The sun was out and so were the people this weekend at the Point Cadet Marina behind the Golden Nugget Casino. Families came out in mass Saturday afternoon to enjoy the sunshine and see the large fish landed by the competitors in the 2021 Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic. According to their website, this event is widely known as the premier billfish tournament event in the entire Gulf of Mexico. Participants come from far and wide for the fantastic offshore bite, record-breaking fish, millions in cash payouts, and the exciting atmosphere.
In its 25th year, the competition had over a hundred boats compete with over $2 million in prize money on the line. The competition began on Thursday, June 10, at 11 a.m. when the 101 competitors left the Point Cadet Harbor headed to deeper water. The anglers left in hopes of landing one of the prized billfish species to weigh in at the scales: blue marlin (110-inch minimum), swordfish (60-inch minimum), tuna (20 lbs. minimum), wahoo (20 lbs. minimum), and the dolphinfish (20 lbs. minimum). On Friday and Saturday afternoon, the scales were open for participants to bring their catch to be weighed and see where their fish ranked on the leader board. All culminating with an award ceremony on Sunday.
On Saturday afternoon the harbor was flooded with excited children and adults alike to see these giants of the sea. Boats pulled in and off-loaded fish while the crowds looked on in awe. People lined the barricades and filled the stands. The excitement of the audience and anglers was palpable as the fish were hoisted in the air to be weighed. As the MC announced the final weights, the crowd erupted in applause as they awed at the beautiful beasts landed by the anglers.
After weighing in, competitors from the “SNAFU” team were all smiles Saturday afternoon celebrating the success of one of their anglers, Mike Woods. Mike landed the heaviest Tuna at a whopping 212.20 lbs. and brought home over $20,000 in prize money. Beating the 2020 1st place tuna by 46 pounds. The boat had been in the competition before but had several on board that had never fished offshore.
With over 30 different award categories the tournament had a total payout of $1,818,520.20. The top prize was awarded to “It Just Takes Time” angler Nick Pratt with a 793.00 lbs. blue marlin winning $101,000 (according to the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources the current state record is 1054 lbs.).
From the look of all the smiles and all of the celebration, a great time was had by both the anglers and participants. For more information on all the awards from the competition, click here.