In today’s new reality of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, it comes as no surprise that many sporting events have been postponed or cancelled. However, organizers of one event have worked overtime to ensure their summer tradition continues.
The 87th annual Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo (ADSFR) has announced it will still take place July 17-19. Some accommodations, though, had to be made for those taking the trip to Dauphin Island.
According to a recent Facebook post, organizers said there would not be a “Liar’s Contest,” live music or a sponsor tent this year. The rodeo site at 531 Lemoyne Drive will “be open daily for spectators to purchase merchandise, watch fish being weighed in, see the boats and watch a gorgeous Dauphin Island sunset.”
To read the full president’s message from Cory Quint, visit adsfr.com/87th-presidents-message.
ADSFR is a project of the Mobile Jaycees. Founded in 1929, the fishing rodeo has traditionally attracted more than 3,000 anglers and 75,000 spectators each year.
The three-day event includes 30 categories of fish, with prizes awarded for first, second and third. One “master angler” is recognized, along with cash prizes for king mackerel, speckled trout and “big game” jackpots.
“Since COVID-19 started, we knew we had a slim chance that the rodeo would not go on,” Blake Thomas, the tournament’s vice president of publicity, told Lagniappe. “There have only been a handful of times where it hasn’t happened.”
The organizers began working with Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier and other officials on a plan. By mid-May, the Jaycees had permission to go through with ADSFR.
“It will not be a normal rodeo that we have known for years,” Thomas said. “It is unfortunate for our sponsors.”
Thomas said another popular feature that will not be included is the “live fish box.” He said people normally go there to see the catches, but it would be impossible to secure social distancing.
“We will have our live leaderboard, so people will be able to come in and watch it,” Thomas said. “However, we will not be serving alcohol or food onsite. We are just trying to do our part to halt the spread of COVID-19. For the first time we are selling merchandise online. The products will be shipped after the rodeo.”
It is all about the fishing
While the experience for spectators will be affected, this rodeo’s main objective is to provide the best experience possible for the registered competitors.
“The anglers are just happy we are having this,” Thomas said. “Some people have been in this tournament for 40 or 50 years.”
As another measure of dealing with COVID-19, the organizers will not have an awards ceremony after the rodeo.
“We will bring out the prizes at a scheduled time,” Thomas said. “It will probably be over two weekends. We will use The Grounds [1035 Cody Road N. in Mobile] as a staging area.”
As it has in the past, participants must agree to allow each fish to be briefly examined for research by the University of South Alabama’s (USA) Department of Marine Science. Dr. Sean Powers, the chair of marine sciences at USA and a senior marine scientist at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, will come and get what samples his team needs for their research.
According to Quint’s letter, ADSFR has been committed to the conservation of marine resources. Thanks to last year’s tournament proceeds, a donation of $25,000 was made to the Department of Marine Sciences to fund graduate-level scholarships. The rodeo has been able to donate nearly $400,000 to the department over the years.
One fish that will not be studied is red snapper. The federally mandated season has ended. Thomas said the category taking its place is lane snapper.
The fishing actually gets started this Saturday, with the 62nd annual Roy Martin Young Anglers Tournament. The event is open to those 15 years and younger. Proceeds in the past have gone to such causes as the annual Children’s Christmas Shopping Tour, an event sponsored by the Mobile Jaycees that assists in buying gifts for disadvantaged youth.
“We had to reschedule Roy Martin last year because of weather, so we wanted to be sure it was still taking place,” Thomas said. “We will just have the one day. We can spread everyone out at the site. We just want to let the kids fish. We will promote social distancing and washing of their hands.”
Big prizes up for grabs
According to the president’s message, one lucky angler will win the largest boat that they have ever given away in ADSFR history, thanks to long-time sponsor Contender Boats. This year’s prize is a 2020 25-foot Contender Bay Boat, powered by a 250-horsepower Yamaha SHO motor and Sport Trail trailer. To be entered into the random drawing for this prize, an angler must weigh in one fish in any of the 30 open competition categories.
The winner of the Speckled Trout Jackpot random drawing will take home a 90-horsepower Yamaha SHO motor. New for this year is the Seakeeper & Saunders Marine Random Jackpot Drawing. This drawing is for all participants who weigh in a fish in any of the jackpots, and the prize will include a new Seakeeper 1 gyro stabilization device designed to eliminate boat roll and installation by Saunders Marine.
Ticket prices are as follows: Open Competition – $50 per angler; Raymarine Big Game Jackpot: Tuna (Blackfin/Yellowfin), Wahoo, Dolphin – $350 per boat; Synergy Laboratories King Mackerel Jackpot – $200 per boat; CraneWorks Red Snapper Jackpot – $50 per angler; and Yamaha Motors/Blazer Boats/L&M Marine Speckled Trout Jackpot – $35 per angler.
Tickets can be purchased at the following locations in Baldwin and Mobile counties: Academy Sports & Outdoors (2410 South McKenzie St. in Foley; 3725 Airport Blvd. in Mobile; 7460 Airport Blvd. in Mobile), Blue Water Ships Stores (8103 S. County Road 59 in Foley), Greer’s Market (10835 Dauphin Island Pkwy. near Fowl River), Howell & Associates Insurance (6677 Three Notch Road, Suite E, in Mobile), J&M Tackle (25125 Canal Road in Orange Beach), Quint’s Hardware & Sporting Goods (1406 Industrial Pkwy. in Saraland), Pronto Pawn (5790 U.S. 90 in Theodore) and Tackle This Shoot That (5256 U.S. 90 W. Service Road in Mobile). To register online, visit app.fishingchaos.com/tournament/87th-annual-adsfr.
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