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Jack Jackson: Northern Treasure Coast fishing
By Jack Jackson correspondent


Silvery overall with a bright yellow-orange underside, pompano are probably the most sought-after fish along the Treasure Coast at this time of year.

They generally accommodate the beach angler, though, by being present in large numbers.

During the last week or so this has been the case along the beaches of Vero Beach and northward to Sebastian Inlet. The lineup of surf poles looks like a picket fence at time when the run is on.

The westerly winds that have preceded the cold fronts moving through the area will lay the beach surf down, allowing for comfortable fishing and the use of less lead needed to hold bottom.

The general rule of thumb when surf fishing is to "use just enough lead to get where you want to be and keep it there."

In rough conditions, anglers are forced to use 4-5 ounces of lead just hold bottom. Anything less, and the rigs will roll right back to their feet in a tangled ball. Anything more. and the angler looses all sensitivity to light hits.

Anglers need to be aware that the size and bag limits on pompano have changed for this year. The current bag limit is an aggregate of six pompano or permit per person per day, with a minimum fork length of 11 inches.

Anglers are allowed to keep one fish (pompano or permit) over a 20-inch fork length. Pompano and permit are managed jointly because of the difficulty in correctly distinguishing the difference between the two species at the smaller sizes.

Sand fleas are the No. 1 one bait for pompano and have been readily available for those digging their own. Some anglers will blanch their extra fleas before freezing and use at a later date.

It is always a good idea to take some frozen fleas to the beach when you go so you can get lines in the water while hunting for fresh fleas. Live fleas can be kept in wet sand for a day or so, however the sand needs to be rinsed every so often with fresh salt water.

A little farther out from the pompano, anglers have been finding plenty of bluefish and Spanish mackerel. Blues readily take the larger silver spoons, while the Spanish prefer the smaller diamond jig. Trolling Clark Spoons in the RBM or ORBM sizes are also very effective along the beaches.
 

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Hey Kozlow. good info, thanks. Here in Ga there is no size/creel limits for pompano. I even asked a game warden why and he could not give me any info. Do you know or have a guess why GA has no regs on pompano? I catch quit a few of them during the year and eat um' to.......most of them are about 5"-7" long.....just right to cook four of them at a time in a cast iron skillet.......should I not be keeping these fish? Don't think I've ever gotten one that would go 11" (FL). Your thoughts.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
I checked out some info on the web for Ga. and I really don't no why they do not have limits set for Pompano .

http://www.georgiaoutdoors.com/fishing/length.asp?water=salt

Fatback leave the youngins go

I looked around and could not find alot of info for them in Ga.
See if you can I'm interested as to why also .

They do migrate from the Carolinas and Ga. south to us here in Florida to spend the winter I am clueless . But curious .

I am leaning towards the fact that may stay far off the coast during the summer in your area and not a factor with the limits ?

Did find this .

Q: There have been several recent questions about pompano. Specifically, folks are interested in techniques, bait, and locations.


A: The Florida pompano makes a seasonal migration along the Atlantic coast and ranges as far north as Massachusetts. This member of the jack family prefers a water temperature is the mid-80s, grows rapidly and has a fairly short life span of 4 years. Pompano are found in Georgia waters from May to early October. Although the fish move through our waters on their northward migration, they seem to be more abundant in the late summer and early fall, presumably on the migration back south.


Pompano are usually found in the surf zone, particularly areas like sandbars and shoals. In fact, I've often seen pompano jumping in the boat wake as I moved in to set up for bull reds at the shoals off the Hampton River. Recently, Earl Brinn reported that a friend of his was successful fishing the shoals at St. Andrew Sound. I would guess that pompano can be found at any of the sandbar/shoal areas along the coast. Very few people fish for them in Georgia so they remain something of a mystery.


Adult pompano feed on a variety of mollusks and crustaceans. The bait most preferred by pompano specialists is a mole crab, locally known as a sand flea. Use a wire screen as a sieve to separate these critters from beach sand. A two or three-hook monofilament dropper rig with 2/0 Eagle Claw L197 circle bait hooks fitted with a 2-4 ounce pyramid sinker is the most common terminal tackle. The circle hooks are self-setting so you can fish multiple rods to increase your chances of a hook-up. Be sure to leave the point of the hook exposed. Other natural baits are clams, shrimp, and small crabs. If you're fishing an area with clear water, small jigs tipped with a shrimp tail can be productive. In recent weeks, trout fishermen using live shrimp under float rigs at beach drops along Cumberland Island have been picking up pompano.


The pompano is one of the finest fish you'll ever put across your lips and the delicate white flesh can be prepared in a variety of ways. Pompano En Papillote is a traditional method of preparation where the fish is cooked in parchment paper until it will literally melt in your mouth. Pompano are commercially harvested throughout much of their range and go for top dollar in the seafood markets. In Georgia, there are no size or creel limits for pompano. However, as with other fishes, take only what you can use and release the rest.
 
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