Fishing Rigs, surfcasting information, Fishing Tackle and Components and Fish species

Amberjack ( Seriola )

Family:

  • Carangidae (jacks)

Other Names:

  • Coronado, Amberfish
  • Amber, Amberjack, AJ
  • jack, horse eye jack
  • Allied Kingfish, Jack Hammer, Kahala

Amberjack

  • Average Length: 50cm (20in) - 100cm (40in)
  • Average Weight: 3kg (7lb) - 12kg (26lb)

The Amberjack refers to three species of Atlantic fish of the Carangidae family, which includes the jacks and the pompanos. The Lesser Amberjack is found near and offshore in depths of commonly 180 to 400 feet. Usual size is up to 10lbs in weight. Fish seldom reaches a size greater than 12 inches. The Greater Amberjack is found inshore in waters less than 30 feet deep usually amongst floating objects. Usual size for this fish inshore is from 3kg to 7kg. Offshore this species is found in rocky reefs and wrecks typically in water from 60 to 240 feet and the most common size is form 7kg to 27kg. It is characterized by its overall amber-colored, massive body that is lighter on the undersides, a long snout, long anal and dorsal fins, and the very distinctive dark “bandit” stripe running diagonally through its eye obliquely to the front of its dorsal fin, which fades into a black background after death and significantly diminished with the age of the fish. The Amberjack are regarded as great fighting fish which will often offer long hard fights to bring them in. They are known to go for long runs and strip line out when first hooked. This powerful fish has earned its reputation as a highly prized fish through its aggressive and unrelenting fight. Greater Amberjack are most commonly caught on heavy tackle in the 50lb class. You can use lighter tackle however the risk of gear breaking or your rigs getting snapped off increases and be prepared to fight for a long time. Common ways to catch amberjack include boat fishing, shore fishing and landbase fishing. A popular technique used is jigging. This is where a jig lure is dropped to a depth then retrieved at speed with a jigging motion. They see the fast moving lure and attack it with pace. This is a very exciting technique when you have berlied up the water and know they are around feeding. The fast pace of jigging means that you are working the line most of the time which is more fun than the old drop and wait technique of traditional bait. Mechanical jigging is highly effective, as is high-speed vertical jigging – in essence a high-speed vertical retrieve from the sea bottom to the surface. You can still catch amberjack through a dropper rig setup however this usually requires some sort of movement to get its attention. Live baiting is also another technique which is sometimes used. This is where you catch a live bait and tie it to your line. They can sense the distressed live bait fish and often attack it quickly. To prevent the live bait from tangling the line a biodegradable balloon is often attached to the line, this means it also can’t dive to deep and you can see the take. Effective baits for catching amberjacks are gray trout, croaker, blue runner, mullet, spot and pigfish. Instead of using one type of baitfish, take a variety of baits and sizes. Check the state fishing regulations to verify the types of baitfish the law allows. When amberjack bites your bait, wait about 5 seconds before setting the hook.

The Greater amberjacks (Seriola dumerili)

are the largest of the Amberjacks. They are usually 18 kg (40 pounds) or less. Greater amberjack are found in subtropical waters in every major ocean throughout the world, yet the largest concentration is found in the western Atlantic Ocean. They are particularly abundant from North Carolina to Florida and around the islands of the West Indies. However, they can be found as far north as Nova Scotia and as far south as Brazil. There are also large populations around Bermuda and in the Gulf of Mexico. In the eastern Atlantic, they are found from approximately the southern British coast to Morocco to South Africa, including the Mediterranean Sea. In the Pacific Ocean, greater amberjack can be found off the coast of southern Mexico, the Hawaiian Islands, the islands of Micronesia, the Philippines, Japan and China. In the Indian Ocean they are prolific from South Africa along the southwest coast of Africa and into the Arabian Gulf. They usually have a signature dark stripes extending from nose over their eye and to in front of their dorsal fins. They are similar to the Kingfish Fish Species found in the southern hemisphere. Greater amberjack are an olive-brown or green-blue color above the lateral line, though they can sometimes appear purple. Below the lateral line coloration is silver-white. A dark olive-brown stripe runs diagonally from the mouth to the first dorsal fin. Greater amberjack will congregate in schools, although this tendency decreases as they grow larger. Young greater amberjack clearly form small schools, but middle age fish generally congregate in loose, small groups. The oldest specimens are primarily solitary. Because of their wide distribution and migratory nature, greater amberjack can be found in almost all deep saltwater fishing waters, especially during spring and summer. Anglers who find reefs, shipwrecks and other similar structures will likely encounter sizeable schools. The most popular method is fishing with live or cut bait, though vertical jigging with bucktails and spoons is also effective. Usually lures are used in conjunction with cut bait. Common baits include, but are not limited to, herring, menhaden, mullet, pinfish and blue runners.

Lesser amberjacks (Seriola fasciata)

The adults are usually under 5 kg (10 lbs). They have proportionately larger eyes and deeper bodies than greater amberjacks. The body is short, somewhat wide and evenly tapered from the middle to each end. Above the lateral line they are olive green, brownish, dark pinkish or violet, and below the lateral line they are white or silver-gray. A light goldish line extends from the eye toward the tail, and a dark stripe extends diagonally from the eye almost to the first dorsal fin. Juveniles have seven to eight brownish, irregular and sometimes broken bands on the sides. They are found deeper than other jacks, commonly 50 to 130 m and can be found either in the open water or at the sea floor. They prefer warm waters with an average temperature of 63 F. Lesser amberjack are found in the western Atlantic from Massachusetts south to Brazil, including the Caribbean and the northeast and southwest Gulf of Mexico. In the eastern Atlantic they live off Madeira and the Canary Islands. In the Mediterranean they are rare; they have been found in the in the southern Tyrrhenian Sea off of Sicily, in the Strait of Sicily off the island of Lampedusa and in the Gulf of Lion south of France. There are no known locations where lesser amberjack are heavily concentrated, and they are seldom caught. But some may pursue the species because of its rarity. Ultralight spinning and fly tackle combined with small jigs, plugs or flies are effective tackle strategies. Bottom fishing while still or drifting often produce the best results.

Banded rudderfish (Seriola zonata)

is the second-smallest amberjack. This jack can be distinguished from the pilotfish by the presence of a first dorsal fin. This fish, though commonly caught, is rarely identified. Large ones, with a raccoon-stripe on the eye and an iridescent gold stripe on the side, are usually called amberjacks when caught, and juveniles are called pilotfish. They are found as far north as Nova Scotia in the Western, Canada to Santos, Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

Amberjack Flesh Characteristics

Amberjack flesh is dark but lightens when cooked and has a firm texture. Often the fillets you get off a large amberjack are so large you can try out several ways to cook it. Amberjacks smoke up well and also battered or crumbed works well. It is a very tasty fish and can be cooked in many ways because of its firm texture. The greater amberjack is regarded to have the best meat for eating and the lesser amberjack isn’t rated as highly.

Amberjack Flesh