Destin Princess gets a head in rodeo

Tina Harbuck | 315-4466 | @DestinLogTina | tharbuck@thedestinlog.com
Dave Martine shows off a head of a black snapper that he hooked and reeled in while fishing aboard the Destin Princess with Capt. Reid Phillips. The head weighed in at 7.6 pounds and was big enough to make the daily leader board in the Destin Fishing Rodeo. Wishing him well is Miss Destin Sydney Curry. TINA HARBUCK/THE LOG

From mingo to mackerel and everything in between, Destin Fishing Rodeo weighmaster Bruce Cheves has weighed in more than 375 fish in the first six days of the 68th annual event.

However, on Thursday he weighed in something a little unusual that managed to make it on to the daily leaderboard.

Dave Martine, who was fishing with Capt. Reid Phillips on the party boat Destin Princess, brought in the head of a black snapper to be weighed. This snapper head was huge. As a matter of fact, it tilted the scales at 7.6 pounds, enough to make the daily leaderboard and tie for second on the overall leaderboard. The first place black snapper in the party boat division is an 11.2-pounder caught by Glenn Wong on the Sweet Jody.

Capt. Phillips said he thought a Mako shark was the culprit that took half the snapper’s body.

“There was one floating around us, but we couldn’t catch it,” Phillips said.

Cheves estimated that if the black snapper has escaped the jaws of the shark, it would have weighed about 11 or 12 pounds.

“All it needed to be was an ounce bigger than Cliff’s,” Phillips said.

The party boat competition in the rodeo is great with the captains trying to put their anglers on some big fish this month.

In addition to the black snapper head, the Princess weighed in a 9.6-pound king mackerel caught by Samuel Cook of Tennessee, a 1.8-pound mingo by Sam Goodman, and a 4.2-pound Almaco Jack by rodeo-regular Tom Milliren.

Earlier in the day Thursday, Capt. Alex Hare on the Silver King and his anglers reeled in a pair of blackfin tuna that took over first and second place on the overall board in the 25-and-under charter boat division. Calen Gipson reeled in a 27.2-pounder and Drew Embry a 23.6-pounder. Both of the young men were from Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Capt. Hare said they landed both tuna near the sea buoy.

“We actually saw them busting on top of the water (before they hooked up with the tuna),” Hare said.

The young men were using spinning rods loaded with 30-pound test and big baits for mackerel. Hare said they were just mackerel fishing when they spotted the tuna’s popping.

They actually caught five king mackerel and a few bonito to go along with the tunas.

“Those are probably the biggest ones I’ve caught,” said Hare. “But I’ll be out there tomorrow morning.”

Also on Thursday, Capt. Kelly Windes on the Sunrise came in with a couple of fish that made the leaderboard in the charter boat division. Brothers Colin and Mitchell Gastright of Kentucky weighed in a pair of dolphin to take first and second on the board. Colin had an 8.2-pounder and Mitchell a 7.8-pounder.

The Finest Kind with Capt. Jason Mikel at the helm brought in a 23.2-pound king mackerel caught by Will Prestero to make it on the daily board for the charter boats.

Local angler Craig Tatum weighed in an 11.6-pound king mackerel to make it on to the daily board for the Ronald McDonald House Big Mac Classic. He was fishing aboard his boat the Bubba Baby.

About 5 p.m., David Drotleff of Navarre weighed in a 27.2-pound king mackerel he caught on the Dawn to Dusk for a second place spot in the 25-and-under private boat category. The boat wasn’t entered in the Big Mac, so they missed out on the $100 prize for the largest king of the day.

Not long after, Carl Moore, 74, came walking up with a couple of Spanish mackerel he caught off the Navarre pier.

“You know I’ve won four years in a row,” he said.

As of Thursday, Moore is in the running again with a with a 3.4-pound Spanish mackerel in the Pier, Bridge, Jetty and Surf Division.

Rodeo fishing is open to all anglers fishing aboard registered boats. However, if you like pier, surf or bridge fishing you can register for that as well. Just make sure you are in it before you land it.

The scales at the rodeo are open daily from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. throughout October on the docks behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar.

See you on the docks.