Gulfcoast Pompano Fishing
Pompano are a saltwater fish that are fun to catch, delicious to eat & a fish worthy of praise. Recently I went pompano fishing not by choice but by circumstance. You just never know what is going to bite at any given time.
The day was just beginning. The sun was low in the eastern sky, a breeze was blowing, sea gulls, sandpipers & brown pelicans were on patrol along the beach as we began to situate ourselves along a breakwater on the Gulf of Mexico. We had live shrimp in a bait bucket, some frozen shrimp, some squid & some cut bait in a cooler along with some shiners in another bat bucket. In addition we had a large selection of artificial baits in our tackle boxes.
I selected a live shrimp, hooked it up so it would swim freely on a coated braided steel 16″ leader with no weight. I cast out, let the line settle, gave the rod tip a twitch & waited. It was about 2 minutes before I felt a stiff jerk on the line. I set the hook, reeled in & began the fight with a nice pompano. In several minutes I had the fish ashore, unhooked & on my stringer. I re-baited and cast again. Less than 10 seconds later I was hooked onto another pompano! This was the way the morning began. Between the 4 of us we caught, in about 30 minutes time, a large mess of these tasty fish.
I have always loved to seek out for these delightful fish. They offer a combination of fight, tasty fare & do not tire you out. I have caught them at various times on artificial baits, live baits, frozen baits & cut bait. What will they not bite? They usually run on fairly large schools inshore along the Gulf coast & in the estuarine bays on the Gulfcoast often with permit a larger sub-species of the same family. Once you catch one you almost always catch more until the school leaves the area. They are voracious hunters of grass shrimp, mullet minnows, greenback minnows, shiners & other small sea life. Small, colorful jigs can excite these wonderful fish as can small silver or gold spoons.
Pompano are considered a delicacy among seafood connoisseurs. The flaky, mild, white highly tasty meat is a sure winner on any table. They are often broiled, fried & a particular favorite of mine cooked in a brown paper bag. The meat is white flaky but firm & not at all strong but rather delicate in taste.
Pompano run between 1-8 pounds while permit can weigh in at up to 12-50 pounds. These silver sided beauties are part of the eco-system of the Gulf of Mexico that makes it fun to live & fish there. From Texas to the tip of Florida all along the Gulf coast as well as south of the border all the way down to South America one can find, catch & eat these delightful fish. Pompano are to be found from the coast of Massachussets to Brazil but are most plentiful in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico & the western Caribbean.
Pompano prefer to feed upon small bi-valve mollusks, small crustaceans & small shrimp. They are also known to feed upon any food source available especially when spawning. Because they seem to prefer to travel in school they can clear an area of food rather quickly & then move on to more productive areas.
Pompano Papillote – Pompano In A Bag
Categories: Creole, Seafood
Yield: 4 Servings
1 ea Onion chopped
2 tb Olive oil
2 tb Butter
3 tb Flour all-purpose
1 1/2 c Milk
1/4 ts Nutmeg
1 tb Worcesershire sauce
Salt & pepper to taste
2 ea Egg yolks beaten
1 ea Garlic clove crushed
3 tb Dry sherry
1/2 lb Shrimp chopped cooked
1/2 lb Crabmeat chopped cooked
2 ea Pompano steaks 1-1.5 lbs ea
Paprika to taste
Saute onion & garlic in olive oil & butter in skillet until soft.
Reduce heat then gradually add flour, milk, nutmeg, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper & egg yolks.
Stir well to blend.
Remove from heat then add sherry, shrimp & crabmeat.
Sprinkle pompano with salt, pepper & paprika.
Spoon sauce into 2 large pieces of foil.
Top with pompano steaks & seal foil “envelopes.”
Place in large baking dish & bake in preheated 375 deg-F. oven 20 mins.
In the “old” days a greased brown paperbag was used to contain the pompano as it cooked.
ORIGIN: Chef Cesar Ruiz, (R.I.P.) Tampa-FL, circa 1960
Linda-Belle’s Broiled Pompano
Yield: 4 Servings
2 ea Pompano fish 2-3 lbs each
1 ea Salt dash
1 ds Pepper dash
1 ds Cayenne pepper dash
2 tb Butter
1/4 c Lime juice
2 tb Pimientos chopped
2 tb Capers chopped
Split pompano down back.
Clean, wash & pat dry.
Season with salt, pepper & cayenne.
Dot with butter & sprinkle with 4 tb lime juice.
Mix capers & pimiento with remaining lime juice & spread thinnly upon pompano.
Place fish, skin side down on greased broiler rack 4″ below broiler heat.
Broil for 15 mins. until fish flakes easily.
ORIGIN: Linda-Belle Robbins, Tampa-FL, circa 1996
Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia
By Vin T. Sparano 1988
By Larry F. Mason 2000
Copyright © 2006 – 2008 Donald R Houston, PhD. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author’s consent.