How to Catch African Pompano
African pompano hold a certain allure for many saltwater anglers. They are an excellent gamefish that is actually more closely related to the amberjack than a pompano and can put up a formidable fight. It is no wonder that the African Pompano has secured its place as one of the most sought-after trophies in the angling world. Add to that an exceptionally fun name and a fish that tastes great and you have a real winner!
What You Need to Know to Catch African Pompano
Gear for African Pompano
7-8ft Heavy Fishing Rod – To fight these strong willed saltwater fish you need to think big. They live near reefs and wrecks on the bottom so you need to be able to have enough backbone in your rod to power them away from obstacles. They weigh between 20 to 50lbs so a 7-8 foot heavy rod is recommended.
Circle Hook – A circle hook is the best choice here since you will likely be using live bait. Go with a hook in the 7/0 to 9/0 range. This will hook an African pompano in the corner of the mouse and minimize injury.
Reel – You can go with a spinning or casting reel for this as long as it has strong drag and can hold at least 250yds of line.
Landing Net – As we’ve said, these fish can get massive, and you don’t want to have a 30lb African pompano flopping around the boat. Have a suitable net or gaff available to land your fish.
Bait for African Pompano
African Pompano (Alectis ciliaris) are opportunistic feeders and will go after a variety of baits, both live and artificial. The choice of bait often depends on local conditions and angler preferences, but some baits are known to be particularly effective for targeting African Pompano:
- Live Baitfish: Small live fish like pilchards, pinfish, or sardines are excellent choices. These baitfish are natural prey for African Pompano and can be very enticing.
- Squid: Fresh or live squid can be a great bait for African Pompano. The scent and movement of squid in the water can attract their attention.
- Shrimp: Live or fresh shrimp are another effective bait for African Pompano. These fish are known to feed on crustaceans, and shrimp can be a tempting option.
- Cut Bait: If live bait is not available, you can use cut bait like chunks of fish, squid, or shrimp. Make sure it’s fresh to release enticing scents into the water.
- Artificial Lures: While African Pompano are primarily caught with live bait, they can also be enticed by artificial lures. Bucktail jigs, swimbaits, and soft plastics can mimic the movements of their natural prey and may work well.
- Strip Baits: Thin strips of fish, squid, or other baitfish can also be effective when trolled or drifted in the water.
When using live bait, it’s essential to keep it lively and swimming naturally to attract the attention of African Pompano. Proper presentation and the ability to adapt to changing conditions are key to success when targeting these elusive fish over cover.
Fishing Techniques for African Pompano
Catching African Pompano can be a rewarding and delicious experience, but it requires the right technique to actually locate the fish and be successful. Here are some effective methods for targeting African Pompano:
- One of the most common techniques for African Pompano is bottom fishing, where you drop your bait down to the ocean floor near reefs, wrecks, or other underwater structures.
- Use a strong enough rod and reel to handle the potential size and strength of African Pompano.
- Drifting with live bait or cut bait can be effective for covering a larger area. This technique is particularly useful when you’re not sure of the exact location of African Pompano.
- Allow your bait to drift naturally in the current to attract the fish.
- Trolling with lures or rigged baitfish can be effective for African Pompano, especially when they are feeding closer to the surface.
- Keep your trolling speed consistent and be prepared for a strike at any moment.
- Teasers are smaller lures or baits attached ahead of your main bait. They can attract the attention of African Pompano and entice them to strike.
- Common teaser options include small plastic squids or fish.
- In situations where African Pompano are feeding near the surface or around schools of baitfish, casting and retrieving artificial lures can be effective.
- Use lures like bucktail jigs or swimbaits, and retrieve them at a pace that mimics the movements of prey.
- African Pompano can be cautious feeders, so patience is key. Wait for the fish to fully take the bait before setting the hook.
- African Pompano are more active during low-light conditions, such as dawn and dusk. These times are often the most productive for fishing.
- When possible, use live bait like small fish, squid, or shrimp. These are natural prey for African Pompano and can be highly effective.
- African Pompano can be sensitive to noise and boat disturbance. Approach your fishing spot quietly and minimize unnecessary noise to avoid spooking them.
Remember that successful African Pompano fishing often requires adaptability. These fish can change their feeding patterns and locations, so be prepared to adjust your techniques and strategies as needed. The old 90/10 rule is definitely true for these fish in that 90 percent of the fish are in 10% of the water.
Where to Catch African Pompano
African Pompano are typically found in warm tropical and subtropical waters in various parts of the world including:
- Florida, USA: The waters off the coast of Florida, particularly in the Florida Keys and the Gulf of Mexico, are known for African Pompano. Look for them near reefs, wrecks, and underwater structures.
- Caribbean Sea: Caribbean islands and their surrounding waters offer excellent opportunities for African Pompano fishing. Islands like the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the Cayman Islands are known for their Pompano populations.
- Gulf of Mexico: Beyond Florida, the entire Gulf of Mexico is a prime habitat for African Pompano. Coastal areas with reefs and underwater structures are likely spots to find them.
- Eastern Atlantic: African Pompano are also found in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Countries along the west coast of Africa, such as Senegal, Ghana, and Nigeria, offer opportunities for Pompano fishing.
- Indian Ocean: Tropical and subtropical regions of the Indian Ocean, including the Maldives, Seychelles, and Madagascar, are known for African Pompano.
- Pacific Ocean: While less common in the Pacific, African Pompano can still be found in certain areas, such as the Hawaiian Islands, French Polynesia, and other tropical Pacific locations.
When targeting African Pompano, it’s essential to focus on areas with suitable habitat, such as coral reefs, wrecks, and underwater structures, in depths ranging from 50 to 200 feet. Additionally, consider the local fishing regulations and guidelines for the specific region you plan to fish in, as regulations can vary widely from place to place. Local knowledge, including advice from experienced anglers or charter captains, can also be invaluable in finding the best spots for African Pompano in your chosen location.
Add African Pompano to Your List
Fishing is so much more than the quest for a single fish. It encapsulates culture, tradition, social bonding, culinary experience, natural beauty, and conservation. If that isn’t enough to make you want to go out and catch an African Pompano, or by extension any fish, then I don’t know what is. African Pompano in particular are a great next fish to target because of their delicious table fare, stunning and unique silvery coloration, and powerful fighting spirit and tenacity when you’ve got one on the line!
After you’ve caught a few maybe it’s time to go learn how to catch all these other fish.