Felipe Gutierrez fits right in at Destin Fishing Rodeo

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Most people who vacation on the Emerald Coast come for the beach, fishing or even to play golf — but not to work as a volunteer.

Felipe Gutierrez, 41, of Palmer, Texas, managed to mix it up on his Destin vacation and do a little fishing and volunteer work.

Gutierrez, who was here with his family for a couple of weeks, fished six days and volunteered about as many at the 72nd annual Destin Fishing Rodeo.

Felipe Gutierrez has fit right in on the weigh-in barge at the  Destin Fishing Rodeo. He has spent part of his vacation volunteering at the Rodeo.

Gutierrez, who makes roof shingles back home in Texas, helped out on the barge behind AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar where the weigh-ins take place for the month-long fishing tournament. He did everything from tossing a rope to the boats, to hauling fish to the scales and even making sure weighmaster Bruce Cheves' water cup was full.

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Gutierrez said he got hooked up with the Rodeo after Cheves was looking for an extra hand to help out.

"He asked if I could help him out and it turned out to be a whole day deal," Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez had such a good time he came back, and Cheves said he was glad Gutierrez did.

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"He was very good help and a polite person. And he's having a good time ... he slipped right into it like a regular," Cheves said.

Felipe Gutierrez helps out at the Destin Fishing Rodeo weigh station located behind AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar.

In his short time, Gutierrez got to see which boats were regulars at the Rodeo and who brought in what kinds of fish.

He even got to witness a yellowfin tuna being hauled in. 

"I'd never seen one," he said, noting he missed the 150 pounder on the Twilight but did get to see a few in the 60- to 70-pound range.

This was Gutierrez's eighth year to vacation on the Emerald Coast. And when he wasn't volunteering on the Rodeo barge, he fished.

He went on four party boat fishing trips and two bay fishing trips for redfish and trout. Although his boats were entered in the Rodeo, he didn't get anything big enough for an entry.

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"But that's fishing for you," he said.

Gutierrez enjoyed his days on the water and the Rodeo barge.

"It's a good time ... I'll take it any day," he said, noting he's already making plans to come back next year and volunteer maybe all 31 days at the 73rd Destin Fishing Rodeo.