In addition to fireworks, food and family fun, Florida's saltwater anglers have one other thing to look forward to this coming 4th of July weekend. It's none other than the Annual Big Bend Saltwater Classic. Here are a few more details.
Saltwater Fishing Tournament Basics
The Big Bend Saltwater Classic is scheduled to take place Friday, July 6, 2012 through Sunday, July 8, 2012 in Carrabelle, Florida. It is a rodeo style fishing tournament that is run by the Organization for Artificial Reefs, Incorporated. Both offshore and inshore anglers are welcome to enter. However, there will be restrictions on what types of tackle may be used. During the tournament, anglers will be able to fish in the Gulf of Mexico for a variety of species. Some of the acceptable species of fish include Kingfish, Spotted Sea Trout and Black Sea Bass.
Once the tournament starts, participating anglers are expected to launch their fishing boats each day at 5:30 a.m. and be at their respective weigh-in stations by no later than 7:30 p.m. The weigh-in stations are slated to be set up at the Shields Marina, the Port St. Joe Marina and the Carrabelle Boat Club. An awards ceremony is planned for Sunday, July 8, 2012.
How to Register for the Fishing Tournament
Anglers that are interested in participating in the saltwater fishing tournament will need to pre-register and pay a modest entry fee. Entry fees vary based on the division and registration method chosen. It is traditionally more cost effective to register online. A 5 p.m. registration session and anglers' meeting is slated to take place on June 30, 2012 at the Krewe de Gras in Tallahassee. Two, subsequent, 6 p.m. anglers' meetings are also planned for Thursday, July 5, 2012. One of the meetings is scheduled to take place at the Carrabelle Boat Club in Carrabelle. The other meeting is slated to take place at the Port St. Joe Marina in Port St. Joe.
About the Venue
Visiting boaters will find boat slip rentals, boat fuel and most boating supplies available at the three weigh-in station locations. Bait, tackle and sundries are available at the Shields Marina. The Port St. Joe Marina has an onsite eatery as well as boat rentals. Anglers that prefer to hang their lucky fishing hat on dry land for the night may want to consider reserving a campsite at the Ho-Hum RV Park or the Carrabelle Beach RVC. Both are located on Highway 98. Speaking of Highway 98, anglers should make time to check out the city's famous and diminutive police station.
In early July, daytime air temperatures in Carrabelle are traditionally in the 90 degree Fahrenheit range. Surface water temperatures tend to be in the 80 degree Fahrenheit range. As such, anglers will want to make sure that they prepare accordingly. Bathymetric and nautical charts for the Gulf of Mexico are readily available online. Based on my experience, one of the best bathymetric maps of the area is offered though the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's website.
Killeen Gonzalez enjoys fishing with her family. She has also traveled extensively.
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