From the Gulf to the skillet — that was the plan Dick Casey already had lined up for a grouper he landed Tuesday fishing aboard the Kelly Girl with Capt. Jimmy Miles.
Before the torrential downpour Wednesday, several of Destin's charter boats filled the racks with a variety of fish Tuesday.
Casey, of Joplin, Mo., reeled in the 18-plus pounder while on a four-hour trip about five miles out with Capt. Miles.
"It'll be in the skillet tonight," Casey said as he held up the grouper for photos.
The Missouri anglers also pulled in a small scamp and a few white snapper.
Gag grouper was added back to the catch list July 1 with a two per person limit, and the anglers are not wasting any time in hooking up with the fish that makes for the best fried fish sandwich around.
Tennessee anglers on the Shamrock II with Capt. Eddie Dykes came in with a couple of grouper and three king mackerel on a five-hour trip.
The Strike Zone with Capt. Phil Hessinius at the helm came in before noon with a rack full of mingo, white snapper and a grouper. Capt. Greg Marler and his crew on the Gentle Winds filled the boards with white snapper on a four-hour trip.
Capt. Jim McMahon on the Sea Venture pulled in a pile of white snapper and a couple of lane snapper. A lane snapper looks like a red snapper, but a bit smaller and has yellow stripes.
Buffalo, N.Y., anglers on the Sweet William III with Capt. Bill Watson brought in a massive pile of white snapper and mingo. They had two and three fish to the nail. "There was a lot of action," said the deckhand, noting they pulled in 70 fish. "I was actually getting tired," one of the anglers said.
Grouper wasn't the only prominent fish on the racks. Capt. Mike Knight on the Knight Rider came in from a four-hour trolling trip with king mackerel.
The Lahn family from Minnesota pulled in a good catch of king mackerel while fishing with Capt. Stan Phillips on the Sea Winder.
"We kept a handful and threw the rest back," Phillips said, noting the family didn't really want that many fish.
Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia anglers on the Game On with Capt. Eric Thrasher hauled in a dozen king mackerel and a bonito.
Texas fishermen on the Gulf Winds with Capt. Larry Meyer pulled in a limit of king mackerel. Deckhand Lanny Combs said they snagged the mackerel while trolling dead bait.
The Lewis family, including in-laws, had a big time on the Good Times. They filled the racks with white snapper, mingo and king mackerel.
Capt. Scott Robinson on the Stress Relief II and his crew pulled in mingo, white snapper and a grouper.
Birmingham anglers on the Shock'n Y'all with Capt. Neill Finkel hooked up with three tiger shark and one nurse shark. Jacob Reyer hooked into one of the tigers. About four years ago he landed a 180-pound bull shark while fishing with Capt. Finkel.
"I still have it hanging on the wall in my room at home," Jacob said.
In addition to the hook-ups with the shark, they managed to pull in a grouper and a king mackerel.
Anglers on the Mother Lode with Capt. Brad Biggers filled the racks with three grouper, three king mackerel and a pile of white snapper and mingo.
The Sure Lure with Capt. Don Dineen backed in with king mackerel and white snapper, while Capt. Rocky Griffiths on the Sure Thing brought in a limit of king mackerel.
Capt. Phillip Blackburn and the Texas anglers on the Un Reel had a smorgasbord of fish. They had king mackerel, cobia, amberine, black snapper, mingo and white snapper on the boards.
"We caught the mackerel bottom fishing on a slip lead," Capt. Blackburn said.
King mackerel was the catch of the day aboard the Twilight with Capt. Robert Hill, while anglers on the Windwalker II with Capt. Bernie LeFebvre had kings and grouper.
Capt. Brady Bowman and his anglers from Atlanta and St. Louis on the Perfect Shot had a mixed bag of fish. They had three grouper, seven king mackerel, two black snapper and a few mingo.
"We trolled in the morning and bottom fished in the afternoon," said deckhand Greg Meyers.
As soon as the weather clears up, the racks are sure to fill back up.
See you at the docks.
RAINFALL EQUALS PHONE CALLS
With a 100 percent chance of rainfall expected on the Fourth of July, the phones at some of the area booking booths for charter fishing trips were ringing off the hook Wednesday morning.
"We've been canceling and rescheduling all morning," said Frances Montalvo of the HarborWalk booking booth for charter fishing trips.
Although a handful of charter boats ventured out Wednesday amidst the rain, Montalvo said they have had to cancel and reschedule about 100 people. Wednesdays have generally been a good day on the docks, with HarborWalk booking about 180 people on fishing trips the last two Wednesdays.
As for Destin Fishing Charters at Fishing Fleet Marina, several of morning trips went out Wednesday, but all afternoon trips were cancelled. And the word for Thursday, the Fourth of July, was "on hold."