Backside In Sand And Pompano On Hook
Part Of The What's Biting Series
When it comes to relaxing fishing, nothing quite compares to surf fishing for pompano. You put your toes in the water and your backside in the sand, and you know the rest – you kick back and wait for that tasty member of the jack family to grab your bait.
That’s basically it in a nutshell, according to Stoney Rhodes, an avid Alabama Gulf Coast surf fisherman.
“It’s the easiest fishing in the world,” Rhodes said. “Pompano are tearing it up right now, and the flounder are starting to bite. Every now and then, you’ll catch a redfish, and the whiting are just about always there.”
Rhodes said there’s absolutely no reason to complicate surf fishing.
“I laugh about how easy it is,” he said. “My buddy and I catch a limit every time we go.”
The daily creel limit for pompano is three per person with a 12-inch minimum total length. The redfish limit is also three per person per day, but there is a slot limit of 16 to 26 inches with an allowance for one redfish larger than 26 inches per day. The flounder limit is 10 per person per day with a 12-inch minimum total length. There is no limit on whiting (Gulf kingfish).
Rhodes said his gear is simple when he targets pompano and whiting. He uses a three-way swivel with a 2-ounce pyramid weight tied on with a short piece of 20-pound test line. The pyramid weight helps keep it from rolling around in the surf. He uses 12-pound test for his main line and the 18-inch piece line of line tied to a very small circle hook, usually a No. 7 hook.
And Rhodes doesn’t wait until it’s a beautiful, calm day to hit the beach.
“The rougher the surf, the better,” he said. “That’s the best fishing. If it gets too rough, use a 4-ounce weight. On the days when the waves are breaking in your face is when you can catch three pompano on three casts.”
Although some people use sand fleas (mole crabs) or ghost shrimp, Rhodes utilizes fresh dead shrimp. He peels the shrimp and pinches off a small piece to thread onto the circle hook.
“I cast it out to the front side of that first sandbar, and stick the rod in a rod holder,” he said. “When the rod bows over, I start reeling. It’s very simple. The circle hook sets itself.”
On the calm days, Rhodes does his scouting.
“I’ll usually start at the pier (Gulf State Park pier) and start walking, looking for the deeper holes,” he said. “Just look for the dark spots.”
If Rhodes doesn’t just want to kick back and wait on the pompano to bite, he’ll take a light tackle outfit with a very small jig, 1/8th ounce at the most and cast into the surf for flounder.
“Sometimes I’ll walk down the beach first thing in the morning and cast that small jig,” he said. “First thing in the morning and late in the afternoon is when you’re going to catch your flounder. The next few weeks should be really good for flounder. You should be able to catch a limit of flounder just casting from the beach.”