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

Greater Amberjack ( Seriola dumerili )


  • Carangidae (jacks)

Other Names:

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

Greater Amberjack

  • Average Length: 80cm (31in) - 150cm (59in)
  • Average Weight: 4.5kg (10lb) - 12kg (26lb)

The Greater Amberjack are the largest of the Amberjacks. They are usually 18 kg (40 lb) or less. The largest recorded catch was around 70kg (155lb) which was caught at Challenger Bank, in Bermuda. The 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. 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. 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. 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.

Greater 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 out of all the amberjack species.

Greater Amberjack Flesh