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Captain's corner


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 14, 2001

Silver ghosts, golden nuggets, whatever you call them, now is the time to take advantage of one of the best eating and fighting fish that swims in the gulf, the Florida pompano.

Found along sandy beaches and passes of our coast, pompano sometimes get mistaken for their larger cousin, the permit. Pompano rarely get to 5 pounds, while permit grow close to 40 pounds. Almost identical in color, pompano have a goldish-yellow belly (hence the nickname golden nuggets) and have short black dorsal and anal fins. The same fins on permit are almost two or three times the length of a pompano.

Gearing up requires nothing fancy; most of the time 10-pound tackle will do the job unless you're fishing around pier or bridge pilings. In that case, 17-pound stuff should give you enough control so they won't wrap you around the barnacle structures. Leaders are always a good idea, but try never to use leader material more than three times the strength of your line.

Pompano will take a variety of live baits, but their favorites are smallpass and fiddler crabs. Live shrimp will work too, but a small fiddler is irresistible. Rig the crabs with a No. 1 or 2 short-shank hook. Pompano don't have large mouths so the smaller the hook the better. Hook the crabs through the leg socket so the crabs will stay alive. They may swim a little erratically but that's okay because they'll get the attention of what you're fishing for.

- Capt. Rick Frazier runs Lucky Dog Charters out of St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 448-3817 or by e-mail at

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