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Jigging for Golden Nuggets

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On: Thu, Aug 7, 2008 at 12:21PM | By: Merry Beth Ryan

Often referred to as "golden nuggets" pompano are a highly sought after fish. Pompano invade our inshore waters late fall and early winter. Once the water temperatures drop into the 70's the pompano head inshore to feed on small crabs, shrimp, and any other tidbits such as sand fleas they can find. Pompano are a very elusive fish to say the least. Just as with many other species of fish they are there one day and gone the next. Patience is a must while fishing for pompano. You will have to do some running around while at the same time doing your homework on their patterns. Just when you think you have them figured out they throw you a curve ball and your back to playing hide and seek with them.

The good news is once you do locate them your rewards will be well worth your efforts. Pompano will skip right out of the water which helps locate them. There is no need to put your engines into overdrive to locate the pomps. A slow moving boat keeping a steady pace will actually work to your advantage verses cruising through a school of pompano at a high rate of speed. If you are operating your boat too fast and happen to run through a school of pompano you will quickly see just how fast they can disappear. Keep your eyes peeled and when you spot a school of ladyfish that usually is a good indicator that pompano are scattered in with them as well. Another thing to watch for are schools of bat rays and stingrays they too will attract pompano to follow in tandem them eating all the goodies they raise up from the sandy bottom. Where you see one pompano skittering across the surface you are bound to see others close by. I can remember the first time I spotted a pompano skip out of the water and it nearly landed in the boat I was in.

Pompano have a shimmer like that of a silverking. What a sight to see as their iridescent bodies wiggled up and out of the water. Talk about excitement these silvery slabs provide that and then some. The most productive way to catch pompano are by using jigs. There are many jigs on the market designed for pompano. One of my favorites is Doc's Goofy Jigs tipped with a piece of shrimp. Doc's jigs are made right here in the state of Florida in the Tampa Bay area. His jigs are a hairless jig usually used as the trailer jig when using a double jig rig. When targeting pompano using the jigging method is a sure way to attract the pompano bite. Anglers retrieve the jig by bouncing it along the bottom. You are looking for the jig to imitate a crab or other small crustaceans scurrying out of the way of predator fish. Pompano like anything that is crunchy to eat. Bounce the jigs along the bottom lifting the sand to attract the pompano's attention. Make sure you feel your jig hit the bottom before starting to bounce it along. Depending on the depth of the water you are in, tides as well as currents will help dictate how fast you should retrieve the jig. A faster retrieve will be needed when the tide is running fast. If the tide is running at a snails pace use a slow retrieve. This will help enhance your odds of hooking these delicious eating fish. Tipping your jigs with a small piece of shrimp seems to work as good as anything. Sand fleas are also a very popular and also an effective bait of choice. You can bring your "snowbird shovels" also known as sand rakes to the beach and rake up some sand fleas for bait. Sand fleas freeze well and can be used again. I have found that live shrimp tend to stay on the hook a lot better than frozen shrimp . So given a choice use live shrimp when available. Pompano are a challenging fish to catch. It takes practice to master the technique as with most fish you target.

Pompano are often confused with their cousin the permit. Although they are both in many ways alike, there are things about the two fish that are very different. Both pompano and permit are highly sought after gamefish. Both are great eating fish as well. A permit's tail is longer with darker edges than that of the pompano. A permit also has a longer dorsal fin with darker tips than the pompano do. Permit have a deeper body and slightly blunted shaped head than the pompano.The pompano will have more yellow color from their head back under their belly than a permit has. Permit do have yellow on them as well but mostly located on their underside near the back of the fish. The average size pompano caught on a regular basis is usually a fish ranging between 1 and 3 pounds. There have been some much bigger pompano caught some weighing over 8 pounds but they are not your everyday catch . One thing is for sure pompano on the dinner table is a meal fit for Kings. If your looking for a different fish to target give pompano a try you will not be sorry you did. When you hook into your first ever pompano you too will quickly have the golden nugget fever. The challenge of catching pompano will keep you coming back for more.


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