HAMMER DOWN 100 Proof puts another one on the docks

Tina Harbuck
Capt. Ben O'Connor, left, and his brother Billy hauled in a 215-pound hammerhead on Wednesday to earn a top spot on the leader board of the 66th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo. Wishing them well is Miss Destin Kira Moraca.

The eerie music from the movie “Jaws” playing through the sound system may have been a giveaway, but nothing can mimic the enthusiasm of the crowd when a shark goes up on the scales at the Destin Fishing Rodeo.

Cameras, cell phones and tablets quickly came out as Capt. Ben O'Connor and crew on the 100 Proof backed in and drug out a shark on to the rodeo barge behind AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar Wednesday evening.

The captain’s brother Billy was the angler that hauled in the 215-pound hammerhead shark to take a top spot on the leader board. His shark was the largest of the day, plus it took over the top spot in the charter boat Shark Division, and first in the Mako My Day Shark Division. Holding second place in the charter boat division is the Jim Curry with a 211.2-pounder caught on the Phoenix with Capt. Scott Robson.

As for the hammerhead, "It went all around the boat," Billy said.

Captain said they hooked the shark while fishing on the southwest edge using a live hardtail for bait on a 9 ought loaded with 100-pound test.

"It went down at the end," Billy said.

After reeling and pulling for about 45 minutes Billy got the shark up to where they could get a shot at it and load it onto the boat.

"We hooked a big hammerhead a couple of days ago, but lost it at the boat," Ben said.

Wednesday's hammerhead was the third shark of the day. Captain said they hooked and released two sandbar shark earlier which are illegal to possess.

The hammerhead was the third shark that the 100 Proof has brought to the rodeo scales. The 100 Proof crew got on the board on the first day of the rodeo with a 188.8-pound tiger shark. The second was a 100.7-pound spinner shark caught on Saturday.

"We were trying to win Shark Saturday," he said, noting they got knocked off by the Dalton Gang with a 107.2-pounder.

Capt. Ben said 30 percent of his fishing trips are shark trips.

"I love it and people love to do it. It's fun to watch."