One of the most sought-after species in St. Pete and neighboring Tampa Bay, pompano are a fun fish to catch and taste great. When and how to catch pompano can be sort of a mystery for those new to the area, and this article aims to answer some of those questions.
When To Catch Pompano In St. Pete
Pompano arrive in the winter and hangs around until spring. But the actual trigger dates can vary year to year. This will all boil down to temps. Basically, after there have been the first few cold fronts in St. Pete- pompano begin to show up. On the other end of the season, usually until April, they begin to fade from the area as temps increase.
Gear To Use For Pompano
The great thing about pompano fishing is that you can use the same light tackle inshore rig that you would use for a variety of other species. This is usually a 7ft med-light, fast action, rod, paired with a 2500 series reel. Your mainline is light, generally 10-15 braided line. A fluorocarbon leader of 3-4 feet is utilized, in the 12-20lb range.
Things will change a bit if surf fishing for pompano, however. These setups will be a little longer. Generally, rods as short as 7ft and as long as 11ft are utilized to get the bait or lure out past the surf into the strike zone.
Baits And Lures For Pompano
Pompano love shrimp and sandfleas. This will be the one thing to keep in mind when choosing baits or lures.
When using bait, a lot of times you are best off utilizing a small jig head tipped with shrimp. The jig head, in the 1/4oz range for shallow water flats and 3/8oz for deeper water columns, in bright colors are the most popular. Colors such as pink and chartreuse. The jig head allows you to cast further and more accurately, but also allows you to work the water column and “bounce” the bait across the bottom – which is the most preferred method.
If running a pompano fishing rig for bait a hook size between # 1 and 2/0 is optimal.
Lures will work much the same way, small and light. However, the options and “best pompano lures” will change angler to angler. Scent is a big deal with this species, so Berkley Gulp-style soft plastics are the most popular. Soft-plastic twitchbaits will also work very well, and catch a lot of other species at the same time. “Goofy Jigs” are also extremely popular.
In all cases, just remember – pompano are bottom feeders, so getting your offering low and bouncing it across the bottom is the best key to success.
Join Us On the Water
Our inshore charters during the season when pompano are active will get you in front of the species. But, these species move fast and can be hit or miss. In this, we will get after them if we come across them, but we will work the inshore to target more popular winter and springtime species as a priority. This includes species such as redfish, seatrout, and snook.
To Learn More: