67th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo is ready to roll

Tina Harbuck

It’s just a matter of hours now until the first fish is hoisted onto the scales on the docks behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar to get the 67th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo rolling.

“We fully expect the first fish to get here before we get here,” said Helen Donaldson, executive director of the Destin Fishing Rodeo.

The scales will open at 10 a.m. Thursday and the first person in line with a fish and recognized by weighmaster Bruce Cheves will earn the honors of “first fish” and winner of a trophy from the Trophy Center.

But before the fishing begins, you will not want to miss the Rock the Dock Kick Off Party scheduled for 6 p.m., Sept. 30 at AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar.

“Anybody and everybody can come. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Donaldson said with The Modern Eldorados taking center stage.

The Modern Eldorados have evolved a sound that taps deep into the roots of traditional country, western swing and the rockabilly style.

Prior to the party, the Captain and Mate’s meeting will begin at 4 p.m. at AJ’s. Boat captains can still register and pick up their captains packages at the event. Also any rule changes will be announced and discussed at this important meeting.

As of Monday morning, 75 charter boats and 43 private boats had registered for the month-long fishing tournament.

“But by the time we finish with registration on Wednesday night, we should have 75 to 100 more,” Donaldson said.

“My goal is to have 300 boats this year,” she said.

Last year the rodeo boasted 258 boats.

However you don’t have to fish from a boat to be a winner in the rodeo.

Anglers can always enter in the Pier, Bridge, Jetty and Surf Division.

And if fishing is not your thing, the rodeo is a “spectator sport” as well, Donaldson said.

“Just come on out and watch and listen to Bruce tell his stories.”

The rodeo scales will be open 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. daily throughout October on the docks behind AJ’s.

•Destin 5K Rodeo Run is Oct. 4 at Clement Taylor Park.

•Shark Saturdays is every Saturday during October. 

•Rodeo Kid’s Kick-Off and Wagon Boat Parade, 2-4 p.m., Oct. 16.

 •Rootin Tootin Rodeo Round-Up, 8-11 a.m., Oct. 17 at the Okaloosa Island Pier.

 •Rodeo T-shirts, hoodies, caps, visors and more on sale daily at the Rodeo merchandise trailer.