The 69th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo, Destin’s longest tradition that spans the entire month of October, dished out about $50,000 Friday night during the awards event at AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar.
With 220 slots on the leaderboard where anglers could win $200 and $100 Visa cards for first and second place catches, plus bonus jackpots with more money up for grabs and a division where anglers took home rod and reels and even paddleboards, the total payout was about $50,000.
The big winner in the Dewey Destin Seafood Chubby Destin King Mackerel Captain’s Jackpot was Capt. Mike Graef with a 55-pound king mackerel caught by Haley Shaw on Day 27 of the event. The mackerel was worth $3,000. Second place in the jackpot was Capt. Brantley Galloway on the Full Draw with a 44.8-pounder caught by Chris Blumenthal worth $2,000, and third went to Capt. Justin Hall of the Maximus with a 44.4 pound king worth $1,000.
Capt. Graef was also a big winner in the Big Mac King Classic Award Division with the largest king for the month as well as winning the daily seven times. This division paid out $100 a day for the largest king mackerel, but boats had to be entered to win.
The other big payout for the Rodeo was in the AJ’s Wahoo Bonus Awards Division. Winning $3,000 for the largest wahoo was Cason Carlisle with a 53-pounder caught aboard the Swoop II with Capt. Matt Wheeler. Placing second with a 50.2-pound wahoo worth $2,000 was Buddy Johnson. He landed his prize catch on the last day of the Rodeo while fishing aboard the No Worrys with Capt. Joe Young. Taking third and $1,000 in winnings was George Allan Keenan with a 47.8-pounder caught aboard the Relentless with Capt. Brant Kelly.
One name that was called not once or twice, but seven times was Amanda Bell of DeFuniak Springs who cleaned up on the leaderboard. Fishing with Capt. Billy Sexton on the SS Mullett, Bell took first and second place king mackerel in the 25-foot and Under Private Boat Division with a 38.6-pounder and a 30-pounder. She took second in the mingo category with a 3.4-pounder. Bell also earned first and second shark with a 232.8-pounder and a 178-pounder. Her biggest shark also won her the Mako My Day Shark Division. Bell’s other spot on the board was in the Sparkling Ice Ladies Division with a 44.8-pound grouper for first place.
Although there were four Saturday’s during the Rodeo with chances for anglers to win $250 for the largest shark on Shark Saturdays, only three Saturday’s saw a shark hit the docks. On week two, Colon Knight pulled in an 11-pound shark while fishing aboard the 100 Proof with Capt. Allen Staples and Capt. Ben O’Connor. Winner of week two was Ari Dawson with a 9-pounder on the Silver Lining with Capt. Joe Quantro. Pulling in a 206-pound bull shark on the last Saturday of the month was Kirby Tharpe aboard the Southern Charm with Capt. Richard Rogers.
Winner in the Paddleboard Division, taking first and second place, was Jeff Gray with a 13.2 pound fish and an 8 pound fish. Gray took home a 12-foot BOTE paddleboard and an 11-foot-6 inflatable BOTE board.
This is just a sampling of the many winners at the awards event.
For a complete listing of winners, visit the destinfishingrodeo.org and click on Rodeo Winners.
Although the Rodeo is over, fishing is not. As a matter of fact the Gulf of Mexico has been pretty calm the last few days.
See you at the docks.