What's hot: Amberjack fishing in depths of 100 to 150 feet has been consistent. These bruisers have ranged in size from 20 to 30 pounds in the shallower depths, and 40-60 on the deeper wrecks and springs. Secure a livewell full of large baits, such as big pinfish or blue runners.
Tackle: Most anglers prefer large conventional reels, such as a 4/0 or a 6/0, loaded with at least 80-pound monofilament line. But these fish can be caught on large spinning reels and even fly rods, depending on the structure they are over. Using the heavier tackle will wear the fish out faster, so that is recommended if you plan to catch and release.
Tactics: When fishing for amberjack, anchor over the structure. If you are drifting and hook up, the school might follow the hooked fish, which will pull the other fish off the spot, thus making them harder to catch.
Live chumming is one technique that ensures a great bite. Start early at one of the passes or bridges and throw a cast net in the shadow line to catch a livewell full of scaled sardines or threadfin herring.
Once you are over an amberjack spot, toss a few dozen of these "chummers" over the side. If the amberjack are there, you will know quickly since these fish rise in the water column and swarm around the boat waiting for the next meal.
Slow-trolling a live blue runner on a downrigger is another effective tactic for amberjack. Use your bottom machine to locate the depth at which these fish are concentrated, then deploy the baits to that depth.
Steve Papen charters out of Indian Shores and can be reached at (727) 642-3411 or www.fintasticinc.com.