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African Pompano Species Guide

Last Updated on July 26, 2022 by Donnell Henderson

Scientific Name: Alectis ciliaris

Also Known As: threadfin trevally, pennant-fish

Legal Size Minimum: 24 inches

Habitat: Tropical waters

All-Tackle Record: 50 lbs, 8oz / 22.9 kg

The African Pompano commonly referred to as the threadfin trevally or pennant-fish, is the biggest and most widely spread fish species belonging to family Carangidae (Jack). The African Pompano are great fighters and powerful swimmers.

This tropical fish species has a laterally compressed, deep body, steeped and rounded head, and metallic coloring.

The African Pompano are found in the world’s tropical waters, with the juveniles inhabiting the ocean’s pelagic zone. The adult African Pompano can be found along the world’s coastlines.

How to Identify an African Pompano

An Adult African Pompano is quite similar in appearance to the other fish species belonging to the genus Alectis. Therefore, separating the three species can be quite tricky for an untrained eye. However, the African Pompano’s young ones are quite easy to identify thanks to their long filamentous anal and dorsal fin tips.

This species can be distinguished from the other members of genus Alectis by the low number of gill rakers on their first-gill arch.

African Pompano Alectis ciliaris species guide

The African Pompano’s most striking characteristics are the four to six thread-like rays on the front part of the anal and second dorsal fins. The first 2 of these rays are about four times longer in the juveniles. These long rays tend to erode or disappear as it grows.

This fish’s body undergoes numerous changes as it grows. Juvenile African pompanos start off having short and deep bodies. During this stage, the spines of their dorsal fins are normally visible but not prominent. When they grow to around 14 inches long, their bodies start elongating as they develop, and their foreheads become blunter and steeper.

The bodies of the African Pompano (both adult and young) are compressed, with the rear part of their bodies being triangular in shape. The upper parts of their bodies’ are blue-green to silvery-metallic blue, while their underside is silvery. Their upper shoulders and head are darker than the other parts of their body.

How to Catch African Pompano

The African Pompano is a great light tackle game fish that is loved by many fishermen. In fact, most anglers have caught this strong fighter using small dead or live baits, feathers, jigs, and lures. However, many people have caught the African Pompano while looking for other species.

If you have a good fish finder you can also toss a chum on the water surface and make a school of African Pompano get into a frenzy and then use the fly fishing gear.

Some of the best fishing methods for capturing this species include:

  • Saltwater trolling
  • Still fishing
  • Baitcasting
  • Fly casting
  • Spin casting
  • Surf casting
  • Bottom bouncing
  • Drift fishing
  • Saltwater jigging

When fishing for African Pompano, you should use a bait button to prevent the bait from slipping to the fishing line or hook. This species tends to move inshore during summer, so you can increase your chances of catching them by using live baits. In winter, you should use jigs since you will be fishing in deeper waters.

Legal Size & Catch Limit African Pompano

Currently, the only state with fishing regulations that extend to the Federal waters is Florida.

In Florida, anglers are allowed to fish the African Pompanos all year long with a daily bag limit of two per person and not exceeding 2 per boat. The legal minimum size limit of African Pompano in Florida is 24 inches.

How to Catch African Pompano

Where to Catch African Pompano?

The African Pompano can be found in all the world’s tropical seas and oceans with a temperature ranging from 18°C to 27°C. Adults are more common in the coastal waters, while juveniles are mostly found in pelagic. This fish has been recorded on the west and east coasts of the United States, Africa, and South America throughout the Indian Ocean.

In the United States, it can be found from the southern parts of New Jersey all the way to the Mexican Gulf through Florida. The adult African Pompano fish can be found about 180 feet deep underwater near offshore wrecks, reefs, and ledges.

African Pompano Season

The African Pompano starts appearing in small numbers around June every year when the water temperature increases to over 18°C. The population of this species peaks in the summer when the water is warmest, between August and September, and starts to decline in the fall when the temperature drops and until they disappear completely.

In Florida, the Pompano appear in October, and they are well-dispersed in the entire region by January or December. And as soon as the temperature starts dropping in April, this species starts migrating north.

African Pompano Bait

The best baits for catching the African Pompano are the slow trolling variety, especially when dealing with a school near the surface.

Some of the best live baits for catching the African Pompano are:

  • Shrimp
  • Flies
  • Crab
  • Squid
  • Clam

African Pompano Gear

Unlike most of the other species belonging to the Jack family, the African Pompano are strong fighters. This fish doesn’t head for the rocks or take blistering runs to break you off; instead, they turn sideways and bulldog downwards to make it impossible for you to crank them in.

You need a strong rod and reliable reel with a 50lb braid line to reel in this powerful species.

If the school is near the surface, you can use small live baits together with feathers and lures to attract this fish.

adult african pompano
via Wikimedia Commons


What Do African Pompano Eat?

The African Pompano is a huge fish that consumes small crabs, shrimps, and crustaceans. Occasionally this species has been known to eat small baitfish like pilchards.

How Do African Pompano Taste?

Unlike some of the members of the Jack family, this fish is quite delicious. This fish doesn’t have the bloody flesh of some species like the Couvalli Jack, but instead has tasty thick, white meat. But like most huge fish species that eat smaller fish, the African Pompano has a likelihood of ciguatera contamination, so do avoid consuming the overly large ones.

Can You Spear African Pompano?

The only American state with regulations for the African Pompano is Florida. These regulations also prohibit the harvesting of both the African and Florida Pompano by spearing. Even though this species is not considered endangered, this law was enacted to protect it.

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