Amberjack Fishing in Florida
Found in reefs, wrecks and floating debris in tropical parts of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Amberjacks are also called “Reef Donkeys” and “Pez Fuerte” (which means “Strong Fish”). These fantastic predators are incredibly powerful and will give any angler a serious fight, making catching them particularly exciting. Not many anglers target the Amberjack but they are frequently caught by those trying to catch snappers and groupers, and one of these fish on your line is an awesome surprise indeed. Occasionally they come near the surface but are usually found near the ocean floor, where they delight anglers in Florida with their aggressive nature.
Belonging to the genus Seriola from the family Carangidae, Amberjacks fall into the same category as pompano. Amberjacks in these waters come in three varieties, although others can be found in different parts of the world. Here is some information to help you when Amberjack fishing in Florida:
- Greater Amberjacks are the largest jacks. Dark stripes extend from their nose to the front of their dorsal fins and they do not usually exceed 40lbs in weight. They inhabit rocky reefs, wrecks and debris and can be caught in depths ranging between 20m and 75m.
- Lesser Amberjacks have deeper bodies and bigger eyes than Greater Amberjacks. A dark band extends upwards from their eyes and their silver sides enhance their olive-green or brownish-black colours. Typically weighing less than 10lbs, these fish prefer deeper waters than other jack varieties. Anglers catch them in waters anywhere from 50m to 130m deep.
- Banded Rudderfish are seldom identified by their name, being classified simply as Amberjacks. Often found following other animals or floating objects, these awesome fish are the second smallest amberjack and can be distinguished from the others by having a first dorsal fin. Juveniles are banded vertically, while adults have a raccoon-stripe by the eye and a gold stripe on their side.
Voracious predators, Amberjacks feed on shrimps, crustaceans, squid, smaller fish and silversides, but can be caught on lures and flies. Live bait is always best but they will readily bite on artificial baits without a problem. Here is some information on how to catch an Amberjack in Florida:
Tackle for Amberjacks
For large adults, conventional gear is ideal with 50lbs braid lines. An intelligent choice would be an Accurate BX2 or BX reel. You need to pull hard to ensure that they do not find safety behind objects such as rocks. Although not as good at bricking you in the rocks as snappers and groupers are, you still need to prevent them from doing so.
Lures for Amberjacks
Metal jigs are most attractive, the butterfly jig-type as well as the West Coast Iron such as the Salas 6X. Topwater lures such as poppers are ideal if they are near the surface.
Baits for Amberjacks
Not particular eaters, Amberjacks will bite any decent sized baitfish. Skipjack, pinfish and blue runner are perfect smaller fish. Live, cut or frozen works very well.
Techniques for Amberjacks
Although Amberjacks can be coaxed to the surface with chum, it is better to drop lures or bait near the ocean floor or at whatever depth they are swimming at.
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