Outdoors

Coast Billfish team will compete in Offshore World Championships

SUBMITTED Southern Miss boat owner Tony Petro and his crew will compete in the Offshore Fishing World Championships in Costa Rica, starting April 18.
SUBMITTED Southern Miss boat owner Tony Petro and his crew will compete in the Offshore Fishing World Championships in Costa Rica, starting April 18.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Big Game Fishing Club team will compete in the 2016 Offshore World Billfish Championship this week at Quepos, Costa Rica. The tournament starts April 18 and concludes April 21. An awards ceremony will be held on April 22.

Representing the state of Mississippi are owner Tony Petro, participating anglers Bobby Carter, Joe Hudson, Adam Ladnier, Alex Soto, Ray Romero, Shane O'Neal, Bobby Wade on the vessel Southern Miss. Through Carter, the Mississippi Billfish Classic is the boat's sponsor.

The Offshore World championship is a qualifying event for 65 teams from other parts of the World. Petro and his crew automatically qualified by winning the Sonny Johnson Memorial Tournament last year.

"It's a big deal," Petro said. "I'm honored to be a part of it. Only nine American teams are competing in the event. We'll be competing against teams from Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and New Zealand. It's an impressive group of teams around the world."

The Mississippi Billfish Classic team finished 18th last year with a total of 10,052 points. Two years ago, the Billfish team finished fifth. Last year's offshore championship came down to the Final fish. The Sea Horse Anglers Club Billfish Tournament of Bermuda narrowly defeated the Torneio de Marlin do Rio de Janeiro Brazil in a tiebreaker to win the championship in 2015. The world-wide tournament is presented by the Costa Rican Tourist Board (ICT), Essential Costa Rica and Marina Pez Vela. The Melton International Tackle and Scale Master among the event's numerous sponsors. The Offshore World Championship was a record-setting event last year. It broke the record for the most billfish ever released in a tournament, with 2,840 billfish returning to the blue waters.

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