When cruising along in your boat and the fish start jumping out of the water in your wake quickly disregard any and all thoughts of you being now known as the Florida Fish Whisperer. You've simply found or run over a school of pompanos, one of Florida's tastiest fish.
Shut down, get on the trolling motor, and quietly circle back and fish the area with shrimp-tipped tiny jigs on light spinning tackle. Keep the jig hitting bottom for these delicious members of the jack family.
Good places to prospect if they aren't flying out of the water behind you, is in and around the passes. The sandy shoals at the entrances to passes, channel edges, and edges of sandbars are all good bets.
Capt. George Tunison
Pomp anglers use small hair/bristle jigs with the dressing trimmed even with the bend in the hook. Use small pieces of shrimp, not a gob, and as mentioned hop retrieve it back along the bottom deliberately kicking up sand and mud. Thinking it's an escaping morsel they usually pounce on it and then put up an amazing fight.
Six- to 10-pound braided line and a 36-inch or longer leader of 8-10 pound fluorocarbon works well as a starting point. No hardware, please, as these guys are keen eyed. Connect line to leader with Uni-Knots.
That being said, once you get a bite by a good specimen you will quickly see and feel why this delicious fish is first and foremost a member of the hard fighting jack family. On six-pound braid don't try to horse him in as you probably will get broken off.
Most pomp anglers use a variety of jig colors and even double jigs. Most are brightly colored and I've had the best luck on yellows and fluorescent yellows.
Although the jig is considered to be the go-to pomp lure, I've caught my two largest inshore specimens on gold spoons intended for redfish. The largest one over 5 pounds was caught on the flats 100 yards behind Bert's Bar in Matlacha.
In most parts of the state pompano are caught by surf fishermen, like those scattered along Cocoa Beach in the north or pier anglers hauling them over the rails at Sebastian Inlet across the peninsula.
Although I haven't put the time in to try it I see no reason why a knowledgeable surf angler shouldn't be able to score as well on Gulf-side beach areas, especially close to the passes.
Wait! It gets better! This is one of the best tasting fishes in Florida. Meaty, yet with a delicate flavor. Baked and stuffed with crab meat or sauteed in a hot pan with a little garlic, butter, salt, and pepper it's a winner.
At last check you are allowed to keep six per day with an 11-inch (to the fork in the tail) size limit.
So you want to go fishing but a look outside the window reveals the palm trees bent heavily in the wind with white caps on the water? It's still OK. Stay close to home and explore the nearly 500 miles of wind protected canals within the city limits.
Bass fishing in fresh water and in brackish? Yes, we have it right here in Cape Coral along with miles and miles of salt canals hosting trout, jacks, tarpon, trophy snook, sharks, sheepshead, even redfish and grouper
A few years back a neighbor caught a 25-pound grouper in a NW Cape canal and yes, I did see the pictures. In the same canal a 50-plus pound grass carp died and washed up on my seawall.
Sharks in the NW Spreader canal? Definitely! I've caught them as well as my neighbors.
Use your electronics and explore your part of the canal system and look for structure, deep holes, and dropoffs. Note crusty docks that support more marine life.
Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-440-1621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.