The Florida pompano (Trachinotus carolinus) is a species of marine fish in the Trachinotus (pompano) genus of the Carangidae family. It has a compressed body and short snout; coloration varies from blue-greenish silver on the dorsal areas and silver to yellow on the body and fins. It can be found along the western coast of the Atlantic Ocean, depending on the season, and is popular for both sport and commercial fishing. Most Florida pompano caught weigh less than 3 lb (1.4 kg) and are less than 17 in (43 cm) long, though the largest individuals weigh 8–9 lb (3.6–4.1 kg) and reach lengths up to 26 in (66 cm).
It has a deeply forked tail and is blue-greenish silver with yellow on the throat, belly, and pelvic and anal fins. The first dorsal fins are low, with about six separate spines. The first spine may be reabsorbed in a larger fish. The second lobes on the dorsal and anal fins have a lower anterior.There are 20-24 anal fin rays. It is a compressed fish with a deep body and a blunt snout.
The adult Florida pompano is typically found in more saline areas and relatively warm waters (70-89°F), so it migrates northward in the summer, and toward the south in the fall. Despite its name, the range of the Florida pompano extends from Massachusetts to Brazil, but it is more common in areas near Florida. During the summer, it can be found near Sebastian, Cape Hatteras, and the Gulf of Mexico. It is more common near oil rigs, Palm Beach, and Hobe Sound during the winter. It can also be found near the Virgin Islands year round.
Its habitat is surf flats, and it tends to stay away from clear water regions, such as the Bahamas. Pompanos are very fast swimmers and live in schools. They are bottom feeders. They have very short teeth and feed on zoobenthos and small clams.
Florida pompano are commercially fished in all states on the East Coast from Virginia to Texas, with Florida producing over 90% of the annual harvest. Harvesting occurs mostly along Florida's western coast, with some harvesting on the eastern coast and in the Banana and Indian Rivers. Between 1994 and 2006, it commanded dockside prices of more than $3 per pound of whole fish weight.
Individually, Florida pompano are caught on light jigs and popping corks. They are very active on the line, testing light tackle beyond what their weight would suggest. They bite near oil rigs in the winter.
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