Florida Pompano
(Trachinotus carolinus)

Size:
Length - Maximum of approx. 1 - 2 feet
Weight - Maximum of approx. 1 - 9 lbs.

Range:
Florida pompano are found along the western coast of the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts to Brazil and throughout the Gulf of Mexico. These bottom feeders are found most frequently in Florida’s coastal waters.

Habitat:
Florida pompano form large schools and prefer water with higher turbidity. These bottom feeders prefer surf flats, but can also be found on, reefs, wrecks, and oil rigs throughout the Gulf of Mexico. While pompano are comfortable in a wide range of temperatures and salinity, they prefer temperatures between 70-89 degrees, and migrate accordingly.

Diet:
They feed on small clams, fishes, and mole crabs, which fishermen prefer to use for bait.

Life History:
Pompano grow rapidly, and are known to reach 12 inches in total length within a year. While they typically survive for 3-4 years, some individuals are known to have reached 7 years. Very little is known about the spawning behavior of pompano, but due to the frequency or new recruits during the summer months, the spawning season is known to be from April through October.

Importance to Fisheries and Aquaculture:
Pompano is one of the highest valued fish in Florida. Its diet of crustaceans and invertebrates provides a rich taste that chefs love. In the past, pompano were on menus throughout the Southeast, but today there is hardly enough supply to meet market demand for this species.

Wild pompano stocks support both commercial and recreational fisheries from Texas to Virginia, with Florida accounting for over 90% of harvest annually. The high demand for pompano for both sport and consumption has driven an expanded effort to culture this species in captivity. There has been some success in these efforts, but more research is needed to bring pompano production under aquaculture to the commercial scale. However, the high market-price and ability of these fish to tolerate a wide range of water parameters make it a promising species for aquaculture development.

Fun Fact:
Pompano excite anglers throughout their range, as these fast swimmers are much stronger than their size would suggest!

The largest pompano recorded was caught in Port St. Joe, Florida in 1999. This fish weighed in at 8 lb. 4 oz.