The recreational harvest of greater amberjack will reopen in the Gulf of Mexico for state (shore to 9 nautical miles) and federal waters on August 1. Anglers suffering from excessive egos can enjoy the therapeutic benefits derived from a healthy dose of humility while fighting these fish.
Amberjack are tough and built for brutality; fish of any size will give you a memorable fight. Bruisers in the 30-pound range will test your resolve, and if you hook into one of the real studs of 50-plus pounds, you’ll wonder who’s in charge.
Dropping live baits like pinfish, sardines, grunts, and blue runners will tempt deep AJs. But for an all-out surface blast, chum these gluttons topside with handfuls of live sardines, or beat the water with your rod tip to simulate feeding activity. When the brown specters arrive, work a big chugging plug, sling a subsurface lure, or cast a large profile fly on a 12-weight rod.
Then hold on for an arm-stretching tug-of-war. Outlast these ocean beasts and you’ll be rewarded with firm, mild fillets that lay nicely on the grill or in the smoker.
In both state and federal Gulf waters, greater amberjack must be larger than 30 inches when measured from the tip of the lower jaw to the fork of the tail to be harvested when the season is open. There is a daily bag limit of one fish per person.