Knight remembered with 'great appreciation'

Tina Harbuck
Capt. David 'Catfish' Knight helps a youngster off one of the boats during last year's Take-A-Kid Fishing Day at Harbor Docks. Knight worked with the event for 21 years.

Willing to help, happy go lucky and a standup guy, are just a few of the words used to describe Capt. David “Catfish” Knight who passed away earlier this week.

Knight, 55, known as Catfish to his friends, was one of the first to run a small charter boat out of Destin for bay fishing. Knight ran the Cover Girl, a 23-foot center console boat, docked behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar.

“If you ever needed anything he could make it happen,” said Anna Schmitz of Emerald Coast Scuba.

Schmitz, who started dating Knight in 1992, recalls when they opened the Scuba business they were looking to have a crawfish boil and they needed a cooker.

Knight made it happen. He got the Swamp Buggy from AJ’s and “I didn’t have to do a thing,” she said.

“He was a great gentleman,” Schmitz said. “And his word was as good as a handshake.”

Not only did he make that happen, but he was instrumental in making the Take-A-Kid Fishing program at Harbor Docks a huge success for a number of years.

“He was a great customer,” said Charles Morgan, owner of Harbor Docks Resturant.

“But more than that, he was a fixture with the Take-A-Kid Fishing,” Morgan said.

Every year, Knight would line 40 to 50 boats up for the morning of fishing for the 300 to 400 youngters to fish aboard. For some of the youth it was their first time to ever go.

“He knew every boat and captain … and he did it for 21 years,” Morgan said.

“It’s with great appreciation that he’ll be remembered,” he said.

“A lot of people are passing away that made Destin what it is today, and he was one of them,” Morgan said.

Dean Holland, a city employee, first met Knight in 1974 while attending Choctawhatchee High.

“He was like a brother … just my best friend,” Holland said.

The two of them fished, hunted, played golf and made a few trips to Biloxi over the years.

Holland recalls Knight winning $10,000 at the Black Jack table. “He bought a rifle and named it Black Jack.”

Schmitz said he loved to play poker but he loved his friends more.

She shared a story of when he and some of his buddies were headed to Biloxi, but his friends had gotten him a fake lottery ticket. And when he scratched it off, he looked to be a big winner. Knights reaction was — forget Biloxi, lets stop in Mobile and get on a cruise ship.

“He was willing to take all his friends on a trip,” she said.

Capt. Tres Peerson, who runs a small charter boat out of East Pass Marina, counted Knight as a friend.

“We were just good friends,” Peerson said, noting they were roommates for 15 years.

“I’ll remember all the fishing, hunting and goodtimes,” he said.

“He was a happy go lucky kind of guy. He always had a smile on his face. He was a good friend,” Peerson said.

A send off for Knight is planed for 3 p.m. Dec. 20 aboard the New Florida Girl’s American Spirit followed by drinks and a slide show of rememberance at AJ’s.