Billfish Boat Parade: a reminder of the tournament’s importance to South Mississippi

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 6:52 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - One of south Mississippi’s biggest fishing tournaments has officially begun. The Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic’s ceremonial send-off drew hundreds to the water’s edge. Some lined the docks, some grabbed a bite at McElroy’s Harbor House to enjoy the view and a few even lined the Hard Rock parking garage to check out the beautiful boats rolling through the Biloxi Channel.

Whether it was wishing luck to the anglers, headed out to open water or pointing out extravagant vessels to their loved ones, everyone was smiling as well over 100 boats exited the Point Cadet Harbor.

“You can’t see this in Central Mississippi, or North Mississippi,” said coast resident Milady Howard. “This is what is great about the Gulf Coast.”

Some sought a birds-eye view of the spectacle with helicopters flying just above the yachts. Other viewers were just amazed at the sheer amount of money that was cruising by.

“Half a billion just for the boats, just for the boats,” said coast resident and long-time tournament volunteer Don Marie. “That is not counting the equipment and everything else that goes with it. So, Biloxi has big money here this weekend.”

The long-time tourney volunteer believes the Billfish Classic has a huge impact on our economy.

“It is huge,” said Biloxi Chief Administrative Officer Mike Leonard. “It is huge, it is as big as Cruisin’ the Coast.”

Leonard went on to explain that the tourney not only brings revenue to local businesses but also encourages state support.

“The governor gave us $3 million last year that we are dumping into Point Cadet Marina between now and next tournament to upgrade the slips,” said Leonard.

The larger, newer vessels require more electricity and space. The upgrades will allow the tournament to continue to grow, but organizer Bobby Carter believes it is the tourney’s loyal participants that make the tourney special.

“For two years we weren’t able to do it with COVID and storms, things like that,” said Carter. “But the love these people have for coming here to Biloxi to support us is phenomenal.”

Weigh-ins are open to the public on Friday from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. and on Saturday from 3:00 - 6:00 p.m. Awards will be handed out Sunday, with close to $2 million in prize money up for grabs.

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