The most anticipated Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo in the tournament’s history starts Friday at Jones Park.
A record number of anglers is expected to compete in the four-day event that concludes on the Fourth of July.
Most of the talk about the rodeo has centered around a $20,000 prize if an angler catches a certified state record tiger shark.
The rodeo, which goes back to 1947, averages between 300 and 500 anglers each year. The number is expected to double this weekend.
Anglers from Louisiana, Alabama and Florida are expected to compete with Coast residents and other Mississippians for prizes in the top three places. Scales are open from noon to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday and will close Monday at 4 p.m.
“The $20,000 has brought more anglers into the tournament,” rodeo president Richard Valdez said. “Anglers also like that the registration is free. I’ve received 100 calls a day about the tournament. A lot of the anglers are asking about hotel rooms and looking for things for their wives and children to do in the area.”
Valdez credits Gulfport city officials for their assistance with promoting the rodeo.
“The city of Gulfport has helped with marketing the rodeo through social media on Twitter and Facebook,” Valdez said.
Saltwater fish can be caught anywhere in the Mississippi Sound or in the Gulf of Mexico. Saltwater fish include speckled trout, redfish, white trout, croaker, ground mullet, flounder, sheepshead and drum.
Freshwater fish can be caught from any rivers, streams, lakes, bayous or ponds. Freshwater categories include bass, bream and catfish.
Another popular part of the event is the Kids Fishing Rodeo, which will be from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. Children 4 to 12 can fish.
The rodeo pageant and crowning of the queen will be at 6:15 p.m. Monday and the city’s fireworks show will be at 8:45 p.m.
Admission for all four days is $10 and daily admission is $5.
Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo
When: Friday through Monday
Where: Jones Park, Gulfport.
Tickets: $10 for all four days or $5 daily. Anglers fish for free.