Coast Stores Reel In Hunting And Fishing Business

Chance Tillman took a chance at the Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo this year, and landed a big Redfish. It weighed 30 pounds, 15 ounces.

"He put up a pretty good fight. I fought that fish for probably about 30 minutes. But it was fun. It was worth it," Tillman said.

Tillman's fishing buddy didn't do too bad either. He pulled in a 47 pound shark. Both guys got hooked on fishing at an early age.

"I've been fishing since I was 2 years old. I was born and raised fishing, born and raised hunting on the Gulf Coast. I've been doing it all my life," Tillman said.

"Probably my grandma, she taught me how to fish and I moved up to bigger game," Jarrod Knesal said.

The popularity in fishing and hunting helps Tony Deas reel in a lot of business. He's been running Sports Unlimited for 30 years.

"It's always been a lot of hunters, always a lot of fishermen, especially down here. As the population has grown, so has the participation in the sport," Tony Deas said.

"It's very popular. I'm the hunting and fishing manager at Academy Sports and we generally do 40% of the store's business every week," Matt Smith said.

The area's hunting and fishing tradition was the lure that brought national retailer Academy Sports to Gulfport.

"The hunting here is second to none. We got great access to fishing, especially speckled trout and redfish fishing," Smith said.

As long as the Coast continues to offer hot fishing spots and plenty of game, sporting goods stores don't have to hunt too hard for business. Just to give you an idea of just how popular fishing is on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo in Gulfport is expected to attract as many as 250,000 people.