The Greater Amberjack
The Amberjack commonly caught on Daytona Beach fishing charters is known as the Greater Amberjack (Seriola dumerili). It is the largest of all the amberjacks. There are many other types of amberjacks. The greater amberjack, the lesser amberjack and the banded amberjack or banded rudderfish are found in Atlantic waters. Almaco jack and yellowtail amberjack are found in Pacific waters. Greater amberjacks are found in warm waters throughout the world and are an especially popular catch on Daytona Beach fishing charters.
A Tough Fighting Gamefish!
Other names for amberjacks are AJs, Coronados, Cavilias and "Reef Donkeys" or "Sea Donkeys". Reef or Sea Donkey is actually a compliment and a salute to the exceedingly stubborn, hard fighting nature of amberjacks. Greater amberjack are considered by many experienced anglers as one of the hardest pulling, strongest and most stubborn fish in the sea. They have great endurance and stamina. After a long fight, a greater amberjack can be reeled in from deep water to the surface, and then plunge back to the bottom and start the fight all over again. A novice angler may fight an average sized greater amberjack for an hour or more. For good reason, two United States Navy submarines have been named the USS Amberjack.
A Description of the Greater Amberjack
Overall, greater amberjacks are grayish brownish or goldish brown (amber) in color. Greater amberjacks usually have a dark oblique stripe extending from the nose, through the eye and ending at the dorsal fin. They have soft dorsal fin bases less than twice the length of the anal fin bases.
It's generally accepted that greater amberjacks can grow up to 6 feet long and weigh up to 150 pounds. The Florida State Record for a greater amberjack is 142 pounds, caught near Islamorada in the Florida Keys. The IGFA "All Tackle" world record size greater amberjack was caught at Iki Island in Japan. It weighed in at is 155 pounds, 10 ounces.
However truly monster greater amberjacks have been caught worldwide. Take a look at some of these numbers! The Canary Islands, Spanish territory off the coast of Africa and more or less directly across the Atlantic Ocean from Florida, has produced some real monsters including a 225 pound and a 240 pound greater amberjack caught on lines. Want to see the pictures? They're on bigfishesoftheworld.blogspot.com. Here's the link to the monster amberjack pictures
Getting back to fishing for amberjacks in Daytona Beach...
The average size for a greater amberjack caught offshore in Daytona Beach is 30 - 60 pounds. However, larger amberjacks to 80 pounds or more are not especially rare so you always have a chance of catching your own 'monster' amberjack on a Daytona Beach fishing charter with an experienced guide like Captain John.
Where are Amberjacks caught near Daytona Beach?
Greater amberjacks are most frequently found over and around the reefs off the coast of Daytona Beach. Volusia County, home of Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach and Ponce Inlet, has one of the most extensive and successful artificial reef systems in Florida. These artificial reefs, consisting primarily of discarded concrete structures such as culverts and pilings, are home to a huge variety of sea life from crabs to game fish. They are the focus of bottom fishing for Daytona Beach fishing charters such as Captain John and Floating Time Charters.
Desirable fish species at home on Daytona's artificial reefs include Amberjacks, Black Sea Bass, a huge variety of Groupers and Snappers including Goliath Groupers and Red Snappers, Hogfish, Tilefish and Triggerfish. More about the artificial reefs of Daytona Beach on our Offshore Fishing page.
Amberjacks like to swim in schools above these artificial reefs and above wrecks found in the area, in about 60 to 200 feet of water. Since the artificial reefs of Daytona Beach (15 reefs as of 2016) are located at depths of 30 feet to 135 feet, there are plenty of reefs that are ideal amberjack habitat. Amberjack feed on marine life associated with reefs and wrecks such as baitfish, squid and crabs. Your fishing guide, Captain John, will be sure you fish with just enough lead to keep the bait in the middle of the water column, between the reef and the surface, where amberjacks prefer to stay.
Another interesting thing about fishing for amberjack is that they are not shy fish. Noise does not scare theme away, so a boat full of noisy children having fun on a fishing trip is not a problem when fishing for amberjacks!
Are Amberjacks Good to Eat?
Yes, Amberjack is excellent, smoked or fresh. NOTE: Bigger amberjacks may carry 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.
Amberjack Catch Limits
In the Daytona Beach area, which includes Florida State Atlantic Waters and Federal Atlantic Waters, the catch and keep limits are the same (as of 2016). The Minimum Size Limit is 28” fork length with a daily bag limit of 1 amberjack per person, per day. (captain and crew not included). For the most current size and bag limit for amberjack fishing near Daytona Beach, see the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Greater Amberjack Recreational Regulations. Of course, Captain John of Floating Time Charters is always current on the latest Florida fishing regulations!
A Big Tough Gamefish Not So Far Away!
So if you enjoy the thrill of catching a big, tough, hard-fighting gamefish that's within reach of a half-day charter without having to make a costly, extended deep sea fishing trip to the Gulf Stream, then greater amberjacks are for you!
Talk to Captain John of Floating Time Charters to arrange an offshore fishing trip to Daytona's artificial reefs for amberjack as well as other popular reef species including grouper and snapper!