From king mackerel to king of state - Governor Rick Scott becomes honorary weighmaster

Weighmaster Bruce Cheves gives Gov. Rick Scott a chance to announce the time and weight of one of the fish entries Thursday afternoon. Scott’s campaign scrapped a $25,000-a-person alligator hunt, but was using Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal as bait for a $5,000-a-head fundraiser in Destin on Friday. The “Let’s Get to Work” committee, a fund-raising arm of Scott’s campaign, was to hold the event at the Emerald Grande in Destin, which will include dinner and fishing.

What started out as a slow Thursday afternoon at the 65th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo soon got busy with big fish hitting the docks as well as a visit from the governor.

In the morning only about four fish had been weighed in, but after 3 p.m. the flood gates opened and the boats started backing in with their catches.

The Realin Scripts came in with a couple of fish to weigh and Miss Destin Caroline Oswalt got her chance to gut a fish, as tradition has it. She was a bit squeamish, but she dug in and got it done.

Not long after, Mayor Sam Seevers came walking up to the docks accompanied by Gov. Rick Scott. After a few introductions and photo opportunities, weighmaster Bruce Cheves handed the microphone over to Scott and gave him the chance to "time is" and announce the weights of a few fish.

The governor mingled through the crowd and talked with a few of the captains.

Capt. Mark Tilden aboard the Swoop backed in with a couple of fish and was excited about meeting the governor. He even got off the boat to chat with him and pose for a photograph.

However, Joe Gonzalez, who was aboard the Swoop, weighed in a 24-pound blackfin tuna. His catch was on the daily board for a couple of hours until it got knocked off by Steve Miller's 24.6-pounder caught on the Phoenix with Capt. Steve Miller.

The Relentless with Capt. Brant Kelley at the helm backed in with a bunch of kids all with amberjacks in hand. Each were rewarded with a free rod and reel as well as a certificate of their catch.

In a matter of minutes the rodeo went from juniors weighing in catches to seniors getting on the board. Capt. Tony Davis on the Anastasia backed in and drug out a 53.2-pound amberjack caught by 68-year-old William Harper. His catch put him in first place in the Senior Division of the rodeo.

The private boat Mother Dog came in with a 22-pound blackfin tuna caught by Keith Rehder, 70, for a spot on the board in the Senior Division as well — but again he got knocked off before close of day. Capt. Jimmy Miles on the Kelly Girl backed in with a 22.8-pound blackfin caught by 67-year-old Jonathan Phillips.

Capt. Ken Nettles on the Strange Brew backed in after 6 p.m. with a 13.6-pound red grouper caught by Ruth Szeredy for a daily award.

Next up was the 25-and-under private boat Chips Ahoy with Capt. Chip Dibble. Dibble broke on to the big leaderboard with a 29.4-pound king mackerel for a first place spot.

Not long after, Capt. Cliff Cox and some of his anglers from the party boat Sweet Jody came walking up with a tub of fish. Glenn Wong of Mississippi was the last angler to get on the board Thursday evening with a 25.8-pound king mackerel. His catch is sitting in second place in the Party Boat Division.

The rodeo is winding down and Thursday was proof that you just never know what's going to — or who — is going to show up at the Rodeo. The scales are open daily from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on the docks behind AJ's.

See you on the docks.