Destin Fishing Rodeo kicks off with fish and fun – News – The Destin Log

DESTIN — It was a slow start to the 69th Annual Destin Fishing Rodeo.

Rough seas meant that boats didn’t go out as far as they liked, said rodeo board member, Jake Brashears. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t some good catches on the board.

“We’ve seen a lot of king mackerel and Spanish mackerel,” he said in between weigh-ins. “We’re expecting another good year…last year was record breaking. It keeps getting bigger and better.”

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Sunday afternoon, the biggest fish (at press time) was a 14.6-pound king mackerel. One of the smallest was a 1-pound puffer fish caught by 8-year-old Reagan Ballard from Nashville. All kids who participate receive a free rod and reel and — like the rest of the anglers — their names announced by rodeo weighmaster Bruce Cheves.

“We’re used to freshwater fishing,” said Reagan’s mom, Shannon. “We came here last year and Reagan caught a black snapper and told us she wanted to come back and do it again.”

Cheves has been the weighmaster of the rodeo for 33 years and yet it never gets old, he said.

“I love getting people famous and making everybody laugh,” he said. “And of course, the fish.”

In his three decades with the rodeo, Cheves said he’s seen some impressive catches, like an 844-pound mako shark or a 500-pound blue marlin. He’s always waiting for the next big “sea monster.”

“Bring them in dead on deck or tied up kicking and screaming,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about…having fun.”

The month-long rodeo isn’t just about fish, but a community event, said volunteer Debbie Sinagra.

“People that aren’t even into fishing get excited,” she said. “Some might even charter a boat just to give it a try. It’s a really special thing.”

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