FISH FLASH: Rodeo is reeling right a long with big kings and things

Tina Harbuck

The race is on for the biggest king mackerel in the 67th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo.

And the one to beat, as of Tuesday morning, is a 48.4-pounder reeled in on Day 2 of the October fishing tournament.

James Lanier of Maryland, who was fishing aboard the Huntress with Capt. Mike Graef, was the lucky angler to reel in the 48.4-pound king mackerel just after 2 o’clock Friday to move into the first place spot on the leader board.

“He hit it and took off, “ Lanier said.

Lanier, who was in Destin celebrating his retirement from the Army, is a first-time Rodeo fisherman.

But he handled it like a pro.

“It was a pretty good tussle. He was starting to wear me out,” he said. But he persevered.

“Every time I thought he was done, he’d take off again.”

After about 15 or 20 minutes, Capt. Graef said they got the fish on board.

But not long after the Huntress pulled away from the Rodeo scales, Capt. Mike Eller and his group on the Lady Em came in with a king mackerel that stepped into second place.

Steven Cooper of Woodstock, Ga. weighed in a 39.8 pound king mackerel.

“It pulled hard,” Cooper said. “I’m still tired. I’m not used to working that hard.”

Capt. Eller said they were fishing about 25 miles out and were trolling with a “top secret live bait.”

Cooper was elated about the catch.

“It was a lot of fun,” said the first-time Rodeo fisherman.

His catch lasted on the board until the Sea Fix with Capt. Phillip Blackburn at the helm came in on Day 3 with a pair of big king mackerel.

Gifford McIntyre of Tennessee pulled in a 48.2-pounder for second place overall and Lyndsay McIntyre claimed third with a 43.4-pounder.

Day 3, also known as Shark Saturday, didn’t disappoint with Lewis McLendon of Panama City Beach hauling in a 126.4 bull shark.

Sunday was a bit slow, but fish still came in.

Red grouper and scamp were the fish of choice.

Samuel Maxey of Alabama pulled in a 15-pound red grouper on the Pesacador III with Capt. Mike Whitley for a first place spot in the charter division, and Derek Scarbrough of Tennessee came in second with a 14.4-pounder. He was fishing on the Sea Fix.

The Finest Kind with Capt. Jason Mikel at the helm came in with a couple of scamp for spots on the leader board. Curtis Edwards of Milton reeled in an 11.2-pounder, and Ray Murph, also of Milton, pulled in an 11-pounder.

In the Party Boat Division, Alexis Alejandro of Georgia, came in with an 11.8-pound red grouper for a first place spot, while April Cox of Navarre pulled in a 7-pound scamp for first, and John Cook of Alabama reeled in a 6.2-pounder for second. All three anglers were on the Sweet Jody with Capt. Cliff Cox.

The Bow’d Up with Capt. Brady Bowman came in Sunday with a couple of junior anglers who got on the leader board. Anastacia Goodwin of Arkansas pulled in a 37.4-pound king mackerel, and Allysa Singletary of Fort Walton Beach brought in a 16.2-pounder.

In the Reef Divison, Tyler McIntyre of Indiana pulled in a 22.4-pound snowy grouper while fishing on the Backdown 2 with Capt. Gary Jarvis for a top spot on the board. Lynn Gentry, also of Indiana on the Backdown 2, hauled in a 29.2-pound yellowedge grouper for a first place spot.

Not many changes on the big leader board on Monday, except for an addition of a 112-pound white marlin caught on the Un Reel.

It’s been a bit rough on the Gulf as of late, but captains and anglers are hoping for calmer seas. However, it’s not stopping them from fishing.

Remember the Rodeo goes throughout the entire month of October and the scales are open from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. daily behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar.

See you at the scales.