With only four days left to get on the leaderboard of the 69th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo, the fish are coming in strong.
As a matter of fact, Thursday was probably one of the busiest afternoons of the Rodeo thus far with captains coming in saying the Gulf was pretty and calm.
After all, the month had a rough start with high seas and then Hurricane Nate blew threw causing more rough seas. But Thursday was the day with several board changes.
Capt. Scott Whitehurst of the On the Bite came in with a 7.4-pound black snapper caught by Jeff Schaffer of Louisiana. His catch was good for second in the 25-and Under Charter Boat Division.
Kevin McDaniel of the Hat Trick pulled in with a 17.8-pound king mackerel that was good for a daily, but it was soon knocked off by Brody Fish, who hauled in a 24.2-pound king mackerel aboard the Semper Fish.
Fish also had a 7.4-pound triple tail that took over the top spot in the Triple Tail category. He was fishing with Capt. Dennis Minnick and Andy Holister.
About 5 o’clock it started getting really busy at the weigh station.
Capt. Allen Staples aboard the Wynsong came in with several fish to weigh. They got on the board in the Private Boat Division taking over first and second in the grouper category with a 31.8-pound grouper caught by Pickett Reece and a 23.8-pounder pulled in by Will Wilson.
Not long after that, Capt. Robert Hill and the group aboard the Twilight came in from an overnight trip and took over several spots in the Extended Voyage Division. Charles Hannel Jr. pulled in a 33.2-pound snowy grouper for first and his son Charles Hannel hauled in a 21.6-pounder for second. Tanner Fortune of Indiana weighed in an 82.2-pound big eye tuna for a first place slot and his dad, Russ Fortune, hauled in a 120.4-pound yellowfin tuna for first place.
“It took about an hour and a half,” Tanner said to haul in the big eye. “It was just a constant pull.”
His dad said his pulled hard but didn’t take quite as long.
“I just grabbed the rod and started reeling,” he said, noting it took just over an hour.
Up next, Rodeo regular Dustin Service came walking up with a mackerel in a bag to weigh. His king weighed in at 24 pounds and was good for daily momentarily. He caught the king while fishing aboard his kayak, Caddy Yakker. Service has weighed several fish through out the month.
“I go every day I have off,” he said.
Not long after, Capt. Kent Hardin and his brother Barry came in aboard the What Doin? with a king to weigh. Barry’s fish weighed 30.6-pounds and found a spot in the Senior Division.
First Light with Capt. Steve Haeusler came in with a couple of dailies. They weighed in an 11.4-pound Almaco Jack caught by Brian Gillaspy and a 4-pound mingo pulled in by Tracy Sweetland.
“It was a pretty day … we finally got one,” Capt. Haeusler said.
Capt. Eric Thrasher aboard the Game On came in with some mother and son teams. However, the mothers out fished the sons. Local angler Ronda Fowler pulled in a 27.8-pound grouper while her son Paxton weighed in an 11.6-pound scamp.
About 6:20 p.m. the Dawn Patrol with Capt. John Tenore came in with some huge king mackerel to weigh. The got on the board with a 33.6-pounder caught by 69-year-old Paul Profitt. His catch went into first in The Destin Log Senior Division. But the biggest on the boat was a 44-pounder pulled in by Matt Johnson for first in the 25-and Under Charter Boat Division.
Although those were big, the Capt. Alex Hare and the women aboard the Silver King gave them a run for their money.
Sami Renn pulled in a 34-pound king for first in the Ladies Division and Kathy Taylor took second in Ladies with a 33.6-pounder. Lynn Hare, captain’s mother, stepped into first in the 25-and Under Charter Boat Division with a 44.6-pound king mackerel.
Capt. Kyle Lowe and his group of anglers aboard the Special K came in with a 9.8-pound red grouper caught by Michael Burkholder for a spot on the daily board.
With the clock nearing 7 p.m., the Rodeo still had six boats in line to weigh fish.
Robin Jacobs weighed in a 16.2-pound red grouper for a first place slot in the 25-foot and Under Private Boat Division.
Capt. Brady Bowman and his group aboard the Bow’d Up backed in with some big grouper to weigh. Mindy Simerley weighed in a 41.8-pounder for a second place in the Ladies Division. Mary Davis, 72, weighed in a 39.8-pounder for a first in the Senior Division.
The night wrapped up with Andrew Dover aboard Aquaholics weighing in a 3.2-pound scamp and Eric Thomas a 9.6-pound dolphin he caught aboard the Southern Charm.
I’m thinking these last few days of the Rodeo are going to be huge and you don’t want to miss out. Remember the scales are open daily from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on the docks behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar on Destin harbor.
See you there.