FISH FLASH: Big fish hit the scales on final day of the Destin Fishing Rodeo
It is over. The 72nd annual Destin Fishing Rodeo survived the pandemic, two hurricanes and a lot of windy days and finished in Halloween fashion.
Folks were out in large numbers, some sporting their costumes, to catch a glimpse of the last fish to be brought to the scales and to see if any of the crews aboard the charter boats dressed up.
The fishermen didn't disappoint. Fifteen fish made it onto the leaderboard on the final day.
Early in the day, the Muscle Memories came in with a 51.6-pound amberjack for a first place spot in the 25-foot-and-under Private Boat Division. Derrick Dover of Mary Esther was the angler.
After 4:30 p.m., Capt. Mike Eller and the crew aboard the Lady Em backed in from an overnight trip with a leaderboard fish. Stephen Repanshek weighed in a 57.4-pound grouper for a first-place spot in the Extended Voyage Division.
Several dailies came in from a 25-pound king on the Piper Fallon to a 4.6-pound redfish caught by Grayson Wood off the pier.
A little after 6 p.m., Capt. Jason Mikel of the Finest Kind backed in with a leaderboard fish. Patrick Augstine of Nashville, Tennessee, weighed in a 25.9-pound almaco jack for second place on the board.
Not far behind was Capt. Robert Hill and his crew dressed as safari animals on the Twilight. His two deckhands, dressed as a giraffe and zebra, tossed out several big fish that got on the board in the Extended Voyage Division.
James Richardson weighed in a 70.6-pound amberjack for second and he also took first with a 156.2-pound big eye tuna. Chris Thomas of Pensacola weighed in a 39.2-pound wahoo for second.
About 6:30 p.m., James Porres of Fort Walton Beach weighed in a 77.8-pound yellowfin tuna to get on the board in second place in the Offshore Division. Porres was fishing aboard the Tunnel Vision with Capt. Mark Folcik.
Capt. Cliff Cox and his crew of anglers on the party boat Sweet Jody walked their fish down and made it on the board in a couple of spots. Ian Richards of Mary Esther weighed in a 4-pound mingo for a second-place spot. George Hall Jr. of Kentucky weighed in a 19.6-pound almaco jack for a first.
Capt. Jason Hallmark and the anglers on the Sea Fix were the next to get on the big board with a couple of fish in the Extended Voyage Division. Gregory Peck of Fort Walton Beach brought in an 18.8-pound scamp for second place. Peck also weighed in a 67.4-wahoo for first. Peck's biggest fish was a 155.2-pound big eye tuna that took second behind the Twilight catch.
Capt. Hallmark said they were fishing about 140 miles out of Destin and had tried several oil rigs before finding the fish.
"We finally found them," Hallmark said.
They also tagged and released a 400-pound blue marlin on the trip.
Before 7 p.m., there were boats backed up waiting to weigh fish.
Capt. Brady Bowman and crew on the Bow'd Up came in from an extended voyage with a leaderboard fish. Mark Prince of Mississippi weighed in a 41.6-pound grouper for a second-place spot.
Capt. Scotty Whitehurst aboard the On the Bite was the last boat to get on the leaderboard. Dave Bromley of Minnesota weighed in a 23.8-pound blackfin tuna for second in the 25-foot-and-under Charter Boat Division, and Scotty Binn of California took first with a 28.2-pound blackfin tuna.
The last fish of the 2020 Rodeo was a 36.8-pound wahoo caught aboard the Rewind with Capt. Reid Phillips. The wahoo was good for a daily.
The Rodeo awards party is set to begin at 4 p.m. on Nov. 6 at AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar.
See you at the party.