40-50' out of Clearwater

Well, pretty unproductive day.  Fished sardines, squid and bonito chunks.  Found some grunts in 35', then did some exploring around 50'.  


Moved back in to around 40' and thought we were on to something.  I put a bonito chunk down and came tight on something heavy only to have the hook pull.
A minute later im solid into something good.  Thought it was a grouper until it took me around the boat.  Then i was thinking shark.
Much to my surprise it was an aj.  In 40'!  

I thought we were finally on a good spot, but nothing else happened.  We could not get the anchor to hold and kept drifting off.

Water temps around 65.  I could see my jig around 25' down. 

It did not seem like anyone else was doing much.  Boats all around, no one stayed long. 


  • JustKeepSwimmingJustKeepSwimming Posts: 256 Deckhand
    Thanks for the report. Nice AJ
  • SuperMutuSuperMutu Posts: 293 Deckhand

    We we are trying to figure out the grouper.  
  • NitzeyNitzey Posts: 161 Deckhand
    Was that a keeper AJ?  Ordinarily they prefer live bait.  Did you not see others on the screen or in the water if it was that clear?  Surely amberjacks will come to water 40 feet deep if there is prey for them.  
  • SuperMutuSuperMutu Posts: 293 Deckhand
    I did not measure it.
    Im pretty sure that another one was following it.
    The bottom looked great, but for whatever reason we could not get the anchor to stick.  There were a lot of tiny baitfish around, like the size of a crayon.
  • GrizzlyGatorGrizzlyGator Posts: 3 Greenhorn
    We were out of Clearwater 2 weeks ago in 50 ft and had similar results. Caught 2 of these Jacks and wasn't exactly sure if Greater, or Lesser AJ or not so let them go. Had an FWC survey dude at Seminole boat ramp afterwards who said he thought it was a banded rudderfish based on the picture. These fish are so hard to tell apart unless you have caught a ton of them, which we haven't. Still not sure, looking for fish ID. They put up a good fight!
  • trs912trs912 Posts: 156 Deckhand
    I always seem to catch those and I never really know what they are.  I've had them come up to the boat in schools occasionally.
  • Doc StressorDoc Stressor Homosassa, FLPosts: 2,417 Captain
    Lesser AJs are not usually found in shallow water. The best way tell them from greater AJs by looking in their mouths and counting the gill rakers.  If less than 20, it's a greater AJ. The dark band on the head of a lesser usually doesn't go forward of the eye

    The most common smaller jack around here that looks like an AJ is the banded rudderfish.  You can tell them from juvenile amberjack by the white tips on the tail fin. 
  • SuperMutuSuperMutu Posts: 293 Deckhand
    So mine is a rudder. 
  • Doc StressorDoc Stressor Homosassa, FLPosts: 2,417 Captain
    Looks like one to me.  When they get to that size they lose the verticle bands and look like small AJs.
  • SuperMutuSuperMutu Posts: 293 Deckhand
    Dang, i let that batch of fish spread swim away :(
  • harbisonharbison Posts: 3,248 Captain
    Looks more like an AJ to me. Rudderfish, Almaco, Bar, and AJ's are very similar. 

    Will send picture to my FWC biology friends for identification. Will let you know what hey say. 

  • Doc StressorDoc Stressor Homosassa, FLPosts: 2,417 Captain
    edited December 2018 #13
    Amberjack also have a first dorsal fin.  Either species can lay that down or extend it.

    Here is the best link that I could find that shows the differences between the species.


    You can appreciate the difficulty in distinguishing between rudderfish and small amberjack. 

    It's best to just let them go if they are less than 34", which excludes rudderfish. They aren't really that good eating.  Not at all like yellow jacks.

    The human brain is wired to focus on similarities. You have to train yourself to focus on subtle differences. I can usually tell a rudderfish from an AJ at a glance based on the body form and coloration.  But you have to have seen enough of them to do that.  It's much harder to tell them apart in pictures. 
  • trs912trs912 Posts: 156 Deckhand
    Geez, I don't think I could tell the difference unless I caught one and someone showed me right there.  I kept a couple of what I thought were rudderfish and they tasted fine.

    I don't think I'll keep any from now on, though.  

    Good discussion.  I've always wondered about these.
  • Reel Gator 2Reel Gator 2 Posts: 137 Deckhand
    Reef Donkey....hate them.
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