Walking into "The Den" meeting room, where our meetings are held at The Plantation, we noticed that the NCLA sign was not posted on the door like it usually is, and the tables and chairs were set up in a different arrangement with audio/visual equipment set up as well. That was a little curious but we weren't overly concerned about it so we shrugged our shoulders and made ourselves comfortable and waited for Capt. Zach and some of the other members to arrive.
By 6:00 we had most of our regular crew there with maybe only one or two of the new ladies that joined us. Hhhmmm.....wonder where the others where. Had they just changed their minds and decided not to come after all? That happens sometimes. Where they lost? Capt. Zach was there, though, all set up and ready to go, so we went ahead and began the presentation, a little disappointed that we were missing so many of the newbies.
About 10 minutes into our meeting, an employee from the Plantation's Banquet Dept. (they're the folks that set up the meeting rooms) came in and apologized to us. He explained that the room we were in, the one we've been in every month for the past year, had been set up for a different group and another meeting room, located upstairs, had been set up for us, in fact, there were women already up there waiting - probably the other newbies we were wondering about earlier. He apologized again when he found out that we hadn't been told about the old room switch-a-roo before now. Well, that explained a lot but we were already set up and ready to go. Didn't matter, We were gently encouraged to gather our things and relocated to the meeting room upstairs which we did. Sure enough, a handful of new faces were sitting quietly in their seats. They had been ushered into that room by the check-in staff and had been waiting up there the entire time wondering where the core NCLA members were!
It took us a good 15-20 minutes to change rooms, get settled, reset the audio/visual equipment and get back underway by starting completely over. But at least we were all together now....all 18 of us, the biggest audience we've had since our very first meeting at the Coastal Region Library back in February of 2013.
Let's get started - Pompano
Pompano are not fish you typically target in the Crystal River area. They are more of a random catch while targeting a different species most of the time, but it's important to be able to identify them if/when you do catch them so that you don't break any laws by harvesting fish outside of the legal slot limit. You can keep as many as 6 Pompano per person per day as long as they are over 11 inches long.
Where to Find Them
If you have a motor boat, you may run right into a school of Pompano and not even realize it until you see them skip across the water in the motor wake behind you. Pompano have a weird habit of "wake skipping." When a boat passes near them they leap out of the water and skitter across the wake on their sides. They love rip currents and turbulent water.
Bait & Lures
The faster you reel in your lure, the faster it cuts the water and this action attracts lots of fish. You can also use a small piece of shrimp on a 1/16 oz. jig-head and work that at a rapid pace through the water, too. You just don't want to "fish the bottom" if you're looking to hook into a Pompano. Like Spanish Mackerel, they're looking for fast moving bait. In fact, there are jigs made specifically for Pompano called "Pompano Jigs". Another fast retrieval jig to consider is the Silly Willy used to catch both Pompano and Yellow Tail Snapper, too. This one is a little shaped a little differently then a normal jig-head to make it "flutter" in the water.
How to Cook Them
After the recipe exchange, we capped off the presentation with a "Question and Answer" session and then he gave each of us a coozie and a business card.
Although Capt. Zach's specialty is to go 30-40 miles off-shore Grouper fishing, we appreciated him coming and teaching us a little bit more than we knew before about Pompano, even if it's not his primary species of charter fishing we sure learned a lot from him and hope we can count on him to come and speak to our group again next year.