FISH FLASH: Rough seas on Rodeo opener doesn't stop fishermen from reeling them in

Tina Harbuck

With the Gulf of Mexico kicking up 5- to 6-footers, fishermen braved it to get on the leader board on the first day of the 67th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo.

“It was raw,” said Capt. Cliff Cox of the party boat Sweet Jody that came in about 6:30 p.m.

“We were in some 8-footers … it was very intense out there today,” Cox added.

But in spite of the high seas, his group of anglers put four fish on the leader board. Ronald McCoy weighed in a 16.2-pound Almaco jack; Andrew Collins, 5-pound scamp; Anna Garland, 4.6-pound mingo; and Timothy Kasel, 8.2-pound red grouper.

Not only was in rough in the Gulf but in the bay as well. So much so, that Lynn Usrey, who pulled in the first fish of the rodeo, a 6.2-pound redfish, left the bay and came into the harbor to fish after the waves almost sank his kayak.

Capt. Bud Miller and crew aboard the Miller Time came in just before 1 p.m. with a bonito and black snapper to weigh.

“It was rough, we earned it today,” Miller said.

James Herlien of Illinois weighed in a 7.6-pound black snapper to get on the board.

Capt. Jason Mikel of the Finest Kind said they stayed inshore, but still came up against 2- and 3-footers. His group weighed in a king mackerel in the junior division, a 7.8-pounder pulled in by Connor Mulchy.

Capt. Nicky Harvell on the Emerald Coast Outfitters and the Angle family from Georgia came in with an inshore catch of redfish, trout and a catfish for one of the kids.

Both of the children, Noah and Abbey got to weigh in fish for a free rod and reel, as well as getting their photo taken with Miss Destin Alyssa Bettinger and a certificate of their catch. Noah, the youngest at 4, was elated at getting to weigh his fish.

Mom, Kim, took over the top spot in the Inshore Division with a 6.6-pound redfish.

“This is a lot of fun,” Kim said as they took photos of everybody with their fish and Miss Destin.

Debbie Lowman of South Carolina, who was also fishing with Capt. Harvell, got on the board with a 2.4-pound trout.

“We got lucky, it was one speckled trout lost in a school of redfish,” Harvell said.

Not only did fish come in by way of kayaks, private boats and charter boats — but sailboats as well.

Ken Sheets on the Saber 5 Delta, sailboat, weighed in a 6.2-pound king mackerel.

The party boat Swoop came in a little after four and got on the leader board with five fish. In the mix was a 26.6-pound cobia, the first of the Rodeo.

Capt. Trey Windes on the Outta Line and his group of anglers pulled in four fish that made it onto the board. Steve Tigner weighed in a 12.6-pound Almaco jack and Brian Tigner weighed in a 9.8 and an 8.4-pound scamp.

“It was all you wanted out there today,” Capt. Windes said of the rough seas.

Up next was the party boat Destin Princess with Capt. Reid Phillips. They weighed in five entries: a 5.4-pound brotula; 3.8-pound scamp; 3.4-pound mingo; 4-pound mingo; and a 3-pound mahi mahi.

After the Sweet Jody came through, Capt. Robert Hill on the Twilight backed in with a 20-pound blackfin tuna for a spot on the leader board. They also had a 4-pound snowy grouper and a 9-pound scamp.

Just before 7 p.m., there were a couple of walkups with catches to go in the Pier, Bridge, Jetty and Surf Division.

Capt. Kelly Windes and his group on the Sunrise backed in at 6:57 with a 14.6-pound snowy grouper and a 14.4-pound barrel fish to get on the board.

The last fish of the day was a 51.8-pound wahoo caught aboard the Big John with Capt. Todd Allen. John Martin of Crestview was the angler who hauled in the wahoo.

“It was easy 4- to 6-footers, real close to each other,” Capt. Allen said of the Gulf.

Hopefully the Gulf will calm down in the next few days, but either way, the Rodeo is on.

The scales located behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar is open daily from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m.

See you there.

• 65 fish entries

• 228 boats entered

• Biggest fish 51.8-pound wahoo

• 5 entries on Destin Princess and Swoop II