Jump back ’Jack: Strange Brew brings in a big one for top spot in AJ’s bonus awards

Tina Harbuck
Brian Lassiter, left, and Capt. Ken Nettles haul the big amberjack aboard the Strange Brew. The 90-pound amberjack topped the leader board in the 25- and under private boat category of the Destin Fishing Rodeo.

Stranger things have happened in the last 63 years of the Destin Fishing Rodeo, but something extraordinary took place aboard the Strange Brew on Saturday.

On his first-ever saltwater fishing trip, Brian Lassiter of Boston, Mass., hauled in a 90-pound amberjack while fishing aboard the Strange Brew with Capt. Ken Nettles. His catch took over the top spot in the 25- and Under Private Boat Division of the rodeo as well as the AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar AJ Bonus Awards, worth $3,000.

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“It was his first time to drop a line,” Capt. Nettles said. “It was a hell of a way to get broke in.”

Capt. Nettles said they were fishing about 63 miles out and he had a good idea there was a big fish on the spot.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been on that spot, but I knew there was a big one on it. We were saving it” for the rodeo, he said.

Catching big amberjack is nothing new for Capt. Nettles. Last year an angler aboard his boat took first place in the rodeo with a 50.8-pounder.

But on Saturday, the 90-pound amberjack took them for a ride.

“He ran,” Nettles said. After a 30-minute fight to get the huge fish in the boat, “we were half a mile off the spot. That’s how far he drug us.”

Not only is Strange Brew in first place in the amberjack category, but Eric Russell of Oconomowoc, Wisc., is in second with a 50.4-pounder caught aboard the Brew on Day 3 of the rodeo.

There is still plenty of time to get on the leaderboard. The scales are open daily throughout October from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on the docks behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar.