Amberjacks may not be the best tasting fish in the world, but you’ll have trouble convincing anyone who’s tussled with a reef donkey that this species isn’t among the hardest-fighting in the sea. Want to set your sights on amberjacks? Use these tips and tricks to hook up – and then hold on tight!
- Focus your efforts around structure like wrecks and rigs. True, amberjack are are going to be found around any sort of reef or structure, but think big. You’re much more likely to encounter them around substantial wrecks and rigs than anywhere else.
- Use stout gear. Heavy rods and braid mainlines of 50 or 65 pound test topped by 80 pound leaders are not out of line. Amberjacks are experts at deep-diving around the structure they live by, and snagging or breaking the line off on it. So the first 10 or 20 seconds of the fight is critical. You need to muscle that fish away from all the snags asap.
- Amberjack are opportunistic feeders and will pounce on just about any offering, so most anglers use cut bait or livies when targeting them. However, consider ripping a jigging spoon up through the water column. This will often trigger an attack when other methods may fail.
- If you’re trolling around a wreck or rig for multiple species and want to increase the likelihood of running into an amberjack, deploy a planer line or a lipped deep-diver. Although amberjacks will sometimes pounce on a surface lure, at other times getting a lure or bait down a bit can make all the difference in the world.
- If you’re fishing bait, do some searching with the fishfinder before dropping the lines. Amberjack will often hold close to the structure but they also will be found suspended above it at times. It’s not at all uncommon to see them on the meter at 70 or 80 feet, when there’s a wreck laying at 100 feet on the bottom. If you don’t use the finder to spot ’em before you start fishing, you may actually place the baits out of range.
And remember, many people feel that amberjacks (especially the big ones) aren’t prime table fare. So consider leaving the gaffs stowed, and releasing those fish unharmed.