Info > Greater Amberjack
amberjack are found Gulfwide, from nearshore waters out
to depths of 300 feet and occasionally deeper. They come
nearer to land in the southern part of the Gulf. Greater
amberjacks are usually found near reefs, wrecks, artificial
reefs, and in the northern Gulf of Mexico, offshore oil
and gas platforms.
greater amberjack has a bluish-brown back, and a wide amber-brown
stripe down the length of each side. A dark bar extends diagonally
from the dorsal fin through each eye. Unless it is a very
large specimen, it is easily confused with several other species.
They may be distinguished from each other by the number of
gill rakers, the length of the anal fin base, and the numbers
of spines and rays in the dorsal fin. Gill rakers are the
finger-like extensions projecting forward from the front gill
arch. Greater amberjacks have 11-19 gill rakers, a long anal
fin base, 7 dorsal fin spines, and 30-34 dorsal fin rays.
Lesser amberjacks have 21-24 gill rakers, a long anal fin
base, 8 dorsal fin spines, and 29-32 dorsal fin rays. Almaco
jacks have 21-26 gill rakers, a long anal fin base, 7 dorsal
fin spines, and 28-31 dorsal fin rays. Banded rudderfish have
a short anal fin base, 12-16 gill rakers, 8 dorsal fin spines,
and 34-39 dorsal fin rays.
Greater amberjacks are aggressive predator fish that prowl
the water column near obstructions from the surface to the
bottom, although they spend much of their time in the upper
water column. They may occur singly or in small groups, feeding
on a wide variety of fish, including herring, scads and little
tunny. Crabs and squid are taken as well. The larger fish
are usually females, as research indicates that males may
not live much beyond 7 years of age, while females can live
to 15. Both sexes grow at the same rate and are old enough
to spawn at 2 to 3 years of age and 34-40 inches and 24-28
pounds. Spawning takes place offshore. Amberjacks are powerful
fighters. A large one will test an angler's endurance.
common at 20-50 pounds, but will reach 170 pounds.
good, especially when grilled or broiled. Amberjacks occasionally
have infestations of tapeworms encysted in the muscles ahead
of the tail. Although the worms are harmless to humans, these
areas may be cut away and discarded.
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