A member of the Carangidae family of jacks and pompanos, the Florida pompano is an excellent gameﬁsh for its size and is an exciting catch on light tackle. It is also considered a gourmet food ﬁsh because of its delicately ﬂavored and ﬁnely textured meat.
IdentificationMostly silvery when alive, the Florida pompano is one of the few ﬁsh that is more striking in color after death. It then has greenish-gray or dark blue shading on the back and a golden cast to the belly and the ﬁns. Deep- or dark-water ﬁsh tend to also have gold on the throats and on the pelvic and the anal ﬁns; young ﬁsh tend to have yellowish bellies, anal ﬁns, and tails.
The Florida pompano has a deep, ﬂattened body; a short, blunt snout with a small mouth; and a deeply forked tail. Unlike most jacks, it has no scutes on the caudal peduncle. The ﬁrst and spinous dorsal ﬁn is very low and usually hard to see, whereas the second dorsal ﬁn has one spine and 22 to 27 soft dorsal rays.
The anal ﬁn, which begins slightly farther back on the body than the second dorsal ﬁn, has three spines and 20 to 23 soft anal rays. The Florida pompano is similar to the permit, although the permit is deeper-bodied and tends to be a much larger ﬁsh, growing to 40 pounds.
Size/AgeThe Florida pompano has an estimated life span of 3 to 4 years. It rarely grows larger than 6 pounds and 25 inches long, and usually weighs less than 3 pounds. The all-tackle world record is an 8-pound, 1-ounce Florida ﬁsh.
Spawning behaviorReaching sexual maturity at the end of their ﬁrst year, Florida pompano spawn offshore between March and September, with a peak of activity from April through June.
FoodFlorida pompano feed on mollusks, crustaceans, and other invertebrates and small ﬁsh.
Other NamesPortuguese: pampo, pampo-verdadeiro; Spanish: palometa, pampano, pampano-amarillo.
DistributionFlorida pompano range from Massachusetts to Brazil and throughout the Gulf of Mexico. They are most prominent from the Chesapeake Bay to Florida and west to Texas and are abundant in the warm waters of Florida and the Caribbean.
HabitatInhabiting inshore and nearshore waters, adult Florida pompano occur along sandy beaches, including oyster bars, grassbeds, and inlets, and often in the turbid water of brackish bays and estuaries.
They usually prefer shallow water but may occur in water as deep as 130 feet. Florida pompano generally form small to large schools that travel close to the shore and migrate northward and southward along the Atlantic coast, staying in waters with temperatures between 82° and 89°F.