The annual Kingfish Tournament, hosted by the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association (MBARA), will be held on Saturday, Aug. 29.

The annual Kingfish Tournament, hosted by the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association (MBARA), will be held on Saturday, Aug. 29.

This year will mark the 19th installment of the tournament and will offer competing anglers $7,500 in prizes.

A captain’s party will be held at 5 p.m. CT Friday, Aug. 28 at Veterans Memorial Park in Beacon Hill. The event will feature food, drinks, music and door prizes.

A raffle will be held for a Browning A-5 Ultimate 12-gauge automatic shotgun, a PENN Reel and Star rod combination, a spinning rod and reel combination from Mitch Coleman of Floridaze Adventures and a $1,000 gift certificate to Bluewater Outriggers. 

Fishermen will be able to register for the tournament at the party, or in advance by visiting the Mexico Beach Marina or Bluewater Outriggers and Half Hitch Tackle in Port St Joe, or online through the MBARA web site. The entry fee for the event is $175 per boat.

Fishing begins at 5 p.m. ET and ends at 5 p.m.

“I think what makes our tournament special is that it’s a traditional place and time where friends, old and new, come to have fun,” said MBARA President Bob Cox. “Some come to our captain’s party to donate and just have fun even without fishing the next day … many come and contribute in appreciation of the work we do with our artificial reef program.”

The tournament attracts an average of 150 boats each year and helps the MBARA raise funds for future reef deployments.

“This event is our largest annual charity fundraiser and all proceeds will go to building artificial reefs,” Cox said. “I want to thank all our sponsors making wonderful contributions to help host one of the best tournaments in Florida.”

To date the MBARA has spent more than $2 million deploying reefs in the waters of the Gulf.

“This (tournament) has been a labor of love since l997 when we started the MBARA,” said tournament director Ron Childs. “We have worked our tails off and we have produced more than 200 new artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico with an all-volunteer group.”    

Each year the Mexico Beach Marina uses the tournament as a platform to dedicate an artificial reef in honor of a member in the community who has given back and supported the marina, MBARA and ecotourism.

This year, Piggly Wiggly owner George Duren and his family will be the recipients of the reef, to be known as the Duren Family Wounded Warrior Memorial.

According Nate Odum, he and Marina co-owner Bill Mulligan have been friends with the Duren family for years and are thrilled with the opportunity to honor them.

“We bought the marina in late 2009 and met George shortly after,” Odum said. “He offered some early and valuable advice as well as ongoing counsel through the years.  He is not only what we would refer to as a dear friend, but also someone whom we have tremendous respect for.”

Each year Duren sponsors the Forgotten Coast Warrior Weekend and fishing tournament, an event focused on bringing injured military personnel to Gulf County and Mexico Beach to show them a fun and relaxing time.

“I’ve personally participated in the annual Wounded Warrior Tournaments George arranges and know firsthand all the work he and his team puts into this multi-day and memorable event,” Cox said. “Aside from this, they have also been one of MBARA’s biggest supporters for many years. They make a real difference in our community that we all benefit from.”

As Odum sees it, when it came time to choose a name for the 2015 memorial, the choice was simple.

“When we thought about the reef this year we were focusing on the Vets and Wounded Warriors and their families when we started thinking of George, since he has made it his focus to honor them every year,” Odum said. “It just made perfect sense to honor George and his family. They are all wonderful people and we are honored that they have allowed us to do this for them.”

Register for the Kingfish Tournament online at www.mbara.org/tournament-registration.cfm.