Stephan ‘Bay Boat’ Herbison wasn’t in a casino earlier this month when he got to play a little ‘blackjack.’
The longtime Mississippi Gulf Coast fisherman was in the Cajun Odysea, a 33-foot Freeman, in 200 feet of water about 35 miles out of Venice when he caught a rare fish more at home in the Caribbean than 20 miles east of Northeast Pass.
“We tied up to a rig and we had some sardines and a 3-ounce lead weight on top of about a 6/0 Mustad Demon circle hook,” Herbison said. “We had a couple of mangroves but not too much had happened until I set the hook on this dude.
“He was a real strong fish. You would have thought he was a lot bigger. Mangroves fight hard, so I was thinking it was a 10-pound mangrove. We had no idea what it was. We got him up, and we were like, ‘What the hell is that?’”
No one at the dock could identify the 8-pound fish either, but a quick Internet search pinpointed the catch as a black jack, common in the Caribbean with its extreme northern range shown as the central Gulf of Mexico.
It’s also known as the black trevally, and according to Wikipedia, can live either alone or in schools of up to 30 fish. It’s a speedy predator, with a diet consisting of fish, crustaceans and mollusks.
“It’s not a normal place for it, really,” Herbison said. “They have been caught in the Gulf. The last one I saw online was in the late 90s.”
Herbison said he caught the fish on 65-pound Seaguar Threadlock hollow core braid with a 60-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon leader spooled onto a Shimano Stella 14000 spinning reel.
“Just knowing what we were fishing for and knowing where we were at, I thought it might have been a red snapper, but I was hoping it was going to be a mangrove,” he said. “”We’ve caught cobia there before, but I knew the way it was pulling it wasn’t a cobia.
“He had scales like a trigger fish, but he had that hump nose-type thing. It was a funky little deal.”