Amberjacks, or sometimes known as “reef donkeys”, is a warm water fish found in waters off of the United States and Mexico. While not considered the prettiest of fish, they make for amazing table fare and are some of the strongest fighters in the ocean. In fact, in many parts of Latin America, they have been called the “Pez Fuerte”, which means “strong fish” in Spanish.
Amberjacks can usually be found on at depths of anywhere from 50 to 200 feet, although they do occasionally hang out on the surface. These fish love any type of structure, whether it is natural or artificial.
Most amberjacks will migrate depending on the time of year, while others will stay in the same area for the entire year. They spawn in the spring and are considered by most to be a very tasty fish. Perfect for anyone who wants a good fight and a tasty meal afterward!
When fishing for amberjacks, most anglers would recommend conventional gear with a 50lb braid line (or more if you like). These fish do not have any teeth, so you do not need to use a wire leader like you would with some other species. A sturdy reel, adequate for anything from snappers to groupers, is more than enough to handle any amberjack you might hook into!
These fish can be easily caught on both lures and bait, especially when they are fished towards the bottom or whatever depth they are hanging out at. Some anglers will even try and coax them to the surface of the water with chum, where they then target them. This is definitely not necessary in order to catch them, however, and once you find the depth that they prefer you can start to dial in your bait or lure to the right spot!
Lures and Baits
When it comes to lures, amberjacks will almost swallow shiny metal jigs. If you are using the chumming technique, you can also catch them on a large variety of topwater and shallow diving lures such as:
If you prefer using some sort of bait, then any live baitfish should get the job done. The great thing about these fish is that they are not picky, and will eat just about anything that they can fit inside of their mouths. A couple of favorites include both pinfish and squid.
Where to Find Amberjack
Another big advantage of fishing for amberjacks is that they are very widespread, making them easy to find. They are found in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and can be found as far north as parts of Canada to as far south as South America. With such a widespread fish, chances are good that you might have some amberjack fishing somewhere near you!