AKA: amberjack, jack

Description: Amberjacks have a dark stripe on the head, which runs from the nose, through the eye, to the front of the first dorsal fin. Their backs are blue or olive-colored, the sides and belly are silver-white. Occasionally there is an amber or pinkish color to the body. Juveniles have five or six vertical bars along the sides. They have a long anal fin base.

Size: Greater amberjack grow to 6 feet and more than 200 pounds. 

Sometimes confused with: lesser amberjack and almaco jack

Habitat: Amberjack are an offshore fish found in the western Atlantic from Nova Scotia to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. They are frequently found near reefs, wrecks, rocky outcrops, Sargassum patches and floating debris from the outer reefs to open waters. Studies indicate amberjack move in the spring from the Carolinas to southeast Florida.

Eating habits: Amberjacks are opportunistic predators that feed over reefs and wrecks in small groups. Their diet includes crabs, squids and other fish found on reefs.

Life cycle: Amberjacks spawn offshore from March through July, with a peak in May or June. Females reach sexual maturity between ages 3 and 5.

Fishing tips: Amberjacks are powerful fighters that test anglers’ tackle. Anglers catch amberjack by drifting with live or cut baits and by trolling with spoons and other deep running artificial lures. Chumming will attract and hold schools of amberjack near the boat. Anglers commonly catch amberjacks while targeting king mackerel.

N.C. Saltwater Fishing Tournament

Award for harvest of fish, 50 pounds or greater.
Award for live release of fish, 50 inches or longer.

See the list of weigh stations

Apply for a release citation online


Persons engaged in recreational fishing in North Carolina coastal waters are required to possess a Coastal Recreational Fishing License in accordance with G.S. 113-174.2.

Current Proclamations

Recreational Size and Bag Limits

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