Amberjack

Amberjack, Seriola rivoliana

The Amberjack, Seriola rivoliana, whose common Spanish name is medregal limón, is a member of the Jack or Carangidae Family, known collectively as jureles and pámpanos in Mexico. This fish is also known as the Pacific Amberjack and the Almaco Jack. There are nine global members of the genus Seriola, six of which are found in Mexican waters, three in the Atlantic, two in the Pacific, and this species in both oceans.

The Amberjacks are the largest Jacks found in Mexican waters. They have elongated relatively deep compressed fusiform bodies that are wide in the middle and taper at both ends and have a depth that is 30 to 34% of standard length. Their upper head and body profiles are distinctly more convex than their lower profile. Their massive body is amber-colored and lighter on the undersides. They have a very distinctive dark “bandit” stripe running diagonally through their eyes obliquely to the front of their dorsal fin, which fades into a black background shortly after collection; this stripe significantly diminishes as the fish ages. They have a long pointed snout and their mouth ends under the center of the pupil. Their anal and dorsal fins (each with 7 or 8 spines) have long bases with elongated front rays and their anal fin base is shorter than their second dorsal fin base. Their caudal fin is forked and their pectoral fins are very short. They have no isolated finlets after their second dorsal and anal fins, no lateral line, no caudal fin base keel, and no scutes. They have 22 to 26 gill rakers.

The Amberjacks are a demersal pelagic schooling species found at depths up to 820 feet. They reach a maximum length of 1.6 meter (5 feet 3 inches) and weigh up to 60 kg (132 pounds), which is the current IGFA world record, caught off La Paz, Baja California Sur in 1964. I personally have caught an 86-pound Amberjack in the greater Los Cabos waters.

The Amberjack is a wide-ranging circumglobal species found in all oceanic Mexican waters  of both the Atlantic and the Pacific with the exception that they are absent from of the northern 85% of the Sea of Cortez.

The Amberjack can be confused with the Yellowtail, Seriola lalandi (more aerodynamic; colored lateral stripe) and the Fortune Jack, Seriola peruana (smaller dark fins; bronze appearance).

The Amberjacks are a major targeted game species in the greater Los Cabos area, however, they are very seasonal and not caught with regularity. They are famous for their slow, steady, and consistent “pull”, which resembles a locomotive and can continue for several minutes without a pause. They are considered to be excellent table fare.

Length versus Weight Chart: An Amberjack Weight From Length Conversion Table is included in this website to allow the accurate determination of a fish’s weight from its length and to hopefully promote its rapid and unharmed return to the ocean.

Amberjack, Seriola rivoliana.  Underwater photo taken in coastal waters off Kailua-Kona, HI, November 2017. Length: 50 cm (20 inches). Photo courtesy of Bob Hillis, Ivins, UT.

Amberjack, Seriola rivoliana. Fish caught from coastal waters off Palmilla Point, Baja California Sur,  June 2007. Length: 50 cm (20 inches).

Amberjack, Seriola rivoliana. Fish caught from coastal waters off Loreto, Baja California Sur, April 2016. Length: 1.22 meters (4 feet  0 inches). Weight: 26 kg (57 pounds). Catch, photo, and identification courtesy of Chris Wheaton, Fullerton, CA.