Top Water Amberjack

Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Amberjack

Catch Ft. Lauderdale Amberjack


I came across an article today about how to catch amberjack on spinning tackle by Alan Peirce of the FWC. Alan says he has only tried this technique in the Florida Panhandle, but I can tell you from experience that it works just as well in the Atlantic off Fort Lauderdale.

Greater amberjack are an offshore species found near reefs, debris, and wrecks. They are the largest of the jacks. The state record was 142 lb and was caught near Islamorada. They are one of the strongest, hardest fighting fish in the sea. There is no closed season for amberjack on the Atlantic side of the state. The minimum size limit is 28 inches fork length. AJ’s are usually found in schools so if you catch one you can usually catch several more.

Alan’s technique starts by locating a school of AJ’s around a reef, wreck or drop off in 65+ feet of water. Once you locate fish drop frisky pinfish, grunts or blue runners halfway to the bottom on a grouper rod spooled with 60 – 8- lb test line. AJ’s are considered a reef fish so you must use non stainless steel circle hooks when using live bait.

Once you have gotten the AJ’s into a feeding mood with the live bait break out some heavy duty spinning or bait-casting rods spooled with 17 – 30 lb test line. These rods should be rigged with 40 – 50-pound mono leader and the biggest, brightest top-water chugger plug you can find. You should replace the treble hooks on these plugs with single hooks and bend the barbs down to make releasing the fish easier on you and the fish.

Cast the plug out and drag it back quickly making sure it makes a lot of commotion. Hold on tight because the AJ’s will explode on the plug. They are not as fast as a wahoo or king mackerel but they are one of the hardest fighting fish and have been known to break both tackle and fishermen.