Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo begins its 66th year

jkjones@sunherald.com Twitter:July 2, 2014 

New records have been hard to come by in recent years in the Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo, but chances are there will be new marks established this year in the 66th annual event.

The fishing rodeo will be held today through Sunday at the Gulfport Harbor at Jones Park. The city of Gulfport will host the Fishing Rodeo for the 59th time.

Pompano and Sheepshead were added as categories in 2013, but no records could be set in the two species' first year on the list.

If participants can top last year's marks of 8 pounds, 13 ounces, in Sheepshead and 2 pounds, 8 ounces for Pompano, there will be new Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo records set.

"Chances are there will be records broken," said Mark Wright, weighmaster for the Rodeo.

This year's Deep See Fishing Rodeo will be a little different than years past with no shootout included.

"We decided to restructure a few things," Wright said.

Admission is $10 for a wristband that is good for gate admission all four days, $5 daily. The tournament is free for anglers to fish.

The event has 22 saltwater and five freshwater divisions. The 2013 tournament had 25 fishing categories -- 19 saltwater and six freshwater. The kids' rodeo will be held on Saturday. Scales will be open today through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. and Sunday from Noon to 4 p.m.

Anglers from the Coast, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee and Texas are among those who usually compete in the Fishing Rodeo.

"We always have people come over from all parts of the region," board member Richard Valdez said.

"One year, we had someone from Canada fishing in the fishing rodeo. They all come out to celebrate the Fourth of July with us."

During the tournament, rodeo officials keep catches on ice for spectator viewing throughout the weekend.

Wright grew up around the rodeo, and eventually replaced his father as weighmaster.

"I wanted to follow my dad," Wright said. "It was very important for me to succeed him. Being around my dad, I was able to gain a wealth of knowledge on the seafood industry. When it was time for me to take over, he handed it over."

A unique part about the Fishing Rodeo is the carnival rides, which are available at additional cost during the event's four days. Rodeo grounds remain open well after the fishing scales close. The grounds are open until midnight Thursday through Saturday. The rodeo closes at 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

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