BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic has established itself as one of the premier bluewater events in the world based on a simple, but very powerful brand. That brand is Big Boats chasing Big Fish in hopes of winning Big Money.
Case in point. The 2012 Classic awarded more than $1 million in cash payouts.
Along the way, boats from the Bahamas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Mexico as well as the East Coast have joined vessels from the Gulf of Mexico states to fish for blue marlin, dolphin, tuna and wahoo.
"We've had boats from the Bahamas to Mexico and the East Coast fish the Classic," Tournament Director Bobby Carter said. "We have had anglers from all across the United States come to Biloxi to fish."
This year, we have a captain from Hawaii. That captain is Momi Bean and the Catchin' Up team, a 70-foot Hatteras.
"This place [Biloxi] is great," Bean said. "Everything is here for us to enjoy. You have the casino and the hospitality is excellent. This tournament is run by good people and Bobby Carter is well-known all across the world for putting on great tournaments.
"We come here because we like the money. You take a chance to make some extra money. The money is right here so we are going to got out and let it all hang out."
In terms of fishing the Pacific Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, Bean stopped short of saying which body of water he prefers.
"The one thing I like where I am from, a small island named Kona, we can catch blue marlin two and three miles out of the marina. The furthest we go is 15 miles. But the Gulf of Mexico has the [oil] rigs and that's where you will find the bait and the fish.
"I love fishing both areas and it's a challenge. The big thing is to be safe and have fun. You do that on whether it's the Pacific or the Gulf."
The 17th Annual Billfish Classic opened Friday at the Point Cadet Marina in Biloxi with scales open from 3-9 p.m. On Saturday, scales will be open from 3-9 p.m. The final day is set for Sunday with scales open from noon to 4 p.m.