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January 14, 2005

The Poop On Pompano

African pompano aren't really pompano at all. True pompano belong to the genus Trachinotus. Most seldom grow to more than a few pounds.

African pompano aren't really pompano at all. True pompano belong to the genus Trachinotus. Most seldom grow to more than a few pounds. Africans belong to a much less diverse genus, Alectis, made up of only two other species, both very similar to A. ciliaris (but slightly smaller), including the African threadfish and the Indian threadfish (also known in Australia as diamond trevally). When taken together, the range of the three species covers most of the world's tropical marine waters. Like pompano, Africans are true jacks, belonging to the family Carangidae, and, when hooked, displaying the same pugnacious behavior typical of jacks.

Africans' appearance as adults is distinctive enough to keep them from being easily confused with other species of jacks. Think of a bright-silver stretch version of a jack crevalle that's very compressed (flattened side to side), with a high forehead and large eye, and you'll be in the ball park.
 
If the adults are distinctive, juvenile African pompano are remarkable for the tremendously long, gossamer-like, filamentous rays that trail from dorsal and anal fins. These can be several times as long as the fish. The rays shrink and are lost as fish grow to adult size. Juveniles tend to be less elongate and shorter and more diamond-shaped.

Although very good eating, the species is of only limited commercial value. Alectis ciliaris grow to at least 50 pounds - with the International Game Fish Association all-tackle world record of 50 1/2 pounds set in 1990 off Daytona Beach, Florida. Line-class records for the species are listed here.

Men's Line-Class Records: Women's Line-Class Records:
2-pound - 5 pounds 11 ounces from Cabo San Lucas in 1999.
4-pound - 32 pounds 4 ounces from Palm Beach, Florida, in 1985.
6-pound - 36 pounds from Miami in 1997.
8-pound - 401¼2 pounds from Key West in 1996.
12-pound - 451¼2 pounds from Stuart, Florida, in 1986.
16-pound - 441¼2 pounds from Jupiter, Florida, in 1994.
20-pound - 50 pounds from Stuart in 2000.
30-pound - 48 pounds 2 ounces from Key Biscayne, Florida, in 2000.

2-pound - 14 pounds from Key West in 1994.
4-pound - 211¼2 pounds from Key West in 1994.
6-pound - 28 pounds from Miami in 1995.
8-pound - 38 pounds from Key Biscayne, Florida, in 1993.
12-pound - 35 pounds from the Dry Tortugas, Florida, in 1992.
16-pound - 42 pounds from Jupiter, Florida, in 1997.