Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fishing for Amberjack

Amberjack are one of the hardest fighting saltwater fish. They exhibit the classic shape of the jack family, which includes a rounded head, large pectoral fins and a deeply forked tail. The fish have a dark stripe over the eye, silvery flanks and white undersides. They can reach weights of 80 pounds or more.

Amberjack fishermen use a variety of outfits, depending on the situation. Experienced anglers employ stronger than normal tackle as these fish have a reputation for destroying cheap equipment. For casting live baits or lures, most anglers use a spinning or bait casting outfit in the 20-30 lb range. Other situations such as fishing near obstructions require heavier conventional reels. Most amberjack specialists choose reels with smooth drags and fish with high quality lines.

Anglers fish for amberjack with live baits such as spot, croaker, perch, menhaden, striped mullet, eels and large shrimp. Top baits vary with season, location, availability and personal preference. Some anglers obtain live baits in local tackle shops while others choose to catch their own with cast nets, hook and line, seines or traps.

Some anglers prefer lures for amberjack although though the fish have a reputation for being difficult to fool. A few basic lures, presented correctly can sometimes incite a strike from a wary amberjack.

These include surface poppers, soft bodied jigs and other lifelike lures. The action and presentation of lures can be critical, with experience being a key asset for fishermen. As with rods and reels, lures and terminal tackle need to be sturdy built to handle the stresses of these brutal fish.

Saltwater fly fishing anglers also target amberjack. Fly casters seek out fish around wrecks, reefs, oil rigs or other structures. Fly rods and reels must be high quality saltwater versions, capable of withstanding powerful runs. Large saltwater flies that mimic local baitfish are used most often.

Anglers that catch amberjack usually choose to release the fish unharmed, sometimes tagging the fish before it is released. Fish destined for release are often kept in the water to prevent harming them.

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