First fish of 74th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo is in, finally

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

It took a while, but the first fish of the 74th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo hit the scales at 11:28 a.m., an 8.4-pound dolphin (mahi mahi) caught aboard the Slay Ride with Capt. Richie Riddle. 

Usually before the scales open at 10 a.m. there are people in line with a speckled trout or a flounder in a bucket or a boat waiting to weigh a redfish, but not this year. 

River Prater of Georgia shows off his 8.4-pound dolphin caught aboard the Slay Ride with Capt. Richie Riddle. His catch was the first entry in the 74th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo. Wishing him well is Miss Destin Ella Kathryn Campbell.

The Slay Ride came in just before 11:30 a.m. with a couple of fish to weigh. 

River Prater of Rockmart, Georgia, was the first official angler, with his 8.4-pound dolphin, to weigh in at the Rodeo. 

“I had no idea,” Prater said about the Rodeo. “We came into it this morning, not knowing anything." 

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Capt. Richie Riddle, left, and River Prater help to tie off the boat at the Destin Fishing Rodeo scales on Saturday.

The Slay Ride was a registered boat in the Rodeo; therefore, his catch was qualified as a Rodeo catch. 

“We were just here to fish,” Prater said. 

Riddle had taken the group of guys from Georgia out about six miles in the Gulf of Mexico to bottom fish when the mahi mahi swam right next to the boat. 

This 8.4-pound dolphin, also known as a mahi mahi, was pulled in on the Slay Ride. It was the first official fish of the74th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo.

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“We threw at it, and within five seconds he inhaled it and the fight was on,” Riddle said. 

Prater caught the mahi mahi on a fly line with a cigar minnow. 

“It went pretty smooth. It took maybe four to five minutes … it came straight to the boat,” Prater said. 

River Prater pulled in this 8.4-pound dolphin for the first fish entry in the 74th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo. Also pictured is Miss Destin Ella Kathryn Campbell.

Captain said they had the mahi mahi on the boat by 8:30 a.m., but didn’t think about coming in for a first fish entry. 

“No, not at all. If I’d known we’d have come in earlier. We figured somebody was sitting at the docks with a fish,” Riddle said. 

Captain said he heard about the first fish slot open on the leaderboard while they were trolling for Spanish mackerel at the Pass.  

Capt. Richie Riddle pulled in at the Rodeo scales just before 11:30 a.m. with the first fish of the 74th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo.

Once he heard, he made a beeline for the scales. 

In addition to the mahi mahi, they weighed in a 4.8-pound king mackerel. 

Capt. Richie Riddle pulls the dolphin out of the fish box at the Rodeo scales on Saturday. The dolphin was the first fish of the 74th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo.

“We had a good time and a great boat captain,” Prater said. For his efforts, Prater won bragging rights, and an engraved Yeti cup. 

At 12:30 p.m., the two fish on the Slay Ride were the only fish weighed. 

The scales are open daily from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on the docks behind AJ’s throughout the month of October.