Big fish, little fish, billfish and traditions

Tina Harbuck

When it comes to the Destin Fishing Rodeo folks get a chance to see and do it all.

On a daily basis Rodeo weighmaster Bruce Cheves entertains the crowd with his fish tales as the boats back in with the catches.

In the last few days, with a storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico, fishing has been steady with the boats backing in with some pretty big fish.

On Thursday afternoon, Capt. Dennis Kendrick on the party boat Destiny backed in with a black snapper that took over a top spot on the leaderboard. Tom Milliren was the angler who reeled in the 9.4-pound first place catch.

Not long after the Bow’d Up with Capt. Brady Bowman at the helm backed in with a 66.8-pound amberjack reeled in by Kim Buckner. Her catch was good for a daily.

“It’s like a lake out there right now,” Bowman said.

Capt. Mike Eller of the Lady Em said the same when he backed in at the scales.

“It’s slick calm and beautiful,” Eller said.

However, he, like other captains, was expecting conditions to worsen by Saturday.

Nevertheless, Eller and his crew weighed in a 9.4-pound scamp for a daily and a 13-pound Almaco Jack.

Capt. Scott Robson of the Phoenix and his angler Clay Owen weighed in a 20.4-pound king mackerel to take top billing for the day in the Big Mac King Mackerel jackpot.

Capt. Josh Calhoon of the Destin Inshore Guides weighed in fish twice on Thursday. The first time in they weighed in an 8.4-pound redfish for first place in the Inshore Division and on his second trip they weighed in a 7.4-pound redfish for second.

One of the biggest fish of the day came in aboard the Outta Line with Capt. Trey Windes. Lamar Bowman hauled in a 52.4-pound Warsaw for a spot in the Deep Drop Division of the Rodeo.


As for little fish, we get plenty of those at the Rodeo as well.

But the little fish we’re talking about here are those to be caught at the Rootin Tootin Rodoe Round-Up.

The Round-up scheduled to take place on Okaloosa Island Pier has been postponed until Oct. 26 due to anticipated rough weather.

This event is for children 10 and under. Entry fee is $10 and includes pier fee for the angler and his or her parents, a T-shirt, bait, a rod and reel to keep, and lunch.

Check-in for the event is in person from 8-8:45 at the pier with fishing from 9-11 a.m. and ends with lunch on the dock for the anglers.

For more information, you can check the website at


As for billfish, we had a big blue marlin come in over the weekend.

The Rodeo is not about killing billfish, as a matter of fact the Rodeo is about catch and release of billfish.

However, the one that was brought in on Sunday died during the fight.

But as tradition has it amongst fishermen, when an angler catches their first billfish they gets tossed in the water.

And that’s exactly what happened with Mark Huller who was fishing aboard the Huntress with Capt. Mike Graef on Wednesday.

Capt. Graef was flying a billfish flag for catch and release when they backed in at the docks, and word soon leaked out that this was the angler’s first billfish.

After filling out the appropriate paperwork for his sailfish, that weighed approximately 45 pounds, he got tossed. Got to love tradition.


Another tradition that the Rodeo has, is the chairman gets to design a Rodeo T-shirt. Well the “It Ain’t My First Rodeo” T-shirt was a hit and sold out by the end of the Seafood Festival weekend. But not to fret, the merchandise trailer should have more this weekend.


Don’t forget the Rodeo scales are open daily from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on the docks behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar.

See you at the scales.