Big Mac Classic Fishing Tournament ready to go this weekend

Tina Harbuck

The fifth annual Big Mac Classic Fishing Tournament, benefiting the Ronald McDonald House of Northwest Florida, is ready to hit the water this weekend.

Registration opens at 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25 with a captains meeting at 6 p.m. at AJ’s Seafood and Oyster Bar featuring a buffet style dinner. All sponsors, volunteers, anglers and the community are invited to join in. Registration closes at 9 p.m.

Entry fee for the two-day tournament is $250 per boat with a chance to take home $5,000 for the big king mackerel.

“There are some big ones out there,” said tournament director Mike Wright of McDonald’s. “It’s going to take a 40-pound class fish to win it this year."

Just a few weeks ago, Wright himself finished fourth in the Harbor Docks tournament with a 34.5-pound king mackerel.

“People are starting to use some different techniques to catch king,” he said.

“And when there’s $5,000 on the line, people are going to head to their secret spots and hope the big Mac winds up on their table,” Wright said.

“I predict a 43- to 44-pounder to win it,” he said.

There will also be a prize for the “big three” as well.

Anglers will have a chance to weigh as many as two king mackerel on Saturday or Sunday.

“But once the fish is weighed, they can’t swap it out for a bigger one the next day,” he said.

There will also be prizes for the lady angler, junior angler and senior angler with the largest king mackerel.

But the big mack is not the only species that will be a contender in this tournament.

There are five other species of fish that will be worth big money.

The largest Wahoo, mahi mahi, red snapper, gag grouper and amberjack will be worth $500.

“This will be the last chance to tournament fish for an amberjack,” Wright said, noting Sunday is the last day anglers will be able to keep amberjack before the fishery closes until Jan. 1, 2016.

There will also be a second and third place prize for each of those species as well, he said.

Held in conjunction with the Big Mac Classic is the kid’s Cane Pole Classic held on the docks behind AJ’s.

On Saturday, youth will have a “Minion reasons to fish,” Wright said.

In addition to Ronald McDonald, word is a few big yellow Minions will be on hand for the youngsters to see.

Registration for the Cane Pole Classic begins at 8:30 a.m. with fishing from 10-11:30 on the docks. It’s a three fish maximum per child. There will be three age divisions for them to enter in, 6 and under, 7 to 9 and 10 to 12.

Each child will receive a goody bag plus there will be Minion hats and T-shirts for sale.

As for the Big Mac Classic, the scales will be open on the docks behind AJ’s from 3-7 on Saturday and noon until 5 p.m. on Sunday with awards following at 6 p.m.

IGFA Jim Roberson will be the weigh master for the two-day event.

For more information, call 259-3790.