Good breaks in the weather in the Gulf of Mexico over the past couple of weeks have allowed divers to go into deeper water to challenge the silver-and-amber-colored greater amberjack. Amberjacks are pretty easy to find on the larger wrecks and sinkholes in depths deeper than 80 feet. The bigger ones are in depths of 100 to 120 feet. Everyone is enjoying the amberjack "challenge." These strong fish can test and conquer a lot of your equipment. Pelagic fish such as amberjacks don't quit or give up, until they're dead. When you spear an amberjack, your work has just started. If you're lucky enough to stone your amberjack, feel blessed. I have shot hundreds of amberjacks with well-placed shots directly through the spine or the brain with a stunning shot, just to witness the fish roll its eyes and come back to life. And when they regain their position, the fight is on. Be ready for the fight. First, review all your connectors and swivels on your line system and look for defects. Look for fraying and knots on nylon line; look for chaffing and knots on mono line; double check your connections on your Kevlar and Spectra line; and straighten out sharp bends and wear on steel cable. A dive knife is a tool, not a shark-defense device. Have a quick cutting knife or line cutter that is easy to reach and use it if you get tangled up with a crazy amberjack that can wrap you up and hurt you. There's no shame in cutting the line loose, living to see another day.
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]