JUMBO 'JACKS - 'It was a big deal,' angler says of humongous catch

TINA HARBUCK
Jack, left, and his son Jason Smith teamed up to pull in this 88-pouund amberjack on Tuesday aboard the Backlash with Capt. Jason Mikel.

Not one, not two, but three enormous amberjack have been brought to the docks since amberjack opened back up Aug. 1.

The party boat Swoop kicked off the season with a 95.7-pounder on day one. Byron Croft hauled in the huge catch while fishing with Capt. Mark Tilden on Friday.

However Tuesday turned out to be the day for a couple of more colossal catches.

About 3:30 Tuesday afternoon the Backlash with Capt. Jason Mikel at the helm backed in with a whopper that looked to be about 100 pounds.

"It felt like probably the biggest fish I've ever caught," said Jason Smith of Monroe, Ga.

"The rod was in the gut bucket and all of sudden it went under and I couldn't handle it no more," Jason Smith said.

After about 15 minutes of reeling and tugging, "that's about all I could do," Jason said.

At that point Jason handed the rod off to his dad, Jack.

"I was wore out … hell, I had to give it off to him," Jason said.

Dad took over and the amberjack didn't let up.

"He just took off anytime he wanted to for about five or six more times. Away he'd go and then we'd get him back," Jack said.

"He went straight to the bottom several times," Jason said. "We'd pull him for a while, and then he'd pull us for a while. That's just the way it was."

"He moved the boat," Jack said.

Combined it took the father and son about 35 to 45 minutes to get the amberjack in the boat.

"It was a big deal. I enjoyed it … it was fun," Jason said.

After several photos, the amberjack weighed in at 88 pounds.

For more photos of the Backlash amberjack, click here.

Capt. Mikel said they caught the amberjack on a 4 ought Penn reel with 80-pound test with a hardtail for bait.

"We were very fortunate to catch him on that small tackle," Mikel said.

When the fish first took the bait, captain said he thought it was a shark, by the way it swam off the spot.

Mikel had the shotgun ready. "I already had it loaded and ready to come kill him."

No shotgun was needed, only a little arm and back power.

And if Jack and Jason Smith couldn't handle it, younger brother Ryan was ready to go.

"It wouldn't have been no thang for me," Ryan said.

"We had enough reinforcement," Jack said, noting they were going to get that jack in the boat one way or the other.

About three hours later on Tuesday, the Outta Line with Capt. Trey Windes pulled in with an amberjack that tilted the scales at 92 pounds.

Fifteen-year-old Luke Chatham pulled in the hefty amberjack in about 20 minutes, said deckhand Jan-Michael Garcia.

It was Chatham's first-time ever to drop a line in saltwater and it was on the first stop of the day.

Captain said Chatham hooked the amberjack on a 6 ought with a hardtail for bait.

"The kid smashed it," Windes said.