After a seven-hour wait, the first fish of the 64th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo finally hit the docks Monday afternoon.



Patti Cox of Tennessee who was fishing aboard the Don’t Hate with Capt. Scott Whitehurst hauled in a 4-pound trout to take first-fish honors of the rodeo. She awarded a silver engraved platter sponsored by The Trophy Center.



For all the latest fish tales and photos, check out the AJ's Rodeo Rap, click here.



The rodeo scales opened at 10 a.m. Monday, and for the first time in a long time there was no one waiting on their boat with a fish or standing around with a fish in a bucket. 



“In my 15 years we’ve never not had a fish on the first day,” said Helen Donaldson, executive director of the rodeo. “Eleven-thirty may have been the latest, but never has it been after noon.”



But it was this year.



Early in the day, word on the docks was spreading that Capt. Scott Whitehurst and crew were out on the bay fishing, but when they didn’t come in by about 3 o’clock, things were looking doubtful for a fish.



As a matter of fact when Miss Destin Callie Kaltz arrived at the docks a little after 2 p.m., she was surprised to find out the first fish had not been weighed in.



But at 4:55 the Don’t Hate didn’t let the faithful few who had gathered on the docks behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar down. Capt. Whitehurst and crew pulled with arms triumphantly up in the air.



“It was rough … with pelting stinging rain,” said Patti who was credited with the first fish.



“The waves were rolling over the boat,” Tracey Block added.



Patti was just one of three females aboard the Don’t Hate. She was fishing with her friends Capt. Cathi Wagner and Tracey Block.



“These girls never give up,” said Whitehurst.



“And it was totally worth it,” Patti said. “I drove here all the way from Tennessee just to fish with these girls.” The threesome have fished together for the past five years in the rodeo as well as participating in the Fishin’ Chix organization for lady anglers.



But on Monday, “It was crappy and the sky was black,” Cathi said. “But we had spent the last two days getting bait, so we were going. There is no way we’d call it off.”



“We hung tight,” Tracey said.



And with spinning rods, live bait “and a whole lot of attitude,” they brought in the fish, Cathi said.



Capt. Whitehurst said they had planned to leave about 6:30 Monday morning, but they waited and let the storm pass through and got on the water about 7 a.m.



Capt. Paul Dale Wagner, who has fished the rodeo with Capt. Whitehurst too many times to count was also on board and said they caught all their fish in the bay and didn’t even start fishing until about 10 or 10:30 a.m.



“We were riding 3 and 4-foot waves in the bay and yelling rodeo,” Cathi said.



“There were 2- to 3-footers in the live well,” Paul Dale jokingly said of the rough water. “It was horrible out, but this was our day and we’ve got to go.”



“The only good thing was, it wasn’t lightning,” Whitehurst added.



When they pulled in at the docks, they really had not figured they’d earn the bragging rights of first fish.



“We didn’t have a clue. We just came ambling in,” Patti said.



Although it was a “butt kicker” of a day, Cathi said, “it was our most rewarding because it paid off, but not the funnest.”



Patti’s trout was not only the first fish, but it took second place after she was bumped down by a 4.4-pound trout caught by Tracey. The crew also had several more trout and a few redfish for their efforts on the water.



“It’s pretty hard to believe,” Donaldson said, “But with the bad weather we had some brave anglers and brave captains today. They weren’t going to let us down.”



And right before the scales closed at the end of Day One, Tom Demonbrun of Niceville came walking up with a bag asking if he was too late.
He had pulled in a trout while fishing from his bright yellow kayak tagged Tweety Bird.



Demonbrun, who didn’t get on the water until about 1 p.m., caught the trout near the Mid-Bay Bridge using a spinning rod with a lure.



“I appreciate the Kayak Experience for sponsoring this division,” Demonbrun said. As a matter of fact he used his past rodeo winnings to buy his kayak.



His fish was the last of the day, bringing the total for Day One to three fish.



But tomorrow is another day. The scales are open daily from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on the docks behind AJ’s.



See you on the docks.




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