Rules are Subject to Change. Changes to the rules and final instructions are given at the mandatory Captain’s Meeting which takes place Wednesday, June 7 at 6:00–6:30pm on site at the Golden Nugget – Biloxi

NEW THIS YEAR – Swordfish. See Rule #6, #7, #9, #10, #12 for details.

Frequently Asked Questions – a new page with answers to our most frequently asked questions

TOURNAMENT DATES: Wednesday, June 7, 2017 through Sunday, June 11, 2017

June 7
Registration from 1:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M., mandatory Captain’s Meeting at 6:00 P.M., Captain’s Banquet at 6:30 P.M.
June 8
Boats may depart at 12:00 noon and fishing begins at 12:00 P.M.
June 9
Weigh scales open at 3:00 P.M., Weigh scales close at 8:00 P.M.
June 10
Weigh scales open at 3:00 P.M., Weigh scales close at 8:00 P.M.
June 11
Awards ceremony at 10:30 A.M. at the Golden Nugget – Biloxi.

a. The mandatory Captain’s Meeting will be held from 6:00-6:30 P.M. at the Golden Nugget Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, on Wednesday. All participants are invited to attend the Captain’s Banquet which follows at 6:30 P.M.

b. The captain/owner or designated representative must sign-in and be present at the captain’s meeting for rule changes and instructions.

a. An Atlantic Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Angling Permit IS required and participants must be familiar with and follow HMS regulations.

 b. To qualify for state record awards (cash and prizes), anglers MUST obtain a state of Mississippi Saltwater Fishing License which can be purchased locally or online at

In the interest of true sportsmanship and to keep all participants on as near an equal basis as possible, the start of the tournament will be as follows:

Boats must depart from Biloxi by water any time after 12:00 P.M., Thursday. A boat parade will head west from Point Cadet Marina beginning promptly at 12:00 P.M.. Fishing also begins at 12:00 P.M. Please checkout using VHF channel 78. Boats must leave from Point Cadet Marina in the water and may not be trailered until returning to Point Cadet Marina following fishing hours.

Boats may begin fishing at 12:00 P.M. on Thursday and continue fishing until the scales close at 8:00 P.M. on Saturday. All boats, including those with catch & release videos only, must be inside the designated markers at the scales before 8:00 P.M. on Saturday. Boats may not be trailered during the event and must return to the scales by water.

One day or part thereof of offshore fishing by one-third of the boats entered constitutes a complete tournament. In the event of inclement weather, the tournament will be completed on the first day that the tournament director and tournament committee declare fishable.

Scales will open at 3:00 P.M. and close at 8:00 P.M. both Friday and Saturday. All fish caught during the tournament must be weighed before scales close on Saturday night. Boats inside the designated markers by 8:00 P.M. will have their fish weighed in order and scales will close immediately after the last fish is weighed. All billfish catch forms for boated and/or released fish must be turned in before close of scales.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic Tournament uses the rules of the International Game Fish Association as a guideline. The following species are eligible for competition when caught by properly registered anglers in accordance with tournament rules:

Eligible for Catch & Release:
• Blue Marlin
• White Marlin
• Sailfish
• Spearfish
Separate Catch and Release Category
• Swordfish
Eligible for Weigh-in at the scales:
• Blue Marlin – 100 inch minimum (LJFL)
• Swordfish – 60 inch minimum (LJFL)
• Tuna – 20 lbs. minimum weight
• Wahoo – 20 lbs. minimum weight
• Dolphin – 20 lbs. minimum weight


Boated Swordfish must measure at least 60 inches in length from the tip of the lower jaw to the fork of the tail (LJFL).

Boated Blue Marlin must measure at least 107 inches in length from the tip of the lower jaw to the fork of the tail (LJFL).


No angler or boat may have in their possession more than one blue marlin per day. Any angler in violation of this rule will be banned from further participation in the tournament without refund.

For each day the scales are open, each boat will be allowed to bring to the scales a maximum of 1 blue marlin, 3 tuna, 3 wahoo, 3 dolphin and 3 swordfish.

The tournament committee reserves the right to reject any fish entry because of poor condition or one that does not meet the eligible requirements set by this tournament. The condition of the fish will be left to the scrutiny of the tournament committee. THEIR DECISION IS FINAL.


Each boat is required to record on the Catch & Release Form all billfish and swordfish boated and caught and released in the order that it appears on the boat’s Catch & Release video. This form will be available in your boat information packet. REPORT ALL BOATED BILLFISH and SWORDFISH on the form!

Committee boats will be used but only for conservation and informational reporting. Please contact a committee boat to report boated or released marlin or swordfish.

Be prepared to give the following information:
1. Name of Boat
2. Name of Angler
3. Species of Fish (Blue Marlin, White Marlin, Spearfish, Sailfish, Swordfish)
4. Time released or boated.

