What is a Reef Donkey?

Reef Donkey is a nick name given to the Greater Amberjack or commonly just called an AJ. They earned this name by putting up a tough fight to avoid being pulled to the surface and generally just being stubborn. When hooked AJ’s will dive straight down towards the reef or wreck and attempt to escape, which can lead to your line being wrapped around the structure and broken off. The ensuing battle will test both the angler and gear, especially if you hook into a larger one.

Amberjack is a member of the Jack family and can be found in the Gulf of Mexico, Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. They can live for about 15 years and can grow up to 180lbs, with the females being the larger of the two. Amberjack generally live around reefs, wrecks and rocky ledges in depths from 50ft to 230ft. The spawning season for Amberjack in the Gulf of Mexico is from March until April.


Amber Jack are currently considered overfished and have both catch limits and seasons in place until stocks rebound.

The 2022 season is open from August 1st through October 31st and for the month of May. The catch limit is one per person with a size limit of 34” at the fork.