Fishing Report for the Florida Panhandle
Capt. Alex Crawford
March 27, 2007
Carrabelle - Saltwater Fishing Report
SPRING POMPANO RUN BEGINS
The highly sought-after Florida pompano have returned for their spring run across the Forgotten Coast. With surface water temperatures in the high sixties, these little finny gourmets are being caught all along the beaches of our barrier islands, including Saint George, Cape Saint George, Saint Vincent and Dog Island. The fish seem to be a little bigger this year on average compared to previous years. How long the pomps will stick around is anyone’s guess, but if you like to catch and eat pompano, now is your time to get it in gear.
Any area on the Gulf beaches that is deeper than the surrounding area or any troughs or holes near sand or oyster bars is worth a try. So, if you catch one fish, stay and try for more out of the school.
Pompano are in the jack family and with their strong forked tail, they have the ability to make hard first runs, stripping drag at great speeds. Ten or twelve pound class tackle is capable of handling these gamesters. Just make sure your drag is set properly. Having a long handle dip net will prevent lost fish at the boat. If catch and release is your game, handle them gingerly, do the photo shots and return them safely to the water in minimal time. With their silver skin gleaming brightly in the sun, they are really beautiful critters.
Or if you intend to have a gourmet pompano dinner, take extra care at the fillet table to cut nice fillets with no waste. Baking or grilling enhances the mild flavor when compared to frying these delicious fish. Because of their spectacular flavor, pomps command top dollar at the fish market, if you can even find them. Seldom will you see them on a restaurant menu. On the Forgotten Coast there are several restaurants that will cook your catch for a reasonable price. One that we visit often is Two ALs on Carrabelle Beach. They will grill your fish to order and add some tasty sides with your favorite beer or glass of wine. Try their fried potato chip appetizer. They are totally addictive.
Try for pompano around the jetties of the Government Cut out of Apalachicola. They orient to the big granite boulders that provide a home for crustaceans like shrimp, small blue crabs and fiddler crabs. In addition, sand fleas are prevalent around the jetties and they are filet mignon to pompano. If you can capture live sand fleas with your trusty rake, they make optimal baits. Fish them on #1 hooks or a quarter ounce pompano jig. Small live shrimp are also excellent baits when the tackle shops have them for sale.
Another fun species of spring have also returned to the area in the last week. Spanish mackerel are here in large schools along the Gulf beaches. If you just love a good tug on your string, Spanish are the ideal targets. They are voracious eaters in the early season. Look for terns and gulls working glass minnows close down on the water. Your binoculars will help with this process.
The smallest Clark silver spoon, size 00 is perfect for trolling on a light wire leader. These lures emulate glass minnows trying to escape across the surface. Select a trolling speed that allows the little spoons to skitter on top. When you hook up one fish keep up your speed and pick up a second fish. Be very careful handling these little chompers in the boat because they can really bite. Get them in the box ASAP.
With summer-like warm weather conditions, it is time to shake off your case of cabin fever and get out on the water for a fun time fishing.
Till next tide, tight lines and solid hookups,
Captain Alex Crawford
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