High stakes fishing tournament coming to Biloxi - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

High stakes fishing tournament coming to Biloxi

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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

The Southern Kingfish Association National Championship Tournament is coming to Biloxi this weekend.  Anglers from across the country will be out searching for King Mackerel, as well as several other species of gamefish. It's a big money tournament with a lot at stake.

So, what does it take to succeed? We headed out early Monday morning with a former angler of the year to learn how to land the big one.

Before dawn, Clayton Kirby gets his 33 foot, Deep Impact boat ready for the trip into the Gulf.  We launch early.  Before hitting the high seas, Kirby explains why the Mississippi coast is his favorite watery hunting ground. 

"By far, out of that entire stretch of ocean, the best fishing is right here off of Biloxi and the reason for that is basically the oil rigs and the other structures we have to fish around," Kirby explained.

When you fish a tournament, you need to get out quickly, this time about 45 miles per hour.  Before going after Kings, we need bait fish and a rig 30 miles offshore is the perfect spot to find them. 

Every boat needs a good first mate. Bryan Gillikin is just that. He talked about his job.  

"Just trying to help organize and get everything on the boat and just whenever he asks for something, kind of know where it's at and be able to get it for him," Gillikin said. 

The first strike is a nice 30 pound king.  On a practice run, it's catch and release.  Another strike, and another king, smaller but more feisty.  

Obviously, fishing in a tournament is a big money experience: Big money for expenses and big money for boats. But there's also big money in prizes and sponsors play an important role as well, according to Kirby. 

"Sponsors are key for the fishermen themselves to cut their expenses and make it affordable and it's also a great way for the sponsor to showcase their products," Kirby said. 

One more try and then time to head home.  Today was just for fun. Later this week, it's serious business. 

The pro division tournament will be held midweek, and the championship fishing will be this weekend.  The SKA tournament is based at the Pt. Cadet Marina in Biloxi.

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