Fishing Rodeo Season Heats Up on the Gulf Coast

Published: June 2014 Southern Boating
© 2014 Troy Gilbert

In a quick eleven years, the Florida Panhandle has watched as the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic fishing tournament has grown into the 5th ranked Big Money Fishing Tournaments by Marlin Magazine. This June an expected 85+ boats from all across the Northern Gulf Coast will head out from Destin into the deep waters of the Gulf and angle to land $1.5M in cash awards as well as some monster fish.

Running from June 18-22 and hosted by the Sandestin Resort and the Baytowne Marina, anglers will target tuna, sailfish, dolphin, wahoo and blue marlin. Part of the Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship with tournaments in Biloxi, MS (June 2-8) and Orange Beach, AL (July 8-13), the Emerald Coast Blue Martin Classic is the largest of the events and together they form a circuit for tournament fishing with one team crowned overall champion. Each tournament also holds junior and ladies divisions and dockside events are held for the nightly weigh-ins which are open to the public.

The largest purse for the Emerald Coast Classic was $437K paid out in 2008 to one team from Louisiana for their 1st place 406lb. marlin and 145lb. tuna. The record blue marlin for the tournament was caught in 2012 when a 783lb. monster was hauled in by a crew out of Fairhope, AL in a 56′ Viking.

Grand Isle’s SwollFest!

Celebrating its 17th anniversary on the legendary Louisiana barrier island of Grand Isle, the Swollfest fishing rodeo kicks off June 5-7. Headquartered at the Sand Dollar Marina on the eastern most reach of Grand Isle, this event has exploded from its humble beginnings as a group of eight guys going out fishing one weekend to one of the larger fishing rodeos in Louisiana.

With world-class offshore and inshore fishing throughout the waters of Louisiana, Swollfest recognized and was an early adopter to the growing trends in spear and kayak fishing and have adopted them as classes alongside the standard fishing rodeo classes. Kayak fishing is ideal in these estuaries of Southeast Louisiana with kayaks able to navigate all of the shallow coastal marsh and find those hidden and previously unreachable honey spots.

Grand Isle is known for hosting multiple world class fishing events with it positioned at the edge of Barataria and Caminada Bay and the deep water oil platforms of the Gulf of Mexico which serve as

incredible artificial reef habitats. The species of fish from the multiple habitats are far too numerous to list but there is a definitive reason why Louisiana is known as the “Sportsman’s Paradise.”

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