Amberjack fishing is not for beginners, as any seasoned fisherman can tell you. Saltwater fish are known for breaking line and reels. They’re strong swimmers and can reach 140lbs. Because it is difficult to catch an Amberjack, fishing for this species is rewarding. Although they can be lured by a variety of baits (which include small fish and crustaceans), their stubborn nature makes them one of most difficult fish species to catch.
Amberjack fish are voracious predators and will not resist the lure. Because they have a powerful counter-pull, it is difficult to reel them in. They will rip into the bait fast and pull the hook towards the bottom of the water. Their strength and quick movements are enough to break weaker lines or reels. This often leads to their freedom. Amberjack fishing requires a lot of physical strength, along with strong equipment. Amberjack fishing is not recommended for children, seniors, or the disabled.
What Are Amberjack Fish?
Amberjack fish is a carnivorous saltwater fish that can be found in the Pacific, Atlantic and Southern oceans. They can be moderately large, weighing between 40lbs to 140lbs. They are attracted to cephalopods and crustaceans, so they can be found preying on both smaller fish and larger fish. They aren’t picky so it is unlikely they will ignore your bait.
It is possible to catch amberjack with fishing equipment that is strong and durable. The positive side is that the fish will not be intimidated by loud noises so you won’t accidentally scare them away.
Amberjack Common Habitats
Amberjack can be found in warm, temperate open ocean waters. However, some species of fish are more abundant in the cooler waters off the coast of Georgia and Florida. Some species, particularly the younglings, can survive in water depths of less than 30 feet. These animals are easily caught with buoyant lures.
Some species prefer to live in the depths. These fish are best caught in deep water and with equipment that can sink low enough to allow them to be spotted. Jacks can reach depths up to 240 feet, while some species will be found at depths less than 100 feet.
Because amberjack fish live along coastlines, anglers don’t often have to venture far into the sea.
Although yellowtail jacks, a type of amberjack fish, mature in open oceans, they frequently relocate to coral reefs once they reach adulthood.
- Greater Amberjack – The largest amberjack fish is the greater. The average amberjack weighs 40 pounds. Some can grow to over 200 pounds. They can be identified by their silver undersides or blue-gray backs. However, the amber stripe that runs lengthwise along their bodies is what is most commonly used to identify them. These large game fish will be found in the open ocean as they prefer to live in the warm waters. They are endangered in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Yellowtail Amberjack – Yellowtails are usually smaller than the larger amberjack. They are distinguished by their yellow-finked tail fins, and torpedo-like bodies. They are among the most common amberjack species.
- Banded Rudderfish – Often mistakenly thought to be pilot fish because of their similar appearance, yellowtail jacks are smaller than banded rudderfish. They have vertical bands running across their bodies that are identical to pilot fish’s. To identify a banded-rudderfish, look for a gold stripe along its length. Banded rudderfish also have a first dorsal, which pilot fish don’t.
- Lesser Amberjack – On average, the smallest amberjack species weighs around ten pounds. The eyes of these small fish are easily identifiable as they are often larger than the eyes of the larger jacks. This species is distinguished by its dark green-brown back. They are the smallest of all the jacks but they are still excellent predators and can often be found in deeper waters.
Best Amberjack Fishing Equipment
Amberjack fish are fast, efficient swimmers who often escape with their rod-snapping force. To increase your chances of catching jacks, you will need to upgrade your fishing gear. Their environmental awareness can make their strength and swimming ability less powerful. These fish are not easily frightened by loud noises and should therefore be easy to spot.
However, any fisherman who has caught an amberjack fish knows that the battle does not begin until the fish is attached to the hook. Their weight and strength are well-known for causing them to break free, sometimes leaving the line, reel or rod broken. The equipment used to fish for amberjack must be strong.
- Rods – Amberjack fish are heavy and strong. The rod should be strong enough to hold lines up to 80 pounds. It should also be strong enough not to damage the line while pulling the game fish from its escape route. Casting rods can be a reliable and simple choice for amberjack fishing.
