Part Of The What's Biting Series
It’s time for a little shift in the surf fishing tactics if you want to catch pompano, one of the best-eating fish on the Alabama Gulf Coast.
In the last few years, our spring weather turned quickly into summer. We had spring weather for the first couple of weeks of May and then summertime arrived quickly.
When that happens, the water temperatures start to move up and the pompano will ease back away from that extremely shallow water in the surf where they spent most of the spring.
Chris Vecsey at Sam’s Stop and Shop in Orange Beach said when the pompano fishing slows down in the surf with the onset of summer it’s time to move to deeper water in search of the fish that is prized for its delicate, white flesh.
“It’s just that time of year,” Vecsey said of the shift in pompano tactics. “Water temps got hot pretty quick this year, so that’s slows the surf bite down. You can still catch them. You’re just going to have to go a little bit deeper.”
Sand fleas, ghost shrimp and pompano jigs are going to be your best bets in terms of bait for pompano. You can head to the local tackle stores and find tools to both scoop up sand fleas (mole crabs) and ghost shrimp extruders that are devices made out of PVC pipes that suction the crustaceans out of the sand at the surf line.
Vecsey said he scans the beach for those areas with broader troughs between sandbars that can yield depths up to 8 feet. That’s where the pompano hang out when the water heats up.
“You’ve got to be in that deeper water when it gets warmer,” he said. “That’s the only way you can consistently catch them through the summer.”
Of course, pompano is not the only fish biting along the sugar sand beaches of the Alabama Gulf Coast. Whiting are being caught in the surf as well as a few sheepshead, according to Vecsey.
Heading toward Fort Morgan, Vecsey said speckled trout and redfish are running the beach and are being caught on a variety of artificial lures and live shrimp.
“There are a lot of flounder being caught with the trout and reds,” Vecsey said. “I’ve been catching a lot of flounder in the troughs from Johnson’s Beach all the way to the Fort. There are not a lot of Southern flounder. They’re mostly Gulf flounder.”
The Southern flounder gets much larger than the Gulf flounder, which has more variation in color than the Southern flounder.
“A three-pound Gulf flounder is a big one,” Vecsey said. “Most of the fish are going to be from 10 to 18 inches, so you’re going to have some throwbacks, but you’re going to catch a lot of 14- and 15-inch fish. Those are decent size flounder.”
Alabama’s length limit on flounder is 12 inches with a daily bag limit of 10 fish per person. The pompano length limit is also 12 inches, but the daily bag limit is three fish per person.