Time is … Now! Destin Fishing Rodeo begins Monday

Tina Harbuck

It’s only a matter of days until that first “time is” is called out by Destin Fishing Rodeo Weighmaster Bruce Cheves.

The scales open at 10 a.m. Monday on the docks behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar for the 64th annual October fishing tradition.

“We’re excited about being on the harbor with the new boardwalk,” said Executive Director Helen Donaldson.

There will be plenty of bleachers and some covered seating behind AJ’s. This is the first year of AJ’s five-year contract to host the site for the Destin Fishing Rodeo.

Although the look may be a bit new along the docks, the rodeo tradition is the same.

It’s the ultimate fishing tournament with a division for almost every eligible fish, from trolling inshore for mackerel, bumping a bait off the bottom, riding offshore in search of billfish to just fishing off the jetties, pier or beach.

“We’re just hoping for good weather, lots of people and big fish,” said Rodeo Chairman Ann White. “And I’m looking forward to seeing all the kids.”

As of Wednesday, 78 charter boats and 50 private boats had registered for the event.

“But I feel confident by the end of the Kick Off Party there will be about 150 to 200 in the private division and a 100 in the charter division,” Donaldson said.

Prior to the Kick Off Party a captains and mates rules meeting will be held at 5 p.m. downstairs at AJ’s. Boat captains may register at the meeting and captain’s packages will also be available.

The Rock the Dock Kick Off Party will follow at 6 p.m. at AJ’s.

“Everybody is invited to come and hang out,” Donaldson said.

New to this year’s rodeo is the Captains Calcutta. Cost to enter is $100 that must be paid at the time of boat registration. The Calcutta will follow the same point system as the Captain of the Year Awards, and will pay two places for each of the following: charter, 25 and under charter, party boat, private and 25 and under private. Payout will be 60/40.

In addition to the Calcutta, the rodeo has added a few new fish to the leader board. There is now a spot for a lane snapper and a snowy grouper on the board.

“And we have more dailies than ever before,” Donaldson said.

All is not new; some of the old favorites are back like Shark Saturday.

October has four Saturday’s, which means four days to try and catch Jaws. The largest legal species of shark brought to the weigh scales every Saturday in October will be awarded a $250 cash prize. No nurse, lemon or federally protected shark will be allowed and all state and federal laws and rules will be adhered to.

Although the scales open at 10 a.m. Monday, Donaldson anticipates an angler with a fish to already be there and waiting.

“I’m looking forward to that first fish,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a flounder in a bucket.”

The scales will be open daily from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. throughout October on the docks behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar. @font-face { font-family: "News706 BT";}p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }p.bodycopy, li.bodycopy, div.bodycopy { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; text-align: justify; text-indent: 12.25pt; line-height: 10.5pt; font-size: 9pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }