With 6- to 8-foot seas, the number of entries has been down a bit for the first couple of days of the 69th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo.
At the close of Day 1, the Rodeo had weighed in 47 fish and after Monday the numbers were only up to 55.
But the reason behind the low numbers is rough seas.
Rodeo regular Chip Dibble, who fishes aboard his boat Chips Ahoy, was the last to weigh in a fish Monday evening, a 4-pound Spanish mackerel.
“It was rough … and (Sunday) was worse,” he said, noting that was in the bay.
If it was rough in the bay can you imagine what it was like out on the Gulf.
Capt. Randy Langston of the Miss Aegina, who was the first charter boat to back in on opening day of the Rodeo, described it as “pretty snotty.”
Langston said they encountered 6- to 8-foot waves.
“It really got to blowing,” he said.
Nevertheless, they hung in there and brought in an 8-pound king mackerel and 3-pound Spanish mackerel, both caught by Sheri McDonald, and a 1.8-pound Spanish pulled in by Sarah Simon.
Not long after they weighed in Capt. Harold Staples aboard the Al-Lin backed in with a couple of fish to weigh. They had a 2.4-pound Spanish and an 11.6-pound king mackerel.
Staples said they stayed in close, fishing only about two-miles off the beach.
“The wind was gusting up to 30 miles per hour (at times),” Staples said.
Next up was Capt. Joe Young and some teenagers aboard the No Worrys. Matthew Brown weighed in a 3.4-pound Spanish and a 7.8-pound king mackerel, while his buddy Kyle Pennington weighed in an 8.8-pound king. Or as Rodeo weighmaster Bruce Cheves likes to call it on Sunday – “A Holy Mackerel.”
Capt. Steve Hauesler on the First Light came in with three fish that made it on the board. Slaton Tuggle of Atlanta weighed in a 4.4-pound Spanish, Jenny Tuggle a 14-pound king and Jackie Tuggle a 12.4-pound king for a spot in the Ladies Division.
Right before noon, Capt. Mike Graef of the Huntress and a group of anglers from AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar came in with some nice fish to weigh. Daniel Craig, who did not look like James Bond, weighed in a 4-pound Spanish and Hunter Campbell a 4.4-pound bonito. The big catch of the day that was still holding on the board as of close Monday evening was a 14.6-pound king mackerel caught by Justin Starr of Fort Walton Beach.
Capt. Graef said they caught all of their fish within three miles of the beach.
“It was pretty snotty out,” he said.
Capt. Allen Staples and his group on the 100 Proof made it on the board with a couple of mackerel catches as well.
Rose Young weighed in a 14.4-pound to top the Ladies Division, and 11-year-old Michael Landers took over first in the Junior Division with a 13-pound king.
The party boat Swoop II, which was the only party boat to venture out Monday, came in with four fish that made it on the board. Gabrielle Pritchet of Alabama weighed in a 13.4-pound king, Jeanne Stowers a 2-pound scamp, a 1.8-pound Key West porgy pulled in by Daniel Blanchette, and Megan Furgala a 1.4-pound lane snapper. The Key West porgy went into the new Odd Ball category.
Local angler Joe Bettinger, who was fishing aboard the Hat Trick, got on the board with at least three fish. He weighed in a 5.4-pound redfish, 1.6-pound flounder and a 3-pound palometa (which looks a lot like a pompano). The palometa fish of course went into the Odd Ball Division.
Bettinger’s redfish didn’t last as the next boat in, Pay ‘n Dues, weighed in a 5.6-pounder.
In the last couple of hours of Day 1, we had a couple of guys walk up with fish caught off the Panama City Beach Pier. Bill Ireland of Santa Rosa Beach pulled in a 3-pound Spanish and an 8.4-pound king.
Ireland was knocked down to second when Devan DeBarr came in with a 3.2-pound Spanish, and an 8.8-pound king caught off the pier as well.
That’s the thing about Rodeo fishing, things are always changing.
With the Gulf still kicking up on Monday, it was an even slower day at the Rodeo scales.
The big fish of the day was a 6.8-pound redfish caught aboard Ships Chandler Guide Service with Capt. Kirk Ogren.
The rest of the fish were good for dailies and of course a few rod and reels were given out to youngsters who weighed in a fish.
The wind is suppose to calm down a bit as the week goes on, so stop on down at the docks located behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar. The scales are open daily from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.
See you at the docks.