- Reels – While a strong fishing rod is essential, the strength and resilience of your reel and line will play a greater role in your ability to catch this elusive game fish. The biggest problem when dealing with jacks, however, is getting them out of the water. A spinning reel is required (preferably with a medium gear ratio), to help you draw the amberjack fish from deeper water.
The number of spins per spool is also indicated by spinning reels. Sometimes, heavy reels are required for big game amberjacks. These reels can hold lines up to 60-80 pounds and can handle at least 25 pounds. These reels have the strength and endurance to hold large fish.
- Lines – The counter pull of greater amberjacks can break nearly any fishing line. You must use a braided line or monofilament line for this reason. Braided lines are able to cut through ocean currents better and can pull a jack out of deep waters over long distances, without succumbing under the extreme tug on either side. This type of fishing line is ideal for yellowtail species as it can be used for deep-sea fishing.
- Artificial lures – Amberjacks are naturally aggressive predators and artificial lures can work well. Finding the right lure is key to entice them. Because they are buoyant and hollow, plugs work well for jacks living in shallow water. For fish that live in deeper waters, jigs and spoons work well. Jigs can be made from metal or soft-bodied to decrease buoyancy. Spoons are hard-bodied lures with a shape like an oval and can sink to deeper water where certain species of amberjack live.
- Baits – Anglers can choose from a variety of baits to catch amberjack fish. These predators eat a lot of marine animals, including crabs, shrimps, octopi and cigar minnows. They are also ocean predators and can be attracted by many other small fish.
- Hooks – Circle and bait hooks as well as jig and bait hooks can all be useful for catching jacks. Anglers prefer stainless steel hooks because they make it easier for them to release small catches. This fish is very rare and is therefore sustainable.
What to wear when fishing for Amberjack
Although the attire for fishing for jacks may vary depending on your personal preference, the following list will provide the essential clothing items to get you ready for an amberjack fishing trip.
- Wearing life jackets in amberjack fishing can be messy and anglers may lose the fish. A life jacket is a good precautionary measure in case the fish pulls you into the water.
- Saltwater waders These allow anglers to be protected while being flexible and comfortable.
- Weather clothing –Weather jackets, bibs made of PVC should be part of your apparel collection. These should protect you against heavy rain.
Amberjack Fishing Is Difficult
Because of their strength and heavy size, Amberjack fish can be one of the most difficult to hunt. Without the right equipment, it can be difficult to catch one. Although it is easier to catch one with strong rods and heavy reels, the odds of you catching one can be against you. Because the fish can be quite tough, physical strength is also important.
It is easy to hook jacks. They will often also take the bait. However, you will need to be strong to drag an amberjack fish out of the water. Although the most common amberjack tackle is 50-100 pound, you can use lighter tackles in certain situations, but not always.
Regulations For Amberjack Fishing
The endangered Gulf of Mexico species Amberjack fish is called “The Gulf of Mexico’s Lost Fish”. For a catch to be considered a game fish, it must reach a minimum size of 34 inches. This is also true for Texas amberjack fishing. The Gulf of Mexico Amberjack open season lasts approximately a month. It is an activity that can be enjoyed all year in other parts.
Is Amberjack Fish Edible?
Amberjack fish meat is safe to eat and is delicious. Amberjack fish have pink flesh and an outer skin without scales. The flesh of the Amberjack fish has a sweet, buttery flavor that can be very delicious. This fish has very little waste because it doesn’t have scales.
Additional Tips for Amberjack Fishing
- You should adjust the drag preset according to your strength and your equipment. Otherwise, you will likely end up with damaged tackle
- Amberjacks are easily excited and will swarm to the surface where buoyant baits or plugs can be used.
- Fishing for jacks near coral reefs requires you to adjust your lead so that the bait is suspended in the middle. Your bait should be positioned above coral reefs as amberjacks are known to swim over them.
- You can find Jacks near wrecks, as well as natural and artificial coral reefs. The predatory species are abundant in Florida’s marine environment.
- The maximum daily bag limit for anglers is one amberjack per day.
Amberjack Fishing Record
Near Islamorada was the largest amberjack ever caught. It weighed in at 142 pounds.