert 1986; Robins and Ray 1986). It is generally absent from clear-water, tropical regions such as the Bahamas.
Texas Parks and Wildlife, Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce
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