Amberjack season opened Jan. 1 and as soon as the seas calm, many anglers and spearfishermen will be heading west into the Gulf of Mexico in search of these fish. The 2017 season was dramatically short, only left open by the Marine Fisheries Council for two months. The quick closure had many pining for their next chance to go after amberjack. Before the opening of this season, our divers found amberjack of decent size in depths as shallow as 70 feet. Since then, offshore water temperatures have surely moved more of the bigger amberjack into shallower water. The nasty offshore weather since the beginning of the year has kept many divers on land rather than running offshore. As soon as the gulf calms down, head out for amberjack over wrecks in depths of 70-80 feet. The bigger amberjack will be farther offshore, but bumpy seas will keep most divers checking out closer spots first. This is a good time for divers to rerig their spearguns. Amberjack are extremely strong fish and a fair size one will challenge you and any weak point on your speargun. A barely worn spearfishing line or bent crimp will give way once a powerful amberjack is pulling at the end of your line shaft. Be ready for a ride.
Bill Hardman teaches scuba, spearfishing and free diving through Aquatic Obsessions Scuba in St. Petersburg and can be reached at (727) 344-3483 and [email protected]