All You Need to Know

Studying Time: 9 minutes

In case you’re fortunate sufficient to search out your self in Destin come October, there’s most likely one factor and one factor solely in your thoughts. It’s time for the Destin Fishing Rodeo! Every fall, this vibrant neighborhood absolutely transforms itself into the go-to place for fishing aficionados nationwide.

An aerial view of the city of Destin in Florida, showing the ocean, a pier, and city buildings

It doesn’t matter for those who love stalking the flats for Reds, concentrating on Cobia round reefs, or combating Billfish offshore, as a result of the Destin Fishing Rodeo has one thing for each kind of angler. And also you don’t should be an professional to win a prize, both. The are loads of divisions to select from, so there’s one thing appropriate for rookie anglers and skilled fishers alike.

The rodeo is a month-long affair full of competitions, particular occasions, and native actions, which suggests realizing the place to begin will be overwhelming. Beneath, we’ve lined every thing a newbie must know. This contains when the rodeo takes place, the forms of fish you’ll be able to goal, and, after all, the prizes on supply. Let’s dive in…

When is the Destin Fishing Rodeo?

The Destin Fishing Rodeo runs from October 1 to October 31 every year, so right here’s loads of time to discover it. It’s free and open to the general public, so you’ll be able to go to for at some point, or keep for all the run. Beneath, we’ve highlighted a few of the key dates and occasions.

A large fishing boat returning to Destin Harbor after a fishing charter
  • October 1: The event begins! Rise up early and compete for the First Fish of the Rodeo prize. You may weigh in your fish day-after-day from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on the official weigh-in spot behind AJ’s on the Destin Harbor Boardwalk.
  • October 2: Be sure you hold your Saturdays free, as every Saturday in October you’ll have the ability to compete with different anglers for the largest Shark of the day! Come chase Mako, Hammerhead, Thresher, Tiger, and Bull Shark.
  • October 3: The Destin 5K Rodeo Run. In case you’re not too eager on working, don’t fear, as a result of you’ll be able to stroll the space! The working route takes you thru the historic lanes of Destin. There will probably be free refreshments and beer for members, in addition to an enormous social gathering at AJ’s proper after the award ceremony. The doorway price prices $25 and registration opens at 7:00 a.m. at Clement Taylor Park. All proceeds go to native charities.
  • October 16: Bruce Cheves Day. Bruce has been the rodeo weighmaster for years. His fishing tales are legendary amongst Destin people – and all of Florida! Get your youngsters and are available hear Bruce inform you a narrative to recollect.
  • October 18 – Rootin Tootin Rodeo Roundup. Children aged 12 and underneath are welcome on the Okaloosa Island Pier for some enjoyable pier fishing. Your little ones will get their very own rods and equipment to focus on native species resembling Redfish, Flounder, Sheepshead, Black Drum, Snook, and extra.
  • October 31: Rodeo Halloween Occasion. Put in your scariest costume and be part of fellow anglers, judges, and captains on the largest Halloween social gathering in Destin. It’s a superb technique to rejoice the tip of the rodeo!
  • November 1: Award ceremony at AJ’s. That is the time for anglers to get collectively, seize a drink, and discuss to their fellow fishing lovers. It’s the proper ending to all of the fishing motion that takes place every October.

What can I goal in the course of the Destin Fishing Rodeo?

The Destin Fishing Rodeo boasts an entire host of classes, generally known as “divisions,” that cowl quite a lot of species, strategies, fishing grounds, and ability ranges. You could find the exhaustive checklist here. Moreover, we’ve highlighted a few of our favorites beneath.

Inshore Division

A man holds a large Redfish with the waters of Destin behind him

It’s attainable to barely overlook the enjoyable of inshore fishing when the choice to focus on tough-fighting Billfish is on the desk. Take our phrase for it, although: inshore fishing in Destin is significantly thrilling, particularly for those who’re new to the game or need to get your youngsters concerned. Expertise calm waters, grassy flats, and attractive fish, all with out venturing removed from shore.

You may catch Redfish, Speckled Trout, Flounder, Spanish Mackerel, and Sheepshead. Their peak season is in full swing by the point the rodeo comes round, so combating them is loads of enjoyable.

