Biloxi Hosts National Fishing Tournament

Hundreds of fishermen and their families are spending their time and money on the coast this weekend.

For the third year, Biloxi is hosting the Southern Kingfish Association fishing tournament.

At sunrise Friday, four hundred boats raced toward the Gulf of Mexico with anxious fishermen aboard.

They motored toward the staging area before sun up. Hundreds of boats maneuvered for prime position just beyond the Biloxi-Ocean Springs bridge. The SKA tournament is major league fishing.

"It's the largest number of boats and the largest number of people who come here for a fishing tournament. So, we're excited about it. Worked real hard to get it here. The casinos have participated, the city has been represented as well," said charter boat captain, Rusty David.

Fancy fishing boats, some costing more than a house, awaited the starting signal. Fishermen bundled in cold weather gear were anxious to get going. A few early risers braved the morning chill to view the fishing flotilla from the old bridge.

At last, the fishermen got what they'd been waiting for.  A spectacular sunrise signaled the start of the SKA tournament.

The high horse power parade kicked up the water, as hundreds of boats roared southward toward the Gulf of Mexico. These visitors will also be making waves in the hospitality industry.

Keith Crosby is the general manager of the Palace Casino.

"It equates to about twenty seven hundred room nights in our area. That includes casino and non casino venues here. Besides the fact these guys are buying fuel, they're bringing their families with them. It all in all encompasses every segment of our market," he said.

"You're looking at each boat having probably ten to twelve people accompany the boat over a period of four or five days. So, the economic impact has got to be tremendous," David said.

They'll spend their days on the water and their nights spending money at coast hotels, restaurants and casinos.

The fishermen are competing for more than four hundred thousand dollars in prizes.