RODEO RECORD: Bull dolphin puts up bigger fight in boat than in water

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Editor's Note: The Destin Fishing Rodeo, Destin's longest running tradition, will be celebrating 73 years this October. In the next few weeks, The Log will be taking a look back at some of the fish that hold down Rodeo records, and the fish to beat for this year's fishing tournament. 

Rodeo record — Dolphin, 49 pounds 

When it comes to fish tales, most captains can recall the catch, but when it’s back 20 years or more, the details get a bit foggy. 

It was Oct. 19, 2000, when the Full Pull backed in with a monster of a dolphin to set a Destin Fishing Rodeo record.  

The crew aboard the Full Pull show off a 49-pound bull dolphin caught by Jim Rainer of Tennessee in October 2000. The dolphin set a Destin Fishing Rodeo record that still stands today. Capt. Andy Block of the Full Pull is standing at left. Kneeling up front is Capt. Paul Dale Wagner who was along for the trip.

“I’ve sat and stared at that picture … but it’s been such a long time ago,” said Capt. Andy Block, who couldn’t remember all the details of the angler who reeled in the dolphin. But he did recall the fish as he looked at the photo of the record catch displayed in his living room. 

According to the records and in the photo, the angler who reeled in the fish was Jim Rainer of Memphis, Tennessee.  

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As for the fish and the trip, Block said they had just had new electronics installed on the Full Pull that he captains along with Chris Wagner. 

On that particular October day, Block was at the helm. 

“I had never had radar on the boat before,” he said. 

Block said he saw something on the radar. 

“I spotted something floating and went over to it and there they were swimming around it,” Block said. 

This dolphin was caught on Day 15 of the Destin Fishing Rodeo last year. Pictured at left is Miss Destin 2020 Lauren Adams.

"They were swimming one behind the other. It was early in the morning and they were separated just right and they were both on top,” he said. 

At first Block thought it might be one big fish, perhaps a blue marlin. 

But once he pulled up to the floating debris, he saw it was two dolphins, a cow and a bull. 

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A cow dolphin is a female and has a rounded head while a male bull dolphin has a blunt forehead. 

Block said they tossed out live bait and trolled around the debris and got a bite. 

“They were big ones ... we pulled the cow off,” he said. 

And then they hooked the other one, the bull. 

Although they had the bull on, Block said he threw a couple of more baits at the cow but it wouldn’t bite again. 

This dolphin was brought to the Destin Fishing Rodeo scales last year. Pictured at left is Miss Destin 2020 Lauren Adams.

Block said he recalled the dolphin jumped a bunch, but it didn’t fight that well … at least not in the water. 

“It actually fought better when we got it in the boat,” he said. 

Block said they reeled the fish straight to the boat and Paul Dale Wagner stuck it and just threw it inside the boat. 

At that point, the fish apparently was flopping around so much, Block said, “I was afraid it was going to jump out of the boat, so we got it in the ice box.” 

Dolphin are a pretty fish with yellow, green and blue coloring. 

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Block said they never really thought about it being a rodeo record. He has never been in it for the accolades, although the Full Pull has brought in its share of winning cobia over the years. 

“It’s always just been about my love for fishing,” he said. 

“It’s about the people you share it with … it’s just about being out there. That’s my thing,” Block added. 

The dolphin they brought to the rodeo scales in 2000 has held the record for 21 years. 

The largest dolphin weighed last year during the 2020 Rodeo was a 24.8-pounder — half the size of the record — caught on the Windwalker II with Capt. Bernie LeFebvre 

“We don’t target dolphin,” Block said, noting that he likes to tuna fish. "But I catch them when I see them.”