73rd annual Destin Fishing Rodeo weighs in sharks to mingo in first 10 days
First 10 days — Rodeo fun facts
509 official fish entries
116 charter boats
157 private boats
Smallest fish – 1-pound flounder on Day 6
Largest fish – 198.2-pound bull shark on Day 8
Largest fish caught by a woman - 72.2-pound amberjack on Twilight on Day 7
Largest fish caught by a junior - 70.2-pound amberjack on Finest Kind on Day 10
Largest fish caught by a senior - 85.2-pound amberjack on Outta Line on Day 2
"The weather is beautiful and we’ve had great participation"
Although it seems like the 73rd annual Destin Fishing Rodeo just got started, it’s already a third of the way done.
The Rodeo, Destin's longest running tradition, goes throughout the entire month of October with anglers competing for cash and prizes for hauling in the biggest fish.
And in the first 10 days, a little bit of everything has been brought to the scales from sharks, 80-plus pound amberjack, many wahoo, mackerel and more.
“We had a great first weekend with weighmaster Amber Helton,” said Helen Donaldson, executive director of the Rodeo.
“Our Bruce Cheves came back on Day 4,” she added, noting he had been out sick. “We got a little rain during the week but had a great second weekend and everything is just banging.”
Since the rain cleared out, “The weather is beautiful and we’ve had great participation.”
Despite the rain last week, fish were brought to the scales every day.
Friday night, the Rodeo had its biggest fish thus far brought to the scales aboard the Outta Line with Capt. Trey Windes.
Julio Rubio of Laredo, Texas, weighed in a 198.2-pound bull shark to take first place in the Charter Boat Division as well as the Mako My Day Shark Division.
Windes said they already had caught a bunch of mingo and a barracuda when they decided to do some shark fishing.
Using “good old bloody bonito” for bait, Windes said they hooked the shark.
"It fought really hard. It was hooked in the pec fin, so it took a while to get it up,” Windes said, noting it took about 30 minutes to get the shark in the boat.
Then it was a race to get to the scales.
“It was right at 6:45 p.m. when we hit the buoy, so we were screaming to get in,” he said.
But they made it in time and it didn’t take long to draw a crowd on the docks.
Saturday was another big day on the docks.
10-year-old Bradley Griffith of Fort Walton Beach weighed in a 24.2-pound king mackerel to move into first place in the 25-foot and Under Charter Boat Division. He was fishing aboard the Game Changer.
Derrick Dover of Mary Esther came in with a 29.4-pound grouper aboard the Muscle Memories for a first-place spot in the Private Boat Division.
And Sean Lorenz of Navarre took over first in the Private Boat Division with an 18.8-pound almaco jack. He was fishing aboard the Angel’s Share.
Donna Brooks of Crestview might not have had the biggest fish of the day, but she did have the largest brought in on a kayak. Brooks weighed in a 6.2-pound redfish to take over first place in the Kayak Division.
“It was crazy … I did a lot of screaming,” said an excited Brooks.
“It was pulling and going under my kayak,” she said, noting it put up a good fight.
Brooks said they were fishing on the northside of Choctawhatchee Bay and she was using a plastic on a jig head. She said it took her 5 to 10 minutes to land the fish.
At end of day Sunday, Day 10, the count of official entries in the Rodeo was a little more than 500 fish.
The scales are open daily from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on the Rodeo barge behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar.