GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Fishing tournaments are a permanent part of the culture here on the Coast. Along with turning 13-years-old, one Coast tournament is going through some changes this year. The organizers of the event hope these changes will allow it to continue to grow for years to come.
It has been 13 years in the making, and now the Speckled Trout World Championship is ready to move into bigger waters. That's according to John Rea, President of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Fishing Tournaments Inc.
"We're just really proud and fortunate to have something like this for us to be able to use and continue to bring notoriety to the City of Gulfport," said Rea.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast Fishing Tournaments Inc. was established in 2011. Before that, Rea said this tournament had humble beginnings.
At first, it was known as the Trophy Trout Tournament and only saw about 50 or 60 fishermen fighting for a chance at about $1,000.
Now, that prize money has grown to a total of $17,500, and Rea expects to see at least 200 fishermen this year.
"We're going to be holding it right over here at the farmers market at the west side of the harbor. Boats will be able to pull up directly and weigh their fish right off the dock," said Rea.
In the past, the tournament was held at the Dock Bar and Grill in Gulfport, but Rea says it has grown past the limits of that location. Other than the convenience of a larger area to host the tournament, Rea said there's a good bit of advantage in the location as well.
"Just south of here and about a quarter of a gallon of gasoline, there's been three or four tournament winners right here in Gulfport Harbor, so there's a lot of big fish to be had," said Rea.
This year, Rea hopes even more people will want to take advantage of this tournament that's held in memory of Dr. Chris Sprabury and Raymond Schankin.
"We expect to continue to grow, and we're just really excited and happy to be bringing another event to the harbor," said Rea.
This year's Speckled Trout World Championship will be held May 14 through May 16. The entry fee is $75, and the top prize is $10,000. To find out more and to enter, please visit http://msgulfcoastfishingtournaments.org/.