Four Ways To Tangle With Double Tough Amberjack

They may not win any beauty contests and, truth be told, they often live in the shadow of offshore darlings such as black grouper and mangrove snapper; but pound-for-pound, the greater amberjack is one of the toughest fish in saltwater. An often overlooked food fish, AJs offer a high yield of firm, mild filets that turn out well on the grill, the smoker or in the skillet. Common to wrecks, springs and reefs of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, amberjack are not picky fish, but a handful of established techniques will bring these brutes to the boat.

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Live Bait Drop: AJs have no teeth, but they have large, powerful jaws with pronounced rubbery lips — basically, they’re designed for grabbing meals with devastating force and gobbling them whole. Suffice it to say, any forage species that suddenly appears on their radar won’t be long for this world.

Common offerings include pinfish, grunts, sand perch and scaled sardines (“pilchards”). Gear up with stout 7- to 7 1/2-foot rods with 4/0 reels, 200-pound braided main line and 4-6 feet of monofilament leader and drop your live bait on a 10/0-12/0 Mustad Offset Circle Hook with a slip sinker sized to the target depth.

Trolling: The good thing about live bait is that many species love it. The bad thing about live bait — same.

Often, anglers find it difficult, if not impossible to thread a livie through the layer of barracuda often holding above the AJs. In such instances, deploy your live baits on downriggers about 50- to 100-yards from the target site and troll them into the strike zone.

This obviously limits the number of baits you can fish at one time, as opposed to straight dropping. However, your success rate will be much higher.

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Jigging: There’s truly nothing like the real thing for AJs, but these gluttons will often fall for a heavy bucktail jig, diamond jig, blade jig or a slow pitch jig. While the first three rely on active, often erratic motion, the slow pitch jig is made for mimicking the gliding, fluttering movements of a wounded or dying baitfish. Designed specifically for this technique, Mustad’s G-Series Slow Fall Jigging Rod comes in 6-foot, 6-3 and 6-4 models.

With any jig option, keep it moving until you feel a bite. If the fish misses or shakes your jig loose, immediately resume the action. Amberjack are rarely alone and what one fish drops, another is likely to grab.

Topwaters: Despite their preferred proximity to bottom structure, amberjack won’t hesitate to rise topside to blast a big walking or popping bait. Strikes are simply astounding, but make sure you’re properly equipped to handle a big fish by fitting your bait with the new Mustad JAW LOK treble hooks.

Battle Royale

However you hook your amberjack, expect nothing less than brutality. Trust your tackle to keep you connected and use the gunwale for extra leverage. This is truly a test of wills, so the longer you can hold out, the better your chances of defeating this reef bully.

About

Mustad has led the global hook market since 1877. Mustad’s mission is to create a comprehensive multi-brand company that leads the fishing tackle industry while focusing on innovation, employee and customer satisfaction, and sustainability. With the addition of TUF-Line and LIVETARGET, Mustad continues to solidify its position as a complete sports fishing brand family.

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