Amberjacks are found throughout the waters of the Gulf, typically in areas that are 300 feet or deeper. In the southern parts of the Gulf, they do come closer to land; but amberjacks are typically found near wrecks, reefs, and offshore oil and gas platforms. In Alabama, fishing for amberjack is best during the spring, summer, and fall.
Amberjacks are a bright silver color with an amber and blue stripe down each side of their body. There is also a dark bar of color that extends from the dorsal fin to over the eye area. Amberjacks are often confused with other fish and may need an expert eye to correctly identify.
As predators, these fish spend a great deal of time near reefs and other underwater objects, which is where their food tends to hide. They eat smaller fish like herring, little tunny, and scads. Amberjacks will also eat crabs and squid, if available. Larger amberjacks are normally females and can live up to 15 years. Males tend to be smaller and have a shorter lifespan of roughly 7 years. Old enough to spawn offshore when they reach 2-3 years of age, male and female Amberjacks grow at roughly the same rate.
Most of the time, amberjacks will weigh in between 20 and 50 pounds, but have been recorded at 170lbs. These fish are extraordinary fighters, and the larger ones will certainly test the endurance of the angler. Amberjacks aren’t shy and won’t be scared off by loud noises; so if fishing for this species, feel free to make noise. They’re attracted by any sort of lively baitfish and are not picky eaters. Tapeworms are often present in the muscles forward of the tail. These worms aren’t dangerous to humans, but should be removed before consuming.
On the plate, amberjacks are excellent either grilled or broiled. With firm flesh, they carry a distinctive flavor.