Oddball Division

The Destin Fishing Rodeo isn’t all about competitors, . In case you’re simply as enthusiastic about spending a day on the water as probably hooking a trophy fish, then that is the proper class for you. The Oddball Division was launched to the rodeo in 2017 as a technique to acknowledge all the opposite (probably extraordinary) sea critters that anglers pull up whereas concentrating on their chosen fish!

This implies that you may weigh in any authorized fish that’s not within the rodeo books, and also you would possibly even get a prize for it. Something from Trumpet Fish and African Pompano to Cubera Snapper are honest recreation, as long as you catch these fish legally.

Offshore Division

A woman smiles as she holds a Mahi Mahi caught in Florida

If you need a style of pace and energy, this division is for you! You’ll head no less than 10 miles offshore, typically additional, to battle massive predators. That is the place you’ll discover robust massive recreation fish resembling Yellowfin Tuna, Wahoo, and Mahi Mahi. Be able to battle with Barracuda, Bonito, and Tripletail, too.

All of those fish are feisty and battle laborious, which suggests you’ll want strong fishing expertise to put on them out. This makes for an thrilling day out on the water, however keep in mind that the ocean could also be uneven. This is usually a downside for brand spanking new or much less skilled anglers, so ensure to take the required precautions and convey alongside some good seasickness remedy!

Deep Drop Division

Learn to present your arms an intense exercise? Go for the Deep Drop Division! You’ll head to waters measuring no less than 300 toes in depth to try to pull up quite a lot of backside dwellers. You may catch Barrelfish, Tilefish, and quite a lot of Groupers together with Snowy, Warsaw, and Yellowedge species.

These fishing journeys can contain fairly a little bit of ready round, however the kilos of flakey meat on supply for those who hook one thing certain makes up for it. The fish dwell deep down on the seafloor, so there are not any acrobatic shows once they chunk, however don’t let this idiot you into considering they’re straightforward opponents. They are typically massive and in cost, so that you’ll have to put in plenty of effort to convey them up.

Billfish Division

Three happy anglers hold a large Sailfish caught while fishing in the Gulf of Mexico out of Destin

For you severe anglers on the market, the time has come to place all of your expertise and laborious work to the check. Blue Marlin, White Marlin, Swordfish, and Sailfish are lurking within the deep waters, simply ready to placed on a show. These fish are liked by anglers as a result of, when hooked, they’ll taunt you with a show of acrobatics, pace, and energy. It may possibly additionally take hours for them to submit, which makes for an thrilling (if not exhausting) battle.

Billfish are topic to strict laws all through Florida and, due to this, we strongly encourage you to participate within the rodeo’s Catch and Launch Division, the place you’ll be able to take a photograph along with your catch after which launch it. Releasing your catch means you’ll assist protect these fish for generations of anglers to return.

What prizes can I win on the Destin Fishing Rodeo?

Prior to now, the Destin Fishing Rodeo’s prizes have run the gamut from your individual lot on this fishing village to a 12-pack of beer, a windshield wiper, and a brand-new kitchen boasting a fridge, range, and even kitchen sink! Now, it’s attainable to win something from Shimano-branded rods and reels to hefty money prizes.

The rodeo’s awards are funded by quite a lot of sources, together with native companies, entry charges to the event, and merchandise gross sales. Which means the money prizes can fluctuate yr by yr, however the whole worth is often estimated at $100,000. To provide you an thought, a few of the earlier prizes that particular person competing anglers have gained embrace merchandise certificates, one-year pier passes, trophies, or a whole bunch (typically even 1000’s!) of {dollars} in money.

Prime Destin Fishing Rodeo Places

A view of Destin with the bridge and cityscape in the distance and the water in the foreground

The fishing in Destin is on fireplace in October, regardless of the place you go, however you’ll need to decide your location relying on what you need to catch. Listed here are a few of our favourite spots:

