Big Mac Classic fishing tournament joins forces with Destin Fishing Rodeo

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Not only did nearly 50 people join as members of the Destin Fishing Rodeo, but the Big Mac Classic has joined forces with the Rodeo as well. 

During last week’s general membership meeting at AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar, there were about 50 people in attendance, with nearly as many becoming members. Amber Helton, Miss Destin 2005, was voted onto the board of directors. Voted back onto the board were past directors Tim Broom of Half Hitch Tackle and Capt. Allen Staples of the 100 Proof charter boat. 

Jerry Andrews of Ronald McDonald House Charities and tournament director of the Big Mac Classic is joining forces with the Destin Fishing Rodeo. Pictured here are Andrews and Helen Donaldson, executive director of the Rodeo, showing off some of the prize money anglers can win for catching a big king mackerel.

But the big news was the Big Mac Classic, a king mackerel tournament usually held a couple of weekends before the Rodeo. Now it will be incorporated into the Rodeo lineup. 

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the community, the Rodeo and the Ronald McDonald House. I think it’s going to be good all the way around,” said Jerry Andrews, who heads up the Big Mac Classic. 

From 2021:AJ's Big Mac Classic hauls in big fish and big money for Ronald McDonald House Charities

The Big Mac Classic fishing tournament is all about supporting the Ronald McDonald House of Northwest Florida Charities, which provide a place for families with sick children to stay near the hospital when they are receiving medical care. 

Destin Fishing Rodeo Executive Director Helen Donaldson (right) welcomes Kathy and Wayne Lipham to the general Rodeo meeting last week. People could become Rodeo members at the meeting.

In the past, the tournament was just a two-day event. Now it will last throughout October as part of the Rodeo. 

“We won't have to have the boats out in bad weather, because we’ve got 31 days to fish. It’s just a positive for everybody,” Andrews said. 

More Rodeo news:Destin Fishing Rodeo names top captains at 73rd annual event

The Big Mac Classic will be open to all registered boats in the Rodeo, private and charter, for those who pay the Big Mac Classic entry fee of $300 per boat. All entry fees will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northwest Florida.

All Destin Fishing Rodeo rules will apply. 

Ann White of the Destin Fishing Rodeo assists a prospective Rodeo member with some of the things the Rodeo has to offer by looking through last year's book.

It will be an all-king mackerel event with cash awards to the three largest fish entered overall. The boat with the largest king is guaranteed $10,000. Second place is $3,000 and third is $2,000. 

More:RODEO RECORD: Capt. John Tenore and crew aboard the Dawn Patrol hold the record king mackerel

“I think this is going to be good for the Rodeo, and I think it’s going to be fabulous for the Ronald McDonald House Charities,” said Helen Donaldson, executive director of the Rodeo. 

With the prize money, “I think it will generate a lot more entries in the Rodeo itself,” Donaldson said. 

Amber Helton, a former Miss Destin, is the Destin Fishing Rodeo's newest board member.

The Rodeo registered about 300 boats last year with 1,093 fish making the leaderboard during the 31 days of October.

The two-day Big Mac Classic had 17 boats entered and 25 fish weighed, with the largest king weighing in at 48.8 pounds. The largest king mackerel during the Rodeo was a 59.4-pounder pulled in on a private boat. 

In addition to the Big Mac Classic overall division, the Rodeo will still have the Big Mac Daily for the boat captains to enter. The entry fee is $100, and the captain with the largest mackerel each day wins $100.

Anglers fishing in the AJ's Big Mac Classic brought in 25 king mackerel, wahoo, blackfin tuna and dolphin to benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities.

So there will be plenty of money on the line for the king fish. But each has an individual entry fee. 

Nevertheless, there is plenty of time to decide between now and Oct. 1 when the 74th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo kicks off.