Déjà vu at the Destin Fishing Rodeo

Tina Harbuck

It was almost like déjà vu at the Destin Fishing Rodeo Thursday evening.

On Monday, Capt. Robert Hill of the Twilight came in with a trio of huge amberjack with the largest one tilting the scales at 89.6 pounds and taking over first place in the AJ’s Bonus Awards Division.

Well on Thursday night the Twilight backed in with another good showing of amberjack but from an overnight trip. As a matter of fact, his largest amberjack was exactly 89.6 pounds, the same as Monday, caught by Charles Hannel of North Carolina. His catch took over first in the Extended Voyagae category.

“That one was way worse than last year,” said the 77-year-old Hannel. Last year Hannel won in the Senior Division with a 67 pounder.

Capt. Hill said Hannel has placed and won in the Rodeo for the last five years, provided his catch holds on the leaderboard this year.

As for the amberjack he landed Thursday, Hannel said he wasn’t sure how long it took to reel in.

Pulling up his long sleeve shirt to reveal his wrist he said, “I haven’t worn a watch since 1992 when I retired.” So he didn’t have any idea how long it took.

Anyhow, the Twilight also got on the board with an 84.4-pound amberjack caught by Michael Lawrence. Plus they weighed in a 17.6-pound scamp caught by Bert Hannel and a 16.4-pound scamp hauled in by John Hannel for first and second place.

The crazy thing about it all was the Sweet Jody crew walked up with a few fish, just like they had on Monday after the Twilight, to weigh for dailies. David Liddell weighed in a 14-pound red grouper for a daily.

Then, just like Monday, Capt. Brady Bowman of the Bow’d Up backed in with a couple of big king mackerel. Instead of two big ones like Monday, they had three this time.

Michael Davis of Melbourne weighed in a 31.4-pound king mackerel for second in the Senior Division.

Next up was Mary Davis with a 36.4 pounder. Her catch put her in first place in the Charter Boat Division. After a second or two, I realized this is the same group of anglers that fished with Bowman on Monday.

The third king mackerel they tossed out was a 42-pounder caught by Tiffany Cook of Arkansas. Cook now holds first and second in the Ladies Division with a 43.3 pounder from Monday and the 42 pounder.

Earlier in the day, Capt. William Sexton on the SS Mullett came in with a 32.8-pound king mackerel and 32.2-pounder both caught by Billy Sexton for first and second in the Private Boat Division.

Capt. Josh Calhoon of Destin Inshore Guides came in with a 7-pound grouper caught by Jeff Simpkins of Missouri for a first in the 25-foot-and-Under Charter Boat Division.

Not long after, Heather Jones of Indiana came in with a grouper that weighed exactly the same as Simpkins, 7 pounds, putting her in second place in the 25-foot-and-Under Charter Boat Division. She was fishing with Capt. Rob Hacker on Payn Dues.

Capt. Nino Bright and Capt. Groovy Davis of the Into the Blue backed in with a balckfin tuna for the leaderboard. Clyde Pierce of Freeport weighed in a 24.4 pounder for first in the Senior Division.

The party boats are also fishing hard this month to get their anglers on the leaderboard.

Capt. Nick “Slay Daddy“ Price of the Swoop came in with some notable catches on Thursday.

Brian Lowe of Tennessee weighed in a 55.8-pound amberjack for a first in the Party Boat Division.

His catch soon dropped to second when John Ratcliff of West Virginia, also on the Swoop, weighed in a 59.4-pound amberjack.

“I’ve fished out of Destin for years and always wanted to weigh in at AJ’s,” Ratcliff said. “This is my first but it won’t be my last.”

Ratliff also had a 28.4-pound wahoo that got on the daily board for the largest wahoo ... at least for a few minutes.

Weighing in right behind the Swoop was the party boat New Florida Girl’s American Spirit with Capt. Jim Green. Rodeo regular Marlin Perry of Tennessee weighed in a 28.8-pound wahoo to take over that daily honor on the board.

Although some things seem repetitive and almost déjà vu like at the Rodeo, things do change.

The Rodeo is winding down and heading in to the final week. Remember 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 scales.