From vampires hauling out their dead to big crying babies in diapers dragging fish instead of blankets, the Destin Fishing Rodeo finished up Halloween night with 1,091 fish entries for the month.
The Rodeo, which celebrated its 70th year, is Destin’s longest running tradition and folks turned out in droves on Halloween night to witness the catches and the shenanigans.
As for the catches, 11 fish made their way onto the leaderboard on the last day of the 31-day fishing tournament.
The first of the day to make it onto the leaderboard was a 23.4-pound blackfin tuna brought in by Cindy Dohner of Destin. She was fishing aboard the Huntress with Capt. Mike Graef. Her catch landed in second place in the Ladies Division for tuna.
About 5:45 p.m., Capt. Mike Raim on the EYEced ‘Em came in with a first-place catch in the 25-foot and Under Private Boat Division. Local angler Dave Miller weighed in a 45.2-pound king mackerel to get on the board.
Right before the sun started to set on Halloween, the Twilight backed in with a deck full of tubs of tuna and grouper surrounded by black-caped fishermen dressed as vampires. Capt. Robert Hill and his crew claimed two spots on the leaderboard.
Jess Cox weighed in a 50.6-pound grouper for a first in the Extended Voyage Division, while first-time angler Kevin Brewer had the big fish on board, a 143.2-pound yellowfin tuna for a first-place slot as well.
“It was awesome and painful,” said Brewer, noting it took about an hour to haul in the massive tuna.
“It was like trying to move an immovable object.”
Capt. Hill said they were fishing about 160 miles out when they landed the tuna. Hill said they also broke off two blue marlin and lost one white marlin.
Waiting in the wings right behind the Twilight was the Bow’d Up with Capt. Brady Bowman at the helm. They too were coming in from an extended trip.
The Bow’d Up anglers claimed three spots on the leaderboard. Bo Carroll weighed in a 16.8-pound red grouper for a first place spot; Ryan Myrick weighed in a 20.4-pound barrel fish for a first in the Deep Drop Division; and Wayne Williams took a first place spot with a 46.4-pound king mackerel.
The Bow’d Up also had tag and releases on billfish as well.
Up next, Capt. Darryl Carpenter on the private boat Second Chance got on the board. His angler Robert Sconniers weighed in a 22.6-pound Warsaw for a first in the Deep Drop Division.
As far as Warsaw go, that was a small one, but the only one weighed in at this year’s Rodeo. The Rodeo record for Warsaw is a 358.8-pounder.
Capt. Cliff Cox on the Sweet Jody and his group came in with one of the biggest mingo this reporter has ever seen. Jesse Garland of Fort Walton Beach weighed in a 6-pound mingo for a first place spot in the Party Boat Division. Cox said that’s the biggest mingo he’s ever caught aboard his boat.
Jeffrey Roberts, who was also aboard the Sweet Jody, found a second-place spot on the board with a 33-pound grouper.
About 7 o’clock, Capt. Ronnie Youman and his group of fishermen dressed up as big-faced crying babies came in with from an overnighter aboard the Sea Fix with a massive catch of tuna and grouper.
Sporting a diaper and rattle, Mike Wright got on the leaderboard with a 139.8-pound yellowfin tuna. His catch was good for second in the Extended Voyage Division.
A few more boats made their way to the scales before the last fish was hoisted up, a 40-pound amberjack caught aboard the Big John with Capt. Todd Allen.
Another Destin Fishing Rodeo is almost in the books.
All that is left now is the awards banquet set for Sunday at 4 p.m., downstairs at AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar.
See you there.