The Summer Slam is on with red snapper and grouper taking center stage

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

She’s back and she’s got her cart with her. 

The Summer Slam fishing tournament at the Boathouse Oyster Bar on Destin harbor kicked off Tuesday with more than 25 fish hoisted onto the scales. 

“I’m excited to be back,” said Amber Helton, weighmaster and event organizer, as she pushed her cart up and down the docks picking up fish to weigh. 

“The first day went great. I got to change the leaderboard a lot,” she said. 

The 10-week tournament started the same day as red snapper and gag grouper season opened in federal waters.   

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The Summer Slam is a boat tournament with three eligible species: red snapper, gag grouper and amberjack (when they become available again Aug. 1). The boats are divided into federally permitted boats, state boats and private boats. There also is a pounders division in which the boats can weigh in two red snapper and two grouper per trip each day. 

Amber Helton, weighmaster for the Summer Slam, hoists a red snapper onto the scales.

Helton weighed in 26 fish the first day of the tournament. 

“We had three red snappers over 20 pounds on the first day,” she said. “And some really good-sized grouper and then the First Light came in with the 35-pounder.”

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As of close of the day Tuesday, 23 boats had registered for the tournament. And it’s not too late to get in on the action. Boats just have to be registered the day before they plan to go fishing to be eligible to enter a fish. 

Amber Helton picks up fish from registered boats to weigh in at the Summer Slam. The Maximus weighed in two red snapper and two gag grouper.

Leading on the board at close of Tuesday was Capt. Chris Couvillion on the Sea Winder with a 26.6-pound fish in the Red Snapper Division. 

Capt. Steve Hauesler on the First Light topped the Gag Grouper Division with a 35.6-pounder. 

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Leading the Ladies Division is the Backdown 2 with an 11-pound red snapper. 

In the Junior Division, the Reel Chill is on the board with a 5-pound red snapper. 

The group fishing aboard the Maximus weighed in their red snapper and grouper on Wednesday at the Summer Slam. Also pictured at right is Amber Helton, the tournament's weighmaster.

Leading the Pounders Division is Capt. Phillip Blackburn on the Backdown 2 with 50.2 pounds of fish. 

The scales, located in the parking lot in front of the Boathouse, are open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.