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  • Betsy Walker

Finally...Amberjack!


One month late for this post but, only a handful of people will notice since my first post had 45 readers and my last one has only 14. Where is everyone? I dropped off the map myself for the month of May, also known as the month of amberjack ; ). The world and life got the best of me, but I am back now and ready to kick June’s butt! Hope you had an opportunity to go out and catch one of these beauties! Finally, my late latest post….

Also known as yellowtail kingfish, coronado, sailor’s choice, rock salmon, jenny lind, great yellowtail, and allied kingfish, the greater amberjack is a popular gamefish at the apex of the marine food chain. The largest of the jacks, the greater amberjack (Seriola dumerili) are big and strong fish that are sought by anglers because of their rebellious, fighting nature. In an article by Buck Davidson on Suncoast Game Fish Profiles, it is stated that the fighting characteristics of an amberjack are like hooking your line to a really big, really fast train and that a lifetime of fishing for amberjack will lengthen your arms by several inches. This is an exaggeration to which I am sure many people can relate. The Florida state record is 142 pounds caught near Islamorada and the IFGA world record is 163 pounds 2 ounces caught near Zenisu, Tokyo, Japan.

This slender, agile fish has an elongated and moderately compressed body which is wide in the middle and tapers on both ends. A dark amber strip on the head that extends from the nose to the first dorsal fin becomes more defined or distinct when the amberjack are excited or feeding. I can definitely relate to lighting up with excitement when feeding :D. Their olive green or brownish to bluish back transitions to a silvery white belly. An amber horizontal stripe runs along the middle of the adult amberjack body and juveniles have a yellowish color and 5 to 6 dark vertical bars along their sides. The anal fin of the greater amberjack is two-thirds the length of the dorsal fin and the v-shaped caudal fin is moon shaped which is efficient for swimming rapidly. Female amberjack are normally larger and live longer than the males. Greater amberjack can grow up to 6 feet long and live up to 17 years and are commonly up to 40 pounds but can weigh up to 200 pounds! Some amberjack are definitely “lighting up” their amber strip more than others…haha.

Amberjack normally live on rocky reefs and wrecks in somewhere between 60 and 240 feet of water or under floating debris. They school when young but are primarily solitary fish once they get older. I once again feel myself relating to amberjack characteristics: ). They spawn from March to June on reefs and wrecks. The amberjack is a voracious predator whose diet consists mostly of crustaceans (crabs), squid, and other fish which they eat with the minute teeth that are arranged in broad bands on their upper and lower jaw.

Often confused with other species , the amberjack can be distinguished from other jacks by counting the gill rakers (fingerlike extensions projecting from the front of the gill arch). Greater amberjack has between 11 and 19 gill rakers and have a longer anal fin. The lesser amberjack has between 21 and 24 gill rakers and a deeper body with a larger eye. Almaco jacks have between 21 and 26 gill rakers and the banded rudder fish have between 12 and 17 gill rakers and a shorter anal fin base.

With a stronger flavor than flounder, grouper, or snapper, amberjack is often smoked but is delicious fried or grilled as well. A super fun fish to catch and a favorite of many for dinner I always say if you catch and have no plans to eat a fish, please release. Only keep what you will eat! As Buck Davidson said in the article I mentioned earlier, “The fish of the Gulf of Mexico are a precious natural resource, and are well deserving of our respect and conservation.” (fishing-boating,.com/articles/gamefish/amberjack.htm)




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