A Preliminary Assessment of the Life History of the Florida Pompano (Trachinotus carolinus) in the Tampa Bay Area
Four hundred and ninety eight Florida pompano (Trachinotus carolinus) were collected from Tampa Bay and the adjacent Gulf waters from December 2000 to December 2001 to assess their age, size structure, growth and reproduction. The population was sampled monthly primarily by using 200-300 m trammel nets, but supplemental gillnet and hook-and-line catches were also made. Young-of-the-year were targeted by using 23 m and 200 m beach seines along the surf zone nursery habitat. Trammel nets captured 257 pompano with a size range of 262-522 mm TL and a modal length of 370 mm TL. Ages of these fish ranged from 0 to 6 years; 6 years is a new maximum age for Gulf coast pompano. Preliminary size-at-age comparisons showed that the oldest pompano (ages 5 and 6) were males, whereas the largest in length and weight were females. The sex ratio of male to female fish was 104:153. Weights of the fish ranged from 243.3 g to 2,091.0 g, with a mean of 686.4 g; no difference in the length/weight relationship was observed between sexes. Gonadal maturity stages and the fact that no gravid females were collected inshore indicated that pompano develop but do not spawn there. Young-of-the-year recruitment to the surf zone was seen from May through November, with peaks in June and July. Sampling in potential spawning grounds nearshore continued in 2002 to further investigate their reproductive biology.