Surf Casting Florida

Learn how to catch more fish off of the beach.

How far out in the surf do you cast for pompano?

You have to cast out to the sand bar during the lower parts of the tide and you can literally catch pompano at your feet during the highest parts of the tide. It all depends upon the tide levels when determining how far out to cast to catch pompano in the surf.

In other words, the quick answer is that it depends upon the conditions. I like to look at the beach as a series of zones. Let’s say that the sand bar is 60 yards from the beach. I would break that apart into 3 separate fishing zones.

The first zone for me would be from the beach to 20 yards out. The second zone for me would be 20 to 40 yards out and the last zone would be 40 to 60 yards out.

Let’s say that you are fishing 3 different rods. You would want the bait on one rod to be in zone 1. You would want the bait of another rod to be in zone 2 and you would want the bait of the third rod in zone 3.

Give the spot 15 minutes or so to see if there are any fish around and reevaluate what to do if you don’t get any bites. If you do start getting bites then move your other two baits into that zone.

Pompano are in schools so once you find one, you will probably find a lot more.

I am a FISHING CHARTER CAPTAIN on the Treasure Coast of Florida. I have fished the beaches, mangroves, grass flats….. all over Florida for more than 40 years. In the article below I will talk in more detail about how far to cast for pompano off of the beach.

Watch the video below to learn more about where to fish when you are surf fishing.

Water Temperatures

Water temperatures are often the key to catching pompano and just about every other fish for that matter. Fish are cold blooded just like a lizard, snake or turtle. They regulate their body temperatures by using the external environment.

If they get too hot or too cold they could die. Fish will move until they find suitable water temperatures.

Pompano like the water temperatures to be from 65 degrees to the high 70’s. Sure, you can catch a pompano in 64 degree water or 81 degree water but it will be hard to catch large numbers of them in water that is uncomfortable to them.

You just never know where the pompano or whatever species of fish you are targeting will be from one day to the next. You will have to do some experimenting to figure out where the feeding fish are. You have to find fish that are interested in eating or you will end up with a very poor fishing day.

Signs of Life

When I first hit a beach that I want to fish off of I will look around for life of some sort. It might be sandpipers and plovers digging for sand fleas. It might be pelicans and terns diving in the water for food. It might be a great blue heron or a snowy egret standing on the beach.

You need to find a beach with some life on it or you might be in for a bad day of fishing. The best signs of life are feeding fish where you are at. If the bite is on and you see feeding fish in the surf, then you have a great chance to catch some pompano.

When you see shore birds like turnstones, plovers, sandpipers…. digging in the sand you know that there are probably a few sand fleas there. Guess who loves sand fleas?

That’s right! Pompano love sand fleas as much as any shore bird. When you find shore birds feeding it is a good idea to try your luck at that spot for a while.


The tide is very important for beach fishing because more water allows more fish to come close to the beach. That makes a lot of sense right? Less water means that some of the bigger fish can’t get too close to the beach. Simple.

I like to fish the higher parts of the tide for just about everything. I like high tide because I can use a normal sized fishing rod instead of a 10 feet plus sized surf casting rod most of the time. When the tide is high you can bring you 7 ft. rod and catch tons of pompano, whiting, snook, tarpon, bluefish, permit…….. within 30 yards of the beach usually.

That is my kind of fishing.

Let’s talk about those fishing zones again. You will want to test out your stretch of beach for 15 or 20 minutes and then move if you don’t get any bites. Pompano are hard to find sometimes. They might be hot and heavy on your beach one day and the next day that school might be 10 miles North or South of you for some reason.

Some times they might stay on the same stretch of beach for a few days before they leave for somewhere else. You just never really know what they are going to do next. The water temperature might be just right. There might be a lot of food around. There might be no predators in the area. You just never know really.

That is what makes pompano fishing so much fun. Their transient nature makes them very elusive at times but when you find the schools it can be a day full of fun fishing for pompanos.

Speaking of transient. Pompano will travel as far north as Massachusetts as far south as Florida in the United States of America. They migrate based upon water temperatures, available food resources and predators.

Water Clarity

Pompano like clean water. It doesn’t have to be clear but you will find that most of the pompano that you catch will be in water colors ranging from the emerald green to turquois blue.

If the water has too much freshwater runoff, then it will have brown hues to it. That water color will probably not yield very many pompano for the dinner plate.

When the surf is very large and the water is all stirred up it will be hard to find the pompano too. You want to have some wave action because that stirs up the sand and uncovers crabs, sand fleas, small clams and other creatures that the pompano like to feed upon.

BUT heavy surf makes it harder for them to find their natural food items. AND it makes it harder for them to find your pompano bait and lure offering as well.

Look for relatively clean water conditions when you are trying to figure out how far out to cast to catch pompano. If the water further out from the beach looks cleaner that the water closer, then you should try the clean water first.


Surf fishing is tons of fun and I hope that this article helps you catch more fish. Just remember that those zones are a big deal. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to fish somewhere that has no fish.

You have to test out the stretch of beach where you are fishing to find out where the feeding fish will be. Sometimes you that to cast out far and sometimes you could use a cane pole to catch pompano at your feet. You just have to figure it out.

I like to look at it the ocean as a grid. I see the water in front of me as vertical and horizontal lines. I want to put a bait in each 20 foot by 20 foot square of the grid to see if there are fish around.

You might have to modify your casting distance from the beach out into the sea. Might have to modify your position on the beach and head up the beach some or down the beach some.

BUT once you find the feeding fish stay put. Don’t leave feeding fish to find more feeding fish. Pompano will stay put if there are no predators around them and plenty of food for them to eat. They are rarely solitary so if you catch one, then you will often catch more as the school moves through your fishing spot.

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