June 7, 2013, Biloxi, Mississippi:
By Capt. Dave Lear
Even though none of the 52 boats entered opted to return to the weigh scales Friday evening, the plaza behind the Golden Nugget was buzzing nonetheless. An enthusiastic crowd danced, screamed and clapped along with Rockin’ Dopsie and the Zydeco Twisters, a legendary Nawlins band, as it belted out tunes from the weigh scale stage. Tournament sponsors and concessions were busy as well.
“This is my first time to the Classic and it’s pretty amazing,” says Amanda Perryman, the Fishing Community Manager for Costa Sunglasses. “It’s by far one of the best tournaments I’ve been to. It’s fun, there’s a great turnout and the location is perfect. The Gulf coast is our bread-and-butter market. People know about our line and are stopping by to see what’s new.”
Costa uses a classic Airstream travel trailer as a rolling display booth. The silver RV has made the rounds across the United States and was part of country singer Kenny Chesney’s tour last year. Perryman said the new camouflage frames and ladies’ styles were getting a lot of attention. Costa is giving away promotional items and some new shades during the tournament.
“The biggest reason we come to these events is because we want to be involved in the community and support it,” Perryman added. “We also get to have fun in the process.” Costa is a strong supporter of Coastal Conservation Association and The Billfish Foundation, the leading marine conservation groups.
If the crowd was disappointed by the lack of fish, the party atmosphere and setting underscored the impact of the Classic, now in its 17th year.
“The anticipation of the teams was very high this morning,” says Tournament Director Bobby Carter. “They’ve been sitting at the docks for a few days waiting for the weather to clear, so they were all anxious and excited to head out today. We’ll have some big fish come in before it’s all over. These are the top boats in the Gulf and they’ll produce, trust me.”
Teams weighing big fish aren’t the only winners in a fishing tournament like the Classic. The economic effect on the region is also significant, generating a multi-million dollar boost. Carter says the boats will purchase an average of 2,000 gallons of fuel or more prior to the start of fishing. The teams and their families also spend money at local grocery and liquor stores, restaurants and entertainment venues.
“Everybody benefits from these tournaments,” Carter says. In addition to the dozens of local and national businesses that help support the Classic, the 2013 platinum sponsors include the host Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino, BP and Gosling’s Bermuda Black Seal Rum.
The weigh scales open at 3 p.m. again today at the Point Cadet Marina. The forecast calls for blue skies, warm temperatures and lots of really big fish. And for a change, the weatherman might actually be right.