Other Names: Hamachi, kampachi (sushi) Hiramasa, yellowtail kingfish
Range & Habitat: Greater amberjack are found Gulf wide, from near shore waters out to depths of 300 feet and occasionally deeper. They come nearer to land in the southern part of the Gulf. Greater amberjacks are usually found near reefs, wrecks, artificial reefs, and in the northern Gulf of Mexico, off shore oil and gas platform. While lesser amberjacks are found deeper than greater amberjacks, yellowtails are typically found off the coast of California and in Baja and Mexican waters.
Identification & Biology: have elongated, slender bodies. They are characterized by their long, slender heads and dorsal fins. The larger fish are usually females, as research indicates that males may not live much beyond 7 years of age, while females can live to 15. Both sexes grow at the same rate and are old enough to spawn at 2 to 3 years of age and 34-40 inches and 24-28 pounds. Spawning takes place offshore. Amberjacks are powerful fighters. A large one will test an angler’s endurance. Most common at 20-50 pounds, but will reach 170 pounds.
Greater Amberjack: Are the largest of the amberjacks as a whole, usually weighing no more than 40 lbs and typically brownish in color with dark stripes extending from top of the head to tip of the dorsal fins. Greater amberjacks are aggressive predator fish that prowl the water column near obstructions from the surface to the bottom, although they spend much of their time in the upper water column. They may occur singly or in small groups, feeding on a wide variety of fish, including herring, scads and little tunny. Crabs and squid are taken as well.
Lesser Amberjack: Larger eyes and a deeper shape than that of the greater amberjacks with colors ranging from black to brown to green with silver sides, usually weighing no more than 10 lbs.
Yellowtail Amberjack: Most commonly blue to bluish-green in color with a silver-white underbelly. They are distinguished by their yellow caudal fins, and although they vary in size by species, typically weight up to 88 pounds.
Market Description: Amberjack is a sweet-flavored fish with pale pink flesh and firm, large flakes. Sashimi-grade amberjack is higher in fat content than wild amberjack. Also known as Hiramasa, this type tends to have a firmer texture and cleaner flavor.
Sold as: whole, filets, loins
Flavor Profile: pale pink firm flesh, large flake, sweet flavor
Fishing Technique: hand line, gillnet, hook&line
Special Note: Farmed in Japan & Australia/ mostly wild caught
Suitable Sub: Hamachi
Recommended Preparation: very good, especially when grilled or broiled. Amberjacks occasionally have infestations of tapeworms encysted in the muscles ahead of the tail. Although the worms are harmless to humans, these areas may be cut away and discarded.