Pompano Fresh Fish Facts
An eastern Atlantic species, Florida Pompano also commonly known as Sunfish, Gulf Pompano or simply “Pompano”. Native to regions of the Atlantic North into Massachusetts and as far South as Brazil, Pompano are most abundant around the waters of Florida & the Gulf of Mexico and all but absent from clear waters of Bahamas and similar islands.
Scientific Name: Trachinotus carolinus
“Trachinotus” comes from a fusion of the Greek words trachys (τραχύς), which means "rough", and noton (νῶτον), meaning "back".
Wild Pompano run in schools, feeding close to shore on invertebrates and smaller fish, larger Pompano are known to consume small crustaceans and mollusks. Pompano are a highly active fish, nervous and unpredictable when chased by anglers.
Fishing: Florida Pompano are an excellent game fish. Sand fleas are far and away the most popular live bait used by sport fishermen, best fishing times are in clear waters with an incoming high tide, early morning or late afternoon. Wild Pompano have also been known to bite on fiddler crabs, shrimp, clams & squid. Anglers fishing from boats into bays & grassflats often use small jigs, commonly known as a “Pompano Jig”, extremely popular with casters from shore as well. Typically a round head with a short body, occasionally tipped with sand fleas, pieces of shrimp or “fish bates”. Sizes range from ¼oz up to 1oz, depending on water depth and speed of current.
Seasonality: Florida Pompano are sensitive to cold water, our Pompano are ocean-raised in sea cages in Panama, where water temperature remains relatively constant. This allows us to supply Pompano with year round availability. Wild Pompano season varies by location and water temperature, ideal water temperatures range from 82-89 degrees. Northern areas of the Atlantic Coast into Massachusetts experience their season from late summer into early fall. In Florida, Pompano are typically found from late spring to early fall however can be sometimes be found year-round during milder winter conditions.
Size: Up to 2 ½ feet. Largest Pompano on record was caught in 1999 by Barry Huston, tipping the scales at 8lb, 4oz, according to the International Game Fish Association.
Flavor Profile: Flesh is flakey, firm & flavorful. Snow white color, commonly considered the best tasting fish from either fresh or saltwater.
Spawning: Pompano reach sexual maturity after 12 months, growing to about 8 inches in the first year. Spawning typically occurs between April & June, but can extend from March into September. 1 spawning female Pompano can lay upwards of 100,000 eggs.
Permit: (Trachinotus falcatus) As they grow larger, Florida Pompano are often confused with the similar looking Permit. To distinguish a permit from a Pompano, count the spines & soft rays of the anal and dorsal fins. Pompano has 5-6 spines on the 1st dorsal fin, whereas a Permit has six to seven. A Pompano has 22-27 soft rays on the dorsal fin and 20-23 soft rays on the anal fin. A Permit has 16 to 19 soft rays on the anal fin, 17-21 on the 2nd dorsal. Additional information on identifying Pompano vs Permit available on Fishbites.com
African Pompano: (Alectis crinitus) is not a true Pompano, but rather a member of the Jack family. Closely related to the Indo-Pacific Threadfin, African Pompano is sometimes called Cuban Jack, Pennant-fish or Atlantic Threadfin. The African Pompano is considered a fair tasting game fish, whereas Florida Pompano is considered one, if not THE best.
Cooking with Pompano: Pompano fillets are relatively uniform in thickness and cook evenly, making ideal for a wide variety of preparations with a beautiful plate presentation. The easiest way to cook Pompano is under a broiler either as a whole fish or fillet. The skin of the Pompano is edible & delicious when cooked crispy in a pan or under the broiler, finished with fresh herbs, lemon & butter or olive oil.
More famous recipes for Pompano include Pompano en Papillote.