DO NOT report Tuna, Dolphin, or Wahoo on the catch & release form.

Names of Committee boats and any changes to communication frequencies will be announced at the Captain’s Meeting. Please use alternate frequencies for conversations not related to the reporting of billfish.

NOTE: Your committee boats will be monitoring VHF Channel 78 and weigh station phones 850-341-8877 or 850-380-8961.

IMPORTANT: A tail tag with boat name and angler’s name must be attached to each fish before unloading at the weigh scales.

Tournament scales will be located at the weigh-in dock at Point Cadet Marina. Boats having fish to weigh must be inside the Mississippi Sound Waters (specifically, inside channel marker #34 to the East, and inside channel marker #2 to the West) by the designated closing for the scales. ALL FISH MUST BE BROUGHT TO THE SCALES BY THE BOAT FROM WHICH IT WAS CAUGHT. A winning fish in any of the categories must be caught and presented at the weigh-in by the officially registered and qualified angler with tournament tail tag attached to fish.

The angler must remain with the fish until completion of the weigh-in procedure. The angler must sign the weigh-in stat sheet to verify the weight, at which time will make the weight official.


All Tournament Awards are based on 100 registered tournament boats.

Catch & Release Awards

The Albert “Bill” McLellan 2000 “MAGNIFICENT BLUE” Catch & Release Award will be presented to the angler/boat with the most accumulated catch and release points utilizing video verification.

Awards for Heaviest Fish will be presented to the angler/boat for fish caught in the following categories:

Blue Marlin 1st $100,000 2nd $50,000 3rd $25,000
Tuna 1st $20,000 2nd $15,000 3rd $10,000
Wahoo 1st $20,000 2nd $15,000 3rd $10,000
Dolphin 1st $20,000 2nd $15,000 3rd $10,000

Each boat can weigh a maximum of 1 blue marlin, 3 wahoo, 3 dolphin, and 3 tuna per day.

In the event that no qualifying fish are weighed in a given category above, the cash award assigned to that category will be added to the cash awards of the qualifying fish in the other Categories in a proportional manner as determined by the Tournament Committee.  If no qualifying blue marlin is weighed the cash award for blue marlin will roll down and be divided evenly between the Tuna, Wahoo and Dolphin categories.

Top Lady Angler and Top Junior Angler Awards will be presented to the one lady angler and one junior angler with the most accumulated points based on the following:

– Points per pound for Blue Marlin or Swordfish weighed at the dock.
– 600 points for released Blue Marlin.
– 250 points for released White Marlin, Sailfish and Spearfish.
– 250 points for any unidentifiable released marlin.

-1 point for released swordfish

If no marlin or swordfish are brought to the scales or released by a lady angler or junior angler, the heaviest meatfish will be used to determine the prize for top angler.

Note – the $500 additional angler fee is waived for junior anglers.

Only billfish and swordfish caught and released according to these Rules are eligible for Tournament Catch and Release Awards and Optional Entry cash Awards as described herein.

Polygraphs may be administered at the discretion of the tournament committee.

Swordfish catch & release is a new optional category this year and it will be kept separately from the billfish release.

Billfish and swordfish are considered officially caught and released when the swivel hits the top of the rod or crew member grabs the leader or the leader comes onto the rod tip. Video verification is required for released billfish and swordfish to be eligible for competition ( See section 13 for video requirements). Verification Videos become the property of the tournament.

Catch & Release winners are determined by points which are earned as follows:
– 600 points for Blue Marlin.
– 250 points for White Marlin, Sailfish and Spearfish.
– 250 for any unidentifiable marlin.

-Swordfish count 1 point in the separate swordfish release optional entry divisions.

A Catch & Release form must accompany the Catch & Release video to the weigh-in dock. The form must include boat name, angler’s name, species, date and time of release. Catch & Release verification videos and forms must be turned in to the video judges at the weigh-in dock between the hours of 3:00 P.M. and the closing of the scales on either Friday or Saturday.

Prior to fishing, each tournament boat must designate a representative payee to receive payment of all cash awards. Payment of Cash Awards is by check. For winners of cash awards a single check will be written to the boat’s representative payee for the combined total of tournament cash awards and optional cash awards.

Checks will be written after the Tournament Awards Ceremony on Sunday.

The Tournament accepts no responsibility for the division of any cash awards, whether tournament cash awards or optional cash awards, between team members.

Participants may pay an Optional Entry Fee in one or more of the following:

1 2 3 4 5
Catch & Release (no swordfish) $10,000 $5,000 $2,500 $1000 $500
Blue Marlin $10,000 $5,000 $2,500 $1000 $500
Swordfish $5,000 $2,500 $1000 $500
Swordfish (Catch&Release) $5,000 $2,500 $1000 $500
Tuna $5,000 $2,500 $1000 $500
Wahoo $5,000 $2,500 $1000 $500
Dolphin $5,000 $2,500 $1000 $500
Crew Division $500 (heaviest fish, 100% payout, 50/30/20 split).
All divisions will pay 1st, 2nd, and 3rd with a 50%, 30%, 20% split.

