Getting ready for Pompano
Getting ready for Pompano
By Jim Hammond
It wont be long before the surf fishing for pompano will be happening. You need to get ready.
As a kid Tom Roney and I used to fish the surf often. We caught lots of whiting, reds, trout, catfish and some things that we never even got a glimpse of before they either ran all of our line out or broke us off. We primarily targeted whiting because they were easy to catch, they ate real good and we could use our bream tackle to fish for them, maybe that's why we lost the big fish that took our small offerings of shrimp. We used to go to the gate station at Ponte Vedra beach and walk out into the surf about knee deep and cast our small rigs along the surf. We even occasionally caught a pompano.
Back then the commercial netters would strike their nets just outside of the breakers and run them to the beach, catching almost everything that swam including the pompano. Now, because of the efforts of Karl Wickstrom of Florida Sportsman Magazine and the many volunteers that he motivated to work to get the nets out of Florida waters, we once again have a pretty nice run of pompano.
Here is how to get a few for your table:
The first time that I REALLY WENT pompano fishing, actually targeting pompano, it was at Vilano Beach in St. Augustine with Joe Julavits and the person that knew what he was doing was Ron Reitz, aka Pompano Ron. He showed me how, when and where and now I am going to share some of that information with you.
From now until the middle of December, the pompano that made the run north in the spring are now headed south and they come right down our coast.
I thought that I had every kind of rod and reel that I would ever need until the first day fishing with Pompano Ron. He had 11 and 12 foot surf rods and big reels that would hold a couple of hundred yards of 20 pound test line and would cast about 100 hundred yards. He had a sand flea rake, something I had heard of but had never held in my hands. He knew when and where to dig for fleas and how to set up the rig to catch the pompano once he had bait and was in the right place.
Ron first went to the surf along Vilano Beach and used his sand flea rake to dig about 100 or more fleas.
To do this you need and outgoing tide, this seems to be the best tide for getting fleas. You take your sand flea rake and drag it in the sand, in about 12 inches of water, just as the waves move back out to sea on the beach. If you were in the correct place and there were any fleas there, you should have a few in the bottom of the rake. This might take some practice, so I would suggest that you take your rake and a five gallon bucket and go to the beach and practice before you have a full blown day of trying to pompano fish, without fleas.
If you catch any while practicing, put them in the bucket with about eight inches of sand and your fleas will stay alive for several days if they do not get too cold or too hot.
Next go to a craft shop and get some beads, like the ones that come in the trout float package. You will need some red and some yellow ones. You will also need some Daichii #1 to 1/0 Circle Wide hooks, a thick wall pvc rod holder for each rod, a piece of wood and a big hammer. The wood is to put on top of the pvc rod holder, so when you beat it in the sand with the big hammer you won't tear it up.
Now that you have your fleas, you are ready to catch some pompano. Here are a few rod and reel outfits that I have found to work very well. Your outfit will need to be able to handle between 4 and 6 ounces of lead, so a fairly sturdy rod with a good backbone is required. I have used these and I am pleased with their performance.
Rods: Shakespeare, BWS 1100 10', BWS 1100 11', BWS 1120 12', TWSSSP 10 10'. Reels: Shakespeare Tidewater 4860 and the Intrepid SS 3860.
I spool these reels with 50 pound test Power Pro because you can get a lot of it on the spool and it is very abrasion resistant, as your line is laying in the sand when you have your bait in the water.
The rig that I have found to work, consist of a Sea Striker 30 to 50 pound test barrel swivel tied to the Power Pro using a Palomar knot, from there tie on a piece of 25 to 40 pound test monofilament, about three feet long. Go down from the swivel and tie a loop knot that has the loop sticking out about six to eight inches, then another about six inches down from the first, the another about the same distance down and the one more at the end of the line. Take a yellow and a red trout float bead and slide them on the loop knots, then put the loop knot through the eye of a Daichii #1 to 1/0 Circle Wide hook. Do this to the first three loop knots. on the last loop knot, slide it through a pyramid sinker, 4 to 6 ounces. Take your sand fleas, running the hook through the bottom and coming out of the center. Do this to each hook, one flea to the hook.
Walk down to the surf and cast it as far as you can straight out, then place it in your pvc rod holder. Your cast will usually need to be about 70 to 100 yards long so you might have to practice a few times before you get this down. Most of us are not used to throwing a piece of lead the weighs so much and throwing it so far.
When one of these bad boys eats your flea and is hooked up, there will be "NO DOUBT" that you have a fish on. Your rod tip will be bouncing and bending. Some of these fish put up quite a fight and you might have to walk them down the beach before landing him.
You will also catch whiting, reds and many other things while fishing for pompano.
You can keep 10 of these per person and they have to be between 10 and 20 inches at the fork.
Go ahead and purchase three outfits, as you can fish three rods in Florida and the more baits that are in the water the better your chances are of catching fish.
Other places to try are the North Beach in St. Augustine, Nassau Sound, just north of Jacksonville, and Fort George Inlet. These fish are caught from the Carolinas to south Florida and the majority are caught in the surf, so get out there and catch us some.
Capt. Jim Hammond
904 757 7550