Amberjack season reopens Aug. 1 in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
These open-ocean predators are usually found around reef structures, often in large schools, and feed on just about everything that swims.
Seriola dumerili is prized as both a game and food fish. They are common to 40 pounds but may reach 150. The largest of the jacks, “AJ’s” are thought to spawn offshore throughout much of the year. They feed on squid, fish and crustaceans.
There are more than 140 members of the carangidae family. About a dozen of these species -- jacks, pompanos, permits and scads -- are well known to Florida fishermen.
While amberjack may technically be considered a "reef fish," they are more often found around deep-water structures such as wrecks, as well as open-ocean springs or sinkholes.
The challenge for the angler is not hooking the fish, but rather pulling it from the structure without getting the line ripped to shreds. Once a jack is dragged to open water, the battle has just begun. The fight can last for 15 or 20 minutes but sometimes longer.
Which brings up another problem: Recreational anglers are not the only apex predators. Bull sharks and even goliath grouper like to feed on amberjack, especially those that are hooked. That's why fishermen usually catch two or three jacks on an offshore trip before switching to a more docile species such as grouper.
If you want to get a jump on amberjack season, remember the size limit is 30 inches (fork length) and anglers may keep one fish per day. The Florida state record is 142 lb caught near Islamorada.