The African pompano is a widely distributed species of tropical marine fish in the Jack family, Carangidae. The species is found in tropical waters worldwide, with adults often inhabiting coastlines while juveniles are usually pelagic, floating with ocean currents. The adult African pompano is very similar in appearance to the other members of the genus Alectis, with close examination needed to separate the three.
The juveniles, however, are easily identified due to their long, filamentous dorsal and anal fin tips which are thought to discourage predators. The species lives in depths less than 100 m, consuming a range of crustaceans and small fishes.
The adults of the species prefer coastal waters to depths of 100 m, inhabiting reefs and wrecks throughout the water column. Juveniles are pelagic by nature, inhabiting coastal areas as well as open ocean. Their reliance on water currents has seen them appear in estuarine waters in lower Australia, although due to cold winter temperatures, they do not survive the winters. In one unusual case, the abundance in the species off North Carolina was found to dramatically increase after a hurricane had passed through.
Tackle for larger fish must be robust, with 50 lb line on a large overhead or threadline type reel needed to prevent the fish from taking cover in underwater structure on its first run, especially on reefs and wrecks. Smaller fish are often taken on light tackle, often requiring a skilled angler to be able to land the fish in these situations. They can be caught on both bait and lures, with small live baitfish or large prawns the choice of baits rigged on strong gauge hooks. Lures are often jigs or streamers worked on deep reefs and wrecks, although they have been known to take a trolled lure or rigged bait. In rare cases, they have even been known to hit saltwater flies on sinking lines and poppers at the surface.
The recognized record for a recreationally caught African pompano is 18.8 kg. In Florida, the species has a minimum size limit of 24 inches and only two fish are allowed per vessel per day.
The African pompano is distributed throughout the tropical oceans and seas of the world in a temperature range of 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, although is more often found in coastal waters. The species has been recorded from both the east and west coasts of the USA, South America and Africa, throughout the Indian Ocean and along Asia and Australia, as well as many islands in the Pacific. The African pompano does range into more temperate waters, with juveniles in particular captured off south eastern and western Australia, presumably carried by ocean currents.
Body is deep and compressed; coloration is metallic-blue above, silvery below; snout is blunt; pelvic fins are longer than the maxilla; second dorsal and anal fins are falcate.
Size: to 91 centimeters (3 feet) and 19 kilograms (42 pounds)