GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Jake Carter came within minutes of a possible Mississippi state saltwater fishing record last week in the amberjack category.
Carter, a Gulfport native and realtor, was fishing with Joel Carter, Jimmy Carter, Jimbo Carter, Gary Ponthieux Jr. and Chris Werner around the salt domes located 80-miles southeast of the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor. That's when he found himself standing toe-to-toe with one of the strongest fish in the Gulf of Mexico – the greater amberjack in 180-feet of water.
"Gary hooked up first with an 80-pound amberjack," Jake Carter said. "Then I hooked up, but mine didn't fight that hard. I knew it was big, just not over 100 pounds. As soon as Gary's fish was in the boat 45-minutes later, mine took off.
"I fought it for at least another hour. It was the hardest fighting fish I've ever fought in my life. When the fish came to the surface, there were two other 30-pounders following it. That's when I knew how big it was. It was amazing."
Some species can lose up to 10 percent of its body weight when they're out of the water for a period of time, meaning the fish could have lost nine or 10-pounds before it was weighed by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources at the Gulfport Yacht Club.
The current Mississippi state record for greater amberjack is 126-pounds set in on March 22, 2014 by Don Wheeler. Carter's fish tipped the scales at 118.3-pounds, nearly 10 hours after the fish was boated and iced down.
"I told the guys that we had a decision to make," Jake Carter said. "We could either stay and fish or head back in and find a scale. But Gary and those guys had never been amberjack fishing, so I didn't want to ruin it for them. We fished another three hours, then made the two hour and 30-minute ride back in. When the DMR got there it was 9 pm. The fish was boated at 11:45 that morning.
"I hate that I missed out on a possible state record, but it's something that I will never forget it. And a fish story that I will be able to tell for a long time."