Amberjack: Most offshore wrecks are holding good numbers of these pelagic fish. Quite often, you'll get multiple hookups once you get their attention. We have spent a good part of each morning catching large baitfish before venturing offshore. I often tell clients that bait catching is the most important part of the trip. Large, frisky pinfish and grunts will entice a school of big jacks a lot quicker than a medium baitfish, especially if it's a slow bite. Drifting about a mile from shore over the sandy bottom is where we have filled live wells with these big baits each morning.
Laws: Anglers are allowed to keep one amberjack per person in federal waters, and it must be smaller than 30 inches from its nose tip to the fork of its tail. Because amberjack are about the only fish we can keep at this time, we put the bigger ones in a cooler. A 30- to 40-pounder is the perfect size to keep and means numerous dinners.
Banner trip: Saturday was awesome offshore. Our clients caught at least 50 amberjack about 45 miles from shore over a private wreck. After about two minutes of nonstop action, some big groupers could not resist our baits. My clients reluctantly released 20 giant gags after being informed about their federal protection. At least 10 weighed more than 15 pounds.
Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 595-3276, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or see www.jawstoo.com.