Amberjacks: Between cold fronts, we have been having great success fishing for big amberjacks. We've had to travel a far distance from shore to get the job done, but the rewards have been well worth it. Most of the offshore wrecks are holding great numbers of these pelagic fish. Quite often, you'll get multiple hookups if you are properly prepared. After hooking the first fish it's time to put down more baits. The jacks are quite curious and will follow the hooked fish the entire length of the battle. Our biggest jack last week weighed 40 pounds. It was brought boatside after inhaling a live pinfish presented in front of its snout. The giant amberjack made the mistake of following a 20-pounder to the surface during a battle.
Know your limits: Anglers are allowed to keep one amberjack per person in federal waters. The size restriction is 2 inches longer this year, requiring the fish to be 30 inches from its nose tip to the fork of its tail. Most all the jacks in 120 feet of water are much bigger than 3 feet.
Tackle: We have been using small circle hooks with quite effective results. A 6/0 size hook is not as bulky as the traditional 13/0 hooks. Once the amberjack has hit the bait, lower the rod until the line tightens, then reel toward the fish until the drag starts to go out. This method will allow the circle hook to screw its way into the jaw of the unsuspecting amberjack.
Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach and can be reached at email@example.com, jawstoo.com or (727) 595-3276.