LONG BEACH, Miss. — The 64th annual Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo will open its doors on Saturday at the Long Beach Harbor with a taste of the past.
Old saltwater categories will return to the lineup this year, thanks to input by fishermen: tuna, grouper and dolphin.
“We eliminated those categories during the oil spill,” weighmaster Mark Wright said. “Now that the offshore waters have bounced back from the oil spill, we are bringing tuna, dolphin and grouper back.
“We had a lot of fishermen ask us last year to consider bringing the categories back and we felt it was a good idea. We shut the categories down for the oil spill.
“Now we are bringing them back for the fishermen.”
The added freshwater category will be striped bass.
Traditionally, the striped bass attracts fishermen from South Mississippi to Jackson.
One of the top fishing destinations for striped bass during the rodeo historically has been Jackson’s Ross Barnett Reservoir.
Due to the oil spill, which had a direct impact on the fish being entered the last two years, participation in the striped bass category had dropped and the category was suspended.
“We are bringing striped bass back, too,” Wright said. “We had a lot of fishermen ask if we could bring that category back and we did. We based it on the categories that had the lower participation and striped bass was one of those.
“Most people do not fish for striped bass, and they are generally caught by mistake. But we were asked to bring it back and we will.
“Right now, a lot of striped bass are being caught in the rivers and we felt there was a need to bring it back.”
The red snapper category will be open since the recreational season does not close until July 11.
The amberjack category will not be open since the season is closed.
“We are ready to go,” Wright said. “If we get good weather, we will see some good fish.
“I really expect to see some good tuna, dolphin and grouper since bluewater is fairly close in. This rodeo is all about the fishermen. They asked us to bring certain species back and we did. This is their rodeo.”
The event will run through July 4.
The rodeo will include the usual categories like speckled trout, redfish, cobia and shark in the saltwater division and the freshwater division will still include bass, bream, catfish and crappie.
Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com