Peprilus Simillimus



Nearshore, Piers, Jetties

1 - 3 pounds

6" - 14"

Pacific Pompano

Also Known As: Pacific Butterfish, California Butterfish, Butterfish  

Pacific Pompano (Peprilus simillimus) Fish Description

The Pacific Pompano (Peprilus simillimus) is a member of the butterfish family targeted by both recreational anglers and commercial fishers and prized for its sweet, flaky, and firm flesh. This fish has a deeply compressed oval-shaped body that closely resembles its cousins found in the Atlantic. It has a long dorsal fin that runs almost the length of its back, starting from a third of its body, right to the base of the tail fin. Its anal fin is long as well, starting from the middle to the tail fin base. Its pectoral fins are long and pointed and its tail fin is deeply forked. However, it doesn’t have any pelvic fins. Its color is iridescent blue-green on the top part gradually changing to silver to the sides and belly.

The Pacific Pompano is much like its Floridian relatives when it comes to behavior in that they are both schooling fishes and they’re both carnivorous. They also spend most of their lives swimming around the benthopelagic zones where they usually hunt for food. During spawning season, Pacific Pompanos tend to swim offshore and congregate in huge numbers. Females and males would release their eggs and sperm respectively into the open water in which the eggs would be fertilized externally. The eggs would hatch subsequently and the larvae would remain in the open waters until they reach juvenile stage when they would move to the shallower parts of the water.


Diet and Size

For food, younger Pacific Pompanos mainly prey on small invertebrates such as shrimps, crabs, and plankton; whereas adults tend to eat bigger crabs, clams, and small fishes and fish larvae.

Although they can reach up to fourteen inches in length, most Pacific Pompanos caught are just less than eight inches. They are also said to be quite an active fish and can easily be spooked. Schooling Pacific Pompanos would often dart away at great speeds when they feel threatened, making them really hard to catch.


Pacific Pompano Interesting Facts

  • Pacific Pompano can grow as much as fourteen inches in length and weigh as much as three pounds.
  • They closely resemble their relatives found in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, although they tend to be a little smaller.
  • They spend most of their lives in the benthopelagic zones, which means they live and feed near the bottom and mid-waters.
  • They are sometimes seen schooling together with Perches.
  • Juveniles can also be found in the shallower parts of the ocean as well as in estuaries.
  • Their flesh is highly prized for its delicately sweet taste and flaky but firm texture.
  • They can be caught all throughout the year.


Fishing Tips

The Pacific Pompano is a small fish so it can only be caught using small hooks of about size 8 or 6. It is easily spooked so if you’re going to target this fish, make sure to tread lightly as not to frighten it away. Also, this fish is known to be a picky eater. Those who have been successful in catching this fish have used small strips of anchovy or small pieces of fresh mussels and shrimp. Lastly, they are most commonly caught off piers in Southern California over sandy shores and often at mid-depths.


Habitat and Distribution

The Pacific Pompano is benthopelagic fish, which means they are mostly found near the bottom, but they do sometimes swim closer to the surface. They also prefer sandy and/or rocky bottoms, usually near the coasts in exposed areas at depths of up to 1,025 feet.  

As their name implies, they are endemic in the Pacific, specifically at the coastal regions from British Columbia in Canada to Southern California and the Mexican waters as well as in the southernmost parts of the Gulf of California.