African Pompano Fishing in Key West

The Basics

A member of the jack family, the African pompano is found in tropical aquatic environments throughout the world. Adult African pompano fish can be seen along the coastline, while young members of the species will swim with the ocean currents. Their main diet comprises lobster, crabs, shrimp, and smaller fish. Found in Key West waters less than 300 feet deep, the African pompano is a prized game fish and the most formidable fish among jacks of comparable sizes or larger.

How They Feed & What's Unique

African pompano are found throughout the waters of Key West as they favor tropical aquatic environments with temperatures from 65 to 80 degrees F. Often, they will inhabit reefs or wrecks throughout the water column. A predatory fish the feeds primarily off of crustaceans, the African pompano has long, filamentous dorsal and anal fins. Some biologists think this feature is a means of protection as confused predators mistake these fish for jellyfish. What is unique about the African pompano is its curved head and visible spines along its dorsal fin. A row of smaller, softer rays trail the anal fin. The African pompano's scales are barely detectable and dot the fish's body. As the African pompano grows to adulthood, its body becomes longer and acquires a silvery color while its head becomes a deep bluish green.

How We Get Them

Key West fishing for African pompano is a popular fish for seafood dishes and is frequently caught through hook-and-line fishing. They are commonly found on reefs and wrecks at deeper points throughout the reef. They have excellent vision and can spot prey from quite a distance. African pompano react well to live bait, such as shrimp, a bit of chicken, or slugs. If fishing in coastal waters, African pompano can often be found along sea grasses or near sand bars. Although most are between 25-30 pounds, the largest pompano caught in the state of Florida was over 50 pounds. They have an excellent, firm texture and mild flavor. Additionally, they can be salted, dried, or eaten fresh.