The Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo is offering the biggest prize in its 69-year history.
The event will be July 1-4 at Jones Park in Gulfport. Admission for all four days is $10 and daily admission is $5. Anglers fish for free.
A $20,000 prize will be offered if an angler catches a state record tiger shark after the mark is certified.
Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo president Richard Valdez said interest has doubled since the organization announced the five-figure prize.
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“What the amount has done is bring in interest from a lot of anglers in Alabama and Louisiana,” Valdez said. “That extra money has their attention. We’ve received a large number of calls from Alabama and Louisiana. They want to know about hotel rooms on the Coast.
“We usually average between 300 and 500 anglers for the Fishing Rodeo. I expect us to have another 200 anglers for this year’s tournament.”
What the amount has done is bring in interest from a lot of anglers in Alabama and Louisiana. That extra money has their attention. We’ve received a large number of calls from Alabama and Louisiana. They want to know about hotel rooms on the Coast.
Rich Valdez, Deep Sea Rodeo president, on biggest prize in tournament’s history
The Deep Sea Rodeo is a Fourth of July tradition that goes back to 1947.
“With the Fourth of July falling on a Monday, it gives us an extra day,” Valdez said. “That Monday will feel like a Saturday. The long holiday weekend will have a huge impact.”
The tournament gets underway Friday at 12:01 a.m. and ends Sunday at 4 p.m. Scales are open from noon to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday and close Monday at 4 p.m. Prizes are awarded for the top three places.
The Kids Fishing Rodeo will be July 2 from noon until 4 p.m. The weigh-in is also from noon to 4 p.m. and children 4 to 12 can fish.
Freshwater fish can be caught from any rivers, streams, lakes, bayous or ponds. Freshwater categories include bass, bream and catfish.
Saltwater fish can be caught anywhere in the Mississippi Sound or the Gulf of Mexico. Saltwater fish include speckled trout, redfish, white trout, croaker, ground mullet, flounder, sheepshead and drum.
All anglers fishing on craft, yachts and charter boats must be registered except the hired hands of the crew.
The rodeo pageant and crowning of the queen will be at 6:15 p.m. July 4.
A bikini contest will no longer take place at the rodeo. Valdez said the contest was never considered a rodeo event and was held by another organization.
Only five records have been tied or broken over the past decade:
▪ Taylor Butterworth: 109-pound tarpon in 2001, tying a record set in 1972.
▪ Donnie Simmons of Pass Christian: 99-pound, 8-ounce amberjack in 2006.
▪ Walter Crapps of Pass Christian: 2-pound, 15-ounce white perch in 2008.
▪ Tommy Williams of Slidell : Gray snapper weighing 12 pounds, 13 ounces in 2011.
▪ James Creech of D’Iberville: Pompano weighing 2 pounds, 12 ounces in 2014.
Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo
When: July 1-4
Where: Jones Park, Gulfport
Tickets: Four-day event is $10 or $5 daily. Anglers fish for free.
Fireworks show: 8:45 p.m. on July 4