The Southern Kingfish Association and its fishing frenzy first paid a visit to South Mississippi 18 years ago. Since that time, the SKA has returned for divisional and professional tournaments with anglers from across the Southeast in pursuit of world class king mackerel topping 50 and 60 pounds.
That success and excitement allowed tournament founder Jack Holmes to bring the ultimate SKA event – the National Championship – to Biloxi.
The SKA National Championship and its field of more than 140 boats will invade Biloxi on Friday and Saturday. The SKA is home based in Fort Pierce, FL.
''First and foremost, you have a fantastic fishery here,'' Holmes said. ''Especially in the late fall when the migrating fish [king mackerel] are in [closer] chasing the mullet. You also have an excellent fishery for bottom fishing as well as wahoo, tuna and swordfish.
''This area reminds me of South Florida where you have so many species. There's only a couple of places like that in the country and this happens to be No. 1 on the list.''
Weigh-ins, which are open to the general public, are set for 3-5 pm on both days at the Point Cadet Marina in Biloxi located behind the Golden Nugget.
To reach Biloxi and the National Championship, fishing teams competed in a series of qualifying tournaments from North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas. But it was Biloxi and the northern Gulf that teams circled at the end of the year as the final destination.
It's here that the teams will bring as many as six anglers per boat including wives and kids for a week long vacation. That equals to nearly 1,000 visitors and a final economic impact of nearly $3 million spent from a field that includes boats up to 39-feet in length.
''We try to bring as many people to the area,'' Holmes said. ''This is a big deal for the fishermen and their families. What other species, other than freshwater, do you have a championship like we do?
''Everybody benefits from us being here. That includes the shelter [Home of Grace] that collects the fish. Nothing goes to waste. Plus, everybody has a great time, too.''
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