20th annual Kingfish Tournament in Mexico Beach

Published: Aug. 25, 2016 at 6:44 AM CDT
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Since 1997, the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association has installed more than 200 artificial reefs off our coastline.

Paris Janos was lured to the Mexico Beach marina to look at their biggest fundraiser, The Kingfish Tournament, now in its 20th year.

"Over the past 20 years we've been doing a lot as far as building reefs," MBARA President Bob Cox said. "That's what we're all about, building reefs, enhancing our fisheries. Not only for the fishermen but also making a great eco-tourism spot for people to snorkel and dive and enjoy our wonderful resources out there in the Gulf of Mexico. Bay County ranked number two, just behind Volusia County as far as the most reefs built in the state of Florida."

The MBARA has raised millions of dollars over the 20 years of this tournament. They're expecting 165 to 185 boats this year

"We call it The Kingfish Tournament, but over the years we've added wahoo for people that might be further offshore. and catch a wahoo and also Spanish," MBARA Tournament Director Ron Childs said. "You might get to see 50, 60, 65 pound King Mackerel. Seventy pounds that are huge. Wahoo, it might be in the 50, 60 pound range. And it all goes to build reefs, and we've got some of the best reef structure in the state of Florida, and the fishing is outstanding. When you build reefs, the fish are going to come."

The Kingfish Tournament starts Saturday at 5 a.m. at the Mexico Beach Marina. The Captain's Party is Friday at 5 p.m. at the Veteran's Memorial Park in Beacon Hill.