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Fishing Hack: Aerial Displays Caught in the Rearview

Brad KernsThis time of year always seems to be an exhilarating time of year to fish. The fronts are becoming further and further apart as summer approaches. The mornings and evenings are still cool with a slight chill in the air and the afternoon sun still tolerable. The water is electrified both inshore an off.

Inshore fish are starting to make their way out of hibernation from the bays and bayous making their way to open water. Offshore acres and acres of bait are starting to arrive along with the Pelagic species that feast on them. There’s something in the air and it’s not just the fish that feel it. I guess spring fever really does exist. Just take a look around at the marinas, ramps and not to mention the beaches they are all teaming with fisherman and boats of all types and sizes.

This is a perfect time of year for this hack as this specie is no different as it makes its way offshore to spawn. You’ve probably seen them skip in your wake on the outside of a flat in the bay or maybe as you’re running out, of one of our many passes as you skirt the outer edge of the bar heading offshore. I’m talking about that hard-hitting, little jack, known as the Florida Pompano.

I personally have become just as observant off the water as I have on. My mom always said, “beware of your surroundings.”  Well, this time it paid off! When you launch from the same ramp around the same time and same days for years you tend to see many of the same people doing the same things. After all, we too are creatures of habit. You tend to know the avid angler from the weekend warrior pretty fast. In true human nature we desire to know what the other guy is doing, how he’s fishing, how their rods or boat are rigged, etc. So we look.

One of the avid anglers I frequently see always has a few rods on the boat, no specific rigging to speak of and typically fishes alone. What I did notice time after time were rearview mirrors attached to either side of his center console. I never thought much about it at first, but it kind of got me wondering. What was he looking for, was it, Kamikaze jet skiers or runaway kite surfers, which this area is known for both. Did his mother tell him the same thing? So the curiosity finally got to me one morning as we exchanged waves.  So I walked over to ask the question, why the rearview mirrors? His answer, and the it wasn’t an afterward-approaching threat, he simply said, “Pompano.” He continued to tell me how he fishes alone and it’s the best way to see them skip his wake while running from one area to the next. Genius! I thought it truly is the simple things.

Now that you found a Pompano by its aerial display in your rearview mirror remember, where there is one there is typically many. How do you fish for them? Let the boat settle, they don’t spook as easy as other fish and are used to boat traffic and some pressure. With that said, they are a fast moving fish, typically influenced by tide. Stay with them and it’s game on! Light tackle is preferred, most of these fish are found in and near clear water. Those of you who prefer artificial baits – banana jigs, small bucktails and swim baits are among the favorites. Those of you who prefer live bait – shrimp, cut pass crab, fiddler crab and sand fleas are great. Either way just remember, size does matter. In this case think small. Due to the size of the Pompano’s mouth, which is small, they eat smaller bait.  Lastly, don’t under estimate the fight, once they gulp down your bait ….FISH ON.

So, if you’re not slow rolling out of the pass or meandering the flats, this hack is a great way to catch an aerial glimpse of these small jacks. As you’re up and running don’t let an opportunity just skip you by.

Tom Verdensky, Old Salt President



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