What is a Pompano? It is a fish commonly found in the surf zone around the Gulf of Mexico. This fish prefers warm water temperatures and is rarely in water below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. They are found inshore and offshore and are a species that grows rapidly.
Pompano have an average lifespan between 3 and 4 years, but it is possible for the fish to live over 7 years. They grow at a fast rate, estimated at approximately an inch a month until reaching maximum size of about 25 inches. The average pompano is 4 pounds, and females grow larger than males.
With interesting markings, the pompano is greenish gray on the back with shades of silver on the sides. Pompano are often confused with permit, but the pompano’s undersides and fins often have a golden hue. The body is deep and flat with a small mouth. Fish in darker waters show gold on the throat, pelvic, and anal fins.
Pompano’s have a varied appetite, feeding on crustaceans, mollusks, invertebrates, and possibly small fish. Considered bottom feeders, pompano are opportunistic eaters. Larger adults may eat crabs, while juveniles consume bivalves, crab larvae, isopods, and invertebrate eggs.
The habitat and migration of the pompano ranges from Massachusetts to Argentina. Migrations are cyclical and occur based on water temperature, tides, spawning, and food resources. Pompano spawn offshore between March and September. Migrating fish often travel over 100 km and some as far as 200 km.
Pompano are common in bay areas and estuaries. Juveniles remain in sandy beach areas where waves are common, and they prefer water between 80 to 90ºF. During winter months, the fish migrate to the warmer water of the gulf, and as larvae, the fish live offshore.
Pompano are preyed upon by birds like the brown pelican. They are also prone to parasites that attach to the mouth, gills, body, and fins.