During last year’s rodeo, anglers from 38 different states came to Destin for the storied month-long fishing tournament, and spent approximately $1.4 million on hotels, food and recreation while they were here. Rodeo Executive Director Helen Donaldson expects this year to be no different.
The 68th annual Destin Fishing Rodeo is gearing up for another exciting year.
Helen Donaldson, executive director of the rodeo, said the board has been working tirelessly for the past 11 months to prepare for this year’s tournament.
“We work year long to get this going,” she said. “We form committees, determine the awards, decide what fish we can catch, go over any rules changes.”
During last year’s rodeo, anglers from 38 different states came to Destin for the storied month-long fishing tournament, and spent approximately $1.4 million on hotels, food and recreation while they were here. Donaldson expects this year to be no different.
“Charter boat registration is actually up compared to this time last year,” she said.
Trey Winds, captain of the charter boat Outta Line and chairman of this year’s fishing rodeo, agreed that this year is shaping up to be one of the best yet.
“Personally, my charter boat is booked up for October and I’m sure a lot of the other ones are too,” he said. “It’ll be a good year for the rodeo. And the fishing is good too, so as long as the weather holds out it will be awesome.”
The rodeo has 19 different divisions, including party boat, ladies and juniors. Over 200 awards are being offered for various fish and categories, all of them sponsored by area businesses.
Donaldson said she expects around 5,000 fish to be caught this year, and around 1,000 to be weighed.
“There’s anywhere from 300 to 1000 people down on the docks on any given day (during the tournament) to watch the weigh-ins,” she said.
She added that the weigh-ins will be displayed on the Jumbo Tron at AJs so more people can view the excitement.
There are several new T-shirt designs this year, in addition to the classic design that includes each fish that will be caught during the tournament. There are five different designs and about a dozen different color options to choose from.
“Everybody loves rodeo T-shirts,” Donaldson said.
The rodeo was originally held in 1947 during the month of June to encourage fishermen to come to Destin, and was eventually moved to the month of October so as to help the fishermen who were already here extend their season. Today, the tournament draws thousands of people from all over the country who both participate in the fishing and just watch from the docks.
“We call it a spectator sport,” Donaldson said. “People come for the rodeo but they don’t even fish. There’s always something happening down on the docks.”