With 105 boats already pre-registered for the 2019 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic and many more expected before the June 3 kick-off, the stakes will again be high for this popular sport-fishing event. More than $2 million in prize money was awarded in 2017 and 2018. Yet tournament organizers are sweetening the pot just a little more this year.
“We’re adding a special $25,000 incentive that will be paid if the winning fish is caught on a lure,” says Tournament Director Bobby Carter. “It has to be strictly a lure with no meat or bait attached. Dozens of genuine trophy blue marlin have been caught on plastics in the Gulf over the years, so including this special payout adds an interesting wrinkle to this year’s event.”
The Classic was the first tournament in the Gulf to increase the minimum length requirement to boat a blue marlin to 110 inches. Fish are measured from the tip of the lower jaw to the fork of the tail. Smaller billfish can still be caught and released as part of the competition. Teams can also enter optional release division categories for a chance at six-figure prize payouts. Qualifying catches are verified by video confirmation.
“We are continuing to work with the other Gulf tournaments to standardize the catch and release rules,” explains Tournament Coordinator Bert Merritt. “That aspect is a major component as we all move forward, especially with the levels of prize money involved. Our catch data bears this out. In today’s climate, raising the length to 110 inches to boat a qualifying blue makes sense.”
In addition to the blue marlin weight category and the release division (smaller blues, white marlin and sailfish/spearfish), teams can also weigh yellowfin tuna, wahoo and dolphin. The swordfish category has been retired after the new Mississippi state record was set in 2017.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic is hosted by the Golden Nugget Casino & Hotel in Biloxi. Besides world-class gaming, the area offers beaches, golf, shopping and fine dining for family members who choose to stay ashore.
The 2019 MGCBC will be held June 3-9 at the Golden Nugget Casino & Hotel/Point Cadet Marina in Biloxi, Mississippi. To enter or learn more about the rules and tournament history, please visit www.mgcbc.com or through social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).
Contact: Bobby Carter, 228-239-2575; firstname.lastname@example.org