The fishing competition and fish stories have officially begun at Gulfport's Rice Pavilion. It's the 53rd annual Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo. The scales opened at ten Friday morning and the tournament continues through the 4th of July.
Zachary Rushing of Woolmarket entered the first fish this year. His 13 pound 14 ounce catfish hit the weigh scale a few minutes after it opened.
Those who already enjoy fishing know that they've got some extra incentive and excitement with the annual rodeo competition.
"It's a speckled trout. I'd say it's about seven pounds."
Tim Mahan and his fishing buddies caught a "gator trout" on live shrimp near the Gulfport Harbor. He shared some fishing insight about landing the big one.
"We're three believers. So we talked to the clouds and they went away. We talked to the boat. It started. And we talked to the fish and they came in," said Mahan.
The fish near Ken Combs pier apparently got the message also. We found plenty of fishermen there. Word spreads quickly when the flounder are biting.
Nine year old Eric Alexander landed one.
"I like it. He's huge. It's my first flounder. I'm going to eat him," said the young angler.
That's exactly what Charlie Benton has in mind for the red snapper he's determined to catch.
"I depend on the feeling in my hands," said Charlie, as he tightened the line on his Zebco.
Charlie's been fishing half his life. Four years to be exact. He admits catching fish takes a little luck.
"I think the secrete to catching a big red snapper is using live bait. We're not using live bait now, so I don't have a very big chance. But I might, you never know."
That's the great unknown about fishing. Whether you're wade fishing or headed out in your boat, there's no guarantee you'll bring back fish.
One more thing: about those fish stories. Remember Tim Mahan's seven pound trout? It shrunk more than two pounds from the dock to the rodeo tent.
The rodeo weighmaster announced the official weight of Mahan's trout.
"Four pounds, 12 ounces."