New fishing rodeo weighmaster follows tradition of family involvement

New fishing rodeo weighmaster follows tradition of family involvement
Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo weighmaster Donnie Armes gives his grandson, Rodie, 9, instructions as he organizes the fish bin on Friday. (Source: John Fitzhugh)

GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing rodeo is all about tradition, and even though a new weighmaster has taken over the scales, he is continuing the tradition of family that has been a hallmark of the event.

Donnie Armes has worked at the fishing rodeo for 25 years. He started out cleaning fish and used to work at the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources with George Wright, who was weighmaster for at least 25 years.

Wrights son Mark took over the spot in 2004, and the whole Wright family was always part of the crew.

Rinlee Armes, 3, drags a fish to be cleaned Friday at the Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo at Jones Park in Gulfport. Armes grandfather, Donnie, became weighmaster this year, taking over for Mark Wright.
Rinlee Armes, 3, drags a fish to be cleaned Friday at the Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo at Jones Park in Gulfport. Armes grandfather, Donnie, became weighmaster this year, taking over for Mark Wright. (Source: John Fitzhugh)

Now that Armes is weighmaster, his family is also all-in.

“My wife and sister-in-law work the computers, my son helps weigh in the fish, grandson totes fish, my little three-year-old grandson, he totes fish,” Armes said. “Most of the time he’s down there, you see him now he’s throwing the ice around. So he’s just working his way in.”

Wright is now working as a charter boat captain. He had planned to make some money with some charters over the holiday weekend, but instead he took his family fishing. He and his wife entered some jack cravelle into the rodeo, and he won a daily prize for his one-pound, two-ounce speckled trout on Thursday.

Armes said it is a “big honor” to take over where the Wrights left off. He also mentioned that the rodeo refers to bass as green trout in honor of George Wright because that’s what he called them.

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