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You Don't Know Jacks! A Guide to Gulf of Mexico Seriola Jacks

Filed Under:
Publication Number: P3852
View as PDF: P3852.pdf

You don’t know jacks—or do you? Below are some useful hints to help you correctly identify your fish.

  • Is it larger than 3 feet? If so, it’s a greater amberjack.
  • Is it deep-bodied with a tall dorsal fin? If so, it’s an almaco jack.

If not, the number of spines and position of the eyes will help you determine the species.

Click here for a more comprehensive and interactive identification guide.

Click here for up-to-date fishing regulations.

Species

Full Body

First Dorsal Fin Spine #

Maxilla-Eye Alignment

Key Characteristics

Banded rudderfish

  • Slender body
  • May have a yellow stripe from mouth to tail
  • Bony keel on tail
  • Tips of tail are white
  • Anal fin approximately half the length of second dorsal fin
  • Silver-green in color

8

Maxilla extends past the center of the eye.

  • Bony keel by tail
  • White-tipped tail
  • Flat-edged mouth
  • Maximum fork length: 2’3”

Lesser amberjack

  • Dark stripe from eye ends before first dorsal fin
  • Anal fin approximately two-thirds the length of second dorsal fin
  • Silver-brown in color

8

Maxilla extends to the front edge of the eye.

  • Blunt mouth
  • Stripe not to first dorsal fin
  • Proportionally larger eye
  • Maximum fork length: 2’2”

Greater amberjack

  • Dark stripe from eye to middle of first dorsal fin
  • Anal fin more than two-thirds the length of second dorsal fin
  • Silver-brown in color

7

Maxilla extends to the center of the eye. Corner of maxilla is upturned.

  • Slender body
  • Stripe to first dorsal fin
  • Corner of mouth upturned
  • Maximum fork length: 3’7”

Almaco jack

  • Deep body
  • Dark stripe from eye to middle of first dorsal fin
  • Beginning of second dorsal fin and anal fin elongated
  • Anal fin nearly the length of second dorsal fin
  • Bronze-gray in color

7

Maxilla extends past the front edge of the eye.

  • Deep body
  • Tall dorsal and anal fins
  • Maximum fork length: 2’7”

Click the PDF above for a visual guide.


Publication 3852 (02-23)

MASGP-22-038

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Authors

Portrait of Dr. James Marcus Drymon
Associate Extension Professor

Your Extension Experts

Portrait of Dr. James Marcus Drymon
Associate Extension Professor
Portrait of Dr. Wes Neal
Extension/Research Professor
Portrait of Dr. Eric L. Sparks
Assc Extension Prof & Director

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