From fish tales to a little friendly wager, it's all in a day’s work at the fishing docks.
When Capt. Steve Hauesler and the crew aboard the First Light backed in Thursday afternoon, there was a lot of talk of a shark that got away.
Eleven-year-old Trent Gardiner of Kentucky wrangled with a shark for about 15 minutes.
"It felt like I was lifting a 1,000-pound weight," Gardiner said. "The pole was bent over very far. It looked like it was going to break any minute."
Young Gardiner got the 7-foot shark that was about 200 pounds close enough for a few photos, before it broke off. Although he didn't land the shark, he has quite a tale to tell when he gets back home.
In addition to the shark, the crew from Kentucky, Louisiana and Texas brought in mingo, white snapper, amberine, king mackerel and lane snapper.
Mississippi anglers aboard the Game On with Capt. Eric Thrasher brought in a limit of king mackerel along with several mingo and white snapper. Thrasher said they were trolling live bait down west for the mackerel.
Anglers on the Big John with Capt. Todd Allen reeled in a mix of black snapper, grouper, king mackerel, lane snapper, wahoo and mingo. Allen said they would have had more on the racks if they could have got the fish past the shark and porpoise.
Capt. Dean Cox on the Seahorse and crew fished about 20 miles out and managed to reel in a couple of red grouper, gag grouper and a few mingo. The deckhand said they also struggled to get their grouper past the shark, bringing up nothing but the head.
A Missouri family on the Finest Kind with Capt. Dennis Kendricks had a little family wager going between siblings. Taylor McDaniel, 21, had a bet with her younger brother Colton, 15, about who would catch the largest fish. Taylor won the bet with a 25-pound dolphin.
"It was very tiring," she said. "The fish just took off and jumped out of the water a couple of times. I pulled it in … it would get close then it would take off again.
"I've never caught anything that big before," Taylor said. "And he owes me five bucks," she said, pointing at her brother.
"She had it on 30-pound test, so it took a while," added Kendricks, noting she fought the fish for about 20 minutes.
In addition to the big dolphin, they had about four smaller ones on the rack along with some huge mingo (3-pounders) and a few scamp.
And thanks to Finest Kind first mate Tommy Banachowica for a cool bottle of water on a hot afternoon.
Capt. Chip Godwin on the JustinTime and his group from Kentucky backed in from a four-hour afternoon trip with six king mackerel and a Spanish mackerel. "It was absolutely worth it," yelled one of the anglers as he looked at their catch. Godwin said they landed the mackerel trolling live bait.
The Outta Line with Capt. Trey Windes and crew came in with a huge grouper, about 45 pounds, plus other grouper, scamp, a small warsaw and a Kitty Mitchell.
"We caught them here and there … not all on the same spot," Windes said.
Capt. Justin Destin and his folks on the Full Draw came in with 10 king mackerel, "a little afternoon delight," as Capt. Destin described it.
Louisiana and Texas anglers on the Sweet William III with Capt. Bill Watson pulled in 113 fish. They had a pile of mingo, white snapper and amberine.
Dallas anglers on the Sea Winder with Capt. Stan Phillips loaded the racks with 10 king mackerel, Spanish mackerel, and three grouper. "We were just in the right place at the right time," Phillips said.
Capt. Ben O'Connor on the Locked Up II and his crew from South Carolina reeled in seven mahi mahi and a few king mackerel.
Arkansas anglers on the Fifth Amendment with Capt. Chuck Turbanic were seeing red — red grouper. They had landed 16 red grouper, a gag grouper, mahi mahi and several white snapper.
Pulling in at the same time was the Twilight with Capt. Robert Hill. He and his crew from Tennessee, Alabama and Panama City Beach had a huge haul. They had 16 gags, 15 scamp, one red grouper and a couple of alamco jack.
"This is our ninth trip in 11 years," said David Lowrie of Tennessee. Lowrie said he wouldn't fish with anybody else when he comes to the area. He likes it so much he had a couple of T-shirts made for him and his son Hank that talks about "Twilight Fishing" and how "priceless" it is getting yelled at by the captain because “they’re not fishing hard enough.”
The experience aboard any of Destin's finest is always priceless.
See you at the docks.