A tuna-fishing trip that didn't work out wound up producing a state-record 126½-pound amberjack for a Wilmington fisherman on March 31.

     Mike Krantz was targeting yellowfin out of Bogue Inlet aboard his catamaran, Deuces Wild, on March 31. He and his father, Ron Krantz, and friend Andy Duskie figured out fairly quickly that trolling wasn't working, so they went to jigging.
     "We started jigging where we began marking good stuff on the depthfinder," Krantz said. "Andy caught a 15-pound gag (grouper), so we went back over the same spot and saw what we thought were bigger fish marks."
     Using a Shimano 5½-foot heavy-action jigging rod paired with a Shimano spinning reel spooled with 80-pound braid, Krantz was fishing a 9-ounce Abyss jig when the action cranked up.
     "My dad hooked an amberjack of about 40 pounds," Krantz said. "I dropped my jig to 90 feet and worked it really fast. A fish slammed it, heading for the bottom. After that it was a tug-of-war for 30 minutes. I catch a lot of fish, but this one was putting a hurting on me."
     Krantz hoped his fish was a big yellowfin, but he suspected that it was an amberjack; the only thing he was certain of is that it was unusually large.
     "When I got him to the top, my dad stuck him in the lip with a gaff," Krantz said. "Then Andy stuck him in the lip with a second gaff, and they hauled together to get it into the boat. I knew he weighed over 50 pounds, so I wanted to weigh it to for a NCDMF citation. I had no idea what the state record amberjack weighed."
     Capt. Jeff Cronk was at Dudley's Marina in Swansboro when Krantz got the fish weighed at 126½ pounds on certified scales. Cronk checked the NCDMF website and discovered that the fish exceeded the existing state record, a 125-pounder caught off Cape Lookout in 1973 by Paul Bailey Jr.
      Krantz's amberjack has 67 inches long and 42½ inches in girth. He drove the fish to NCDMF offices in Morehead City on April 1 to have the record verified.
"I donated it to DMF for the biologists to study," he said. "It's pretty exciting to catch a state record. If it had it been a yellowfin, it would have just been another big tuna."