BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Concerns about bad weather in the Gulf prompted changes in this week's Billfish Classic deep sea fishing tournament in Biloxi. The fishing has been delayed for a day, to allow for more favorable conditions on the water.
Keeping the fishermen and their crews safe is a priority. That's why the tournament director has already announced a decision to postpone the start of fishing from Thursday until Friday.
Despite the adjustment, this popular event is ready to go.
The annual tournament means big boats, big fish and big money. The boats docked at Point Cadet Marina are worth millions. And the fishermen also bring plenty of spending money to Biloxi.
"Definitely a big time economic boost. We've got people coming in, like I said, about 65 boats, families of the crew members coming in, staying at hotels, going to restaurants and eating, going to the casinos. It's a big plus for us," said Danny Pitalo, a member of the tournament board.
The crew aboard the "Reel Fire" out of Biloxi is getting ready to fish. This 60 foot Viking will get them to their fishing spot in a hurry.
"Four thousand horsepower. We've got about a 34 knot cruise. Which lets us get out there pretty quick. Speed is a big thing in this game. The faster you get out there, the quicker you get fishing," said Captain Mike Roberto.
Fast boats and top-of-the-line gear. A single reel can cost a thousand dollars.
"In a big tournament, you don't want to break out some small stuff and take any chances," Roberto explained.
The biggest change this year is courtesy of Mother Nature. Tropical weather in the Gulf convinced tournament directors to postpone the start of fishing from Thursday at noon to Friday morning at nine.
Those who fish this tournament certainly understand the decision to push back the fishing because of those weather conditions. High winds equal rough seas. And rough seas can get miserable.
"We're supposed to be having fun," says Roberto, "And when you go out there in eight to ten foot waves, the fun factor kind of goes out the window."
"It's one of the biggest tournaments in the gulf I would say. It's a pretty old tournament. But a lot of boats fish this tournament. This one and a few others are the ones to fish," said Jeremy Miles, who captains the "Inlet Magic."
The public is invited to Point Cadet Marina to watch the weigh-in on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.