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Hard-fighting pompano are a real fishing treat

November 2, 2018
By GEORGE TUNISON , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

While loading the ultra-lite spinning rods with soft plastics, at the same time explaining the finer points of bottom hopping jigs for sea trout, my first-time saltwater fishing clients were eager to get started.

During their first 25 casts or so I watched as the line would jump or "tick" with little reaction from the novice anglers as the lure was inhaled, tasted, moved around the fish's mouth then finally, spit out. After going into drill sergeant mode and commanding loudly, even having to resort to shoulder tapping and rib poking, "Hit Em!" Or simply, "NOW! " They finally got the rhythm and soon trout after trout wallowed frantically on the surface trying to throw the hook.

A few more casts and both lite rods bent, deeply attached to something very powerful and determined. The fish didn't jump or surface wallow, just pulled line from the reels at warp speed as the young anglers held on, both thinking they had hooked 50-pound flats whales.

After endless circling, one of the fish, a fat 3-pound pompano came into view. The other plump pomp finally cashed in and came to the boat as well. Both anglers were astounded by their small size and their amazing pulling power, both expecting to see trash can lid-size fish on their hooks.

Whether you fish for them on the flats or around the passes, or pursue them in the coastal surf as thousands of Floridians do, this delicious member of the Jack family is a tough fighter just like his magnum-sized cousin, the permit.

Many Florida old salts consider them one of the best eating fish in our waters, as I do, especially stuffed and baked with a generous portion of my crab/scallop mixture topped with generous amounts of healthy butter.

Think small when casting for pomps. Small, colorful, short-haired jigs on ultra-lites are normal fare for these tough and tasty fighters. Tip the jig with a tiny piece of shrimp for smell and bottom bounce the jig on the retrieve, stirring sand or bottom sediment to emulate a fleeing tidbit.

Not getting enough casting distance with your fly rod? A common problem easily cured by following a few steps. Fly anglers don't typically like the wind so know this: if you decide to try fly fishing, be aware that on any dead-flat calm day the mere thinking of or about fly fishing, will cause the leaves to rustle outside. Picking up the rod at home will actually cause a breeze. Putting the rod in the boat and proceeding to the ramp will definitely result in wind. Get used to it.

Overcoming wind is about proper technique coupled with turning the wind into a friend. Mastering the double-haul technique is the key to making long casts and reaching fish with the fly rod, especially in typically windy saltwater flats conditions.

Fly fishing distance casting isn't about strength; it's all about technique, timing and understanding "rod loading" to get maximum distance on your cast.

Use a cell phone to record your casting stroke. As you review it, casting mistakes become glaringly obvious.

Learn to throw tight low loops to fight the wind and large open loops with the wind to gain distance.

Don't overlook equipment basics.

Fly line matched to your rod? Experiment with line sizes. For example: a 9 weight rod might cast better with a 10 weight line.

Is the line slick and clean? Clean with fresh, mild soapy water after use. Hang in large coils to dry then treat it with a line dressing.

Saltwater fish and flats are made for fly angling. Whether watching YOUTUBE, reading books or taking one-on-one private lessons from guides/instructors, fly fishing might hook you deeply.

My long-running 2-hour beginner's saltwater fly course has been quite successful now averaging eight or more new fly anglers a month. Come join in the fun!

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or



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