Florida Pompano (Trachinotus carolinus)

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.


Mostly 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.


The 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 behavior

Reaching 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.


Florida pompano feed on mollusks, crustaceans, and other invertebrates and small fish.

Other Names

Portuguese: pampo, pampo-verdadeiro; Spanish: palometa, pampano, pampano-amarillo.


Florida 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.


Inhabiting 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.