How to Catch Pompano

Two Methods:Fish From the Beach or a PierFish From a Boat Near a Bridge

Pompano is a popular food fish that can sell at a higher price per pound than beef. The fish is about 18 inches (45 cm) long and weighs about 2 to 3 lb. (1 to 1.4 kg) when fully grown. It is found on the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts, and in the West Indies. Anglers fish for pompano from piers, under bridges or on the beach, depending on their preferences.

Method 1
Fish From the Beach or a Pier

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    Find pompano schools on the far side of wave breaks and sand bars. The fish wait for sand fleas, also called mole crabs, and other small crustaceans to be washed off the beach and carried to them by the wave action. This puts them in easy reach of anglers who prefer to fish from the beach or a pier.
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    Use a spinning rod, fish finder rig, 2/0 circle hooks, and 12-lb (5.5 kg) monofilament line. Add a pyramid weight sufficient to keep your bait from returning to shore with the waves. You may need a bigger rod when the surf is heavy.
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    Catch sand fleas to use as bait. Sand fleas are the pompano's favorite food and are readily available in areas where pompano are.
    • Look for v-shaped eddies when the waves roll off the beach. These are where sand fleas have washed ashore and are digging into the sand. Collect the sand fleas in a dry bucket.
    • If you can't find any sand fleas, it's likely that you won't catch any pompano. Move to a location where sand fleas are plentiful.
    • Pompano will eat other crustaceans, like shrimp, and even on occasion small bait fish.
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    Cast right into the break of the surf and on the back sides of sand bars.

Method 2
Fish From a Boat Near a Bridge

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    Locate a pompano school on the down current side of a bridge. They wait for small crustaceans to be pulled off the bridge pilings by the current. The pompano will linger in one place as long as there is food coming their way, making them easy to catch by anglers who prefer to fish from a boat.
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    Use 20-lb test line in case you hook a larger fish. Attach an egg sinker, about 12 inches of leader, and a size 6 hook.
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    Collect small fiddler crabs to use as bait. Break off the big claw before baiting your hook.
    • Place some rags in a bucket and just cover the crabs with seawater. Fiddler crabs will live several days in a shady place.
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    Anchor your boat or tie it to and up current piling. Drop your line near the down current pilings.
    • Pompano will be on one side of the bridge when the tide comes in and the other side when the tide goes out, so you will have to move your boat if the tide changes.
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    Chum every 15 minutes or so. Chumming is the practice of dumping cut bait or fish parts into the water to attract fish. When fishing near a bridge, scrape barnacles and mussels from the pilings with a long-handled garden scraper and allow the current to carry them toward the pompano.
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    Allow your bait to sink to the bottom, pull it up slightly, and let it hit bottom again. The bait will disturb the sand on the bottom, which attracts the fish. You may have to change the weight of your sinker to accomplish this. Let your line play out as the current drags your line toward the down current pilings.


  • Look for pompano from a boat in open water; you can find a school by watching for fish skipping in the prop wash.
  • Continue fishing if you catch a pompano. Pompano travel in schools, so catching 1 fish indicates a school is nearby.
  • If you don't want to catch live sand fleas before fishing for pompano, you can try using a sand flea lure.


  • Avoid trying to set the hook. Some species of fish require that you jerk on the line when you feel a bite to force the barb of the hook into the fish's flesh. However, if you do this with pompano, you will jerk the bait out of the fish's mouth, and the fish will escape. Instead, just start reeling when you feel the fish bite.
  • Fiddler crabs will pinch you when you pick them up. Wear gloves.

Things You'll Need

  • Rod, reel, line and tackle
  • Mole crabs, fiddler crabs, live shrimp
  • Bait bucket
  • Boat
  • Scraper

Article Info

Categories: Fishing