The Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association will host the 18th annual MBARA Kingfish Tournament from 5 a.m. until 5 p.m. CT on Saturday, Aug. 23.
The tournament is the biggest fundraiser for the MBARA and volunteers will use the money to build additional reefs for deployment in the Gulf of Mexico in 2015.
Since its inception in 1995, more than $1.4 million of artificial reefs have been placed off the shores of Mexico Beach and Port St. Joe.
The organization has operated the tournament since 1997, starting off with just 25 boats. Recent years have seen a peak of 196 boats and tournament director Ron Childs believes that 2015 will be the year the tournament will break 200.
“The king fishing has been outstanding this year and we’re going to set a record,” said Childs. “Of course, the weather is a big key factor.”
Fees for the tournament are $160 per boat, which can have as many fishermen as the captains can safely fit. The entry fee can be paid online at www.mbara.org or in person at the Mexico Beach Marina or Half Hitch Tackle and Bluewater Outrigger in Port St. Joe.
Registrations will also be taken during the Captain’s Party, to be held beginning at 5 p.m. CT at Beacon Hill Veterans Memorial Park on Friday, Aug. 22. Attendance at the Captains’ Party is not mandatory.
The Captain’s Party will be held for participating captains and crew members and will feature thousands of dollars in giveaways along with previews of the latest fishing gear and food and drink.
Childs said he is also excited to debut new digital scoreboards that will be stationed at the Mexico Beach Marina which will display the weigh-in results and keep a running tally of the top three boats.
“We’ve increased the technology for the tournament,” said Childs. “We have such big crowds and this way everyone will instantly know who’s ahead.”
Official rules and requirements for the tournament are available on the MBARA website. Anglers will be divided into two divisions; Recreational/Amateur or Professional/Masters.
To keep with tradition, cash prizes will be awarded to the anglers for King mackerel, Spanish mackerel and Wahoo in the Recreational/Amateur division.
Miss Kingfish 2014 has been announced as Port St. Joe’s own Morgan Guilford. She will be at the weigh-in on Saturday afternoon from 1-5 p.m. CT for pictures with the anglers and their fish. The public is invited to come to the Mexico Beach Marina for the weigh-in.
After the tournament ends on Saturday, captains, anglers and their families are invited to a dance Toucan’s Bar and Grill in Mexico Beach.
“Since we started this tournament 18 years ago, it’s been a great way of raising money for the reefs,” said Childs. “It’s been so successful and great way for the MBARA to get its name out there.”