Wahoo, amberjack and so much more hit the Rodeo scales

Tina Harbuck

It’s been a busy week at the 71st annual Destin Fishing Rodeo with the number of entries already over the 500 mark after 10 days of fishing.

Wednesday and Thursday were big days. On Wednesday we had a couple of boats come in from overnight trips to weigh in in the Extended Voyage Division.

Capt. Mike Eller on the Lady Em came in a little after 2 p.m. Wednesday with a tub full of dolphin. They managed to fill a first place slot on the board with a 13.4-pounder caught by William Eisenhart. Captain said the tuna bite wasn’t quite happening yet, that we needed some cooler weather.

Capt. Robert Hill on the Twilight came in later in the day from an overnighter with a couple of wahoo. Emma Hurley of Port St. Joe weighed in a 31.6-pounder for first and Don Oliver of Valparaiso weighed in a 23.6-pounder for second. Hill also said the tuna bite hadn’t turned on yet, but it could happen any day.

Although both of those wahoo were good fish, the private boat Sea Bandit wowed the crowd gathered on the docks Wednesday with a whopper of a wahoo. As a lot of boats like to do, they play to the crowd and bring out a decent catch. They first threw out a 24.6-pound wahoo.

Then just when you think they’ve weighed everything they haul out a thumper. The crew pulled out a huge wahoo that eventually tilted the scales at 72.2 pounds for a first place spot on the leaderboard in the Private Boat division. But of course with the big fish came a bit of unexpected drama of sorts. As the dock crew was getting ready to hoist the fish on the scales, the rope that goes through the pulley to pull the fish up came off and landed on the dock.

At that point a huge ladder was needed to get the rope back through the pulley before the fish could be hoisted on the scales. John Brashears was the brave soul that shimmied up the ladder to do the deed.

But when it was all said and done, Steve McKone was on the board with a 72.2-pounder.

The party boats also had a big day on Wednesday.

The Destiny with Capt. Dennis Kendrick came in with a first place king mackerel, 17.8 pounds, caught by Sherise Devore of Kentucky.

Darius Smiley of Fort Walton Beach landed a 37.2-pound amberjack while fishing aboard the Swoop II with Capt. Matt Wheeler. His catch found a first place spot on the board.

Capt. Cliff Cox and his group on the Sweet Jody found three spots on the leaderboard. Ian Richards of Mary Esther pulled in a 4.4-pound mingo for a first place, Michael Risko of Tennessee landed a 6.6-pound scamp for a second place, and Jeffrey Roberts of Alabama hauled in a 40.2-pound wahoo for a second place spot.

Thursday saw a few good catches hit the scales as well.

Five fish made the “big board” as weighmaster Bruce Cheves likes to call it.

The ChampionShip with Capt. Matthew Champion backed in around 4 p.m. with a huge tripletail. Brent Hoadley of Franklin, Tennessee, weighed in an 8-pounder for first in the Offshore Division.

Local angler Gerald Harris came walking up around 5 p.m. with a redfish he caught on his paddleboard. His redfish weighed in at 3.4 pounds and is the current leader in the Paddleboard Division.

Not only is there a division for paddleboards, but kayaks as well. Michael Murphy of Crestview weighed in a 2.8-pound speckled trout for the largest trout in the Kayak Division.

Capt. Brady Bowman on the Bow’d Up came in with a 25.6-pound king mackerel caught by Kirk Lanier of Atlanta. His king is in second place in the Charter Boat Division.

Local anglers Jonelle Bell pulled in a 2.2-pound speckled trout to take second place in the Under-25 Charter Boat Division. She was fishing with Capt. Scotty Whitehurst aboard On the Bite.

In addition to the ones that made the big board, there were some good fish that made the “daily board” on Thursday as well.

The Twilight came in with a 31.8-pound grouper as well as a 28.8-pound wahoo. Capt. Brandy Miles-Kitchens on the 5th Day had a 10.4-pound Almaco Jack, and Capt. Stan Phillips on the Destination brought in a 5.8-pound Spanish mackerel and a 30.6-pound amberjack caught by a lady. Capt. Jason Mikel on the Finest Kind and his group weighed in a 73.6-pound amberjack and a 12.2-pound scamp. And Capt. Josh Calhoon of Destin Inshore Guides weighed in a 7-pound redfish.

Fishing is good and the leaderboard is always changing. When is the big one going to come in? — Two minutes after you leave.

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

See you at the scales.