Every so often there is a fish that will make you question if you heard the details correctly. Fish such as Capt. Justin Moore’s 300-plus pound tarpon or the 172-pound cobia out of Brazil are two recent examples. There is a new monster to add to this list: the 138-pound amberjack caught recently aboard the Double Nickel by angler Trent Zenkewicz with Jason Boyle, Will Froelich, and Nick Froelich.
When I first saw pictures of the amberjack, I couldn’t believe how enormous it was. It spanned three guys and had a gut like a defensive tackle. The monster amberjacks weighed in during tournaments always seemed to be about the same length, with the girth making up the weight difference. This fish was much longer, and it almost looked like a yellow-banded tarpon.
For our readers who have caught amberjack, you can all begin nodding at this next sentence. Amberjack are NOT fun to catch. It’s work. Actually, it’s blue collar, manual labor on steroids. If you enjoy digging ditches, roofing during the summer, bailing hay, cropping tobacco, or trimming 30-foot palm trees with a manual pole saw, then you’d love catching AJ’s. In fact, you’d be down right giddy.
They are pound for pound the toughest fish in the ocean. They’re more relentless than Chuck Norris on a Total Gym. Side-note: Did you know Chuck is 74 years old? Seriously. Did you also know Chuck Norris won a staring contest with his eyes closed. (I had to get one Chuck Norris joke in here). Amberjacks are the Chuck Norris of the ocean. They do things fish shouldn’t be able to do.
For those readers who have never caught an amberjack, there’s something you can try at home. Go ahead and find your biggest rod and reel, borrow your neighbors, or if you can’t find a rod and reel, just use rope. Tie the fishing line, or rope, to a VW bug, and have someone drive it about 7 miles an hour. You’re not done yet. Have the VW violently shake side to side to simulate the AJ’s trademark headshakes.
This is just an average amberjack. They’re not just tackle busters, they’re human busters. I’ve literally witnessed guys’ entire arms cramp up, and start pulsating after fighting just a few AJs. You’d have thought they had gone 10 rounds with Mike Tyson (circa 1986) with the pure exhaustion on their faces, and in their bodies.
With all of this being said, the biggest AJ I’ve ever been around on a boat is probably around 50-pounds. Jason Boyll has experience with big amberjack, and by big I mean absolute freak of nature amberjack, but nothing could prepare him for this monster.
“When he came to the surface we were all in disbelief,” said Jason Boyll. “My biggest amberjack was 102-pounds. This amberjack was significantly bigger, a really special fish. I know I will never see another one like him.”
Such a beast came from the very deep in the Gulf of Mexico as you can expect. After the Double Nickel landed a Warsaw grouper at the same spot, angler Zenkewicz sent down a 4-pound octopus 500-feet below on a Shimano Torsa and St. Croix combo with 100-pound braid.
“The fight lasted about 25-minutes with extremely high drag, about 35-pounds,” described Boyll. “Most men could not handle these drag settings, however Trent is a former football player around 6-foot 4-inches and 280-pounds.”
“We initially thought it was a large Warsaw, it didn’t have the big head shakes as most of the 70-pound amberjack we had been catching.”
The state record amberjack is 142-pounds, caught near Islamorada.
With amberjack season closed, it could not be kept. Weighing the fish on the boat had it come in at 138-pounds. The possibility of it being a state record is there, but as most fish stories go we will never know.
The amberjack season may be over, but they’re everywhere offshore, so get ready to go catch one, or just wait to read more AJ articles from your favorite chair in an air conditioned living room. I wouldn’t blame you either way.
To contact the Double Nickel, visit Doublenickelcharters.com or call 941-321-4595.