With the closing of gag grouper season and the opening of amberjack season, offshore anglers have made a predictable shift farther offshore. With notable exceptions, amberjack are bigger in deeper water farther from land. Swarms of them are in water as shallow as 50 feet lately, but most have been smaller than the minimum size limit of 34 inches fork length. To make sure you get the really big ones, a trip out to depths of 100 feet is the way to go. Commercial and recreational amberjack fishing was closed for the last part of 2016, so the fish have been stacking up on the deep springs and wrecks. On many spots, the resident school will rise to the surface and follow your boat when you arrive. With so many fish ready to eat a live bait, how do you hook up the biggest ones? For us, it means teasing them up at the side of the boat and dropping a bait right on the nose of the monsters. Releasing netfuls of live bait will start a frenzy. Then, swishing a dip net or a gaff in the water will put them right at your rod tip.
Ed Walker charters out of Tarpon Springs. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.