Un Reel white marlin finds spot on Rodeo board

Tina Harbuck

What started as a mackerel expedition, soon turned into a tangle with a billfish.

Joseph Semeraro of Tennessee hauled in a 112-pound white marlin Monday for a top spot on the leader board in the 67th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo.

Semeraro and his group of buddies were mackerel fishing aboard the Un Reel with Capt. Paul Dale Wagner and first mate Billy Lorren when the unexpected marlin latched on to the first bait in the water on 30-pound test.

“I was just trying to hold on,” said the 57-year-old Semeraro.

As soon as the billfish jumped out of the water, Wagner said they couldn’t tell if it was a white or a small blue marlin.

“It jumped way out there,” Wagner said, so it was hard to tell exactly what it was.

“He stripped us about five or eight times,” Wagner said, taking out about 250 yards of line.

“He was smokin’. He jumped … he did everything. He put on an incredible show.”

“We’d get him in, and he’d run out … we’d get him in, and he’d run out,” said Semeraro, who was worn out from the fight.

Captain said they fought the fish for 2 ½ hours.

“It was pretty much amazing,” Wagner said.

The marlin is the largest white marlin brought to the scales thus far. If it holds on the leader board until the end of the month it will be worth $200 tackle gift card and a trophy.

Last year’s winning white weighed in at 69.4-pounds.