Dawn Patrol pulls in Rodeo record fish

Tina Harbuck

It was a “holy mackerel” kind of day aboard the Dawn Patrol on Sunday.

Destin Fishing Rodeo weighmaster Bruce Cheves likes to call king mackerel “holy mackerel” on Sundays, but the mackerel that Capt. John Tenore and Capt. Alex Hare on the Dawn Patrol pulled out of the box Sunday evening at the scales had everybody saying “holy mackerel.”

Bert Savior of Fort Walton Beach weighed in a 64.2-pound king mackerel to set a new Rodeo record, breaking the old record of 59.8 logged by Henry Hinkel in 1977 aboard the Finest Kind with Capt. Tommy Browning.

“I figured it wouldn’t have last that long with all the electronics they have today,” Browning said.

But Browning was excited for the guys aboard the Dawn Patrol.

“That was a good one … they fish hard,” Browning said, noting he'd like to congratulate them on their catch.

Savior’s mackerel weighed in at 66 pounds whole.

“When it came over the rail we knew we had a big one,” Tenore said, who was still reeling with excitement Monday morning.

Tenore, Hare, Savior and Matt Johnson trolled in the morning for mackerel and bottom fished in the afternoon.

But it was about mid-day when things got exciting.

Tenore said they caught about a 20-pound king and then the next bite was a 40 pounder. Then they hooked up with a couple of giants.

Using live mullet, in the 2- to 3-pound range, for bait the bite was on.

“It started blowing up on the bait,” Tenore said of the huge king.

“Alex twitched (the bait) a bit and the next thing you know the king is 10-feet in the air, has swallowed the 2-pound mullet whole,” Tenore said.

After the king hit the water it took off dumping out 300- to 400-yards of line in a matter of seconds, Tenore said.

“It was a like a missile,” he said.

But while all that was going on, they got another bite. This mackerel stayed close to the boat and they were able to get it in in about 15 minutes. Tenore estimated it to be about 35 to 40 pounds.

As for the giant king that was dumping line, it took them about 30 to 40 minutes before they got it to the boat.

“It was long, fat … everything,” Tenore said trying to describe the massive fish.

The guys caught a couple of more mackerel, and then did some bottom fishing. They managed to catch five grouper, a scamp and an Almaco Jack.

But when they got that huge king on the boat, “We all knew we did something good,” Tenore said.

And they did very good. Their catch is in first place in the Under-25-Foot Charter Boat Division plus it’s a new Rodeo record, which pays out $500 in a Centennial Bank Cashier’s Check.

This is the first Rodeo Record-breaker this October.

“That was the last thing on my mind,” said Helen Donaldson, executive director of the Rodeo, who wasn’t expecting a record breaker to hit the scales. “But since that cold front came through the king mackerel have been steadily getting bigger every day.

“And that one was huge,” she added. “Loved seeing it.”

Savior's mackerel was the first Rodeo record-breaking fish since a 111.6-pound amberjack was brought to the docks by Capt. Ken Nettles on the Strange Brew in 2012.