Although the 70th Destin Fishing Rodeo is held in Destin, everyone in the area is invited to enjoy the month-long fishing event.
“Rodeo season has officially begun!” the executive director of the Rodeo, Helen Donaldson, said at the Meet Miss Destin event on Sept. 20.
What started as a three-day event in 1948 to bring more visitors to Destin quickly grew into a month-long festival, full of fishing, food and competition.
“It’s gonna be fun,” Donaldson said. “It’s our 70th year so we’re gonna give some good prizes for things that deal with the number 70, like the 70th fish weighed and the first fish that weighs 70 pounds.”
The yearly tradition always draws a huge crowd to Destin between Oct. 1-31, particularly when there’s an especially big shark or fish brought in.
“If a big shark or big blue marlin gets hung on the dock, it’s amazing how quickly people know about it and show up down here,” Donaldson said. “If we get a big catch, you’ll definitely notice a change in traffic on the Harbor.”
Daily weigh-ins will take place from 10 a.m to 7 p.m at the marina behind AJ’s.
Donaldson said there can be anywhere from 200-900 people on the docks all throughout the month.
Over 150 boats have been registered for the rodeo, but if you haven't registered your boat yet, don't worry. Boats and anglers must be registered at least one day before they are allowed to weigh a fish in at the Rodeo, so Donaldson said you can register all the way up to Oct. 30.
If you don't have a boat, there are also divisions for pier or bridge fishing, jetty fishing, surf and shoreline fishing, kayak fishing and paddleboard fishing.
For those who prefer to watch and cheer on the contestants, there will still be lots of opportunities to have fun on the docks all month long.
“The Rodeo is a spectator sport, it’s entertaining,” Donaldson said.
Giveaways, live entertainment provided by AJ’s, fireworks to kick off and end each day and archery and shooting exhibits from Bass Pro Shops will be going on throughout the month.
Miss Destin 2018, Ellen Brown, will be at the Rodeo every day, ready to take pictures with anglers, captains and bystanders.
“I haven’t done it before but I’ve heard it’s so much fun,” Brown said about working at the Rodeo. “I know nothing about fishing except for the fact that I really love to eat fish.”
A classic fish is also making its return to the rodeo. Due to regulations, Amberjack haven't been part of the rodeo in the past, but this year, that's all changed.
"It’s always fun to see those big fish hung up,” Donaldson said.