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Permit vs Pompano: Can You Tell The Difference?

Permit vs Pompano: Can You Tell The Difference?

The Debate Of Permit vs Pompano Has Many Anglers Thinking They Caught The Worlds Biggest Pompano, Or Wait Is It A Permit?

Many anglers get confused by the differences in juvenile pompano and permit. Honestly, can you tell the difference? We are going to settle this debate once and for all and ease your mind so that you will know exactly what you are catching. The Florida pompano is one of the best eating fish you can catch and are a coveted table fair. Catching these fish while surf fishing is always fun and a challenge. Its larger cousin the permit is a fast fish that cruises the flats in South Florida and the Florida Keys. Although these two have a few similar appearances they usually range very differently in size. It is because of this that a juvenile permit will often get mistaken for a large pompano. We want to prevent this from happening so you are not filling a cooler full of permit fish. This type of situation could result in a hefty fine because, in the state of Florida, you are allowed to keep 6 Florida pompano and only allowed to keep 2 permit fish.

Permit Fish Vs Pompano Fish: The differences

Permit Vs Pompano: The differences (Credit: On Foot Angler)

Both the pompano and permit belong to the jack family, CarangidaeThis is what accounts for their slender silver bodies and deeply forked tails. One of the best ways to tell the difference permit fish and pompano fish is purely based on size. Pompano remains a lot smaller than a permit. Pompano rarely grows larger than seven pounds, while the permit is common at 40 pounds or bigger. There are a few anatomical differences as well. The fin on a juvenile permit is usually an orange color while the pompano is fin color is yellow. On the dorsal and anal fin, you can count the rays. Pompano generally has more in their fins than permit. As a juvenile permit grows it will decrease in body depth the longer they get. They will also change fin colors from orange to more of a yellow. It is at this point that many anglers get confused between the two juvenile fish. 

In order to better understand the differences, let's take a more in-depth look at each species.

Florida Pompano:

Pompano Fish | Florida Pompano

The elusive Florida Pompano (Photo Credit: Texas Saltwater Fishing)

The pompano is a shallow water species often caught right off the beach while surf fishing. The first thing you will notice is a very thin, slender, and silvery fish. On its back, it is a darker grayish color with a lighter belly. Its fins will have an almost yellow tint. On the pompano, they will have six spines that are located in front of the dorsal fin. Their dorsal fin is set low on its back and is matched by an almost equal in size anal fin. The pompano can reach a size of 25 inches and weigh in at over 8 pounds. Pompano consist of a diet of sand fleas, shrimp, and small crabs. Many anglers enjoy catching them from the surf and they make for one delicious dinner.


Permit Fish

Catching Permit In The Florida Keys (Photo Credit: Saltwater Experience)

The permit is the larger of the two species. It can grow up to a whopping 79 pounds and 59 inches in length. This makes it a trophy species that many saltwater anglers will target. The body of the permit is a silver color with a darker back compared to the pompano. One of the distinctive features of the permit is the dorsal fin. It features 17 to 21 rays, while the anal fin has 16 to 19 rays. One other spot that anglers may look for when determining whether or not they have caught a permit or pompano is a circular black splotch on their sides. It is often found at the base of the pectoral fin.

So we hope this helps you better understand the differences in the permit and pompano. Although there are many differences there are a bunch of similarities. One thing is for sure they are both fun to catch and even better to eat. If you have always wanted to catch pompano you should check out our huge selection of pompano jigs that making catching them so much easier. If you have any questions or concerns, then leave a comment below or email us at If you have a story about trying to identify the difference between a pompano and a permit, please share it with the community. Send us all your permit or pompano fishing pictures to be featured on our social media page. Now get out there and catch more pompano fish and permit fish and be able to tell the difference between the permit vs pompano. 

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