AWESOME AMBERJACK — Underdahl hauls in a rodeo record

Pat Millican, left, and Capt. Ken Nettles of the Strange Brew hold up the huge amberjack minutes after Mark Underdahl reeled it in on Wednesday.

He might not be a weightlifter, but he can curl a 111.6-pound amberjack.

Mark Underdahl set a Destin Fishing Rodeo record last week when he hauled in a 111.6-pound amberjack on the Strange Brew with Capt. Ken Nettles.

“It was like trying to pull a donkey to the boat,” Underdahl said.

His catch broke the 106.9-pound record that was put on the books in 1997 by Robert Copeland of Niceville who was fishing with Capt. John Holley on the Reel Doc.

When the giant jack was heaved onto the scales just before 4 p.m. Wednesday, it brought the crowd to their feet.

But the same wasn’t true for 28-year-old Underdahl when he was tangling with the amberjack about 45 miles out aboard the 24-foot boat.

“When it hit, it hit hard,” Capt. Nettles said, adding that he knew a big one lived in that spot. “I got clocked … cleaned earlier this year. So we went back with bigger tackle.”

This time they went in with a 50-wide loaded with 80-pound test line on stand-up gear.

And when the amberjack took the live mullet, Underdahl “was on his knees and shaking,” Nettles said.

The men could tell by the way the fish was pulling that it was big.

“He whooped my ass,” Underdahl said. But “I was locked in. We were either going to meet in the water or on the boat.”

When it finally burst out of the water, “He had that mouth wide open,” Nettles said. “It looked like a 5-gallon bucket. We’ve got to get a bigger gaff.”

After 23 minutes of reeling, Underdahl got the amberjack to the boat.

They iced the fish down and caught a few more fish and then headed back to Destin.

When they got to the scales, they pulled out a grouper and a few other fish before hauling out the huge amberjack.

Rodeo weighmaster Bruce Cheves hoisted the amberjack up on the scales and then shouted to the crowd “You ready to rodeo?” Immediately phones and cameras came out to capture photos of the colossal fish.

Cheves then gave a “time is” and made the crowd wait just a second or too, before saying “111.6-pounds.” The Strange Brew crew was high-fiving each other and shouting.

Capt. Nettles and his anglers now hold down the No. 1 and 2 spot in the AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar AJ Bonus Award. Bryan Lassiter caught the second place amberjack, a 90-pounder, on Day 6 of the rodeo.

For those worried that the jack can’t be topped, Nettles said there are still more big fish in the sea.

“We’re still looking for that big grouper bite.”

FISH FACTS •The whole weight of the amberjack was 119 pounds. •Gutted weight of the amberjack was 111.6-pounds •The amberjack measured 76-inches long and was 39 inches around the girth.

EAT THE RECORD Capt. Nettles said they were donating the amberjack to HarborWalk Marina to be served at the fundraiser fish fry for Destin Charter Boat Joe Taylor at HarborWalk from 2-5 p.m. on Sunday. There will also be a raffle, auction, bake sale and yard sale as well.