- Black sea bass have dangerously sharp spines on their dorsal fin that can puncture human skin.
- The all-tackle world record for black sea bass is 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
- When hooked in deep water and brought quickly to the surface, a black sea bass will often regurgitate its stomach contents.
Greater amberjack (Seriola)
The greater amberjack is the largest of the jack species, as well as the most sought after. They take their name from the amber colored stripe that runs along the sides of their body. They are probably the most widely recognized jack species in the Atlantic because of their close proximity to the major population centers along the Atlantic coast of the United States.
Greater amberjack are an olive-brown or green-blue color above the lateral line, though they can sometimes appear purple. Below the lateral line coloration is silver-white. A dark olive-brown stripe runs diagonally from the mouth to the first dorsal fin. These stripes are often referred to as fighter stripes and tend to become brighter when they are excited, such as when feeding or fighting. A wide stripe, amber in color, runs horizontally the length of the body, though it disappears upon death. The fins have a dusky hue or a yellow tint; this is especially true for the dorsal fins.
Greater amberjack have a slender, elongated oval form that culminates in a v-shaped tail fin, which enables fast swimming. The head is short and pointed and the mouth possesses small teeth aligned in bands with 12 to 15 gill rakers. The eyes are relatively small.
The first dorsal fin is relatively short and has six or seven spines linked by a membrane. The second dorsal fin is composed of one spine and 29 to 35 soft rays. The spines on each of the dorsal fins are sharp and somewhat fragile. The anal fin consists of three spines and 19 to 22 soft rays. The first two of these spines are detached and may have a skin-like covering.
Greater amberjack are sometimes confused with bluefish and yellowtail. However, the amberjack tail is more concave than that of the bluefish, and they have fewer gill rakers than the yellowtail.
Greater amberjack are found in subtropical waters in every major ocean throughout the world, yet the largest concentration is found in the western Atlantic Ocean. They are particularly abundant from North Carolina to Florida and around the islands of the West Indies. However, they can be found as far north as Nova Scotia and as far south as Brazil. There are also large populations around Bermuda and in the Gulf of Mexico. In the eastern Atlantic, they are found from approximately the southern British coast to Morocco to South Africa, including the Mediterranean Sea.
In the Pacific Ocean, greater amberjack can be found off the coast of southern Mexico, the Hawaiian Islands, the islands of Micronesia, the Philippines, Japan and China. In the Indian Ocean they are prolific from South Africa along the southwest coast of Africa and into the Arabian Gulf.
Greater amberjack are generally a migratory species that roam the edges of major currents, though there are areas of permanent populations, especially around the islands of the Caribbean Sea. They are primarily an offshore species that prefers various structures located on the sea bottom, such as reefs, shipwrecks, buoys and oil derricks. They will occasionally venture inshore to shallow coastal bays, but mostly reside in water from 60 to 250 feet deep. Some large greater amberjack have been known to seek water as deep as 600 feet.
Greater amberjack will congregate in schools, although this tendency decreases as they grow larger. Young greater amberjack clearly form small schools, but middle age fish generally congregate in loose, small groups. The oldest specimens are primarily solitary.
Very little is known about the reproduction habits of the greater amberjack because few detailed studies have been conducted. There seems to be evidence that their migrations are at least partly related to reproduction. It is generally believed that in the western Atlantic they spawn offshore between March and June. Likely spawning sites include reefs and shipwrecks as large numbers of young amberjack are found in these areas from June through September.
The favored foods of greater amberjack include small fish, such as bigeye scad, as well as crabs, squid and a variety of crustaceans and invertebrates. They consume 2.5 to 3 times their body weight each year.
As the largest of the jack family, greater amberjack are a favored game fish by many anglers. They have a reputation for fighting that nearly matches that of tuna, and some anglers will feel the physical effects of fighting an amberjack for some time. Amberjack hit a bait or lure very aggressively and there is seldom a doubt that a strike has occurred. Once hooked, they are strong fighters who can swim very fast and make deep runs. And once a school is found, the action can be non-stop.
Because of their wide distribution and migratory nature, greater amberjack can be found in almost all deep saltwater fishing waters, especially during spring and summer. Anglers who find reefs, shipwrecks and other similar structures will likely encounter sizeable schools.
Tackle selection depends largely on how long one want to battle a hooked amberjack. They can be landed with light-action spinning rods with line weights as low as 6 pounds, but such an outfit will not land a good-sized fish efficiently. Most anglers opt for medium- to medium heavy-action spinning or boat rods, with large spinning or small conventional reels spooled with 15- to 30-pound line.
Basically, any fishing technique can be used in pursuit of greater amberjack, as long as it can be worked in very deep water. Perhaps the most popular method is fishing with live or cut bait, though vertical jigging with bucktails and spoons is also effective. Usually lures are used in conjunction with cut bait. Common baits include, but are not limited to, herring, menhaden, mullet, pinfish and blue runners.
- Amberjack are at best considered a fair food fish. Though there is a commercial fishery, most amberjack are consumed by fishermen.
- They are considered a potential source of the dangerous ciguatera poisoning, so removing the bloodline from a fillet is recommended prior to eating. They can be grilled, fried, broiled or baked.