Outdoors

Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic returns with bigger prizes

A Work of Art, bottom, leaves the Point Cadet Harbor in Biloxi for the boat parade to kick of the 2016 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic.
A Work of Art, bottom, leaves the Point Cadet Harbor in Biloxi for the boat parade to kick of the 2016 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic gets bigger each year.

The 21st annual Classic will be held next weekend at the Point Cadet Marina in Biloxi. Golden Nugget is the tournament’s host.

One of the nation’s best bluewater tournaments, the Billfish Classic expects to have a record-110 boats competing in the three-day tournament. The

Carter, who has worked with the Billfish Classic since its inception, sees the event get stronger each year.

“We’re looking forward to having a great tournament,” Carter said. “It’s the hospitality that makes this tournament great and people look forward to it. It’s a great atmosphere.”

Anglers from Corpus Christi, Texas, to Key West, Fla., leads a strong field batting for prizes. The total payout for competitors will be more than $2 million.

Fish categories include blue marlin, tuna, dolphin and wahoo. Prizes are awarded by the largest fish per category and are given out for first, second and third place.

Clint Herring, fishing from the Cotton Patch, won last year with a 633-pound marlin, winning more than $235,000.

Boats start arriving Monday.

The Classic has produced eight state of Mississippi records. Two records were set during its first year: blue marlin at 631.8 pounds and 917.4 pounds. Barry Carr of Georgia caught a blue marlin that weighed 1,054 pounds in 2012.

The Billfish Classic has a key change. MGCBC tournament officials decided the new requirement for blue marlin would be 107 inches. The previous length was 100 inches. Blue Marlin caught in the tournament must measure at least 107 inches from the tip of the lower jaw to the fork of the tail. The 100-inch mark was one inch above the federally established mandate for blue marlin harvest.

Here’s a schedule of events:

▪ A dock party will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

▪ Registration for the event starts Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Golden Nugget ballroom.

▪ A mandatory captains’ meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Golden Nugget Grand ballroom, followed by the Captain’s and Angler’s party at 6:30 p.m.

▪  After a boat parade at 11 a.m. Thursday from the Point Cadet Marina past the Beau Rivage, the fishing will begin and concludes Saturday at 9 p.m. Scales will open Friday at 3 p.m. and stay open until 8 p.m. Scales open Saturday at 3 p.m. and close by 6 p.m. All boats must check in by Saturday at 7 p.m.

▪ An event ceremony will be held June 12 at 10:30 a.m. in the Golden Nugget Ballroom.

James Jones: 228-896-2320, @_jkjones

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