It's not over until it's over, and the anglers aboard the Lady Em proved that when they tossed a grouper on the deck that made it on the leaderboard for the last entry of the 65th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo.
Decked out in his Uncle Sam Halloween attire, Paul Schoeneberg weighed in a 47.6-pound grouper for second place in the Extended Voyage Division, fish entry 1,540 — the most fish ever written up in the 65-year history of Destin's longest running tradition.
Schoeneberg is just one of the "Crew of Fools" who does the overnight fishing trip with Capt. Mike Eller aboard the Lady Em the last couple of days of the rodeo.
RELATED PHOTOS: For a review of the 65th annual rodeo and to check out all the catches of each day, check out The Rodeo Rap. CLICK HERE.
The Lady Em is almost always the last boat to the rodeo scales but always wows the crowd with their Halloween duds. This year they had a patriotic theme — complete with a huge American flag on the back deck, a Statue of Liberty (Rodeo Chairman John Brashears) atop the cobia tower, Betsy Ross and someone dressed as a bald eagle.
The crew came out throwing beads to the crowd, posed for several photos, and then drug up "their dead" as Rodeo weighmaster likes to say. The grouper caught by Schoeneberg went on the scales at 7:04 p.m. for the last official entry of the month long fishing tournament.
"That grouper was the first one we caught," Schoeneberg said.
Capt. Eller said they left at 9 p.m. Wednesday evening. "We rode about 80 miles and it was sloppy on the way out, but rough as hell on the way in," he said noting the waves were between 6 to 8 feet high.
The Lady Em was not the only boat to brave the high seas in hopes of getting on the board the last day.
The Huntress with Capt. Mike Graef at the helm came in around 3 p.m. with a couple of catches for dailies. Chuck McBay weighed in an 18.6-pound blackfin tuna and Mary Kay Phillips, dressed as Catwoman, pulled in a 30.4-pound amberjack.
"It was as rough as I've ever seen it," Graef said. He said they had a hard time getting back through the pass.
Sharon Hicks walked up with a sheepshead she caught on her kayak. The 4.8-pound fish was the largest caught by a lady on an Under-25-foot boat.
About 4:30 p.m. the Perfect Shot with Capt. Brady Bowman pulled in with a couple of fish to weigh. Anita Kilgore of Jacksonville, Ala. weighed in a 2.6-pound mingo for a daily, but she also weighed in a 33.8-pound grouper that took over second place in the Ladies Division on the big board.
Capt. Jim Green on the New Florida Girl's American Spirit and crew brought over a mingo to weigh, but it wasn't quite big enough.
The party boat Destiny with Capt. Chris McConnell came in with a couple of fish for dailies. They weighed in a 23-pound wahoo and a 3.6-pound mingo.
About 6:30 p.m. Capt. Cliff Cox of the Sweet Jody and some of his anglers walked up with a couple of fish in a bucket to weigh. Ian Richards weighed in a 3.8-pound mingo, to knock off the 3.6-pounder.
"That was the highlight of our catches," Cox said looking at the mingo. "The current and waves was so bad, it was hard to hold up on a spot."
Cox said he fished 28 days of the 31-day rodeo. "We missed days on the storm that didn't happen," he said.
Next up was the Lady Em and Americana's.
Others that got on the board in the last two days include a 26.8-pound blackfin tuna caught by Laura Moore of Destin aboard the Huntress, for a second place spot; an 11.4-pound scamp pulled in by Jerry Majda on the Swoop for first in the Party Boat Division; and a 55.8-pound grouper reeled in by Robert Sconiers on the Cari Lynd for a first in the Private Boat Division.
Capt. Ken Creel on Day 30 pulled in a 24-pound barracuda aboard his boat the Mother Dog for a second place spot on the board.
Brandi White weighed in a 3.2-pound flounder on Wednesday for a second place spot on the board. She was fishing on the IntraCoastal Experience, and Paul Bieber weighed in a 4.4-pound pompano at close of day on Wednesday for a place on the board in the Pier, Bridge, Jetty and Surf Division.
Although their were no record-breaking catches this month, the 65th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo broke records in the number of fish tossed on the docks.
To see and hear who all finished on the big leaderboard, don't miss the awards banquet at 4 p.m., Sunday at AJ's.
See you there.