'That's a lot of cans of tuna': Winning fish flood docks in early Rodeo action (PHOTOS)

Tina Harbuck

When a text came in that a big one was on the way — they weren't kidding.

"That's a big ol' fish … that's a lot of cans of tuna," said Kevin Grant as he looked at his whopper of a yellowfin tuna hanging from the Destin Fishing Rodeo scales Thursday afternoon.


To see more catches of the day, click here for The Rodeo Rap, The Log's daily look at what's biting in the 65th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo!


Around lunchtime Thursday, The Log received word from Capt. Mike Eller of the Lady Em that "big fish" were expected at 1:30 p.m.  

Minutes after arriving at the Destin Fishing Rodeo docks behind AJ's Seafood & Oyster Bar, the Lady Em backed in from her extended voyage.

In typical Rodeo fashion, the crew teased the crowd with some nice size grouper, snapper, dolphin and even a couple of 50-pound amberjack before they pulled out "old yeller."

The crew, which had been out for three days fishing, from 75 to 160 miles offshore, hauled out a huge yellowfin tuna.

The tuna caught by Grant drew quite a crowd as they drug it across the docks to the scales where it was hoisted and weighed in at 157-pounds whole.

"It fought hard," said Grant of Kentucky. "The first mates are great … they were coaching it up."

When the tuna was finally gutted it weighed 154.8-pounds and took a first place spot in the extended voyage division of the Destin Fishing Rodeo. Grant caught the massive tuna on a 30 wide with 80-pound test using about a 6-inch hardtail for bait.

"I was worn out and sweatin'," Grant said.

When the tuna first hit, "All you heard was screaming on the reel," Grant said. "He came up and saw the name on the back of the boat and knew he was close to death … so he took off again." Grant said the yellowfin tuna made about seven or eight runs before he got it in the boat.

Prior to the three-day trip, the biggest thing Grant had caught was bass back home or a 30-plus pound amberjack fishing here in Destin.

Capt. Eller said they were fishing in about 5,500 feet of water when they snagged the tuna Tuesday night.

In addition to the huge tuna, they snagged five more yellowfins, a two-day limit of amberjack, grouper and red snapper plus many more fish.