What's hot: Amberjack have infested most of the reefs and wrecks in 80- to 140-foot depths. On a recent trip, we fished a spring in 120 feet and had amberjack 30 to 50 pounds on the surface right behind the boat. These fish were so aggressive that most of the time we could pick one and wait until it swam close enough to simply drop the bait in front of it.
Location: Amberjack tend to congregate over larger structures. In our area, most people think of large wrecks such as the Mexican Pride or the Blackthorn, but in recent years, more fish have been found suspended over the mitigation piles in depths of 90 to 120 feet near the pipeline.
Tactics: Getting these fish to feed is not difficult. Most of the time it takes just a couple of quick drifts. Anchoring and pitching 50 or 100 live baits over the side will get these fish right under the boat and allow the anglers to watch them eat.
Tackle: Many types of gear can be used. Large spinning rods are a good choice for fish 10 to 15 pounds. Medium-sized fish in the 20- to 40-pound range should be taken on conventional gear in the 50- to 60-pound class. When large fish are located, conventional reels in the 80- to 100-pound class should be used. Amberjack have to be 30 inches to be kept. A fish this size is usually 15 to 20 pounds. The fillets off these fish are big, so take only what you can eat.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 or www.fintasticinc.com.