tampabay.com

Captain's Corner

Amberjacks have made their annual move closer to shore.

By LARRY HOFFMAN
Published December 31, 2006


What's hot: Amberjacks have made their annual move closer to shore. Anglers are catching jacks up to 35 pounds in 70 feet and deeper. The Fin Barge, Gunsmoke, Upsidedown Barge and the South Jack Wreck are holding good numbers.

Tactics: Live bait is the key. Large blue runners with 60-pound-class tackle work for us. No. 7 and No. 6 aught hooks tied to a 6-foot 50-pound leader are a good combination. Use the smallest weight that will get your live bait to the jacks' location. Good, smooth drag systems on your reels and a fighting belt help make the fight a little easier. Anchor your boat just off the wreck or barge and deploy your lines at different depths. When you find the depth where they are feeding, match that level with your other rods. Often we deploy downriggers and troll our live baits through the schooled-up jacks. It makes for great action and does not require an anchor drop.

Tips from the pro: The school of amberjacks will follow its fellow fish to the top. Have a live bait ready to cast. Hook the bait through the nose area. Once you get jacks feeding on the surface they will often stay there as long as bait is available. The jacks are competitive feeders and will crash your live bait aggressively.

Larry "Huffy" Hoffman charters out of John's Pass, Treasure Island. Call 727 709-9396 or e-mail him at huffyl@tampabay.rr.com.