Categories added for July 19-21 Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo

Categories added for July 19-21 Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo
By David Rainer
Al. Dept. of Natural Resources
A new dock and boardwalk, a new live weigh-in category and a new species for catch and release are among the highlights for the 91st annual Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo (ADSFR), set for July 19-21 at the rodeo site on Dauphin Island.
The new dock and boardwalk will increase the capacity for the number of boats that can be tied up to head to the weigh-in station, and the boardwalk will also provide access to the north side of the rodeo property.
“We added a dock 7 to help alleviate pressure during the busy weigh-in times,” said Matt Glass, ADSFR President. “Also, between docks 1 and 2, we added a platform across that with pilings and stringers to make a huge platform. The reason we did that was to be able to tie up two small boats on the end of the platform or back two big boats into the slips to get to the crane to weigh in your big fish like sharks and billfish. Technically, now you can have four big boats pull in all at once.
“We extended the boardwalk all the way to the edge of the property on the north side to give scientists more room to work. We set some pilings up there so the Sheriff’s Flotilla and the scientists can tie up their boats so they’re not taking up dock space. And the boardwalk gives them easy access to their work area.”
The ADSFR started as a tarpon tournament in 1929, long before a bridge allowed easy access to the island, with 250 anglers. With only a break during World War II, the rodeo has grown exponentially and was designated the world’s largest saltwater fishing tournament by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2011. This year’s rodeo is expected to draw about 4,000 anglers from all across the nation.
Regular rodeo categories include 15 inshore species and 18 offshore species. Each category has a minimum size. Go to to find the rodeo species and minimum sizes.
As usual, the Roy Martin Young Anglers Tournament will be held the Saturday (July 13) prior to the ADSFR and is available to anglers 15 years old and younger.
Along with about 4,000 rodeo anglers, marine scientists flock to the ADSFR because of the access to a wide variety of species as well as the larger size of fish that are caught during the competition. Marine scientists will collect a great deal of data during the three-day tournament. Dr. Sean Powers, rodeo judge and head of the University of South Alabama Marine & Environmental Sciences Department, will bring a crew of students and researchers to sample a variety of fish.
Dr. Marcus Drymon of Mississippi State University will bring a team to take a samples from the shark species brought to the scales at the rodeo site. The Dauphin Island Sea Lab will also have a crew at the rodeo to assist with the sampling.
One of the new features that will aid marine scientists is the addition of the catch-and-release category for jack crevalle.
“One of our scientists, Dr. Marcus Drymon, was very adamant about it,” Glass said. “He’s been doing a lot of research on it, and he’s working with scientists in south Florida. He thought it would be a good idea. Up here in the northern Gulf, they’re everywhere. They’re using this to learn more about the fish, and we’re always happy to help the scientists.”
Flounder has been added to the species that can be brought to the weigh-in site alive and be entered to win a variety of prizes. Previously, the category allowed only redfish and speckled trout.
Scott Bannon, Director of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Marine Resources Division, said the shark category allows marine scientists access to species that are rarely available to study.
“The public likes to see those big sharks, and that was a big one,” Bannon said. “On the science side of things, when those species are brought in, Dauphin Island Sea Lab and the University of South Alabama are able to obtain so much scientific data on those species they don’t see very often. So, there are benefits to those limited species of sharks being landed to be used for scientific purposes.”

Conservation Commissioner Chris Blankenship applauded the evolution of the ADSFR, which has been a part of his life for a long, long time.
“I love the ADSFR,” Commissioner Blankenship said. “Growing up on Dauphin Island and then working for the Alabama Department of Conservation, I have attended or fished in more than half of the 91 rodeos. A lot has changed with the event over those years. I think the ADSFR is in the best place ever with the way the event is done now with a focus on science, conservation and highlighting the great inshore and offshore fishing we have in Alabama.”
Snapper Check data indicate there will be plenty of red snapper quota remaining for the rodeo. The 2024 catch limit is 659,654 pounds. As of June 17, MRD’s data showed that the harvest had not reached the 200,000-pound mark.
“It’s looking really good for red snapper,” Glass said. “Harvest numbers right now are low, so the statistics show we will absolutely have the red snapper. It’s a huge part of the rodeo.”
Ticket holders who weigh in a legal fish in the 91st rodeo will be eligible for more than $450,000 in cash and prizes
A project of the Mobile Jaycees, the ADSFR kicks off on Thursday, July 18, with the Captain T-Bone’s Liars Contest, followed by three days of fishing competition. The big rodeo opens with a cannon blast at 5 a.m. on Friday, July 19. The ADSFR closes with another cannon blast at 5 p.m. on July 21. ADSFR and Roy Martin tickets can be purchased at fishingchaos. com.