African Pompano
(Alectis ciliaris)

African Pompano, Alectis ciliaris: The African Pompano is one of the more exotic-looking fish found in Mexican waters.

The African Pompano is characterized by its silver, highly compressed body with a light blue tinge and a steep rounded forehead with a blunt snout. It has high anal fin and dorsal fin front lobes with very long anal fin and dorsal fin rays, which diminish with age, an arched lateral line, long curved pectoral fins, and no rear finlets. The body is scaleless.

The juvenile African Pompano has several extremely long anal and dorsal rays fin, as pictured here, and is most interesting to observe. The African Pompano can be easily confused with the Threadfin Jack, Caranx otrynter, which has a pointed snout, angular and unrounded head profile, scales covering the top of the head and rear half of the body, and juveniles lacking multiple, long, filamentous anal and dorsal fin rays.

Distribution in Mexico fishing areas

The African Pompano is pelagic and normally solitary and in Mexico fishing waters is found around the tip of the Baja California peninsula from Magdalena Bay to La Paz, on mainland Mexico south of Mazatlan, and around all of the oceanic islands. It is found in the first 200 feet of the water column over sandy bottoms, adjacent to rocky structure, and can be caught in abundance in early spring when it spawns over sandy relatively sandy bottoms. It is reported to reach a length of 5-feet but are normally in the 18 to 24 inch range. It is viewed by locals to be excellent table fare.

This fish species is a member of the Carangidae or Jack Family.

African Pompano fish picture 1

African Pompano fish picture 2

African Pompano, Alectis ciliaris: A rare juvenile caught while fishing with Captain Pata in the panga Salome, La Playita, San Jose del Cabo (Los Cabos), B.C.S., Mexico, in 70-degree water, mid-morning in February 2004, in 50 to 100-foot water, utilizing a red and silver yo-yo iron. Size approximately 12 inches and 2 pounds. Larger African Pompano are viewed by locals as good table fare. This is a “feast or famine” species quite abundant at certain times of the year when on one day you can catch 5 or 6, and then not catch any for two or three years. Reports are that the African Pompano stock has more or less disappeared from San Jose del Cabo waters due to over fishing by the local Sea Lions. Description and photo courtesy John Snow.

African Pompano fish picture 3

African Pompano, Alectis ciliaris: An African Pompano with its soft rays deteriorated. Photo courtesy Eric Brictson, Gordo Banks Pangas. Fish identification courtesy Peter Langstraat.

African Pompano fish picture 4

African Pompano, Alectis ciliaris: So far I have caught only five of them, two the past June, one in October 1999, one in June 1999, and the first one in June 1998. Three of them on a dead trolled sardine, one on a Popper, one on a trolled artificial fly. Lengths were between 25 and 28 inches, line class 8 pounds. Four of them in front of Hotel Punta Colorada, one at East Cape, Bahia de Palmas in front of Hotel Palmas de Cortez, B.C.S. Mexico. Description and photo courtesy Peter Langstraat.

African Pompano fish picture 5

African Pompano, Alectis ciliaris: Photo courtesy Gary Graham, Baja On The Fly.

African Pompano fish picture 6

African Pompano, Alectis ciliaris: Caught during a fish trip with Cap. Pata in the panga Salome, in 82 degree water, mid-morning in November 2006 in 100 foot deep water on a live sardine utilizing a dropper loop bottom rig, San Jose del Cabo, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Photo courtesy John Snow.

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