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Ok, I know this is going to sound like a dumb question. But I'm curious about the best way to tell a lesser amberjack from a greater amberjack. I've looked at a hundreds of online pics, but still have a hard time telling them apart. Is there any fool-prrof way to definatively identify a lesser? What's the best way to spot them underwater?

And for that matter, do you often see lesser AJ in this area? I've heard something about counting the gill spikes and something about the color of their eyes. Someone help me out here. It would nice to be able to put a few in the boat sometime.

Thanks
 

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I've seen a lot of discussion on this topic and have even asked the same question myself. Basically what it comes down to is that there is no reliable way to tell, the FWC officers can't tell the difference either,so therefore if it is under 28 inches it's better just to throw it back.
 

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Jiggin Finatic
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When the FWC stopped us in 171' of water about 3 or 4 weeks ago they said the only way to tell the difference is the gill rakes go all the way around inside the gills and lessers were caught in way deeper water than we were in.
 

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Yeah, I had a funny (sorta) experience re: Lesser AJ 2 years ago...



We were out at the Edge and we caught several, at least what I though at the time were Almaco Jacks...we had the fishbook out and everyone agreed...Almaco...



So we headed in, and FWC met us at the Dock at Sherman Cove, wants to see in the fish box.



We honestly thought we were golden on the "Almacos"...FWC says, "Nope those aren't Almacos..."



So, I crap, thinking, "GREAT...big fine, or worse...". FWC takes the fish out, looks it over, and concludes it's actually a lesser AJ based upon the number of gill rakers. One guy on the boat starts to argue with him about the actual number (I know...:banghead) not thinking of the impication that what he's arguing for was basically an ILLEGAL greater AJ.



We interupt him, quickly agree with FWC that it's a Lesser AJ (which just happened to fit in the slot), and go on about our business...:letsdrink



My personal thought was it was probably a greater AJ (undersize) in retrospect...but it was an honest mistake, and my view was that FWC recognized that (we had the book out etc, made an honest attempt at I.D.) and let us go. I swore from that point further, I would never keep another AJ (almaco or otherwise) unless it was over the greater AJ limit...just to stay on the safe side...maybe overly conservative, but better safe than sorry!



I did make a fish print of the "Lesser AJ" back then to commemorate the trip, and it hangs on my wall to this day...I always think of our friend starting to argue with FWC on that particular fish when I look at it...in fact, I call the print "Lesser" Amberjack, in honor of that memory...







I know one thing, they tasted darn good, lesser/greater AJ aside!



Cheers,



Mike
 

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I asked this same question to a FWCofficer one time and he told me they didn't recognize lesser AJ's in this area,only greater,in other words it better be over 28 inches.I sure love to fight and eat them though.
 

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C-Hawk 245 Pilot House
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I've caught several lesser (I think) amberjacks, but I always throw them back. Not worth taking the chance for a ticket. On the other hand, I've seens 100's of them taken on a party boat, identified by the Captain or 1st mate, in much less than 170'.

Surely there is a 100% way to tell the difference by looking, but I've never mastered the difference.

Bottom line, I don't keep any AJ less than 28 1/2". Sea-r-cy
 
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