The big question asked around the 17th annual Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic last weekend didn't deal with where the fish were caught. In fact, most people who attended the popular event were aware that these species (blue marlin, dolphin, tuna and wahoo) are caught in bluewater located nearly a 100 miles offshore around the oil rigs.
Instead, a few of the fans on hand asked what happens to the fish that are turned in to be weighed? That includes the blue marlin as well as the other three species.
First of all, each fish was examined by Dr. Jim Franks of the Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs. Dr. Franks and his crew removed a portion of each fish that was properly iced down and transported back to the Research Lab. The end result will be valuable data about each species such as growth rates and to see if there's any lingering impact of the BP oil spill.
Once the portion of the fish was removed for research, the fish that anglers gave to the tournament were loaded into a freezer trailer to be donated to the Home of Grace in Vancleave.
The fish were then cleaned late Sunday evening after the final fish was weighed and before the first check was awarded to the winners of the Billfish Classic. The fish cleaning process took place on the grounds of the Home of Grace where several of the staff members and clients cleaned fish for the next several hours.
Fish, served in many different ways, will be served at a later date. Home of Grace is a drug or alcohol rehabilitation center that provides residential long-term care and treatment.
I applaud the committee of the Billfish Classic for donating the fish to such a worthy cause.
Personally, it's amazing that boats from all across the Gulf of Mexico and parts of the East Coast came to Biloxi to take part in one of the top bluewater events in the world. Then, a few of the fishermen donated their catch to a great cause. Gotta love it.
I would like to wish everyone a happy Father's Day Weekend, including my dad, Henry Jones of Gulfport. Without my father, I would have never been introduced to great outdoors and developed my love – and passion – for fishing.
Instead of taking a kid fishing this weekend, take your dad fishing.
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