Targeting AJ's - Pensacola Fishing Forum

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Old 01-01-2017, 11:46 PM   #1
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Default Targeting AJ's

Any trips or tricks for targeting AJ's. how far out are they? 5,10,15,20 miles ? I have a 22 CC w/150 yammy and on a calm day I feel comfortable going 15-20 miles out.
This is my first time targeting AJs so what's the best way to catch them. Live bait? Jigs? Frozen cigs? Hi/low rig? Knocker rig ? Thanks in advance.
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Old 01-02-2017, 12:04 AM   #2
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Found this on the ole interweb. Let me know if there's anything else I should know. Particularly public or maybeeee some private numbers ))



The best time to target amberjacks in my region is during the winter and spring and all the way into early June, when the cooler water temperatures bring the fish in close to shore. That doesn’t mean amberjack fishing in July isn’t outstanding, you just have to go out a lot deeper to catch them.

You’ll find the fish out on the metal wrecks--the big ships like the USS Oriskany, the Dolphin Hole and the Ozark Target Ship. Some of the deeper ledges will also hold fish, but the bigger schools will definitely be on the deeper wrecks in the area in anywhere from 200 to 350 feet of water.

You’ll typically mark the amberjacks on your bottom recorder sitting above and to one end of the wreck. Depending on your bottom machine, they may mark as one big blob or individual oval marks, but they’re usually 30 to 100 feet above the wreck. Mark the wreck and the fish, figure out the drift, then put your bow into the current and hold the boat in place by bumping the engines in and out of gear.

The keys here is to deploy your baits to the fish that you are marking, and you do that by trial and error, moving the baits a lot and watching for them to show up on the bottom machine. If you get a bite, you can mark that spot on the line with a piece of string or rubber band, then you can drop to the correct depth to put the baits in front of the fish every time.

For tackle, I like 60 to 80 pound braided line on my reel. I like the braid because it has a thinner diameter, so you don’t get as much drag by the current, which makes it easier to get the bait right where you need it to be. A 4/0 to 6/0 conventional reel is perfect, particularly for the bigger fish. Some guys like to use spinning rods, especially when deep jigging with Williamson Speed Jigs.

Despite their aggressive nature, amberjacks can be very line shy, which is why most anglers targeting them use at least 15 feet of 60 to 100 pound monofilament leader, depending on the size class of the AJ’s you’re fishing, with the lighter leader for the smaller fish. Hook size should be determined by the bait size, but most often it’s a 7/0 to 9/0 4X strong VMC circle hook.

Live hard tails (blue runners) and threadfin herring are the best baits because they’re very active. Other good baits are big mullet, ladyfish or even small bar jack. You want to fish at least two or three baits at a time, because when you do hook up, the rest of the fish in the school get excited and competitive, so you’re likely to get bit on the other rods as well. As long as you can keep a bait in the water, you can keep them biting.

Amberjacks in my region can exceed 100 pounds, but the majority are in the 10 to 20 pound class. Out on the deeper rigs you can usually find some 30 to 40 pound fish, and fish over 50 pounds are not uncommon on some of the spots that don’t get a lot of fishing pressure.
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Old 01-02-2017, 12:10 AM   #3
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Step 1: Get some squid and chicken rigs

Step 2: Run out about 25 miles and catch a well full of porgies 1 or 2 lbs each

Step 3: Find an wreck, drop one down and hang on

That's about it. You have to have BIG baits to catch a legal AJ.
Game on and good luck.
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Old 01-02-2017, 12:10 AM   #4
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Like using jigs to get them fire up to the top then live line a hard tail. We go 10+ out. Be ready for the fight of your life.
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Old 01-02-2017, 12:14 AM   #5
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That's what I want ! A FIGHT! Smiling and can't wait to get out on the water. This crappy weather is killing me!
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Old 01-02-2017, 12:28 AM   #6
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Where are you departing out of?
Generally, you will find them starting an around 100' depths, for our area (OBA) that is about 8+ miles out. Find some good structure, if it has some 'height' to it- better yet. But- they will typically be higher in the water column- so start by dropping your baits to the higher return on your sonar, that will more than likely be AJ. I found on a lot of our spots, the snapper held closer to the wrecks, and the AJ were higher over the wreck.
We use a lot of Ruby Lips and other larger baits on our deeper fish. I have even caught some of my larger ones on bonito. Don't be afraid your baits are too big- they can be veracious eaters! And will often swallow very large baits like whole bonito! On shallower wrecks I've fished I have used Shimano Flat Fall jigs- and if you chum some up near the surface, you can even throw lures at them- like a popper or one of the new Unfair Lures StickMinnow hard baits.
Check out our YouTube channel for more of our videos on AJ.
We have about the same size boat / motor as you. We run up to 28- 35 miles out on average- depending on the conditions. Just be careful and choose your days!
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Last edited by badonskybuccaneers; 01-02-2017 at 12:42 AM.
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Old 01-02-2017, 02:10 AM   #7
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Awesome info and video !!! I launch mostly out of Destin. It just closer for me but I have launched out of Pensacola a few times. I'm hoping to get out this weekend but I'm not sure that will happen. I guess we will see. Thanks again and keep it coming.
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Old 01-02-2017, 02:27 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W69DY View Post
Awesome info and video !!! I launch mostly out of Destin. It just closer for me but I have launched out of Pensacola a few times. I'm hoping to get out this weekend but I'm not sure that will happen. I guess we will see. Thanks again and keep it coming.
Yea- we are looking forward to going out too. But a little early to tell on the conditions.... but so far it looks like it could be about 2' seas for us? If that forecast holds, I plan on going.
Good luck!
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Old 01-02-2017, 10:55 AM   #9
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I'm ready as well, hoping for good conditions!
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Old 01-02-2017, 11:15 AM   #10
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Awesome video! Got me pumped
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