An African pompano caught 54 miles off the Georgia coast by a lady angler is pending state-record approval from DNR’s Coastal Resources Division. To date, there’s never been an African pompano submitted for a Georgia state record.
“We were just fishing for fun, for kings, mahi and stuff like that,” said Capt. Danny Johnson, of Midway, with Salty Sand Charters.
Danny guides for inshore species like trout and reds, but he was enjoying a fun day of fishing offshore at the M2R6 Navy Tower on July 17 with his girlfriend Jennifer Roberts, of Springfield, and his buddies Ennis Hagar, Jim Purdue, Capt. Johnny Woods and his daughter, Bonny.
Even before the pending state record bit, the fishing was pretty good.
“We had two nice kings, a couple of vermillion snapper, some nice black sea bass, amberjacks and a couple of barracudas,” said Danny.
The offshore team had found beautiful blue water where they were trolling live pogies. The pompano bit a pogy on a downrigger in 35 feet of water over a 109-foot bottom. Jennifer grabbed the rod and reeled in the pompano.
“It was kind of funny,” said Danny. “Everybody was like, ‘What is it?’ I said, ‘It’s a pompano, but I’ve never seen one that big.’”
The fish being brought to the boat was videoed by Bonny and can be seen on her YouTube page, along with some other catches during the July 17 trip.
With the boat secure, the anglers headed back toward the dock in St. Catherines Sound to clean their other fish and investigate the uniqueness of their large pompano.
“I actually had my port motor go down, so we were coming in on one motor and were coming through a thunderstorm in the Sound, and I am like, ‘This is just great. Here I am coming in at 10 knots on one motor.’ And somebody says, ‘I got a signal, I got a signal.’ Nobody was calling anyone to say we were going to be a little late because we’d been running for 33 miles on one motor… they were like, ‘It’s an African pompano.’”
Since Internet doesn’t work offshore, the crew was fast to dig even deeper into the mystery of such a unique fish to Georgia anglers.
“Next thing I know they say, “Nobody’s ever caught one in Georgia. I am like, ‘Don’t you think you should call your parents or wives and let them know we’re coming in late.’ They said, ‘This is a big fish.’”
The fish is still awaiting verification from a state committee that would recognize the fish as a state record. If it goes through, it’s not very likely the record will be broken anytime soon.
“We dont’ see a whole lot of them, but they are caught from year to year,” said Chris Kalinowsky, a marine biologist with Coastal Resources Division. “It’s not unheard of for someone to catch one, but they’re certainly not there in any high density.”
According to www.igfa.org, the world-record African pompano comes in at around 50 pounds and was caught in Daytona Beach, Florida in 1990. The fish make great tablefare, and Danny is looking forward to eating the fish soon.
To contact Capt. Danny about inshore fishing trips, call Danny, (912) 257-3880. You can also visit his website at www.saltysandcharters.com. He is located between Savannah and Darien.