Half fish, whole fish, big fish, small fish
To borrow from Dr. Seuss, we haven’t had green eggs and ham at the Destin Fishing Rodeo this week, but we have had half fish, whole fish, big fish and small fish that have made it on the leaderboard of the 68th annul event.
The half fish came in on Wednesday right after lunch. Capt. Preston Muller and the crew aboard the Home Grown brought in half of a king mackerel that weighed in at 48.2-pounds to take over first place in the Charter Boat Division for the largest king mackerel. Ryan Hammons of Indiana was the angler on the rod that reeled in what could have been an incredible fish, whole.
“It was unbelievable,” Capt. Muller said, noting the largest king mackerel he’d ever pulled in before was a 40.2-pounder a couple of years ago.
He said they had started fishing at the sea buoy and had ventured about six miles west when they actually doubled up with a couple of kings.
“They were going in opposite directions,” he said, noting they had to break one off.
“It was screaming out line,” Muller said. “My heart jumped when I saw it. I thought it was a monster.”
The king almost spooled them twice.
“We really had to run him down. It was pretty chaotic,” Muller said.
The fish stayed on the surface for a while, then it made a deep dive, and when they finally got it to the boat, it had been snapped by a shark.
“We were almost done when the shark snapped it,” Muller said, noting the entire fight took about 15 minutes.
“But even the half, is a fish of a lifetime,” he said. “And to see Bruce (Cheves, weighmaster of the rodeo) get excited about it was special.”
Cheves estimated that the king would have been about a 60 to 65-pounder whole.
As for whole fish, there have been many of those this week to hit the scales. In 13 days of rodeo fishing, more than 650 fish have been weighed.
Now for some of the big ones. On Tuesday evening, Capt. Robert Hill on the Twilight backed in with a 55.6-pound snowy grouper. It’s called snowy from the white spots. Chuck Porter of Tennessee who reeled in the massive grouper that leads in the Reef Division for a snowy.
On Wednesday, the rodeo saw a sailfish record toppled by Keith Woody of Tennessee who hauled in an 81.2-pounder while fishing aboard the Un Reel with Capt. Justin Destin.
Not long after, the Makira with Capt. B.J. Teems at the helm backed in from a three-day trip with three flags flying, signifying the tag and release of three blue marlins.
“The biggest one was about 400 pounds,” he said, noting they had been fishing as far out as 165 miles at one point. “It was rough, and I’m just glad to be back.”
However, marlin flags weren’t the only thing they had to show for. They had yellowfin tuna and dolphin to weigh.
Benjamin Kirkland of Destin weighed in a 112-pound yellowfin for first in the Extended Voyage category and Mike Rappa placed second with a 67.2-pounder. They also took first and second in the dolphin division with a 7-pounder pulled in by Patrick Murphy and a 4.4-pound by Richie Duffin.
Thursday saw more big fish hit the docks.
The Anticipation backed in just after lunch with a 116.8-pound yellowfin tuna for second place in the Offshore Division. Capt. Anthony Dewberry said they were fishing about 13 miles out of Destin when they hooked up with the tuna. William Lackey of Georgia was the angler on the rod.
Just minutes behind him was the Stelluna who landed a whopper of a yellowfin, 177.6-pounder, for first on the board. Jostin Crass of Tennessee was the angler.
The Only Way with Capt. Curt Gwin at the helm got on the board in a big way with a 37-pound barracuda pulled in by Kristopher Stuart of Texas. His catch moved to the top of the leaderboard in the Offshore Division for barracuda.
As for the small fish, the youngster are keeping them busy at the scales with their stringers-of-fish. But all receive a free rod and reel and certificate for their efforts.
Rodeo fishing is an ever changing event. The scales are open daily from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on the docks behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar.
See you at the docks.