Gulf Coast Fisherman Magazine Vol 41 No 3 - Page 6

AJ s Many Ways

It ’ s often a case of who-has-whom with deep muscle aches still reminding you of the brutal encounter days later . It ’ s often a second-by-second struggle to see whose resolve falters first and if you ’ re not up for this brutal street fight , don ’ t go amberjack fishing .

On the other hand , if you ’ re into a tackle-testing , arm-stretching opportunity to earn respect points , and if you ’ re cool with the concept of extended engagements with a seemingly inexhaustible opponent — and , if you enjoy firm , mild filets made for the grill , smoker and blacking skillet , then this is your deal . Where to Look
Capt . Jesse Mayer , who runs out of Johns Pass on Florida ’ s central Gulf Coast , primarily looks for amberjack over deep water wrecks , but he and others also find these powerful fish patrolling deep water reefs and springs . Structure-oriented fish , AJs tend to hover over the hard stuff and pick off whatever forage that crosses their radar .
Running out of Venice Marina , Hunter Caballero , of Paradise Outfitters , prefers the 250- to 800-foot range and targets natural bottom , wrecks , fish havens and natural bottom features like the Midnight Lump off Southwest Pass . Day to day , though , it ’ s hard to beat the northern Gulf ’ s forest of oil and natural gas rigs .
Emergent structures are easy to find with a block chart and line-ofsight , but Caballero suggests looking for the retired “ cut-off ” rigs whose topside structures have long departed , with only the submerged legs remaining . Hurricanes have also sent several rigs into impromptu retirement ; but planned or unplanned , the resulting “ reefs ” are pure AJ heaven .
“ They ’ re still marked on your GPS but they might be 100 byby David A . Brown

Besting the Bullies of the Deep

yards away ,” Caballero said of the displaced rigs . “ You can still find them , but they just don ’ t get as much pressure .” Au Natural
As Mayer notes , amberjack are not complicated creatures ; they see a meal , they eat the meal . Therefore , dropping live baits such as blue runners , pinfish , grunts , croakers , mullet and threadfin herring typically is a straight course to rod bending bliss .
Caballero agrees and knowing the propensity for tempting AJ ’ s of 50-plus pounds , he gears up with stout 7 1 / 2-foot rods with Penn 30 wide reels carrying 200-pound braided line . Plenty of backbone , a stubborn drag system , line that ’ ll resist the rough surfaces of amberjack abode — that ’ s what you need to tame these beasts .
For the terminal tackle , Caballero keeps it simple and efficient : 5 feet of 200-pound monofilament leader , a 10 / 0-12 / 0 circle hook and 24 ounces of lead to deliver a frantic live bait into the danger zone .
“ You can fish dead bait , but a live bait is going to get hit in two seconds , as opposed to waiting five minutes for the fish to eat a dead bait ,” Caballero said .
Wherever amberjack live , barracuda can be the bane of live-bait fishing , as these aggressive interlopers delight in ambushing meals meant for targets below their higher patrol level . Solution : Deploy live baits on downriggers 50- 100 yards from the site and troll them under the toothy crew .
Fun With the Fakers Complementing the livies , you ’ ll also find amberjack more than willing to attack artificial baits . Options include : Jigs : Mayer employs specialized jigging rods made for the
( Continued on page 13 .)
Blade style jigs worked erratically through the water column are a guaranteed AJ attractor . Heavy fly tackle can offer some impressive strikes and memorable battles . ( Capt . Jesse Mayer ( L ) and Capt . Bill Miller ) Photos by author .
6 G U L F C O A S T F I S H E R M A N W W W . G U L F F I S H I N G . C O M
byby David A. Brown AJ’s Many Ways Besting the Bullies of the Deep I t’s often a case of who-has-whom with deep muscle aches still reminding you of the brutal encounter days later. It’s often a second-by-second struggle to see whose resolve falters first and if you’re not up for this brutal street fight, don’t go amberjack fishing. On the other hand, if you’re into a tackle-testing, arm-stretching opportunity to earn respect points, and if you’re cool with the concept of extended engagements with a seemingly inexhaustible opponent — and, if you enjoy firm, mild filets made for the grill, smoker and blacking skillet, then this is your deal. Where to Look Capt. Jesse Mayer, who runs out of Johns Pass on Florida’s central Gulf Coast, primarily looks for amberjack over deep water wrecks, but he and others also find these powerful fish patrolling deep water reefs and springs. Structure-oriented fish, AJs tend to hover over the hard stuff and pick off whatever forage that crosses their radar. Running out of Venice Marina, Hunter Caballero, of Paradise Outfitters, prefers the 250- to 800-foot range and targets natural bottom, wrecks, fish havens and natural bottom features like the Midnight Lump off Southwest Pass. Day to day, though, it’s hard to beat the northern Gulf’s forest of oil and natural gas rigs. Emergent structures are easy to find with a block chart and line-of- sight, but Caballero suggest 2rf"FP&WF&VB( 7WBfn( &w2v6PF6FR7G'V7GW&W2fPrFW'FVBvFǒFR7V&W&vVBVw2&VrइW'&6W2fR66VB6WfW&&w2F&GP&WF&VVC'WBVB"VVBFR&W7VFr( &VVg>( &PW&RVfV( FW( &R7F&VBW"u2'WBFW֖vB&R&G2v( 6&W&6BbFRF76VB&w2( ŖR67FfBFV'WBFWW7BF( BvWB2V6&W77W&R( ФRGW&2W"FW2&W&6&RB6Ɩ6FVB7&VGW&W3FW6VRVFWVBFRVFW&Vf&RG&rƗfR&G27V62&VR'VW'2f6w'VG27&W'2VWBBF&VFfআW'&rG6ǒ27G&vB6W'6PF&B&VFr&Ɨ726&W&w&VW2BvpFR&V6Gf"FVFr( 2`SW2VG2RvV'2WvF7FWBr"fB&G2vFV3vFR&VV26''r#V@'&FVBƖRVGb&6&R7GV&&&G&r77FVƖRFN( &W67BFR&Vv7W&f6W2`&W&6&FR( BFN( 2vBPVVBFFRFW6R&V7G2f"FRFW&֖F6R6&W&VW2B6R@Vff6VCRfVWBb#VBfVBVFW""6&6RB#BV6W2bVBFFVƗfW"g&F2ƗfR&@FFRFvW"R( ŖR6f6FV@&B'WBƗfR&B0vrFvWBBGv6V6G226VBFvFrffR֖WFW2f FRf6FVBFVB&B( Ф6&W&6BvW&WfW"&W&6ƗfR&'&7VF6&RFP&RbƗfR&Bf6r2FW6Rvw&W76fPFW&W'2FVƖvB'W6rV2V@f"F&vWG2&VrFV vW"G&WfV6WFFWƗfP&G2Fv&vvW'2SУ&G2g&FR6FPBG&FVVFW"FPFF7&WrgVvFFRfW'06VVFrFRƗfW2^( 6fB&W&6&PFvƖrFGF6'Ff6&G2F26VFSw3W"V27V6ƗVBvvr&G2FRf"FP6FVVBvR2␤&FR7GRw2v&VBW'&F6ǒF&VvFRvFW"6V&RwV&FVVBGG&7F"VgfǒF6R6ffW F2'WF"6R&W76fR7G&W2BV&&R&GFW26BW76RW"’B6B&֖W"`rRb22Bb2R"rrrrRbb2r2