Amberjack are a popular sport fish and are known for their fight.  Pound for pound, they are the hardest fighting reef fish in the Gulf.  This fact has earned them the nickname “reef donkey” and will have you giving them some names of your own choosing.   One successful catch will probably quench your thirst to boat a large fish.

Amberjack are reef fish found in good numbers on most of our shipwrecks and natural reefs.  We typically fish for amberjack in water 100-300 feet deep.  Winning a fight with a reef donkey from 300 feet below will give you something to brag about.

Amberjack can weigh anywhere from a few pounds to over 100 lbs.  A usual catch is around 20 to 40 pounds.  The Gulf holds some monster amberjack, and you will surely see them when SCUBA diving.  However, getting a 60 lb  amberjack off the bottom before he pulls your line across the structure and cuts you off is the challenge.  Any fish above 30 lbs is a nice catch even though the state record is 142 lbs.

Amberjack can be targeted via artificial or live baits.  When using live baits, the bigger the bait the better.  If live bait is not available, vertical jigs will hook up some nice ones.  Amberjack are not a light tackle species; an appropriate rig will consist of 100 lb or heavier tackle.

Amberjack are a great tasting fish and can bring top dollar in markets and restaurants.   We like to fry or grill amberjack.  Amberjack sandwiches can’t be beat.

If you want to catch and release some small amberjacks, a 5 hour trip is long enough.  However, if you want to catch some nice sized ones, a 6 to 8 hour trip is necessary to have time to reach the waters that hold the big fish.

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