Outdoors

Sunday will be a big day for the Billfish Classic. Here’s where things stand.

It looks like Sunday is going to be the charm for spectators at the 23rd Annual Gulf Coast Billfish Classic at Point Cadet.

For the third time in the history of the classic, weather has affected the tournament’s schedule. This year the tournament was extended a day after severe weather caused many participants to drop out of this year’s classic.

“We had 117 boats here on the coast to participate in the 23rd annual Billfish Classic,” said tournament director Bobby Carter. “This weather system came up out of the Bay of Campeche and was supposed to go further west, but seemed to stall and come up and made it a little unpredictable for us.

“We had a meeting and gave everyone the option to either fish with the seas getting better hopefully toward the weekend, or they had the option to pull out of the tournament and roll over to next year. Out of the 117 boats, 25 decided they wanted to fish, so that’s what we ended up with, a field of 25.

“I respect the decision of each and everyone of the captains on each boat, 100 percent whether they decided to fish or not to fish,” said Carter.

The other two weather/disasters to interfere with the Billfish Classic were in 2005 during Tropical Storm Arlene and following the BP oil spill in 2010.

Carter went on to explain that prize money for the event was significantly impacted. Last year’s total was approximately $2.5 million. Prize money this weekend will total approximately half a million dollars.

“The more boats, the more money,” said Carter. “That’s still a lot of money.”

It appeared that the 25 teams of fishermen were taking advantage of the extended day of the tournament. When the scales opened on Saturday, not one boat had showed up to weigh fish. However, five boats had reported that they caught and released marlin.

Late Saturday, one boat showed up with a tuna and another had a couple of blue wahoos.

So, Sunday is building up to be a huge day for the classic as the scales open at 2 o’clock and will stay open until 5.

The classic is free and open to the public.

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