Pompano are bigger and better this year

Part of the What's Biting Series

 A pompano-fishing bonanza is occurring right now on the Alabama Gulf Coast, and it’s not only because of the numbers of fish, but also the size.

Normally, most pompano are caught surf fishing right where the waves meet the shoreline. But this year’s opportunities have expanded, according to avid pompano angler Stoney Rhodes.

“The surf fishermen are catching them just like normal this time of you,” Rhodes said. “What’s unusual is the inshore boats are crushing them right now, too. The Gulf State Park Pier and beach are wide open right now.”


Pompano are so plentiful they are being caught in the surf and offshore this season.

Alabama has a three-fish limit with a 12-inch size minimum. Rhodes said the 12-inch minimum is no problem right now.

“The fish are bigger than normal this year,” he said. “I don’t even take my measuring stick anymore. I don’t keep anything less than 20 inches. I’ve caught some five-pounders this year. Normally, you’re catching two- and three-pounders, but this year there have been a lot of four- and five-pounders.”

Rhodes, who has been around the fishing business most of his adult life, has a theory why the fish are bigger, but he admits it’s not scientific.

“I really don’t know why they’re bigger,” he said. “Maybe they stayed on the beach a lot longer because we really didn’t have a winter. They fed all winter and now we’re taking advantage of it.”

Rhodes said he pretty much uses the same tackle he always has with one exception. He uses a three-ounce pyramid weight on a three-way swivel. He uses 15-pound test line, and he has gone to a circle hook instead of a J hook or Kahle hook.

“I’m using a No. 8 circle hook,” he said. “It’s the easiest fishing in the world. You take a little piece of fresh dead shrimp and bury the hook in it. Make sure you bury that hook because pompano are picky. You cast out in that dark water next to the first sandbar and put your fishing rod in the rod holder. You sit back and enjoy the view. Your rod tip will tell you when you have a strike. You grab the rod and start reeling. That circle hook sets itself.

“I’ve got a 4-year-old who loves to reel them in, so we go every chance we get.”

For you early risers out there, Rhodes said there is another opportunity to catch one of the premier fish species on the Alabama Gulf Coast.

“Flounder fishing is pretty good in the surf with a jig early in the morning,” he said. “But you’ve got to get there early.”


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David Rainer Blogger
David Rainer (2 Posts)
David Rainer has written about the great outdoors on the Alabama Gulf Coast for more than 20 years. For 14 of those years, he covered the many fishing opportunities on the Gulf Coast as outdoors…