  • East Cross Jetties: Good for first time anglers who need to catch Redfish or Sheepshead. These jetties stand between the Gulf of Mexico and the Destin Bay. The fixed motion of water out and in of the bay stirs up bait fish, attracting faculties of recreation fish.
  • Mid-Bay Bridge: Simply a few minutes from East Cross, you’ll discover a premier Redfish hotbed. If you need a shot at profitable the rodeo’s Inshore Division, we advise you come right here! You’ll discover Speckled Trout, Black Drum, Sheepshead, and a few Flounder, too.
  • Culvert, Conch, Barnacle, and different synthetic reefs: There are a whole bunch of synthetic reefs within the Gulf of Mexico the place you’ll discover sturdy numbers of King Mackerel, Amberjack, Mahi Mahi, Snapper, and Grouper. These fish disguise round construction like sunken boats, tanks, ledges, and rocks.
  • The Edge: The sting of the continental shelf lies simply 20 miles off Destin’s coast. Right here, the seafloor drops between 180–300 toes, which suggests the fishing reaches an entire new stage. These waters are house to massive pelagics and backside dwellers alike, together with King Mackerel, Mahi Mahi, Cobia, Grouper, Amberjack, Tilefish, and Blackfin Tuna. An odd Sailfish would possibly present up once in a while, too!
  • 100 Fathom Curve: About 40 miles from dry land, you’ll come throughout Destin’s actual deep sea fishery. These waters are 600 toes deep and are teeming with Wahoo, Amberjack, Mahi, and Sailfish. In case you’re seeking to bag a possible Offshore Division winner, that is the place to return.
  • DeSoto Canyon: In case you’re eyeing the Billfish Division prize, head to DeSoto Canyon. This fishery is house to Blue and White Marlin, Sailfish, Tuna, Wahoo, and Swordfish. Positioned 60 miles from Destin’s shore, these waters produce one helluva massive recreation chunk. It’s properly well worth the journey!

How can I participate within the rodeo?

A view of charter boats in Destin traveling across the water towards the harbor

Registering for the Destin Fishing Rodeo is a reasonably easy course of. In case you’re new to the event or angling on the whole, chances are high you’ll need to hop aboard an area fishing constitution. You’ll discover loads of captains providing tournament-specific journeys when the rodeo takes place. Fishing with a for-hire constitution is the best technique to take part. You aren’t required to individually register or pay any charges, as these are lined in the price of the journey.

There’s additionally the choice to register your individual personal boat, kayak, or paddleboard. In case you’d quite fish with out a vessel, you’ll be able to signal as much as fish from the shoreline, surf, bridges, piers, or jetties. Lastly, there are particular tournaments such because the King Mackerel and Wahoo Jackpots that you may register for individually.

You may register on-line or print and ship off a registration type here.

Anything I have to know?

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Weigh-In Guidelines

The rodeo’s weigh-ins are simply as thrilling because the precise fishing you’ll be doing! That is once you’ll discover out if eligible for a prize. Weighmaster Bruce Cheves will measure your fish whereas telling you a few of his well-known fishing tales. Bruce has been an important a part of the rodeo for years. If there’s an individual in Destin who has seen fish of all sizes and shapes, it’s him.

Weigh-ins happen from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. every day in Destin Harbor, behind AJ’s. Right here’s what you have to know:

  • You may solely weigh two fish of every species per day.
  • You and the boat captain should be current collectively on the weigh-in and signal the official entry type. You’ll even be requested to confirm that you just caught the fish according to the rodeo’s guidelines.
  • Earlier than you weigh your fish, you have to state the division you’re competing in.
  • You may solely compete within the division that the boat you’re fishing from is registered in. For instance, in case your constitution boat is registered for the Billfish Division and also you occur to catch an Amberjack, it gained’t rely.

Do I want a fishing license?

In case you’re fishing alongside an area constitution captain on a licensed boat, you gained’t have to buy a fishing license. In case you’re fishing alone, try our full information to getting a Florida fishing license.

Destin Fishing Rodeo: Come Attempt Your Luck!

A man pulling a hooked Sailfish towards the boat so that he can safely release it

The Destin Fishing Rodeo is an enormous cause why this metropolis has a repute for being so fortunate. Not solely are there glorious prizes to be gained, however casting a line right here feels such as you’ve hit the jackpot in itself! Whether or not you’re simply discovering the magic of aggressive angling or have already got cabinets lined with trophies, the Destin Fishing Rodeo has one thing to supply. Come uncover it for your self!

Have you ever ever taken half within the Destin Fishing Rodeo? Have you ever gained any prizes? Tell us within the feedback beneath. We love listening to from you!

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