Big fish on the leaderboard at the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo
Day two of the Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo started with thunderstorms rolling in just after daybreak, sending dozens of boats scurrying back to the dock before the skies cleared.
When the fishermen started to filter back to the dock in the afternoon, the leaderboard began changing fast with dozens of huge fish, from grouper to tuna, and more fish released alive than ever before.
Rodeo organizers said there were 3,310 tickets sold this year, just shy of the Guinness record year in 2011. This year's version of the oldest and largest fishing tournament in the nation drew competitors from all over the world and even the nation.
For a time, a young man from Poland, Jakub Stachowiak, was number one on the leader board with a 20-pound red snapper. But his fish fell out of contention before the end of the day.
"It was great. That was definitely the biggest fish I've ever caught," said Stachowiak, who came to Alabama specifically to fish the rodeo with relatives who live in the area.
The live weigh in component of the tournament proved popular, for sharks, redfish and trout, with hundreds of fish weighed and released.
Father and son Mark and Ric Collier came to the weigh station with video documentation of their shark catch for the live weigh in. It was stunning.
"I'm going to say we caught over 70. Anywhere from five to ten pounds, and every one of them was a bull shark," said Ric Collier. As for location, all he'd say was "in the bay."
"We had a couple of them that actually went to 20," said Mark Collier. "They were all good and healthy. Some of them were pretty mean."
Marcus Drymon, a shark scientist with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab said their catch was a testament to the importance of Mobile Bay is as a nursery habitat, and the health of the bull shark population.
Rodeo president Richard Rutland, a local fishing guide, said it was fantastic to see so many large trout released alive instead of cooling on the ice.
"The live weigh in is going awesome. Someone just brought in a very nice redfish, big and healthy. The scientists are implanting with a tag that will allow them to track the fish once it is released. That's going to yield a lot of data."
And a brief bit about the highlights of the leaderboard, including first place in each category:
Barracuda: Cecily O'brien – 35.93 pounds
Black Drum: Daryll L. Belt – 45.01 pounds
Blackfin tuna: Jack Volkman – 19.37 pounds
Blackfish: Huey Belaire – 23.60 pounds
Blue Runner: Adam Coleman – 5.51 pounds
Bluefish: Brian Rowe – 2.89 pounds
Bonito: Tommy Ripple – 12.35 pounds
Cobia: Andrew Hardin – 42.54 pounds
Crevalle: Michael McClantoc – 30.29 pounds
Dolphin: Jeremy Freeman – 16.65 pounds
Flounder: Brian Parks – 4.89 pounds
Gafftopsail: David Harrison – 7.52 pounds
Gray Snapper: Anthony Edwards – 7.61 pounds
King Mackerel: Melanie Byrd – 54.69 pounds
Ladyfish: Tammy McClantoc – 2.77 pounds
Pompano: Edgar Murphy – 2.15 pounds
Red drum: Robert Fasbender – 7.03 pounds
Red snapper: Walt Shannon – 25.24 pounds
Scamp: Victoria Strange – 9.90 pounds
Grouper: Chuck Baldridge – 29.97 pounds
Sheepshead: Robert Paul Davis – 8.29 pounds
Spanish mackerel: Joe Teague – 6.37 pounds
Speckled trout – Trenny Woodham – 7.10 pounds
Tarpon – Ernest Ladd IV – 125.00
Vermillion snapper: Kevin Watts – 3.79 pounds
White trout: Blake Harness – 0.96 pounds
Yellowfin tuna: Luke Thompson – 167.20 pounds
Live redfish: Sam Glass – 7.02 pounds
Live speckled trout: 7.10 pounds
Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation Shark: Angelo Depaola – 244 points