Meet Destin’s new captains of the fishing industry.
The tally is in and the 64th Destin Fishing Rodeo has named five men as “Captains of the Year” in their various divisions.
Capt. Kelly Windes of the Sunrise won in the charter boat category; Capt. Russell Stewart of the Gag Reflex was the private boat captain; Capt. Cliff Cox of the Sweet Jody took the party boat category; Capt. Scott Whitehurst won in the charter boat 25-foot and under category; and Capt. Richard Rogers of the Southern Charm won for private boat under-25 foot.
The captains receive points for fish that last on the leaderboard as well as dailies that are brought in during the month.
Cox has won this honor four out of the last five years.
“I’m real proud of my guys,” Cox said. “It’s a team effort and I couldn’t do it without them.”
Capt. Cox and crew fished 29 days out of the 31-day tournament.
One of the biggest fish they caught was a 33.6-pound king mackerel near the end of the rodeo. But the fish he was most proud of was the black snapper. They placed first in the black snapper division with an 11.2-pounder.
“There were not that many out there this year,” he said. “We worked the hardest to catch that fish. But I was proud of all our fish.”
The Sweet Jody swept the king mackerel category, the red grouper and scamp.
Stewart reeled in enough fish for the month to earn 116 points.
Anglers aboard his boat reeled in the top king mackerel in the private category, a 40.6-pounder. They also placed first and second in the ladies division for king mackerel.
He also pulled in the first and second place black snapper at 7.8 and 7-pounds.
CHARTER BOAT UNDER 25
Whitehurst said he fished 20 days during October.
He and his crew got the honor of bringing in the first fish of the rodeo, a 4-pound trout.
But the fish he was most proud of was a 40.2-pound king mackerel caught by John Benton. Capt. Whitehurst also got second place with a 31.8-pound king mackerel.
Whitehurst started fishing the rodeo in 2002. He said the 25-foot division, “gave me a shot at doing something.”
And he did more than something this year. In addition to sweeping the king mackerel in his division, he placed second with a 39-pound amberjack, first with a 13-pound red grouper, first with a 4.4-pound black snapper, and second with a 5.8-pound speckled trout.
One of his anglers took first in the offshore division with a 26.6-pound barracuda.
PRIVATE BOAT UNDER 25
“It was a very great surprise,” said Rogers, who didn’t know he won until the awards banquet.
Rogers said he started fishing the rodeo in 2009 and that first year he and his wife Lee won two of the Shark Saturday’s.
“My wife is just as passionate about it as I am,” Rogers said of rodeo fishing.
In 2010 and 2011 they also won with sharks.
This year they won with a pair of sharks, a 187.4-pounder and an 83.6-pounder. But helping in the point system was an 8.2-pound bonito.