•  Payment of an Optional Entry Fee is not required to compete for Tournament Awards.
•  90% of all Optional Entry Fees collected are distributed in the form of Optional Cash Awards Except for the Captain and Mate (Crew) category. It pays 100% of the entry.
•  Participants who wish to pay an Optional Entry Fee prior to June 1, may pay by personal or company check made payable to the MGCBC.
•  Participants who wish to pay an Optional Entry Fee after June 1 must do so at Tournament Headquarters, or such other location as may be determined by the Tournament Committee, during the Optional Entry Fee registration hours on Wednesday of tournament week, between 1:00 P.M. and 9:00 P.M.
•  Optional Entry Fees collected after June 1 must be paid in United States Currency, by Cashier’s Check made payable to the MGCBC.
•  Optional Cash Awards for Catch & Release divisions are determined by points according to Tournament Rules.
•  Optional Cash Awards for boated Blue Marlin, Swordfish, Tuna, Wahoo, and Dolphin are determined by weight according to Tournament Rules.
•  In the event that no qualifying fish are weighed by an Optional Entry participant in a given Division eligible for an Optional Cash Award, 90% percent of all Optional Entry Fees collected for that division are returned to the Participant(s) who paid Optional Entry Fees for that division.

Recommended Equipment
Mini DVD, Mini DV, Hi-8, and digital.

Verification/Identification Marker
Each boat will be assigned an Identification Marker upon signing in at Captains meeting. These markers must appear in all submissions.

Release Verification Recordings
All recordings submitted for the purpose of verifying a Catch & Release entry must include the following:

a. A recorded segment of the angler fighting the fish. A clear view of the Identification Marker must be included within the context of this segment.
b. A recorded segment of the fish in the water. This segment must include sufficient footage to clearly and easily identify its species and approximate size. A clear view of the Identification Marker must be included within the context of this segment.

c. A recorded segment that includes footage of the rod and reel being used, the fish in the water and either the swivel touching the rod tip or the wire man holding the leader. A clear view of the Identification Marker must be included within the context of this segment.
d. A recorded segment that includes footage of the fish being released. A clear view of the Identification marker and close up confirmation of the GPS time readout must be included within the context of this segment.

Catch & Release Verification Forms
Completed and signed Catch & Release Forms must accompany each camera/video recording to the video judges.

Multiple Fish on a Single Recording
The taping of multiple catch and release entries may be submitted on a single recording provided the catch & release form is properly completed.

Submission of Recordings
Verification recordings must be submitted not later than the closing of the scales on final day of fishing. Recordings should be submitted immediately upon return to the marina.

All recorded images and sounds become the property of the tournament and may be used by the tournament for display purposes during weigh in and in future marketing campaigns. Images will be copied from digital hard drive cameras. Tapes, CD’s and DVD’s, etc. will be kept by the tournament for 30 days.

Remember. Report releases to a Committee Boat on VHF Channel 78 so that we can track them for unofficial reporting to the media and the verification committee. Releases may also be reported to weigh station phones 850-341-8877 or 850-380-8961.

General Instructions and Suggestions for video recording the action. 

a. Make sure prior to the tournament your camera meets tournament requirements and you have the necessary connection cables to allow it to display recordings on a regular TV.
b. Designate one angler to bring the camera containing the recordings and all necessary connection cables required to permit playback directly from the camera. Recorded submissions will not be scored from the camera LED screen or viewfinder.
c. Have backup, charged batteries on hand. A backup identical camera is suggested.
d. Recordings should be rewound to beginning of sequence to be viewed by the judges.
e. Set the date and time correctly and make sure it displays on the image.
f. Be sure you have an adequate supply of new, UNUSED video tape, DVD’s CD’s, etc.
g. Check to ensure your GPS onboard your boat will display the time.
h. Test your cameras prior to the tournament.
i. Designate someone to record the release video that is familiar with the operation of the video camera and the Tournament rules.
j. Don’t store the camera(s) in an air-conditioned environment.
k. Don’t submit footage or recordings from other tournaments.


All tournament entries are non-transferable and non-refundable. Payment of the entry fee constitutes a representation by each entrant that he/she has read and fully understands the tournament rules that he/she will abide by such rules and the decisions of the tournament committee.

State Records: All cash awards and prizes (award packages) allotted to breaking a state of Mississippi record in this tournament will be given as follows: Because records may be broken more than once over the course of the tournament, only a single state record award package will be given to the boat with the largest certified fish at the end of the tournament for each species. A certified fish is determined by following all MGCBC tournament rules and all state of Mississippi rules.  Exhibit A below contains the rules set forth by the state of Mississippi which must be followed in order to have a fish certified by the state.

