Offshore Fisherman Catches Georgia State-Record Almaco Jack

by Vern Evans

A close cousin of the amberjack, the fish was more than twice as heavy as the previous state record

An angler holds up an almaco jack.

Hayden Mundy holds up the new Georgia state-record Almaco jack. Photograph courtesy of Georgia DNR

Georgia angler Hayden Mundy and his crew got an early start on March 14, departing Half Moon Marina at 1 a.m. They motored down the coastal river and headed 90 miles offshore, where around 6 a.m., they started trolling over a reef bottom in 180 feet of water.

“The weather and water were beautiful that day, calm and water clear,” Mundy, 24, tells Outdoor Life. “We trolled awhile, and hooked and lost a nice wahoo. Then we caught a few blackfin tuna. About mid-day the action slowed, so we decided to change tactics and tackle and catch some bottom fish.”

Mundy was joined by his friends Jake Lee, Hugh Robinson, and Lee’s four-year-old son, Finn. The anglers positioned Lee’s custom-built 33-foot boat, the Leegull Limit, over a group of suspended fish they spotted on sonar. Instead of anchoring, they used the Spot-Lock feature on the trolling motor to keep them in position.

“We were working a ledge drop off in 190 feet of water, and I was using an [8.8 ounce] NLO Fishing Scoop Jig,” says Mundy, a realtor and licensed charter boat captain. “I was bringing my jig up through the water column and got a hit about 50 or 60 feet deep.”

Mundy battled the fish for about 10 minutes. Then he brought it topside where Lee gaffed the fish and hauled it aboard.

“It was a big fish, and I thought it was an amberjack, which we caught several of that day,” Mundy explains. “But Jake is an experienced angler, and he thought it was an almaco jack [which look similar]. We put it on ice and kept fishing, and we caught a [bunch of] other smaller almacos.”

The four anglers fished the rest of the day, returning to Half Moon Marina around 8 p.m. They were whipped after 19 hours on the water.

“Jake was pretty sure my fish was an almaco jack, and it takes an expert to tell them apart from amberjacks,” Mundy says. “We cleaned all our fish except the big one I caught. The next morning, we took it to the Georgia DNR office in Richmond Hill to have it positively identified, weighed, and measured.”

A state official confirmed it was indeed an almaco jack that weighed 19-pounds 10.53 ounces. It measured 37-inches long with a 21-inch girth. The DNR announced that Mundy’s jack was a new state record on Monday, and it shatters the previous record, which was caught in 2023 and weighed just 7 pounds 7 ounces.  

As Mundy alluded to, Almaco jacks are considered rare because few are positively identified, and most anglers mistake them as amberjacks. The only differences between the two species are the number of gill rakers and ray fins, which are difficult to count.

Mundy’s says he’ll have a replica mount made of his jack, and that the record fish is still in his freezer.

“I’ll thaw it, fillet it, and we’ll eat it,” he says, “because we never waste fish.”

Read the full article here

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