Amberjack are found throughout Florida’s offshore marine environment. The species is very strongly associated with wrecks and artificial reefs in waters that exceed 60 feet in depth. Amberjack swim in schools and feed on baitfish, squid and crabs. Anglers typically use 50 to 100 pound tackle, but lighter tackle can also be used in many situations. Amberjack are not shy or picky, so you can make all the noise you want, and almost any lively baitfish will be readily accepted. Commonly used baitfish species include blue runners, pinfish, pigfish, grunts, cigar minnows and sand perch. Because amberjacks like to swim around above the reef, it’s a good idea to use just enough lead to keep the bait in the middle of the water column. When amberjack get excited, they will also come to the surface and explode on top-water plugs, jigs, spoons and diving lures. Amberjack are extremely strong fighters with great endurance. To avoid lost or broken tackle, it’s important to have the drag pre-set to match the strength of the angler and the equipment.
Greater amberjack reopens in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico beginning Jan. 1. 2015 In our Natural North Florida region, most “AJs” are caught in deeper Federal Waters, beyond the 9-mile limit. The season is closed June 1 – July 31 in the Gulf of Mexico.
There are several charterboat captains specializing in reef species such as amberjack. Let them “hook you up”!
Capt. Brian Smith, www.bigbendcharters.com Capt. Smith docks his boat at the Sea Hag Marina,Steinhatchee
Capt. Steve Hart, www.legallimitscharters.com Capt. Hart docks his boat at Good Times Marina, Steinhatchee
Capt. Phil Muldrow, Native Son Charters, 352-543-9930 Capt. Muldrow docks his boat at Cedar Key