With a blast of a whistle, the Destin Fishing Rodeo was off and running at 10 a.m. sharp Tuesday.
And as Rodeo executive director Helen Donaldson predicted, Capt. Josh Calhoon aboard the Destin Inshore Guides was the first boat in with the first entry, a redfish.
Although she got the boat and species correct, Donaldson was off on the weight.
Celia Monnin of Columbus, Ohio, weighed in a 6.4-pound redfish to take first-fish honors in the 71st edition of the Destin Fishing Rodeo.
Donaldson had guessed big, noting she thought it would be an 8 pounder. Despite the fact that Monnin’s fish wasn’t quite that big it still pulled hard.
“It was a good fight … I am wore out,” Celia said. “I even quit taking turns and let my husband do it all. I got more than one in and then gave it all to my husband.”
“I caught one of those redfish and a couple of stingrays that kicked my butt,” Matt said.
All in all, Destin Inshore Guides brought in three redfish, two at 6.4 pounds and one at 6 pounds even.
“We probably caught 20 redfish. They’re biting good if you’ve got the right baits,” Calhoon said, but not willing to give up any secrets.
Calhoon and crew left out at 5:30 a.m. with intentions of catching a redfish to enter in the Rodeo.
“She wanted to catch a Rodeo redfish,” Calhoon said.
They were using light spinning tackle with slip leads with live bait, and stayed in close.
“We tried to go out further, but somebody got sick,” Calhoon said with a smile on his face.
“We had to abort the mission,” Celia admitted.
“But we caught some nice fish out there,” Matt said.
Celia got on the leaderboard for first fish and she is the current leader in the Ladies Daily as well, but that’s sure to change before day's end.
Matt got on the board with a 1.2-pound black snapper.
Not only did Celia and Matt have a big day of fishing with Capt. Calhoon, they are here celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary, which they have done for the last three years.
“We’ve always gone fishing the first one, two or three days of the tournament,” Matt said.
They were not the only ones celebrating a special occasion on the first day of the Rodeo.
Local angler Renesmae Green, who was celebrating her 5th birthday, went out surf fishing with her dad Robert and pulled in a pompano and a couple of whiting that had a combine weight of 1.2-pounds.
Her dad said she struggled with the pompano.
“I told her if you can’t reel anymore, just drag it in,” Robert said.
She managed to beach the fish and was at the scales by about 9:15 a.m. However, she wasn’t old enough to qualify for first fish. Anglers have to be 6 to get on the board.
But she did score a certificate and a free rod and reel.
The scales will be open daily from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. throughout the month of October on the barge behind AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar.