Changes on the leaderboard for the 74th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Although the 74th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo is still six months away, the board of directors are already making a few changes for the month-long fishing tournament in October. 

The Rodeo is beefing up the Extended Voyage Division. Instead of just five eligible fish, this division will now have 10 species.

New additions are dolphin, wahoo, Almaco Jack, snowy grouper and yellowedge grouper. Those fish will join grouper, amberjack, scamp, yellowfin tuna and big eye tuna that were previously on the leaderboard.

Destin Fishing Rodeo

Captains and anglers who are on an extended voyage can only weigh their fish in the Extended Voyage Division. However, if they catch a billfish, they can weigh in the Billfish Division and the Billfish catch and release division. 

What is a Rodeo extended voyage?  

It’s a fishing trip that is at sea a minimum of 18 hours and no more than 96 hours, according to the Rodeo rules. To qualify as an extended trip, the captain must declare to the Rodeo office prior to leaving their boat slip, who will be the second captain, date of departure and when they are expected to return. Plus, their fish has to be weighed on the day they return to port.  

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With the addition of more fish in the Extended Voyage Division, the Rodeo is establishing a “Captain of the Year” award for this category as well. 

"In order to make the captains awards more competitive, the Board of Directors and the Rodeo Rules and Awards Committee determined that by making the extended voyage boats separate from the other captains awards, it would give more captains an opportunity to compete for a captains award," said Helen Donaldson, executive director of the Rodeo.

This will bring the captains' awards to six. Other captains' awards include charter boat, under-25-foot charter boat, private boat, under-25 feet private boat, and party boat.  

Winning captain awards are determined at the end of the Rodeo using a point system that awards the captain with a first place fish 20 points; second place, 10 points; bonus weekly, 7 points; and daily awards, 1 point. 

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Another addition to the Rodeo in 2022 is creating the Ladies, Seniors and Junior Divisions for wahoo, same as king mackerel, grouper, amberjack and blackfin tuna. 

Last year, the Rodeo had several wahoo brought to the scales.

"They are always a crowd pleaser," said Rodeo Chairman Capt. Chris Schofield. "It's nice big colorful fish. You can catch them at the sea buoy all the way out to the fads. And with the limits and number of big fish that we are allowed to harvest in October, it needed to happen."

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According to Rodeo records, weighmaster Bruce Cheves called “time is” on 54 wahoo last year, that’s not counting the ones that came in that were a few pounds short of making the board. 

The largest wahoo weighed last year was a 76.2-pounder on the 25-foot and under Fights On. Capt. Jason Mikel on the charter boat Finest Kind brought in a 74-pounder and the private boat Tunnel Vision had a 73.6-pounder.  

The party boats even got in on the wahoo action. Capt. Dennis Kendricks on the Destiny brought in a 56.6-pounder. 

However, the fish that made the boards more than most was the king mackerel, with 120 recorded. The amberjack and mingo were written up 115 times each and time was called on the scamp 94 times. Other top contenders were Almaco Jack, 85 entries, blackfin tuna 83, and grouper 75.