Two tiger sharks pounded past the Mississippi state record on the second day of the 71st Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo on Saturday at Jones Park in Gulfport.
Michael Garrett of Ocean Springs arrived at the harbor at approximately 2:15 with his boat appearing to be leaning slightly to the left.
After about 25 minutes, spectators got their first look at the 152-inch, 675-pound pending new state record tiger shark.
"It feels pretty good. It's a lot bigger than we thought," said Garrett. "It's about 200 more pounds than we thought.
"We figured 450, maybe 500; 675, that's mighty impressive. We're happy with that."
Garrett said that it took him more than four and a half hours to get the fish in the boat.
"We never could get him in the boat," said Garrett. "We hooked him at 11:30 last night and got him to the side of the boat at 4:15 this morning and dragged him to shallow water, where it took nine of us to get him in the boat."
Garrett appears to be sitting in the driver's seat for the $25,000 prize money after breaking the current state record by 285 pounds. The existing state record of 390 pounds was set in 2016 by David Rogers.
Rogers, of Mobile, appears to be thinking, "Not so fast."
He's the reigning tiger shark state record holder, and he brought in a 479-pound tiger shark shortly after Garrett.
"That's actually not a great big one," said Rogers. "We lost one bigger than that this morning.
"We're going back out," said Rogers. "We're leaving tonight."
Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo president Richard Valdez said the tiger shark bounty, a prize of $25,000 for a new state record, is good for the rodeo.
"It's been an outstanding second day of the Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo," Valdez said. "They see them on shark week, but they can come out here and see these incredible sharks firsthand. Once the information gets out about these sharks, the public will want to see them."
Valdez credited the sponsors for making the tiger shark bounty and stingray bounty possible.
"The fishing rodeo without the sponsors could not put on a $50,000 bounty out here," said Valdez. "Two local companies right here in Gulfport came to us and put up the money for this type of event. One of them is Ronnie's Automotive and the other is Pat Fore Design Precast Pipe. Without that kind of support from the local community, there was no way we could do something like this."
A tentative record also was set in the youth rodeo on Saturday as Margaret Schindler, 8, of Diamondhead brought in a 26-pound, 8-ounce red drum.
The 71st Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo continues through Wednesday at Jones Park in Gulfport.