Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo may have no fish - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo may have no fish

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

By Doug Walker – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The barricades are being put into place, tents and pavilions are going up, and the rides are being erected.  The scene is just like any other typical day before the Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo.  But this year in anything but typical, thanks to the oil that keeps on coming.

Mark Wright is the rodeo weighmaster.   

"The closure line keeps getting pushed more and more west," Wright said.   "We still have some open water, we've got the bays, we've got the rivers coastwide north of Highway 90 and the train bridges." 

So, with the deep sea off limits, what happens now?  Wright has the answer.  

"We're going to focus more on the freshwater side.  You know, this is the deep sea fishing rodeo, but due to the circumstances, we're counting on our freshwater anglers to pull us through this year." 

The decision to hold the rodeo at all was a difficult one and risky at best, according to Aaron McGill, the rodeo vice-president.   

"Just like everybody else, watching the oil come in and waters closed, we finally had to pull the trigger and make a decision about two weeks ago, do or die, and we're going to go with it."  

While rodeo officials are expressing concerns about attendance and the actual act of fishing this year, one other group is also expressing concern.  Those are the vendors who come here every year to sell their wares.  Will there actually be enough customers? 

Sharon Reeves sells funnel cakes. 

"I think that this rodeo is not going to be one of best," Reeves said.  "We hope that the locals will help support us because we will be back next year in full swing."   

Whether or not the rodeo reaches full swing this year depends a lot on what fishermen depend on, Mother Nature and good luck.

The rodeo begins at midnight, and the scales open for the first time Thursday at noon.  The rodeo will run through early evening on the 4th of July.

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