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Sandestin set to host big week with the annual ECBC

(WJHG)
Published: Jun. 16, 2020 at 11:23 PM CDT
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Preparations for the 18th Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic are well under way.

And all indications it could be a very big week indeed for all involved.

Like many events, that Tournament more or less in limbo in March and April, even into May as Sandestin officials had to figure out if it was even possible to host the event with everything that was going on related to the Covid-19 shutdown.

Fortunately, things began to ease up in mid to late May, and the decision was made to go ahead and host this billfish tournament. Among those helping to make that decision, Tournament Director Jason Draughn.

"You know we all got together and decided to go ahead with it." Jason

told me Tuesday afternoon at the weight in scale at Baytowne Marina.

"Some of the difficulties with it, we were in phase one at the time, were we going to go to phase two? They did, so we decided we're going to move forward with it. We made a lot of adjustments here. We have handwashing stations, we have social distancing signs. We're gonna go virtual, and what that means is that through the Village (of Baytowne Wharf) we're going to be broadcasting it live. So that's some of the things that we've done to accomodate people's needs."

And Jason says feedback from the fishing teams weighed heavily in the decision to move forward with the event several weeks ago.

"At the end of the day it's about the fisherman." Draughn said. "This is a fishing tournament. So we reached out and did a poll and they said at the time, 55 boats entered. So we were like 'we have a tournament.' So right now we have 77 boats, entered in right now. But that number is going to continue to grow the next couple of days"

In fact just a few hours later, the boat count was up to 80. That's strong

for a normal year, but it is surprisingly high for this summer!

The crowds are still allowed to come watch the weign-ins Friday and Saturday afternoon and evening, though they will be kept down in numbers.

It's obvious the teams are anxious to fish, last week the Mississippi

Gulf Coast Billfish Classic had 57 teams fish, setting a record

with well over 100 billfish caught and released. An indication

the bite in the Gulf is strong.

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