LONG BEACH, Mississippi -- Lulu Nevers' 18-pound, 10-ounce bonita didn't set a record at the 64th annual Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo on Tuesday, but she's got plenty of time to chase the 23-pounder landed by C.J. Saucier of Biloxi in 1950.
Nevers is 7 years old.
The little girl from Bogalusa, La., was fishing offshore with her father, Andy, when she landed the bonita, which is nearly five pounds larger than any other brought to the rodeo scales this year. Nevers also brought in the second biggest fish in the category on Tuesday, a 13-pound, 14-ouncer, plus a 10-pound, 14-ounce gray (mangrove) snapper to take over second place in that category.
"Everybody else in the boat had a fish on the line at the same time and her rod was in the rod-holder when the (larger bonita) hit," Nevers' mother, Amanda, said. "They just knew it was fixin' to break the line."
"But I wouldn't let it," Lulu said.
Even weighmaster Mark Wright, a lifelong veteran of the MDSFR, was impressed with Nevers' big catch.
"I haven't seen a bonita that size in a long time," he said.
Nevers wasn't the only young angler to have a big day on Tuesday. Austin Fox -- a 17-year-old heading into his senior year at St. Martin High School -- brought in what was easily the biggest lemonfish (cobia) of the rodeo, a 64-pounder he caught 60 miles south of Ocean Springs while fishing with live poagies aboard Whipa Snapa Charters.
The previous top lemonfish of this year's rodeo had been the 47-pound, 9-ouncer landed by Pascagoula's David Floyd on Monday. The rodeo record is 89 pounds by Butch McQueen of Biloxi in 1984.
There have been no rodeo records to fall this year, but one came close on Tuesday. David Wilder of Gulfport weighed in a 27-pound blackfish (tripletail), only 10 ounces off the record set by Artie Scholes of Pascagoula in 1974.
Also taking over the rodeo lead Tuesday was Pass Christian's Jeremy Niolet, who brought in a 6-pound, 4-ounce flounder just 20 minutes before the scales closed for the day. Kiln's Eric Ladner had briefly held the category lead with a 5-pounder weighed in some 15 minutes earlier.
Saucier's Michael Lehman weighed in a 26-pound, 11-ounce grouper, good for first place with one day left in the rodeo. Wayne Williams of Slidell, La., previously held the lead with a 20-pound, 14-ouncer on Sunday.
Corinth's Brian Inman brought in a 94-pound, 9-ounce bull shark to move into second place in that category behind the 95-pound, 7-ounce lemon shark landed by Biloxi's Glen Davis on Monday. Also Tuesday, Dennis Adams of Biloxi took over the category lead with a 122-pound, 1-ounce alligator gar.
On the freshwater side, Ryan Clement of Slidell, La., edged into first place by one ounce with a 6-pound, 15-ounce speckled trout. Pass Christian's Dustin Ladner weighed in a 6-pound, 14-ouncer while winning Sunday's speckled trout shootout. The rodeo concludes today, with gates opening at noon and scales closing at 4 p.m.