Author: David Wood
Big AmberJack In Gulf Of Mexico Off Live Bait!
The general rule of thumb to locating AJ’s is to find 100’+ water and to fish near wrecks. In some areas the depth may vary but for the panhandle of Florida this is a solid way to locate AJ’s.
First things first, picking the right gear for targeting larger Aj’s. I like to use either a 6500 or higher spinning reel like a Penn slammer 3 or a good size conventional reel with a strong smooth drag like a Seigler SG or LG. I like to match my reels up with a Bull Bay 20-40 medium heavy fast action Brute Force rod. Next is the line. Bullbuster braid is a must but a mono will work. I like to use 40 – 60 pound braid due to fishing near wrecks and structure.
Next is making your leader. I like to use 80 pound bullbuster fluorocarbon or mono leader material either will work but 80 pound is the minimal due to fishing near wrecks and structure. Now to make the leader. Another good rule of thumb is for every 10-15ft of water use one ounce of lead so when fishing 100-120’ of water I like to use 10oz of weight. When fishing live bait I like to use a Carolina rig with about 3-4’ of leader material with a 6/0 - 7/0 3x owner circle hook.
Now for live bait. The best live bait around this area is Ruby red lips, cigar minnows, and harder tails. There’s probably a half a dozen more but these are the ones I have tried and had success with. A good live well is must for keeping your bait feisty and fresh. When hooking your bait you want to hook it behind the dorsal fin. This allows your bait to swim away from your boat or kayak.
The last things is setting the hook. AJ’s hit hard and dive fast so be ready! They will try to head back to the wreck so be prepared to tighten the drag down and hold on! The key is to get the fish away from the wreck. This will increase your odds of landing it and decrease your odd of being cutoff by the structure on the wreck. So tighten down, hold on and REEL!
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