By: Nancy Marchbanks
The Sport Fishing and Charter Boat industry took a very heavy hit due to the oil spill. Happily, the situation is improving because of the swift action of the Mississippi Hotel and Lodging Association. A brand new promotion kicked off in October and continues through November 6th, offering big prize money for fishermen (and women) who book charters and bring in the heaviest catch in four catagories – Reds, King Mackerel, Red Snappers and Cobia. The Charter Boat Challenge certainly lit a spark because bookings for fishing trips are up again!
There is no registration fee, however participants MUST pre-register with the MH&LA before getting on the boat. “We are very pleased about how things are going. Having never done anything like this before, we had no idea how it would turn out but interest is very high. For the first two weeks alone we had 90 charters booked…it’s wonderful,” Linda Hornsby, Executive Director of the Mississippi Hotel and Lodging Association said.
Although the Charter Boat Challenge is now near completion, it has been a huge success. The 1st place winners each week in each of the 4 fish species, were declared on the following Monday mornings. The prize for each weekly first place winner is entrance into the final Championship, and a complimentary two-night stay at the Hard Rock. In addition, winners receive another charter boat fishing trip on November 6th, where they will compete in the Challenge Championship. After every charter boat excursion, anglers weigh their catch at the Weigh Master’s station at the Hard Rock Dock. All information is entered there and maintained until the end of the tournament.
A very exciting event runs in conjunction with the Charter Boat Challenge; The Gulf Coast SHOOTOUT which takes place on November 6th. It is open to ALL anglers, and ALL boats whether they be individuals, private, or charter. The fee is $200 per boat until November 4th. Remember, you must be registered through the MH&LA in order to compete for the prize money. After November 4th, the registration fee goes up an additional $50 per boat. The four categories remain the same as in the Charter Boat Challenge. Each boat will be eligible to win the total amount of the SHOOTOUT prize money.
All registered Boat Captains are invited to the Captain’s Kickoff Meeting and Party which will be held at the Hard Rock in Biloxi. Complimentary food and drink will be served at the Rock and Roll Rooms and at The Ledge. The event promises to be something extra special, and Live Entertainment will featured as well. The fishing begins as the clock strikes 12 AM on Saturday, November 6th and concludes that afternoon. All fish must be turned in at the Weigh In station, at the Hard Rock Casino’s Dock no later than 4 PM on Saturday. Prizes will be presented at the Awards Ceremony on property once all catches have been documented and authenticated by the Weigh Master.
It is important to note that the SHOOTOUT is a family attraction. Even the youngest angler, fishing from a registered boat, participates in all the excitement and fun. There is no age restriction however children will not be permitted to attend the Awards Party at the Hard Rock following the contest. It is for adults only.
As always, the Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo will offer all kinds of activities and special entertainment during the event – The Hard Rock poolside is the place to be! Check the website or call for more information. (see ad)