FISH FLASH: Rodeo anglers describe battles with the big one

David King shows off his 63.6-pound grouper caught aboard the Big John.

Who would think fishing and household appliances have anything common, but apparently they do — at least when it comes to hauling in a big one.

“It was like trying to pull a Kenmore washer off the bottom,” said Crestview angler David King who reeled in a 63.6-pound grouper that took over the top spot Monday night in the grouper category of the Charter Boat Division of the Destin Fishing Rodeo.

For more fish tales and photos, see the Rodeo Rap

King was fishing aboard the Big John with Capt. Todd Allen, who is known for his grouper fishing. Last year, an angler aboard the Big John won the grouper category with a 61.2-pounder.

King pulled in the gigantic grouper on a 9-ought loaded with 150-pound test line. He said it took about 15 or 20 minutes to get it in the boat.

However, that wasn’t the only grouper King hauled in. He also pulled in a 54.4-pounder. Capt. Allen said they didn’t catch them on the same spot, but King only had about 20 minutes in between the two whoppers.

“It’s been a long day,” said the 62-year-old angler who’s been fishing with Allen since the early 80s. As a matter of fact, he said he won the rodeo in 1998 with a 58.6-pounder caught on the Big John.

Right now he’s sitting atop the leaderboard with a little more than a week to go.

Sitting in second is One Mo’r with a 61.4-pounder.

Earlier in the day, Capt. Scott Whitehurst on the Don’t Hate came in with a 4.4-pound black snapper caught by Elizabeth Levay for a first place spot in the 25-foot and under charter boat division. Levay also had a 21-pound amberjack that stayed on the daily board for at least a little while.

Capt. Mike Eller on the Lady Em backed in around 3 p.m. with a junior angler from Missouri that got on the daily board with 21-pound king. Blake Hanneken, 8, was the youngster on the rod. “He caught all the fish today … in 2-to 4-foot seas,” Capt. Eller said.

The party boat New Florida Girl’s American Spirit got on the board with a couple of dailies that held up until close. Adelle Adamson weighed in a 10.2-pound almaco jack and Ted Macon an 8.6-pound red grouper.

Conditions were a bit rough on Monday.

“It was very sloppy but it got nicer closer to the house,” Green said.

One angler that didn’t venture out to far to get on the leaderboard was Donald Rosicka of Shalimar. He caught a 4-pound speckled trout for a daily and a top spot on the board in the Pier, Bridge, Jetty and Surf Division.

Next in was the One Mo’r with a 58.4-pound wahoo caught by Mark Howell of Kentucky. Capt. Chris Schofield said they were fishing about 20 miles out when they landed the wahoo that missed getting on the big board by just a pound. However, it did make the daily board at least for a few minutes.

About 20 minutes later, Capt. Andy Vaughn and the crew on the Special K bumped Howell off the daily board with a 59.4-pound wahoo. Steve Nance of Kentucky was the angler that reeled in the fish.

“It made a good run,” Vaughn said of the fish that missed getting on the big board by less than a half-pound.

The Susie Q with Capt. Frank McPherson at the helm came in with a 28.6-pound king mackerel caught by local angler Logan McPherson. His fish held for a daily.

Rodeo regular Will Knight of Niceville brought in a 26.6-pound king mackerel caught on his kayak Miss MaGooch. He comes in most every evening with a fish to weigh and continues to up his game.

The last couple of fish to get on the board Monday evening was a 17.2-pound snowy grouper caught by Leslie Garret on the Sunrise with Capt. Kelly Windes and a 40.6-pound wahoo landed by 10-year-old Jana Bolton on the Anastasia with Capt. Tony Davis.

Fish on the leaderboard are always changing — just like laundry in the washer. Who knows your next bite could pull like a Maytag.

See you at the rodeo.