FISH FLASH: Is it sandbagging or presentation?
When it comes to weighing in fish at the Destin Fishing Rodeo it’s as much about entertaining as it is getting on the leaderboard — at least for some.
Weighmaster Bruce Cheves is good at spinning a good fish tale, but a lot of the deckhands love dragging out those big fish and slapping them on the deck and hearing the oohs and ahhs of the crowd, while others start small then go for the big fish.
When the Perfect Shot backed in from an extended voyage Tuesday evening, deckhand Greg Meyers was getting a kick out of throwing the huge fish onto the deck. His wife, Kimmy, said he loves tossing them all out for everyone to see.
They threw out a pair of wahoo in the 45- to 50-pound range, a yellowfin tuna, gouper and a dolphin. Chad Sommerby got on the board with his 29.8-pound grouper and Kenny Long weighed in a 24.2-pound dolphin for a top spot on the board.
The biggest show of the day came Wednesday afternoon when Capt. Ken Nettles and crew aboard the Strange Brew pulled up to the docks. First they pulled out a 30-plus pound grouper, then they brought out the big guns. They unloaded with both barrels as they drug up a 119-pound amberjack that broke a 14-year-old rodeo record. Mark Underdahl of Pensacola was the angler that hauled in the 111.6-pound (gutted weight) amberjack.
A few minutes later the Special K with Capt. Andy Vaughn backed in with a fish just to show off. They had a scorpion fish or as Capt. Vaughn called it a rosebud fish. It was red in color, but the fins are supposed to be very poisonous. They also had a daily grouper, 26.6 pounds, caught by Robert Bagby.
Up next, the show began with the Kelly Girl backing in with Capt. Jimmy Miles at the helm.
First they tossed out a grouper that wasn’t quite big enough to get on the board, then came the big grouper. Lasse Jensen weighed in a 48.8-pound grouper for a daily.
Then they pulled out a fish that deckhand Johnny Adams said they just wanted to get a weight on … sure. The minute the huge wahoo hit the deck, it was apparent it was a contender.
The wahoo tilted the scales at 71-pounds whole, but it went in the rodeo books at its gutted weight of 68.8 pounds. Eric Fulcher of Kentucky was the angler on the rod that reeled in the fish.
Capt. Miles said they were fishing about 21 miles out and the hooked the wahoo on the way in. “He jumped twice,” Miles said. “We thought it was a marlin, because wahoo usually don’t jump on the hook.”
They finally got the wahoo to the boat and had him over the rail, when it came off the gaff, Miles said. “But he was still on the hook so we were able to get him in,” Miles said.
However when they got to the docks and it was all said and done, Brandy Miles, who also works on the back deck of the Kelly Girl, said they had been practicing how they wanted to bring out the fish to wow the crowd.
And wow the crowd they did as the wahoo took over a top spot on the leaderboard in the charter boat division.
Thursday was a bit slower as the waters were a bit rough. Capt. Reid Phillips of the Destin Princess came in with a few dailies, but he said they were fighting 5-footers most of the day, “coming from both directions.”
So not much show on Thursday, but it’s shaping up to be a good weekend.
Come on down and get in on the entertainment, the tales start at 10 a.m. and go until 7 p.m. on the docks behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar.
See you at the docks.