Generosity abounds at Big Mac Classic

Tina Harbuck
Capt. Ken Nettles and the crew aboard the Strange Brew swept the amberjack category, but gave their winnings back to the Ronald McDonald House.

Not only did some big fish hit the docks this past weekend in the 5th annual Big Mac Classic, but big donations were made to the Ronald McDonald House of Northwest Florida as well.

“The generosity of the captains just took my breath away. It was a great day for the House,” said tournament director Mike Wright of McDonalds’s.

After reeling in big fish for top dollars, three of Destin’s local captains donated prize money back to the Ronald McDonald House.

“First they donate their time and energy and now their money … it’s overwhelming,” Wright said.

Between Capt. Ken Nettles of the Strange Brew, Capt. Scott Robson of the Phoenix and Capt. Aaron Smith of the Sea Fix, more than $12,000 was donated back to the House.

Not only was it a great weekend for generosity, but for some big fish.

“It was a banner weekend for king mackerel,” Wright said, noting they had several fish in the 30s brought to the scales located on the docks behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar.

But the biggest king of the two-day tournament was pulled in by Branden Simpson aboard the Phoenix, a 52.6-pounder. Second place king was reeled in by Drew Barefield on the Sea Fix, a 47.2-pounder; and third place was a 44.4-pounder caught by Nick Mower also on the Sea Fix.

Winner in the Ladies Division was Kelly Patton on the Strike Two with a 27.3-pounder.

Drew Barefield took top honors in the Junior Division with a 32-pounder on the Sea Fix and Kent Hardin on the What Doin? took first in the Senior Division with a 15.4-pounder.

The crew aboard the Sea Fix won the Big Three aggregate with 123.60-pounds of mackerel, while Strike Two placed second with 97.60, and the Phoenix finished third with 95.40.

King mackerel wasn’t the only money fish in the tournament.

Sweeping the Amberjack Division was Capt. Ken Nettles and crew on the Strange Brew. Joey Polk weighed in a 36.4-pounder for first, Brad Nettles came in second with a 34.2-pounder and Branden McCullers third with a 33.8-pounder.

Jeff Hooten on the King Fisher took first in the Open Mahi Mahi Division with a 9.8-pounder. Carzie Herrington took second with a 9.6-pounder on the Been In It, and Derek Nielsen, came in third with a 9.4-pounder caught on Tunnel Vision.

In the Open Red Snapper category, Keith Rehder on the Mother Dog pulled in an 18.8-pounder for first; Wyatt Glenn aboard the Southern Charm came in second with a 14.4-pounder; and Richard Rogers, also on Southern Charm came in third with a 14.4-pounder.

The youth were also winners on Saturday as more than 100 kids participated in the Minion Cane Pole Classic on the docks behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar.

Winners in the 6 and under category were Kendra Quaranto, 8.3 pounds; Piper Knowles, 8.2; and Stephan Harris, 7.9.

The top three in the 7 to 9 year old category were Eli Sinkovick, 15.4 pounds; Annabell Santerra, 12.5; and Caiden Groff, 9.9.

In the 10 to 12 year old division winners were Samuel Craton, 10.0 pounds; Bailey Carter, 5.7; and Troy Berry, 5.4.