More than two-dozen trout from nearly a pound to more than 4 pounds were weighed, tagged, revived and released back into Aloe Bay within the first 90 minutes the scales were open on Saturday.
One larger fish of more than 5 pounds did not survive and could not be entered in the Springhill Medical Center live weigh-in special category.
“I really think we’re going to see a lot of people this afternoon and all day Sunday,” he said. “We’d love to see the rodeo site full to capacity. It’s a little warm, so be prepared to deal with the heat, but otherwise the weather is perfect.”
Maurin also announced that there were 667 Speckled Trout Jackpot tickets sold, 82 in the King Mackerel Jackpot, 36 in the Big Game Jackpot and 19 in the new shark catch-and-release special category.
The University of South Alabama and Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s Dr. Marcus Drymon, who is also an assistant rodeo judge this year, video-verified the first-ever successful shark catch-and-releases late on the first day.
“We’re making up for the loss of research data in the number of sharks being released to reproduce,” Drymon said. “The people who came in Friday evening caught 13 sharks in a single day that might have been killed in the past.”
Veteran shark fishermen know which sharks are legal to land and which are protected.
Others, however, either through a failure to educate themselves or caught the shark as bycatch while fishing for something else, quite a few federally protected sharks were being brought to the rodeo docks.
Rodeo officials decided to go to a catch-and-release format to stop that unfortunate trend.
Drymon said one of the advantages he noticed immediately while reviewing videos submitted by Danny Winstanley, Randy Winstanley, Karl Baldwin and Danny Vise was that it provided a good teaching platform to people interested in learning more about sharks.
“It was great to see the reaction on their faces. They were very excited and very happy. It was interesting to see how the category is going to provide a good opportunity for us to directly educate these fishermen about sharks and how to better identify them.”
He also praised the crew’s attention to detail to ensure the shark had the best chance of surviving.
“They were using the correct tackle, they were keeping the fights nice and short and they were releasing the sharks in good condition. I fully expect to see them back this evening and if the rest of the people competing in the category do so with the same mindset I consider it a raging success,” Drymon said.
One issue that had Rodeo Assistant Judge Dr. Sean Powers concerned was that people were bringing too many oversize or “bull” red drum (redfish) to the weigh station.
Only redfish in the Alabama slot limit of 16 to 26 inches can legally be weighed at the rodeo scales, Powers emphasized.
Besides the excellent rodeo ticket sales, Maurin also announced that 1,003 kids competed in last Saturday’s Roy Martin Young Anglers Tournament.
Proceeds from the tournament fund the Mobile Jaycees’ Kids Christmas Shopping Tour that benefits as many as 100 children annually.
“That will make for a lot of happy kids at Christmastime,” Maurin said.