The Donkey of the Sea

From time to time on Amberjack, we do fish features to introduce a lesser known or a particularly cool fish to a wider audience. During a meeting the other day, someone was like “why haven’t we done a f*cking fish feature about amberjacks?!”, and then I had to slink out of the room and come type up this bad boy.

The amberjack is one of the hardest pulling, strongest, most stubborn fish in the sea. There are a few types of amberjacks including greater amberjacks (Atlantic), lesser amberjacks (Atlantic), Almaco jack (Pacific), yellowtail (Pacific), and the banded rudderfish (Atlantic). For our purposes, we’re going to concentrate on the biggest one, the greater amberjack.

Greater Amberjack

Greater Amberjack

The greater amberjack is a prized gamefish for it’s size and sheer strength. It can grow up to 6 feet long and weigh up to 150 pounds. The greater amberjack is widely distributed throughout the world and are relatively abundant in warm water. They are usually found in deeper water, around 60 to 200 feet, and enjoy underwater structure like wrecks or reefs. If they get excited in a feeding frenzy, it’s possible to catch them on the surface with plugs. They are not picky eaters and will willingly take most baitfish, but their diet also includes squid and crustaceans.

Many people say that amberjack are very good to eat. Anglers in the States are allowed only one fish per angler per day, not including a paid captain and first mate. You should be careful when filleting a bigger amberjack, as it may be carrying the ciguatera virus in the tail section. That can be easily avoided by filleting the front 3/4 of the fish and throwing the tail away.

Greater Amberjack

Gulf Angler Charters

Cover image sourced from Angler: Dirk Wolthius