Anglers who target Florida pompano in the surf continue to have a banner year. Except for the cold spell before last Christmas, coastal anglers have been regularly reeling in pompano along Alabama’s beautiful beaches.
But the best is yet to come now with the arrival of warm weather. Anglers find pompano most often in the surf zone, where waves stir up the bottom and reveal a variety of crustaceans that make a tasty meal for the species that become more abundant in the spring. Anglers fishing from boats can also find pompano in shallow water, especially around sandbars on a falling tide.
Pompano can’t resist a fresh sand flea (mole crab), or ghost shrimp tossed just beyond the breaking waves. Anglers can find sand fleas by digging in the sand at the surf’s edge or by using a suction pump, which is how ghost shrimp are procured. The local tackle stores will have the suction pumps needed for this bait collection. Many anglers also use a chunk of peeled shrimp on a hook, jighead or pompano rig. Most surf anglers are also adding a chunk of Fish Bites or FISHGUM (made from material soaked in fish attractant) to improve their chances. When the fish are really in a biting mood, a chunk of Fish Bites or FISHGUM is all you need.
Many veteran surf anglers use several rods to pinpoint different areas of the surf with a variety of tackle and line sizes. A 10-foot rod with a reel spooled with a 15-pound test line works well for the long casts, but sometimes the pompano can be a little finicky. That’s when you go with a light tackle and line to improve your chances of getting a bite. Unless you’re a seasoned surf angler, go with an 8-to-10-pound test line on the light tackle to keep from losing fish. Obviously, it’s best to fish in areas without high concentrations of swimmers.
Matthew Isbell, aka the Bama Beach Bum, is a pro at catching pompano. Here are his top five tips for how you can reel 'em in on Alabama's beaches.