Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic Creates Lure Incentive

A new twist in this years Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic.

There will be a new twist at the 2019 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic June 3-9 at the Golden Nugget Casino & Hotel/Point Cadet Marina in Biloxi, Mississippi.

With 105 boats already pre-registered and many more expected, the stakes will be high. 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,” said 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,” explaieds 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.

For more information, visit www.mgcbc.com.

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