Fish Identification – Permit, Palometa, Pompano

Can you tell the difference between Permit, Palometa and Pompano? Fish Identification is important. Actually it is pretty easy and fun as well, to be able to identify fish.

Important it is to spearfish within the rules of the area you are in. Rules are there for a good reason, so respect them. Here in Mexico when we spearfish a Permit, local fisherman call it a “nice Palometa” or “buen Pompano”. Now… that is not correct.

We are spearfishing in the Caribbean part of Mexico (Cancun, Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Cozumel). Permits are very common over here, schools with 50/60 pounders . It is a game fish that feeds on crab and smaller fish. It is a silver fish with a orange/yellow coloration on the belly.

Pompano is less common here. To be precise, we are talking about the Florida Pompano. At first sight it looks like a baby Permit. But it’s not. Pompano and Permit are members of the jack family, Carangidae, which includes about 140 species worldwide. what is the difference between Permit and Florida Pompano? First of all the size. Florida Pompano does not get big, 6 to 8 pounds maximum. Second, the color on the belly is more yellow, then orange/yellow. Third, there is the shape of the head. A Permit´s forehead sharply rises to a “hump” and than slopes back. While a Pompano´s forehead slopes gently backwards.

Take a look at the differences between Permit and African Pompano:

We spearfish for food. So I would like to add a note about taste. The white meat of Florida Pompano is delicious to eat raw as sashimi. Or perfect to make ceviche of it. The meat is remarkably soft and pleasant. Best results to eat it same day as your catch. On the other hand, Permit has white meat as well, but a bit more “chewy”. Tip: Do not eat Permit same day as your catch. You will find out that the next day the meat is so much better and more delicious. Perfect on the grill.

We have left African Pompano out ( A different looking fish. Common here as well, but not mistaken for Permit or Palometa. And the taste… so so…

Then there is Palometa. Even though you hear that name a lot among fishermen here in Mexico, this fish is very, very uncommon in our area. Palometa is very, very easy to recognize. It is the smallest of the 3 and has 4 narrow bars on the side that Permit and Florida Pompano do not have. It has anal and dorsal fin that are long, looks like they are out of proportion.

This is a great pdf where you will see all differences very clear:

So far, a couple of words on Permit, Palometa and Pompano. Want to know more about Fish Identification in Mexico? Write a comment or drop us an e-mail:



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