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FISH FLASH: Destin Fishing Rodeo is rolling along as usual

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

It's taken a few days, but the Gulf of Mexico is calming down a bit and the fish are rolling in at the 72nd annual Destin Fishing Rodeo.

Just to see how this year's Rodeo measures up to last year, Executive Director Helen Donaldson did a count down to the hour.

On Oct. 14 last year at 5:30 p.m., the Rodeo had 682 fish entries. This year, at the same time and day, the count was at 634.

"It's just a regular Rodeo," Donaldson said.

The count may be down a bit, but then again the Rodeo experienced a rough Gulf of Mexico last week, compliments of Hurricane Delta.

But things are getting back to normal. Boats are bringing in the fish, weighmaster Bruce Cheves is calling "time is" on catches and fish entries are going on the board.

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Some of the latest to get on the board has been in the Party Boat Division.

Local angler Pat Pennington pulled in a 14-pound red grouper earlier this week on the Swoop II for a first place spot in the Reef Division.

Local angler Pat Pennington found a top spot on the Destin Fishing Rodeo leaderboard with this 14-pound red grouper he caught Tuesday while fishing aboard the party boat Swoop II. Also pictured is Miss Destin Lauren Adams.

Ronald Miller of Illinois hauled in a 21-pound blackfin tuna for a first place spot in the Party Boat Division. He was fishing with Capt. Dennis Kendricks on the Destiny.

Capt. John Tenore on the Dawn Patrol came in Tuesday with a couple of king mackerel to weigh. They had one that tilted the scales at 29.2 pounds and then one at 37.4 pounds caught by Martin Manley of Miramar Beach. The big one took over first place in the 25-foot-and-under Charter Boat Division.

"We got them on the same spot," Tenore said, noting they were trolling mullet for bait.

Martin Manley hauled in a 37.4-pound king mackerel while fishing with Capt. John Tenore on the Dawn Patrol for a spot on the leaderboard in the 25-foot-and-under Charter Boat Division of the Destin Fishing Rodeo. Also pictured is Miss Destin Lauren Adams.

The Seahorse, with Capt. Dean Cox at the helm, backed in Tuesday from an overnight trip with a couple of fish to get on the board in the Extended Voyage Division.

Gus Bock of Georgia weighed in a 20.8-pound blackfin tuna and Sid Coleman of Alabama, a 19.4-pounder for first and second on the leaderboard.

On Wednesday, Capt. Justin Destin on the Un Reel backed in with a couple of big amberjack. Local angler Jonelle Bell got on the daily board with a 59-pounder. Steve Montealegre, a senior angler, had a 55.6-pounder, but it was a couple of pounds short of getting on the board.

"It's getting better every day," Destin said about the fishing conditions.

Not long after Destin pulled out, the Gulf Outing came in with a 21.8-pound amberjack for a second place spot in the Private Boat Division. The angler on the rod was Jim Leugers of Franklin, Tennessee.

Before the night was done, local angler Bob Mawson weighed in a 30.2-pound grouper for a first place spot on the leaderboard in the Party Boat Division. He was fishing with Capt. Cliff Cox on the Sweet Jody.

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Some of the last fish weighed on Wednesday came off the Twilight. Easton Hill, son of Capt. Robert Hill of the Twilight, weighed in a 66.4-pound amberjack for a daily and Paul Frazier got a daily for a 15.4-pound scamp.

Fishing is picking up and the Rodeo is rolling.

Don't forget the scales are open daily throughout October from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. on the docks behind AJ's Seafood and Oyster Bar.

See you at the docks.