Commonly referred to as Ambers!
Amberjack like all seriola species are an incredibly powerful fish that deserve the respect of all who chase them. They are an aggressive fish that will readily take most offerings and can be generally found around most southern deep water Australian wrecks and reef systems. Unfortunately most anglers confuse the Amberjack species with the Samson fish, its closely related cousin. Hopefully the information below will not only assist anglers in their pursuit to land an Amberjack but also educate on how to determine the difference between the two once and for all.
Amberjack can regularly be encountered in waters from as far south as Albany right up to the Rowley shoals in the north throughout W.A. They are generally found in much deeper waters than their closely related cousins the Samson fish and the yellowtail king fish. Northern N.S.W. and southern QLD also have good numbers of this species present. Amberjack are also encountered in other countries including America and south east Asia, these fish have a dark brown band running vertically across their eye and are a separate but closely related species called the Banded Amberjack.
Amberjack can grow to over sixty kilos in overseas waters but are generally encountered around the 15 – 20kg mark here in Australia. Anything over this size is considered to be outstanding. The Western Australian state record is 39.5kg at present.
Amberjack prefer deeper water which offers some form of natural or man made structure such as oil rigs, gas platforms and underwater wrecks and reef systems. It is not uncommon to find Amberjack in depths as extreme as 200 meters plus!
Amberjack are very similar in appearance to their closely related cousins the Samson fish and yellow tail king fish. The most efficient way of determining the difference between all three is to conduct a dorsal ray count on the second or rear dorsal fin rays of each species with Amberjack having 29 – 35, Samson fish 23 – 25 and Yellowtail kings 31 – 34. Dorsal rays are the soft, vertical lines which run vertically along a fish’s dorsal fin. Amberjack also have a distinctive gold band running horizontally across the body of the fish and larger scales than Samson fish. The head shape of an Amberjack is also slightly different to that of the Samson fish.
The Amberjack is considered more of a sport/game fish than a table species although they are good eating when fresh.
Amberjack are an extremely tough opponent when encountered in larger sizes.
Due to the nature and power of Amberjack and the environment in which anglers are generally given to chase them in, medium to heavy tackle is required to subdue these very worthy adversaries.
Spin and overhead reels capable of handling line classes of 30 – 80lb are more common than not with rods in the same category to match. Braided lines are a must for fishing deeper waters and not only allow an angler to feel more but also stop fish quicker due to their low stretch factors. Multi coloured braids that change colour every ten meters or so are ideal for determining exactly where your jig or baits are situated in the water column. Low stretch nylon lines are ideal for game fishing purposes.
Leader materials of 80 – 150lb are required to help prevent chafe offs on rough underwater and subsurface structures and also provide a certain amount of stretch when using braided lines.
Live blue, yellowtail or scaly mackerel, herring, whiting or squid make excellent baits for big Ambers as do knife jigs from 115 – 400 grams in weight. Soft plastic and sub surface lures from 5 – 6 inches in length are also great when smaller fish school up and begin to crash bait on the surface. Deep water, live bait rigs are great for targeting Amberjack.
Firstly find some serious deepwater structure that shows good solid signs of larger fish on the echo sounder. Drop live baits or knife jigs down to the depth the fish are showing and hang on! Occasionally smaller Amberjack will follow hooked specimens to the surface dragging all friends with. This is the perfect opportunity to try new techniques such as soft plastics and sub surface lures and generally occurs around the sunken barges out from Perth, W.A. Lighter spin combos spooled with braided and gel spun lines rated to around 20 – 30lb are best suited for this.
Amberjack prefer tide changes early or later in the day or evening especially around a new moon phase.