FWB angler weighs in first fish in 72nd Destin Fishing Rodeo

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

He had a plan, and it all came together in a just a matter of minutes.

Brett Peterson of Fort Walton Beach went out with intentions Thursday morning of catching and weighing in the first fish of the 72nd annual Destin Fishing Rodeo and he made it happen.

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"It all worked in my favor," said the 31-year-old who works at Sexton's Seafood in Destin when he's not fishing.

And by 8:50 a.m. he was at the docks behind AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar with a speckled trout in his cooler, just waiting to weigh it in.

Brett Peterson and his son, David, pose with Miss Destin Lauren Adams and Peterson's 1.4-pound speckled trout, which was the first fish entered in the Destin Rodeo Thursday morning. The month-long fishing tournament kicked off Thursday at 10 a.m. behind AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar in Destin.

Once Rodeo Weighmaster Bruce Cheves officially opened the scales, Peterson's trout weighed in at 1.4 pounds for the first official fish of the month-long fishing tournament.

But it didn't all just happen, Peterson had a plan. He was out the door Thursday morning at 5:30 a.m. and had a line in the water off the rocks at the 331 Bridge in South Walton by 6:45 a.m. 

"The causeway is really a good place to fish," he said, noting he likes to fish off the rocks. "And here in the last two weeks the fish have been showing up pretty good."

More:Oct. 15 - 2019 -Blue marlin draws big crowd at Rodeo

And Thursday the fish didn't disappoint.

"It was literally every cast," Peterson said.

Using DOA shrimp for bait on a 7 1/2-foot rod with 10-pound test line he caught his limit of trout in about 25 minutes.

The limit on speckled trout is three per person and must measure at least 15 inches to keep.

Peterson's fish measured 16 1/2 inches and he was guessing about 1.8 pounds before Cheves put it on the scales.

Destin Fishing Rodeo Weighmaster Bruce Cheves weighs in a redfish Thursday morning on the Rodeo's first day. The month-long Destin Fishing Rodeo kicked off Thursday at 10 a.m. behind AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar in Destin.

Not only does his fish go on the leaderboard as the "First Fish," but it goes on the board in the Pier, Bridge, Jetty and Surf Division.

Making the leaderboard, however, is nothing new for Peterson. In 2012 he won for the largest flounder and Spanish Mackerel in the Pier, Bridge, Jetty and Surf Division. 

Destin Log reporter and long-time Destin Fishing Rodeo volunteer Tina Harbuck enters the leaderboard column for first fish of the Rodeo, which went to Brett Peterson Thursday morning with his 1.4-pound speckled trout.

Then in in 2014 he won in the Inshore Division with a speckled trout and a redfish.

Although his first trout wasn't that big, he said, "it gives somebody something to shoot at in the Pier, Bridge, Jetty and Surf Division."

Peterson's not done yet. As a matter of fact, he's just getting started with hopes of catching a 5-pound trout before the end of the month.

As for the trout from the morning, "That's going to be cooked for lunch today, fried. It's hard to beat fried speckled trout, fresh."

And just like Peterson is just getting started, so is the Rodeo. Thursday morning marked the start of the longest running tradition in Destin - the 72nd annual Destin Fishing Rodeo. The scales will be open daily on the docks behind AJ's from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.