Changing it up on the big board at the Rodeo

Tina Harbuck

When it comes to the Destin Fishing Rodeo, one thing is for sure: the leaderboard is going to change.

And Thursday was no different, with at least 14 new leaders going up on the “big board” as weighmaster Bruce Cheves likes to call it.

The Rodeo, now in its 69th year, is a fishing tournament that happens every October and goes throughout the month drawing anglers from all over the United States to compete for cash and prizes.

But not only does the Rodeo have daily winners, whose catches go up on the small boards on the weigh-station deck, but there is a huge board listing first and second place winners in the various divisions for different sizes of boats, which Cheves refers to as the “big board.”

First to break on to the big board on Thursday was Jeff Gray of Mary Esther with a 6-pound fish caught on his paddleboard tagged Jeffro Sup.

Next up was Capt. John Tenor on the Dawn Patrol with a 90-pound blacktip shark pulled in by Sami Renn. Her catch found a first place spot in the 25-feet and Under Charter Boat Division.

Not long after Capt. Josh Glidden on the Dawn Patrol Too came in with an 11-pound Atlantic Sharpnose Shark for second place in that 25-feet and Under Charter Boat Division. Ashlee Powell of Tennessee was the angler.

Rodeo regular Lynn Usrey walked up with a couple fish caught aboard his kayak called Bonito Bandito that took over first in two different species in the Kayak Division. Usrey weighed in a 3.2-pound speckled trout and a 6-pound redfish. The redfish knocked off his 5.2 pound redfish from the day before. You have to love it when these guys just keep trying to outdo themselves to stay on top of the board.

Steve Mills of Georgia got on the big board with a 2.2-pound pompano for a first place spot in the Pier, Bridge, Jetty and Surf Division.

The 100 Proof with Capt. Allen Staples at the helm had a junior angler that made it onto the big board. Tristen Matthew of Tennessee pulled in a 21.4-pound blackfin tuna for second place. Sitting in first is a 22-pounder caught on Wednesday by Ethan Toney of Indiana on the No Alibi.

A little after 4 p.m. the party boat Swoop with Capt. Nick “Slay Daddy” Price came in with a catch to make the big board. Shelby Armstrong of Indiana weighed in an 8.4-pound dolphin to take over second place in the Dolphin category in the Party Boat Division. First is held by William Heineken with a 9.6-pounder caught on the Destin Princess.

We had a couple of boats in between with dailies, but nothing for the big board until the Huntress backed in.

Capt. Mike Graef of the charter boat Huntress had several fish to weigh, but the one to make the big board was a 20.4-pound blackfin tuna caught by Kristi Saylor of Kentucky. Her fish actually tied the first place fish, so she is in second.

Capt. Todd Womack on the Geaux ‘n Deep came in with a blackfin tuna as well that made it on the big board in the 25-and Under Private Boat Division. Charles Reagan of Tennessee weighed in a 19.2-pounder for a first place slot.

In the big Private Boat Division, Destin’s Trey Brown hauled in a 33.4-pound king mackerel for a second place spot on the big board. He was fishing on his boat Loose HookR.

In the 25-foot and Under Charter Boat Division, a couple of our local captains that fish the Rodeo hard got on the board in the Blackfin Tuna category. Anna Calhoon of Shalimar placed second with a 23.8 pounder caught on the Destin Inshore Guides with Capt. Josh Calhoon, and Kathy Medina of Texas reeled in a 25.6-pounder while fishing with Capt. Scott Whitehurst aboard On The Bite.

The last fish of the day on Thursday to make it on the “big board” was a catch pulled in by Ashley Miller of Destin. She weighed in a 14-pound scamp while fishing aboard the Sweet Jody with Capt. Cliff Cox. Her catch found a first place spot in the Party Boat Division.

The Rodeo is coming in to the home stretch, but there is still time to try and make it on to the big board.

The scales are open daily from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on the docks behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar until the end of the month.

See you at the docks.