Surf fishing report — the pompano bite is red hot

Nick Walke caught this 4+ pound pompano south of Oregon Inlet on June 22, 2020. (TW's Bait & Tackle photo credit)

Pompano are feeding right at anglers’ feet

The surf fishing has really heated up for numerous species along the beaches of both Carolinas. And one of the hottest right now is pompano. These fish are good to eat, fun to fight, and don’t require any special gear or tactics.

Kids can have a blast catching these fish without trouble, but adults of all skill levels enjoy catching them too. All it takes is a medium rod, a 2500-series spinning reel spooled with 10 to 15-pound test line, and a 1/0 circle hook. And when it comes to bait, anglers have plenty of options.

Small pieces of shrimp are plenty enticing to pompano, and sand fleas are unbeatable. These little critters are easy to find on some beaches in the Carolinas, but seemingly non-existent in others. If you have access to them, put some in a bucket and you’ll be all set.

Bloodworms, small crabs, and clams are also good bets. And to make things even easier, one of the more popular baits has been Fishbites. This is a synthetic bait that lasts a long time on the hook and catches a variety of species, including the pending world record whiting caught in the Carolina surf recently. Pompano love it too.

No long distance casting needed

Anglers don’t need to make long casts to catch pompano. In many cases, these fish are biting just a few feet away from surf anglers’ rod holders. These fish are biting “in the wash,” where the water turns white closest to the beach after waves crash.

A basic surf fishing rig with two hooks and a pyramid sinker is a good setup. It keeps the bait stationary in that part of the surf. A Carolina rig with an egg sinker, on the other hand, lets the bait tumble about more freely. On some days, both rigs work equally well. On others, one works better than the other.

If you are using Fishbites, resist the urge to check your bait after every bite. These baits are made with a synthetic weave combined with food particles that break down periodically. While fish can pull off bits of the food with every bite, plenty of it stays on the weave, which is very tough and withstands lots of hits. Pompano can be finicky biters, but once they get the circle hook in their mouths, you’ll know it for sure.

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About Brian Cope 1951 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at

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