Summer’s here, and that means big bucks for billfish.
Hundreds of captains and crew will grab fishing poles instead of shammys this summer, all looking to catch big fish and even bigger cash prizes. The United States offers a variety of fishing tournaments for anglers of any skill level, but the following competitions give sport fishermen a chance at some of the largest prize purses in the world.
Mississippi Gulf Coast Billfish Classic (MGCBC)
June 5-11, 2023
This tournament has hosted anglers from around the world for more than 25 years, with 2022’s tournament hosting 73 boats and 360 anglers, with a total prize purse of $1.36m. Blue and white marlin, sailfish, spearfish, tuna, dolphin and wahoo are the target species, with a limit of one blue marlin per day. Heaviest fish, catch and release, top lady and junior angler, and other optional entry awards comprise the award categories. Barry Carr, the angler who caught the Mississippi and Gulf of Mexico record-setting 1,054.6 pound blue marlin, was participating in this tournament when he caught the fish.
Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament
Morehead City, North Carolina
June 9-18, 2023
The 65th annual Big Rock tournament hopes to continue its history of blue marlin appearances and record-breaking prizes. Blue marlin, tuna, wahoo and dolphin are Big Rock’s target fish. The 2022 tournament hosted 266 boats with a record-breaking purse of more than $5.8 million. Last year’s tournament also saw an industry record of $3.4 million in prizes claimed by M/Y MERCENARIA.
Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic (ECBC)
Miramar Beach, Florida
June 22-26, 2023
The 2022 iteration of this tournament saw 84 boats and 559 anglers compete, with $1.9 million in cash prizes handed out. ECBC’s target species are blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish, spearfish, dolphin, wahoo, and yellowfin and bigeye tuna. ECBC is a “modified release” tournament, making blue marlin the only billfish that may be weighed after meeting the required 110” minimum length to be boated. More than 27 optional entry levels are available, giving plenty of options for anglers to win big.
White Marlin Open
Ocean City, Maryland
August 7-11, 2023
Known to anglers around the world as the “World’s Largest and Richest Billfishing Tournament,” this 50-year-old annual tournament sees thousands of anglers test their skills to win big money prizes. White and blue marlin, tuna, wahoo, dolphin and swordfish are the tournament’s target species. More than 3,500 anglers attended 2022’s tournament, which paid out more than $8.6 million in prizes. A significant reason for the tournament’s popularity stems from its format, which allows each boat to enter the competition based on their pocketbook, perceived skill level and targeted species. Anglers can register for as little as $1,600 to compete for $50,000, and as much as $100,000 with a chance to win more than $10m.
Cape May, New Jersey and Ocean City, Maryland
August 20-25, 2023
This tournament is uniquely staged out of two renowned locations, the tournament’s home base Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May and the Sunset Marina in Ocean City. Both locations have fully run weigh-ins, with a livestream feed always available for competitors to stay informed. Blue and white marlin, tuna, dolphin and wahoo are the targeted species. In 2022, 178 boats and 410 anglers participated, with $5.2 million in prizes paid out.