Wanna catch a big fish? Local captain knows how to reel them in

Capt. Jason Stock (not pictured) has led many anglers to big amberjack such as the one pictured above.
Capt. Jason Stock (not pictured) has led many anglers to big amberjack such as the one pictured above. Photo provided

“Everyone says they want to catch big fish and a lot of them,” Capt. Jason Stock said. “So I ask, ‘How many do you want to catch?’ For many it’s a bucket list experience. They do it until they tap out.”

Stock has become one of the premier captains at putting his customers on giant fish, a unique and unforgettable trip for many. This winter has been no exception, with amberjack weighing upwards of 100 pounds coming onto his deck for customers who seem to enjoy a little bit of punishment.

“I mess with them a bit and ask them what they want their safe word to be in case they want to tap out,” Stock said. “Most are happy to get one and then we go catch snapper for dinner.”

If you think he’s fishing private, secret spots, you would be surprised. Stock says big amberjack come shallow during the winter time, and he’s fishing very public numbers around wrecks and reefs. He says three over 100 pounds and a lot of 70- to 80-pound fish have been caught.

What gets them to bite is using big bait, and the key to catching them after the bite is heavy tackle.

“Using big tackle is the only way to catch them,” Stock said. “If you don’t have it, you don’t have a shot. We use 80- to 100-pound braid on Shimano Talicas.

“Those big fish move all around spots. They’re like wolves, they hunt. A lot of the public areas are so pressured and the fish know it. Usually I’ll look around until we find them, but even then they don’t always want to eat. Just like any other fish when they want to bite they’ll bite. Sometimes they’re like a dog where they’ll just play with a bait and swim around with it in their mouth.”

After his clients get enough of catching huge amberjack Stock changes up his tactics to provide dinner. This year, mangrove snapper have been the go-to to put some fish on ice.

“The snapper fishing this year has been unreal,” Stock said. “When it is good it’s every single drop during the feeding time. Most of the time I use light jigheads and try to chum them up and get them going.”

Stock also emphasized that spring is right around the corner, which means pelagic fish like tuna, kingfish and cobia will be added to his list of targets. On Friday his customers caught the first cobia of the year, while the occasional tuna and kingfish have also been caught over the last week.

“Right now we’re getting the stragglers. It won’t be long before the meat shows up.”

With a new 26-foot Yellowfin soon arriving, Stock’s availability to fish is limited. He can be reached through his website captainjasonstock.com. Follow his adventures on Instagram as well: @captain_jason_stock.