Capt. Justin Leake and professional fly angler Meredith McCord continue their quest for a giant amberjack. Day one of the pursuit ended with a huge catch but the scale showed the fish to be just a few ounces short of a new fly fishing world record for greater amberjack on 8-pound tippet.
As the sun rises on St. Andrews Bay, the anglers leave the dock and set their sights on an offshore artificial reef made of salvaged highway bridge spans. According to Capt. Leake, amberjacks (also known as “reef donkeys”) love steel reefs and chumming live pilchards above the reef should draw them out.
But the angle of the sun and choppy water are not ideal conditions, so Justin decides to cruise to another area and fish for fun before revisiting the reef later in the afternoon. “Sometimes it seems nothing is working exactly right and you just have to make a move or do something different,” says Justin.
Upon returning to the reef, Justin’s chumming soon has amberjacks boiling on the surface. McCord, who has set more than 230 saltwater fly fishing records, must make a split second decision. “I was not going to let a fish eat my fly unless I knew it was the one,” she says. “It is very difficult to get the fly in front of just that one without the smaller ones darting in front and trying to eat it.”
Meredith soon hooks what appears to be a trophy and a tense battle ensues. As the amberjack fights mightily to return to the protective cover of the reef, Meredith gradually reels her catch to the boat as Justin stands ready to assist with the landing.
Back at Capt. Anderson’s Marina, the certified scale lands on 30 pounds, 12 ounces – a new International Game Fish Association (IGFA) world record!