If the tournament should be cancelled due to any cause beyond the control of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, entry fees will be rolled over to the following year in their entirety or may be refunded to entrants less a pro-rated share of tournament expenses as solely determined by the tournament committee. Entrants shall have no claim against the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic for return of said entry fees less pro-rated share of tournament expenses.

Tie Breakers:

For Catch and Release, team placement is determined by the first team to reach the highest total points as verified by the boats GPS time.

For fish weighed in: For a tie for any category of fish brought to the scales, placement is determined by the order of weigh-in at the scales. The recorded time of weigh-in determines placement.

In case of a tie for Top Lady Angler or Top Junior Angler on points, placement is determined first by the heaviest fish and then by the first angler to reach the highest total points as verified by the boats GPS time.  If it comes down to weighed fish only to determine tie breaker, placement will be determined by the recorded weigh-in time at the scales.

All protests must be presented in writing along with a $1,000 deposit by the team captain to the tournament committee no later than 15 minutes after the last fish is weighed and recorded on the final day of the tournament. All entrants agree to abide by tournament rules. Poor sportsmanship will be grounds for disqualification from this tournament. All decisions of the tournament director and rules committee are final. Any violation of these rules resulting in disqualification will result in forfeiture of entry fee and prize money.


It is expressly understood that all participants in this tournament, Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, enter at their own risk, and that the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, officers, sponsors, directors, and all persons connected directly or indirectly with the operation of said tournament, shall be exempt from any liability for libel, slander, loss, damage, negligence, harm, injury or death suffered by any participant, entrant, sportfisherman, his/her companions, boat captains, mates, crew members, vessels and equipment which may occur during or in conjunction with the tournament. By tournament entry, the captain consents that the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic may use without payment or restriction, any photographs in which he/she or any of their crew may appear for any purpose whatsoever; including, but not limited to resale, advertising, commercial or promotional material. The captain and his crew further release the Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic, officers and directors, and all persons from injury, loss or damage which may result. All state record winners must submit to and pass in a conclusive manner, a polygraph examination administered by a licensed polygraphist provided by tournament officials. All entrants agree to submit to a polygraph examination at the request of the tournament committee if there is a conflict involving said entrant. Failure to submit to such an examination will result in disqualification of the entrant at the sole discretion of the tournament committee.


State of Mississippi  Saltwater Fishing Record Rules

To qualify for saltwater sportfishing record consideration anglers must complete an official application that may be obtained from the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, and abide by the following rules:

Fish must be hooked, fought, and brought to net or gaff by the applicant with no help from any person, except that another person may operate the net or gaff. Catches on handlines or other non-sporting equipment will not be considered.

Conventional Records: Fish must be legally caught in a sporting manner on rod, reel and line or pole and line, and hooked with any legal hook or lure.

Fly Fishing Records: Fish must be legally caught on a rod, reel, and line using conventional fly fishing tackle. The lure used must be a recognized type of artificial fly. Treble hooks are prohibited. The use of any other type of lure or natural bait, either singularly or attached to the fly is prohibited. The fly used must be submitted with the application.

Two (2) color photographs should be submitted with each application: One (1) of angler and fish. One (1) showing a clear, close-up side view of the fish. Photos become the property of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources.

Fish MUST be weighed on certified scales or scales legal for trade, i.e. grocery store scales, etc. The weighing must take place in the presence of two (2) witnesses other than the applicant, who MUST sign the application form or a separate statement attesting that they witnessed the OFFICIAL weight. NO provision for weight loss will be allowed. The actual weight of the fish AT THE TIME OF WEIGHING will be the OFFICIAL WEIGHT. It is also desirable to include signature(s) on the application form of the witness(es), if any, to the actual catching of the fish. Witnesses to the weight and catch CANNOT be the same persons. Rodeo entries are considered valid and acceptable weights.

Length of the fish must be measured in a straight line from the tip of the snout to the tip of the tail AND from the tip of the snout to the fork of the tail.

Girth of the fish will be measured around the thickest portion of the body.

Applications for saltwater species SHALL be positively identified AND verified by a Professional Fisheries Biologist and/or a Rodeo Weighmaster.

Only fish caught in Mississippi waters or fish caught in adjacent waters and landed in a Mississippi port will be considered.

A valid MS fishing license is required for all state record applications.

The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources reserves the right to further check fish identification or verification of witnesses and to refuse any application that is questionable. It will be considered “Just Cause” for disqualification of current application and any previous records established by anyone who knowingly falsifies a Record Application. All rules will be strictly adhered to. The decision of the Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources will be final.


Rules last revised: 3/24/2017