Mexico Beach offers something that most Gulf coast communities don’t: over 125 artificial reefs teeming with big game fish. In fact, the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association (MBARA) recently made history by deploying Florida’s first super reefs that are a staggering 17 to 25 feet tall. Mexico Beach says “Fish On!” as it casts off an exciting summer lineup of tournaments during the months of June, July and August.
“All of Mexico Beach’s upcoming fishing tournaments bring their own unique flair to the sport,” said Kimberly Shoaf, president of the Mexico Beach Community Development Council. “Plus, these popular competitions allow every level of angler the chance to reel in ‘the big one,’ not to mention support each other and the MBARA, which creates and enriches thriving fish habitats in Mexico Beach’s prolific Gulf Coast waters.”
June 7 – Golly Whopper Classic
Mexico Beach’s three-tournament series kicks off Saturday, June 7, with the Golly Whopper Classic featuring a one-day “Catch’em If You Can” kingfish and red snapper shootout. A kids division will be included again this year, as well as an inaugural category—red snapper spear fishing. One hundred percent of the entry fees will be paid out to the winners. Tournament entry fees are: $150 per boat, $35 per diver (spearfishing) and $25 per child 14 and under.
Last year, Charlie Lanford caught the largest red snapper, weighing 22.81 lbs, aboard the Gulf Business 3 with Captain Lee Cathey. “The king mackerel division also brought several sizeable fish to the scales,” said Golly Whopper’s co-director and sponsor, Zach Childs, “but none could compete with the 55.13-lb smoker caught aboard the Salty Mule, captained by Blake Anderson.”
The Golly Whopper Captains’ Party will be held Friday, June 6, at the Mexico Beach Marina. For rules and more information, visit 98realestategroup.com/gollywhopper or call Zach Childs at 819-0933.
July 25 – 10th Annual Offshore Classic
The Gulf of Mexico’s waters really heat up in midsummer when the 10th Annual Offshore Classic commences July 25–26 from the Mexico Beach Marina. Participating fishermen will have two days to reel in first ($1,500), second ($500) and third ($250) prize catches for each of the following categories: wahoo, dolphin and king mackerel.
Shoaf said, “One lucky angler will also receive a whopping $2,500 bonus bounty for his or her grand prize catch, and an optional jackpot will be available as well!”
Tournament weigh-ins will be held from 4–5:30 p.m. CDT at Mexico Beach Marina on July 25-26. The entry fee for this year’s Offshore Classic is $200 through June 30 and $250 afterward. The Captains’ Party will be held from 5:30–8:30 p.m. CDT Thursday, July 24 at Toucan’s restaurant on Mexico Beach. For more tournament details, visit mexicobeachmarina.com or call 648-8900.
August 23 – 18th Annual MBARA Kingfish Tournament
Last, but certainly not least, the 18th Annual MBARA Kingfish Tournament takes place on Saturday, August 23, and is the biggest fund-raiser of the year for this volunteer organization, which is credited with building over a million dollars’ worth of artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico since 1997.
Prizes will be awarded in the recreational division for the following: King mackerel, with $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second and $1,000 for third; $1,000 to the top wahoo; and $500 for the winning Spanish mackerel.
This year’s competition also includes a new category—king mackerel in the professional masters division, for which a 50-percent split of the entry fees—up to $3,000—will be awarded to the king of kings. Competitors may review the new rules and preregister at www.mbara.org.
Tournament director Ron Childs detailed a few other changes for 2014: “We have a new Miss Kingfish, a new T-shirt, a new tournament magazine with hundreds of pictures from last year’s competition, a new smoker for creating sausage perfection, and new door prizes that will once again make this a premier tournament in the Florida Panhandle.”
The Kingfish Tournament Captains’ Party will be held 5:30–8:30 p.m. CDT on Thursday, August 24, at Toucan’s on Mexico Beach. The tournament after-party will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, August 26, at Mexico Beach Marina. Entry fees are $160 per boat (with no limit on the number of anglers aboard), plus a $5 online fee.