2022 Marks the 74th Annual Destin Fishing Rodeo!

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By Cali Hlavac

For us locals, it’s time to begin getting ready for this year’s Fishing Rodeo season—a Destin tradition since 1948! And each year it gets better and better with several new events in the upcoming lineup.

New for 2022: The Extended Voyage Division will get an expansion, adding five extra species of fish for a total of ten eligible fish. The previous leaderboard included grouper, amberjack, scamp, yellowfin tuna and big eye tuna. Being added for this year are dolphin, wahoo, Almaco Jack, snowy grouper and yellowedge grouper.
Alongside the expansion comes another award addition: The Captain’s Award for the Extended Voyage Division. The board of Directors hopes this expansion will allow more Captains to compete in the tournament.

And yet another addition to the Rodeo in 2022 is a Ladies, Seniors and Junior Divisions for wahoo – alongside king mackerel, grouper, amberjack and blackfin tuna. The weigh station saw a fair amount of wahoo last year, a real crowd pleaser.

The weigh-ins happen on the docks behind AJs Seafood and Oyster bar, located on the Destin Harbor. They are free to the public and open daily from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. For boats to participate, charter and private boats must be registered at least 24 hours prior to weighing in a fish. There is no fee for anglers fishing on a registered vessel (private or charter) and shore fisherman can participate by simply bringing their catch to the scales. You can fish by kayak, paddle board, pier, bridge, jetty, shoreline and surf – whichever you prefer.

If you’re planning to make a trip down to the docks, expect to see a broad spectrum of fish being weighed in. From Sharks to Amberjacks, Grouper to King Mackerel, Tunas to Marlin, the rodeo has it all. Anglers are competing for more than $100,000 in cash and prizes, awarded for both daily and overall catches.

Even if you’re not a fisherman, the energy level and excitement that comes from being at the docks for weigh ins is like nothing else you’ve ever experienced. Boats back into the scales, pull the fish from their boat while the announcer hypes up the crowd. Fish are strung up on the scale while the crowds cheer and applaud the boat and their team. For the best seat in the house, get there early, grab a few beers and snag a seat on the bleachers by the leaderboard or above on AJ’s upper deck.

Halloween on the Harbor will signify the end of weigh-ins on Wednesday. Oct. 31, when the captains, anglers, volunteers and even Miss Destin will be dressed in their favorite costume. Everyone is invited to partake in the fun!

The Rodeo began as a way to repay the loan given for the then new community center. Since its inception, the Destin Fishing Rodeo has expanded into one of the largest fishing tournaments along the Emerald Coast—an entire month long, spanning October 1-31st with approximately 30,000 anglers competing each year!

Events

Thursday, September 22nd
• Meet Miss Destin

Friday, September 30th
• Mandatory Captain and Mate’s Meeting
• Destin Fishing Rodeo 14th Annual Kid’s Wagon Boat Parade
• Reel Local Rodeo Kick-Off Party

October 2022
74th Annual Destin Fishing Rodeo (1st – 31st)
• Weigh-Ins are everyday behind A.J.’s from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Sunday, October 2
• Destin 5K Rodeo Run
October 7th, 8th, & 9th
• 44th Annual Destin Seafood Festival

Monday, October 10th
• Kids Fall Movie Festival

Sunday, October 16th
• Bruce Cheves Day
• Ringing of the Bell

Saturday, October 22nd
Larry Hatchett Fishing Foundation Day

Monday, October 31st
• Halloween on the Harbor

Cali Hlavac (said like Kay-Lee), Destin Life columnist, is also owner of To Do In Destin and other businesses. She started todoindestin.com as a social media platform, in hopes of connecting locals and visitors to all the amazing things Destin has to offer. Cali relocated to Destin in 2013 from Nebraska (Go Big Red!) to bring her entrepreneurial spirit and existing brands to the beach life. She can be reached at highfive@todoindestin.com.