The pompano does enjoy high popularity among sport anglers in the United States and South America.
While not being the largest of game fish, it is known and appreciated for its excellent fighting abilities, especially on light tackle in the surf.
But just how big or small is this fish species?
While the average size of Florida pompano is around 12 to 16 inches and 1 to 3 pounds, this fish can reach a maximum size of approximately 24 to 26 inches and 8 to 9lb.
Keep reading this article and find out how big the current All-Tackle world record pompano is, where the biggest specimens are found, and how old this surf fighter can get.
What Is the Maximum Size of Pompano?
Florida pompano (Trachinotus carolinus) can reach a maximum length of 25 to 26 inches and a maximum weight of 8 to 9lb.
In this article, I am focusing on the Florida pompano, the most common and famous member of the pompano family.
But don’t get fooled by its name! While being an extremely common catch down in the Sunshine State, the Florida pompano is found along the entire Atlantic east coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, from Massachusetts in the north down to Brazil in the south.
Unfortunately, there is only a little reliable data and research about this fish species available online, making it challenging to produce 100% accurate information.
But from all the data and catch reports I have seen, a maximum weight of 8 to 9lb is very realistic and possible!
The maximum length, though, is another story! While fish of 20 to 22 inches are being caught, and reports of 22 to 24 pompano exist, I have yet to find any reliable source on that maximum reported length of 26 inches.
Given the species’ weight and body shape, a length of 25 or 26 inches is very well possible, but it would be best to get an official record of it!
Until then, I am inclined to go with the less official but more realistic maximum length of 24 inches.
How Big Is the Average Pompano?
The average size of Florida pompano caught in the surf is 12 to 16 inches and 1 to 3 pounds.
Of course, average sizes vary and can be smaller or bigger, depending on where you fish for pompano.
In some hot spots, the average size might be as big as 3 to 5 pounds, while less productive areas might have an average size of just 1 or 2 pounds.
ALWAYS REMEMBER: many factors can and will determine the average size of a fish population. They can include:
- food abundance
- water temperatures
- oxygen levels
- fishing pressure
- population genetics
What Is the Biggest Pompano Ever Caught?
The current IGFA All-Tackle world record pompano is a magnificent 8lb 4oz fish that was caught in 1999.
Angler Berry Huston caught the giant in Port St. Joe in Florida.
The IGFA has also listed an All-Tackle length world record for pompano.
This fish measured a respectable 19.7 inches and was caught by angler Leandro Rui Pereira off the coast of Ubatuba (Sao Paolo, Brazil) in 2015.
While pompanos larger than 20 inches aren’t super common, fish of 20 or so inches have been caught, so this second world record could surely be beaten by some angler catching a slab in Florida somewhere!
Beating that 8+ pounder is another story, though. A pompano of that caliber doesn’t come along very often, so I’d say beating this world record will be a tough challenge!
Where Are the Biggest Pompano Found?
According to historical and current catch reports on the internet, the biggest pompano are mostly caught along the US’ Atlantic east coast.
Here, two areas stick out from the rest; Florida and Maryland.
Florida pompano are known to grow somewhat bigger than pompano found in other parts of the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico.
Why Maryland also seems to produce a fair amount of trophy pompano, I really can’t say.
Maybe they have optimal habitat conditions up there. Perhaps, there is plenty of forage to be had.
Or maybe, anglers targeting pompano in Maryland have simply been extremely fortunate. Who really knows?
How Fast Do Pompano Grow?
When compared to other species, pompano are relatively fast-growing fish.
They can grow as much as 10 to 12 inches during their first year.
Between the age of 1 and 3, they become sexually mature, and at age, the females, which both grow faster and somewhat larger than male pompano, can be as big as 14 to 16 inches.
Beyond age 3, their growth rate slows a little but is still impressively fast.
At age 4, they can have an approximate length of 16 to 18 inches, and at the age of 5, they can measure around 18 to 20 inches.
The really old specimens found off Florida and the Gulf of Mexico (at age 6 to 7) can be as big as 22 to a rare 26 inches, with 26 inches being the reported maximum length of Florida Pompano.
How Old Do Pompano Get?
Due to their relatively small size, pompano also have a fairly short lifespan.
While the average lifespan of this fish species is between 3 and 4 years, they can reach a maximum age of 7 years.
Here, it is essential to distinguish between pompano found along the United States’ east coast and specimens found in the Gulf of Mexico, as researchers have found that the two populations have different lifespans!
Studies have shown that pompano that inhabit the Atlantic east coast can reach a maximum age of 7 years, while fish that inhabit the coastal regions of the Gulf of Mexico generally only live to the age of 5.
How Big Do African Pompano Get?
For comparison, I also wanted to give you the maximum size of the other, though much less common, pompano species caught off the coasts of the US and Central and South America.
The African pompano (Alectis ciliaris) can reach a reported maximum length of 50 inches and a maximum reported weight of around 50 pounds.
The current IGFA world record African pompano is a really huge fish of 50lb 8oz. It was caught by angler Tom Sargent off Daytona Beach in Florida back in 1990.
This species may be the rarer of the two main pompano types found in the US, but it’s undoubtedly the much bigger of the two!
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Featured image courtesy of Scott Sadorf