Family Carangidae, JACKS and POMPANOS Trachinotus carolinus
Description: greenish gray on back, shading to silvery sides; fish in dark waters showing gold on throat, pelvic, and anal fins; deep flattened body with small mouth; no scutes; 22 to 27 soft dorsal rays; 20 to 23 soft anal rays; origin of anal fin slightly behind origin of second dorsal.
Similar Fish: permit, T. falcatus, palometa, T. goodei. The permit is deeper bodied; dorsal body profile not strongly angled at insertion of second dorsal fin; pompano rarely grow larger than 6 pounds, permit common to 40 pounds.
Where found: INSHORE and NEARSHORE waters, especially along sandy beaches, along oyster banks, and over grass-beds, often in turbid water; may be found in water as deep as 130 feet.
Size: usually less than 3 pounds.
Florida Record: 8 lbs., 1 oz.
Remarks: spawns OFFSHORE between March and September; feeds on mollusks and crustaceans, especially sand fleas; local movements are influenced by the tide, and seasonal movements are influenced by temperature.
Feeding: only on crustacean like sand fleas, shrimp and small crabs. For artificial bait, a 1/4 -1/2 ounce jig with a short tail, not longer than the bend of the hook is preferred. Yellow is the most popular color and white would be the second best. Tipping the hook with a whole sand flea or a small piece of shrimp will improve your fishing. Bounce the jigs along a sandy bottom or just above the grass. Bouncing the jigs on a sandy bottom will simulate crabs digging in and kicking the sand up.
The pompano in the photo, (top left), was caught by Pat Ricciardi of Longboat Key. She caught the fish on the grass flats with live shrimp. At four pounds, this is a better than average size pompano for Sarasota Bay. The average pompano would be 2-3 pounds.
Pompano are highly valued and found in only the best restaurants but it is a fatty fish and should not be fried. The flesh is firm and has a distinct flavor that some do not care for but others love.