When it comes to fishing in the Destin Fishing Rodeo, it’s always a party of sorts — from folks coming down to enjoy the beautiful October sunsets, to the fish and even the larger boats known as the party boats.
On Thursday, the party boats meant business as they brought in some mighty big catches.
Capt. Nick “Slay Daddy” Price aboard the Swoop backed in with a couple of what weighmaster Bruce Cheves calls “thumpers” because of the thumping sound they make when they hit the docks.
The first thump was a 40.8-pound wahoo caught by 69-year-old Joe Gonzalez. His catch took over first in the wahoo category in the Offshore Division.
The second thump was a 55.8-pound amberjack pulled in by Robert Evans of Indiana. His jack took over first place in the Party Boat Division.
“It was rough fishing today,” Price said. “This was all at the end of the trip … we were scraping the bottom.”
Price said they pulled in the big amberjack on their last stop of the day, and then snagged the wahoo while trolling on the way in.
The party boat Destiny with Capt. Dennis Kendricks at the helm got in on some of the big action. Ike Synnestvedt of Tennessee reeled in a 20.6-pound king mackerel for a first place spot in the Party Boat Division.
Capt. Kendricks and his group also pulled in a 3.2-pound black snapper for a second place spot. Charles Key reeled in the snapper.
The other party boat to get in on the action Thursday was the Sweet Jody with Capt. Cliff Cox. Norlyn Reyes of Valdosta, Georgia, pulled in a 33.8-pound wahoo for a second place spot in the Offshore Division.
Although they didn’t try to catch it, Capt. Cox said he saw probably the largest Mako shark he’d ever seen just cruise by the boat. He estimated it to be about 600 pounds or more.
In addition to all the party boat action on Thursday, there were other big catches brought to the scales for a spot on the leaderboard.
Dan Wollborg of Missouri pulled in a 9.4-pound black snapper while fishing aboard the Mary Lou with Capt. Rusty Gilbert. His catch is in first place in the Charter Boat Division.
The Lady Em backed in from a three-day trip with 15 fish to weigh, including a 145.2-pound swordfish.
Capt. Nino Bright and Capt. Groovy Davis on Into The Blue came in with a first place fish. Sam Howard of California weighed in a 46.4-pound cobia for first in the Reef Division.
Cobia are called “crab crunchers” because they eat crab and other crustations. Groovy said when he gutted the cobia, he pulled out a couple of small flounder, shells and an octopus.
The Home Grown got in on the wahoo action, pulling in a 31 pounder.
Capt. Scott Robson on the Phoenix and his angler Mike Watwood took over first place in the king mackerel category in the Charter Boat Division with a 28 pounder.
And the Special K with Capt. Kyle Lowe at the helm came in with a leader in the Senior Division. Wayne Guerin of Alabama pulled in a 19.6-pound grouper for a first place spot.
Earlier in the week, the Special K had another first place fish a 50.4-pound amberjack caught by Ami Bass of Fort Walton Beach. She’s leading in the Ladies Division.
As you can see there are several divisions in the Destin Fishing Rodeo and spot for almost every species. And if you’re not up to fishing, just come join the party.
The scales, located behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar along Destin harbor, are open from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. every day throughout October.
See you at the party.