73rd annual Destin Fishing Rodeo weighs in sharks to mingo in first 10 days

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

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. 

Nothing draws the crowd on the docks quicker than a shark. The Outta Line came in Friday night with a 198.2-pound bull shark to get on the leaderboard of the Destin Fishing Rodeo.

“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.”

More Rodeo news:Destin Inshore Guides brings in first fish of 73rd annual Destin Fishing Rodeo

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. 

Julio Rubio of Laredo, Texas, shows off his 198.2-pound bull shark he caught Friday aboard the Outta Line with Capt. Trey Windes. Wishing him well is Miss Destin 2021 Kaylie Sparks.

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.  

More:73rd annual Destin Fishing Rodeo kicks off with party, meeting and new weighmaster, for now

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. 

Donna Brooks of Crestview shows off her 6.2-pound redfish she caught aboard her kayak on Saturday. Her catch found a first-place spot on the leaderboard of the Destin Fishing Rodeo. Wishing her well is Miss Destin 2021 Kaylie Sparks.

"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. 

Destin Fishing Rodeo weighmaster Bruce Cheves, left, chats with Capt. Justin Destin of the Un Reel Saturday afternoon at the scales. Cheves missed the first few days of the Rodeo due to illness but he's back and spinning his tales.

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. 

Big fish at Rodeo:RODEO RECORD: Capt. Kelly Windes and crew haul in 'freak of nature' grouper

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. 

Bradley Griffith, 10, of Fort Walton Beach landed this 24.2 pound king mackerel on Saturday to find a first place spot on the leaderboard of the Destin Fishing Rodeo. Wishing him well is Miss Destin 2021 Kaylie Sparks.

“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.