OUTDOORS

66th annual fishing event is ready to rodeo

TINA HARBUCK
Thursday afternoon folks were already lining up to buy one of the 66th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo T-shirts.

The merchandise trailer is in place, the leaderboard is going up in the next couple of days, now all that is needed are fish.

The 66th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo, Destin's longest tradition, will get underway Wednesday.

"Everything is looking well," said Rodeo executive director Helen Donaldson Thursday afternoon. "We've been trying to get the merchandise trailer set up and we can't get it set up fast enough for everybody that wants to come by and buy a T-shirt.

"But we're not going to turn anybody away. People are getting excited about the rodeo."

The rodeo begins Wednesday and goes throughout the month of October with weigh-ins daily from 10 am. until 7 p.m. on the docks behind AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar.

"What Alan Laird has done down here to just go and make this rodeo better … it's just going to be the most fun place to be in the fall. I can't imagine them wanting to go anywhere else," she said.

As of Thursday afternoon more than 100 boats had registered for the fishing tournament that draws folks from all over the United States.

"We're right on target," Donaldson said, noting they had about the same number at this time last year.

But before the lines hit the water, the youngsters will get a chance to participate in the Wagon Boat Parade from 2-4 p.m. Saturday. Children in wagons, decorated in a nautical theme, will parade up and down the harbor and be awarded for their efforts of creativity.

Up next is the captain and mate's meeting at AJ's on Tuesday evening. Captains will get a chance at 4 p.m. to come by and pick up their captains bucket and at 5 p.m., there will be a meeting where speakers will take the stage and talk about new rules and answer any questions that participants may have.

Then at 6 p.m. the party begins. "We've got Tobacco Road coming in from Tallahassee," Donaldson said.

"It's just going to be a party to kick off the rodeo."

Lines can hit the water at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

And no one knows when the first fish will hit the docks.

However, there were a few guesses as to what it might be.

"I say a 7-pound king mackerel," Donaldson said.

"It's going to be a king mackerel or redfish," said Tim Broom, rodeo board member.

"Spanish," said rodeo member Marion Palmgren.

"It'll probably be a flounder in a bucket," Donaldson came back with.