The annual MBARA Kingfish Tournament is Saturday

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

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

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

“This (tournament) has been a labor of love since 1997 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.”    

The Kingfish tournament is an annual fundraiser that benefits the MBARA for future reef deployments. To date the organization has spent more than $3 million deploying reefs in the waters of the Gulf.

“Our goal back in 1997 was 500 reefs and $5 million dollars and as of this year we are at 200 new reefs and about 3.8 million dollars raised for artificial reefs,” Childs said. “We are on target.”

The tournament attracts an average of 150 boats each year and is famous for its captain’s party which features lots of food, drinks, music and big ticket door prizes.

This year’s party will be held at 5 p.m. CT Friday, Aug. 28 at Veterans Memorial Park in Beacon Hill.

“We make it fun all weekend with a big party on Friday night, a big party on Saturday afternoon, and another big dance on Saturday night,” Childs said. “Our tournament committee tries to make this special for everyone--not just the ones who win cash prizes for the biggest fish.  

Among the prizes to be raffled off this year will be 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.

“With all the new reefs the Mexico Beach area has become one of the best fishing areas in the southeastern United States,” Childs said. “People are now calling it the Red Snapper capital of Florida. Our fishing is now the best anywhere in the state.” 

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