FISH FLASH: Rodeo contenders hitting the docks early

From the looks of all the hooks in this grouper’s mouth, this wasn’t his first bite, but it was his last. The 50-plus pound grouper was pulled in on the Daybreak last Friday.

If the size of the fish hitting the docks in the last few days is any indication as to what kind of Destin Fishing Rodeo we’re going to have — watch out! Last Friday, the Daybreak with Capt. Eric Thrasher at the helm came in with a huge copper belly grouper that was 50-plus pounds. From the looks of all the hooks in his mouth, this wasn’t his first rodeo, but it was his last. The crew aboard the Special K with Capt. Andy Vaughn came in Monday with four gag grouper and two red grouper. A couple of the gags weighed 35- to 45-pounds. Danny Brennan who was working as a deckhand said the grouper were biting well on mullet. Tallahassee and Crestview anglers on the Huntress with Capt. Mike Graef Monday pulled in a blackfin tuna, a dozen king mackerel, three grouper and five amberjack. Deckhand Groovy said they were fishing about 20 miles out. The strangest thing about their catch was one of the mackerel. Its head seemed to take on a bit of the shape of a bottlenose dolphin — other than that it looked fine. Live Oak anglers aboard the Outta Line with Capt. Trey Windes reeled in a couple of blackfin tuna, cobia, amberjack and king mackerel. Minutes later, the Un Reel with Capt. Phillip Blackburn backed in with a couple of cobia, red grouper, two amberjack, almaco jack and five gag grouper. The anglers were from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Kansas and Colorado anglers on the Backlash with Capt. Jason Mikel pulled in an almaco jack, four amberjack and several scamp. Capt. Mikel said they would have had their limit of gag grouper if it hadn’t been for the shark. “There are more shark out there than dolphin … and they’re big,” Mikel said. “You get about 20 turns on it, then a shark would get it.” Believe it or not, all the fish that were brought in the last few days from the blackfin tuna, king mackerel and grouper — all could have been contenders in the Destin Fishing Rodeo. And the countdown is on for the October fishing tournament. Don’t forget the scales will be open daily from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on the docks behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar. See you on the docks.