Author: Patrick Meek
What Can You Catch Other Than Pompano In The Florida Panhandle?
Catching Pompano off the beach is one of my favorite things to do. Every spring I wait for the water to warm up to 70 degrees because I know the surf will start loading up with one of the tastiest fish the Gulf of Mexico has to offer.
After returning home from work, my wife and I hit the beach around mid-day to try our luck at some Pompano. I was so excited about being on the beach again after spending two weeks offshore that I didn't even check the surf report. After arriving, the surf was churning like a washing machine, the wind was howling out of the SE, and the water clarity was a little stained.
We set up shop on the sand and set 5 surf rods up. After about an hour of patiently waiting, my 12' surf rod bowed up like a black cat on Halloween! I quickly got to my surf rod and listen to the drag scream peeling off the Bullbuster 30 lb braid.
Whatever was on the other end, I knew it was not what I came out to the beach to catch (Pompano). I could feel the head shakes due to the sensitivity of the braid, so I eliminated the chance of it being a Stingray. After a little over 6 minutes, I was able to successfully haul in a 32" Black Drum.
We fished a little bit longer and managed to catch only one Pompano, but decided to leave early before the rain set in.
A couple days later, we were back on the beach after a good north wind and the surf was totally flat. Flat surf is ideally not the best condition for catching Pompano, but I've caught several limits of the silver species when there wasn't any wave action, so I won't use that as an excuse.
We had 3 surf rods cast inside the first sandbar and 2 surf rods cast outside. It wasn't too long before one of the rods outside the bar started bouncing. I just knew I was hooked up to a Pompano as I could see my line weaving left to right and right to left. It fought like a Pompano all the way up to beach and then I discovered I had hooked into a nice Spanish Mackerel. Again, not the targeted species, but I love catching Spanish Mackerel, so as long as they were biting I was catching and having a good time.
A few days later, I struck out to the beach solo early one morning determined to catch what I've been waiting all year for. I found the right spot, the waves were 2'-3', the water clarity was crystal, and the wind was blowing 10 mph out the SE. I got set up and started fishing. After about 2 hours of waiting, checking baits, searching for live sand fleas, still no Pompano. It was a Tuesday, so while I was waiting for the Pompano to make their way, I got to enjoy watching the Navy's Blue Angels practice.
There's nothing like the sound of "Freedom" while waiting on the beach for the Pompano to make their run.
While enjoying the air show, my 12' surf rod started bouncing. Fish on finally! Within the next two hours, I had boxed my daily limit of 6 Pompano plus I released 3 more that I caught while just fishing for the fun of it before I left.
I didn't go fishing as much as I normally do while I was home from work and the targeted species wasn't always there when I did go. I remember a few years ago when I was out on the beach and all the conditions were perfect. Everything was perfect except the Pompano wasn't biting...in fact nothing was. I remember calling my good friend and mentor Rich Vidulich while on the beach expressing my frustration and I can still remember him giving me a life lesson that I've never forgot. "It's sunny, it's warm, and you're on the beach when you could be at work. Quit your bitching, enjoy life, and the Pompano will come."
Until next time...
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