Jack Crevalle vs Pompano: How To Tell The Difference

Jack crevalle and pompano are very similar-looking members of the same family (Carangidae), and are often confused by recreational anglers.

In this article, ill explain the differences between a jack crevalle vs pompano, and what to look for so you can make a positive ID the next time you catch one.

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Jack Crevalle vs Pompano

There are two ways to easily tell the difference between a jack crevalle and a pompano. The first, is to look for the black spot on the gill cover, only a jack crevalle has this feature. The next is black spots on the pectoral fins, which also are only found on a jack crevalle.

Of course, there are other differences, such as overall body shape, head size, coloration, and fin size. Ill explain those in more detail below!

The Main Differences Between Jack Crevalle And Pompano

Jack Crevalle vs Pompano: How To Tell The Difference


Size is the most dramatic single difference between these two fish. Jack crevalle get much bigger than pompano.

Pompano seldom weigh more than a few pounds, and the average length for the species is just about twelve inches. The world record for a pompano is just over eight pounds.

In contrast, jack crevalle are commonly between one and two feet in length and weigh three to five pounds. Trophy jacks have been caught that are over fifty pounds and four feet long!

Head Shape

The pompano has more of a rounded head than the jack crevalle does and its head slopes to the nose much more than the head of a jack. A pompano’s head almost appears to taper like a football, while the jack crevalle’s head looks much blunter, with a very abrupt forehead.

Pompano also have a noticeably smaller mouth when compared to a jack crevalle.


While both commonly share the same yellow fins, there’s a difference in their coloration.

Pompano are very silvery, almost appearing to have a blueish shimmer in the water. Jack crevalle have more of a bronze color, with tinges of blue, green, or yellow mixed in.


The single most well-known difference between the two is their value as food.

Pompano are widely prized as one of the best fish for eating that you can catch!

They have white, flakey, moist meat that has a very distinct salty/sweet flavor. Chefs like them because their filets have a very uniform thickness which makes both cooking and presentation easier.

Pompano is so popular that they’re raised commercially and command top dollar at market.

Jack crevalle are another story. The meat is dark, red, coarse, and oily. Many describe them as “trash fish” and they are most commonly released instead of being taken home to eat.

The few jack crevalle recipes that you’ll find are heavy on things like soaking in milk, bleeding it immediately, covering it in juice, or anything else commonly done to disguise the taste.

While there is a commercial jack crevalle fishery, it’s mostly for industrial uses.

How To Correctly Identify A Jack Crevalle

A few things set a jack crevalle apart. Once you’ve noted the blunt head profile, yellow fins, and bronze/ yellow coloration, there are also some other clear indicators.

One is a distinctive, noticeable black spot on the gill cover. There are also black spots at the base of the pectoral fins.

A jack crevalle’s second dorsal fin and anal fin are almost identical in size.

Jack Crevalle- Notice the black spot on gill cover

The jack has a two-part dorsal fin that looks like two dorsal fins. This is probably the single best way to differentiate between the two species, although the double fin isn’t always obvious in immature jacks.

A jack’s pectoral fins are longer and more pointed than those of a pompano.

Another identifying characteristic of the jack crevalle can be found at the base of its tail. On a jack, you will feel rough bony plates called scutes that pompano doesn’t have.

Be careful feeling for the scutes; they can cut you!

See Also: The Best Time To Catch Jack Crevalle

How To Correctly Identify A Pompano

There are also several things to look at to tell if you’ve caught a pompano to keep for dinner.

The first indicators are the distinct carangid body type, combined with the football-shaped head profile, the silver coloration, and often yellow fins.


Pompano lack the distinctive dots that jacks have on the gill cover and pectoral fins. Their pectoral fins are also rounded instead of tapering to a point.

Unlike the jack crevalle’s two-part dorsal fin, the pompano has a single dorsal fin and its tail makes a symmetrical, deep V shape, while the jack’s tail is thinner.

The base of the pompano’s tail is smooth, totally lacking the rough, bony scutes of the jack crevalle.

Why The Confusion?

It’s not surprising that jacks and pompano are easily confused. As members of the same family, they have a similar and very distinctive body type, sometimes called the carangid body type.

They also tend to live in the same areas. Both species frequent coastal temperate and tropical waters, ranging far north in warmer weather and migrating south as colder weather sets in.

They eat the same things, and both are renowned for their aggressive feeding and for giving an angler a fight that’s far bigger than their size would indicate they could.

Both are species that prefer to travel and hunt in large packs.

While the species may differ in size overall, there is also a large overlap among individuals. An older pompano may well be as big or bigger than a young jack crevalle.

One of the biggest reasons for the confusion is that both species commonly have very noticeable, bright yellow or gold fins.

You May Also Like: Jack Crevalle vs Amberjack, Differences Explained!

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