The Pompano Beach Fishing Rodeo began 47 years ago as a Pompano Beach Chamber of Commerce event. The original focus of the tournament was to keep out-of-state tourists in South Florida longer and bring greater awareness and recognition to the local charter boat fleet and the world-class fishing the region offers. Since its inception, the Pompano Beach Fishing Rodeo has maintained a unique two-day fishing format, which takes place annually in late May. The tournament has been referred to as “The Rodeo” since it began, as the competitive format calls for a roundup of the area’s most popular game fish including tuna, wahoo, king mackerel, cobia and dolphin. Anglers can compete in their own boats, or go head-to-head in the drift boat division.
While the event continues to see its share of ups and downs due to economic challenges, The Rodeo has certainly grown over the years and in 1978 was incorporated as a non-profit organization. Through the years the event has welcomed fishing families and friends along with top fishing teams and industry-leading sponsors. Companies like Mercury Marine and Publix continue to participate and help support this longstanding South Florida tradition. The Rodeo is also proud of its yearly support as a benefactor to various saltwater conservation efforts and marine education programs. This year, The Rodeo made a substantial donation to Nova Southeastern University’s School of Oceanography.
…all of the crews are fully determined to round up as many eligible fish as they can in hopes of winning cash, prizes and the bragging rights that come along with victory.
The third week in May continues its history as Rodeo Week, and officially commences on Wednesday evening with the captain’s meeting held at Alsdorf Park off the 14th Street Causeway in Pompano Beach. This is a great party atmosphere where teams take advantage of complimentary cocktails while sizing up the competition. Thursday is the final preparation day and allows competitors a last opportunity to formulate a winning game plan. Friday morning sees millions of dollars in high tech boats carrying anxious anglers out of either Boca Inlet, Hillsboro Inlet or Port Everglades, where check-out starts at 6:00 a.m. Trust us when we tell you that all of the crews are fully determined to catch as many eligible fish as they can in hopes of winning cash, prizes and the bragging rights that come along with victory.
While Friday offers a full day of fishing from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Saturday only permits anglers to fish until noon. The half day format allows participants ample time to check-in at Hillsboro Inlet and make their way to the weigh station to tally their catch. Afterwards, crews head home to clean up before returning to the fun-filled awards party at 6:00 p.m. the same evening.
This year, Double Diamond scored big by making every minute count. Slow trolling and kite fishing the fertile waters off Boynton Beach and Lake Worth, Gerrard Weigold, his son Carl, Anthony Elias, Corey McBride, Joey Lacalamita and Joe Herdering weighed an impressive two-day total of 291.9 pounds of fish to win The Rodeo. The 1st place victory paid the team $5,500 for Top Boat honors. The 35 foot Contender was also the top Mercury outboard-powered boat.
Weigold commented that he didn’t think his team had the tournament won. He knew the last few fish they caught put them in contention, but he also knew there were plenty of other big fish caught.
Matt White’s O-Sea-D took home 2nd Place with a very respectable 285.3 pounds of combined eligible fish during the two-day fishing event and also scored Top Female Angler thanks to Nikki White. In addition to her impressive catch, Nikki was also 7 months pregnant at the time! That little kid will certainly be one to look for in the future.
High Gear, a defending Rodeo champ, was less than a pound behind in 3rd Place with 284.8 pounds, however teammate Dan Capertino beat up a monster 52.4-pound smoker Saturday to win Big Fish honors, worth a welcoming $5,500. Kristina Diaz was also on board and was awarded top honors in the Small Fry division.
Scales racked up an impressive 4th Place finish with an accumulated 266.7 pounds, with their 2nd & 3rd Place Small Fry award-winning anglers Austin Miller and Ryley Bunn landing numerous quality fish.
Wet Hooker rallied late Saturday and managed to secure 5th Place with 229.5 pounds. With three solid king mackerel in the box at 11:15 a.m. on Saturday, Wet Hooker set a drift in 165 feet north of Boynton where they got blasted by a pack of hungry blackfin tuna. The team managed to land two of the fish and connected with another big kingfish at 11:55 a.m. just five minutes before lines-out.
This year’s event was certainly a wet one. While Friday morning started off sunny and hot with variable winds, by midday a severe thunderstorm rolled through the fishing grounds and literally put a damper on many of the teams’ efforts. Some escaped unscathed, while other crews got caught in the heart of the storm with blinding rain, hail and gusty winds. We were one of the unfortunate boats caught in the middle of the mayhem and swear the air temperature plummeted 20° F. Friday afternoon’s flooded weigh-in included trampling through puddles, and the awards party on Saturday evening was also a wash with relentless rain from start to finish.
Nevertheless, the 46 competing teams, including our very own Florida Sport Fishing that weighed the largest fish on Friday and barely missed a top ten finish aboard our Mercury-powered SeaVee, certainly experienced highs and lows with a sizzling hot bite at times, and a painfully slow pick at others. If you were anywhere near us then you know the pattern was pretty much the same during both days. Early in the morning mixed size kings were ferocious, literally clearing the air by ten feet as they skyrocketed on frantic kite baits. However, by late morning without a puff of wind and very little current, coercing cooperative fish became increasingly difficult.
Even with the lack of wind and relentless rain, the 47th Annual Pompano Beach Fishing Rodeo was a success. Competitors enjoyed the camaraderie and the chance to win big in a legendary South Florida fishing tournament. For complete results and info on how to participate in next year’s event, visit pompanofishingrodeo.com.