Almost three weeks into the 65th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo and the big fish continue to hit the docks.
Just Thursday evening, the Gold Wave comes pulling up to the rodeo docks located behind AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar with a tarp covering something big in the bottom of the boat. At closer glance, you could see a fin sticking out as well as part of the tail — it was a shark.
Weighmaster Bruce Cheves turned and looked at the crowd gathered in the bleachers and said, "You're gonna like this."
At that point, Justin Goff and John Vallianitos, who were the lone folks on the boat, along with others on the dock proceeded to drag the huge shark onto the deck and scales.
Cameras and cell phones immediately popped up throughout the crowd snapping photos as the bull shark was hoisted up onto the scales.
The shark caught by Goff, of Destin, weighed in at 239.4-pounds and is now sitting in first place in the Mako My Day Shark Division.
"I thought it was a big tuna at first," Goff said of the way the fish was moving around in the water.
After a two-hour fight on a 30-wide with 60-pound test, Goff got the shark to the boat.
Vallianitos, meanwhile, weighed in a 23.6-pound blackfin tuna for first place in the private boat division.
A few minutes before the shark rolled in, Dustin Service came walking up with a big bag of fish.
He pulled out a king mackerel and a Spanish mackerel. The king weighed 21 pounds and the Spanish at 5.4. That might not sound that big, but if you are fishing from a kayak like Service, it is. Both his fish took over top spots on the leaderboard.
This week has also been the week for some big amberjack. The Strange Brew came in with some giant jacks on Wednesday, a 90 and 57.4-pounder.
On Thursday, Rocked Up came in with a 68.6-pounder caught by Linda Bibby of Gulf Breeze.
"My arms are still shaking," Bibby said of tangling with the amberjack. As soon as Capt. John Carleton realized it was a whopper, they put her in the harness to help with the fight. She managed to get the fish to the boat in about a half hour.
Bibby's catch is in first place in the Ladies Division.
About 4 o'clock Thursday, the New Florida Girl came in with a few fish to weigh. Marlin Perry of Tennessee weighed in a 12.6-pound blackfin tuna to be the first angler on a party boat to weigh in a blackfin.
His catch lasted in first place for about 30 minutes.
Then the Swoop swooped in and knocked Perry down to second place with a 23.2-pound blackfin tuna caught by Jonathan Bowman.
Before the end of day, Bob Mawson on the party boat Sweet Jody came in with a 20.2-pound blackfin to knock Perry completely off the board. Mawson's catch is now in second place on the big board.
On Wednesday, Marty Esposito of Santa Rosa Beach weighed in a 27.4-pound blackfin tuna to take first place in the Charter Boat Division. He was fishing with Capt. Mike Graef on the Huntress.
The Lady Em with Capt. Mike Eller at the helm came in from an overnight trip with some big fish. They weighed in an 18.8-pound dolphin for second place, a 19.2-pound wahoo for second, and a 45.2-pound grouper for a first place spot — all in the Extended Voyage category.
Then they hauled out the big fish. They lugged out a yellowfin tuna that tilted the scales at 121.1-pounds. Tony Witsman of Shalimar was the angler who hauled in the huge tuna. This yellowfin was just one of 14 they caught on the extended trip fishing 145 miles out.
A few minutes later, the JustinTime with Capt. Chip Godwin came in with a 32-pound king mackerel caught by Kent Benson of Kentucky. His catch topped the leaderboard in the Charter Boat Division.
"It was the best bite I had all day," Benson said. Godwin said he caught it on a mingo, slip leading for grouper.
About 5:30 p.m. the Twilight came in from an extended voyage and knocked the Lady Em off the board in the wahoo category. Chris Thomas of Tennessee landed a 52.6-pounder for first place in the Extended Voyage Division.
With almost two weeks left, there is still time for plenty of big fish to roll in. Don't forget the scales are open daily from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. throughout the month of October.
See you at the docks.