Fifteen-year-old angler Lance Jackson might soon have a place in the International Game Fish Association record book.
Last Sunday, Lance was fishing with his father Craig aboard their 28-foot Grady White about 70 miles offshore. As Lance bounced a vertical jig in the depths below, he was struck by a huge fish that put the 20-pound Power Pro on a 6000-Penn Clash and G. Loomis rod to the test.
“There were a lot of fish there we couldn’t stop,” said Craig Jackson, who often fishes aboard the Haulin’ Grass in tournaments. “Maybe big carbos or gags were breaking us off. I thought he had a big amberjack by the way it was fighting.”
Jackson wanted to keep the rods bent for his kids and their friends, and amberjack were a good option for that. They’re known for the relentless pull, and after a couple it’s usually time to tap out. But there was something a little more special about the fish Lance was battling below. That’s when Craig Jackson finally saw what was taking so long.
“After about 30 minutes we finally got color,” Craig Jackson said. “I looked down and said, ‘That is the biggest red grouper I have ever seen.’ It came up a little more and when I realized what it really was, I asked for a gaff and said grab another one.”
What took Lance a while to fight from 200 feet below was a monster cubera snapper, which are known more for eating at night and taking live bait. Craig Jackson never considered during the fight that it could be a huge cubera. With two gaffs in its side, the monster was swung into the boat. They had no idea just how big it was.
After returning to the Bradenton Yacht Club that evening, the Jacksons made a stop by Publix to see what the fish weighed on their scales. When it almost reached the 90-pound mark, they knew they had something special.
“We found out the 20-pound line class world record (80 pounds) and junior world record (77 pounds), and this was bigger than both,” Craig Jackson said. “We were able to get Johnny at the Cortez Fish Market to open that night to get a certified scale. It weighed at 86 pounds officially!”
The official weight easily surpassed both world record categories, and Jackson is now in the process of getting the record put into the IGFA books. If everything goes smoothly, it might be certified in less than a month the world record in recent months coming from local waters.
“I told Lance that’s a once-in-a-lifetime fish,” Craig Jackson said. “I don’t think he quite realizes it yet.”