Amberjack on Popper

Now there is a badass fish. They are big heavy and strong.

Amberjack on Popper

Amberjack took a Popper

When hooked they really are pissed off and you sense their extreme displeasure. We find them on wrecks out in the Gulf down on the bottom. If you come to a wreck where there are boats bait fishing your chances are slim. If you have a wreck to yourself the chances are much better. Now we cast big Poppers and work them for a while and often the Amberjacks come to the surface to check out the commotion.

Tube popper

Four inch tube popper

The rods need to be 10 weight both to fight these fish and also to cast the big Popper and the reel needs to have absolute top-notch drag. The leader needs to have a thick butt to help turn the fly over and we keep it fairly short around  7´6´´for the same reason. Now the strikes in the surface are just spectacular and we strip strike to set the hook. Now what to do? If the fish gets to dive to the wreck it will cut itself off. Maybe even severing the fly line itself.

Fighting an Amberjack

Baz making sure the Amberjack can not dive

So set the drag to max and just do not let the fish dive. The fight is very hard but short this way. I was astonished to experience that the fish fight hard for a minute or two then they are done. This short fight probably increases their survival after release.



Fly fishing in the salt

Went fishing with my friend Baz who is a fly fishing guide ( in late September. No clouds and a light northerly wind. This always makes a trip to the Gulf enticing. We went out through the Pensacola Pass and turned west. The Gulf can be flat in such a wind and it was. Close to the beach there tend to be deeper pockets of water with a channel to its southwest. These pockets can be around football field size. We were using Baz’s flats skiff and just beached the boat.

Fly fishing in the salt

On first sandbar casting into the first trough

Just jumped in and waded barefooted in the warm water. Then we saw that each of those pockets held a school of Bluefish. They tend to be cooperative, so we opted for a small white popper because surface takes are spectacular. We had 5 rods strung up and ready but as it turned out we only used one rod and only the one popper (we have hundreds of flies) and took turns casting. We use a short multi-strand wire because of the Blue’s sharp teeth.

Bluefish on a Popper

Bluefish on beach ready to be released

We caught the Blues by sharp short strips and then we paused for a moment to give them a chance to grab the fly. They attacked it from the side and half out of the water they turned down and tore into it. I strip strike meaning I keep the rod down and give a sharp pull with the line hand then I raise the rod. It was just wonderful to be out there witnessing these takes. After a while we had a snack and as we were relaxing a Bald Eagle circle above us and higher up another one. It was just a perfect end to a great morning of fishing.

Bluefish caught on a popper

Wading the sandbar, fishing the first trough