To the Editor:
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) today approved changing the minimum size limit for greater amberjack caught in Gulf of Mexico state waters from 30 inches fork length to 34 inches fork length. Fork length is measured from the tip of the lower jaw to the center of the fork in the tail.
This change will make state-water regulations in the Gulf consistent with pending federal regulation changes and will go into effect after federal regulations are approved.
Recent stock assessments have indicated that greater amberjack in the Gulf of Mexico are overfished, which means there are not enough greater amberjack for the population to remain sustainable. They are also undergoing overfishing, which means more greater amberjack are being removed than is sustainable. Changing the minimum size limit will help ensure more greater amberjack are left in the water and have a chance to reproduce before being harvested.
Legal gear requirements still include spears, gigs, hook and line, seine and cast net. Remember, recreational season is closed June 1 through July 31 in the Gulf.
Amberjack are found throughout Florida’s offshore marine environment. The species is very strongly associated with wrecks and artificial reefs in waters that exceed 60 feet in depth. Amberjack swim in schools and feed on baitfish, squid and crabs.
Amberjack are not shy or picky, so you can make all the noise you want, and almost any lively baitfish will be readily accepted. Commonly used baitfish species include blue runners, pinfish, pigfish, grunts, cigar minnows and sand perch. Because amberjacks like to swim around above the reef, it’s a good idea to use just enough lead to keep the bait in the middle of the water column. When amberjack get excited, they will also come to the surface and explode on top-water plugs, jigs, spoons and diving lures. Amberjack are extremely strong fighters with great endurance. To avoid lost or broken tackle, it’s important to have the drag pre-set to match the strength of the angler and the equipment.
For more information, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and select “Commission Meetings”, then the “Agenda.”
Submitted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission