Tropical Storm Cindy was by no means a hurricane. She didn’t even pack much of a punch. But what she did bring to the Gulf Coast, besides some squally rain bands, was a high level of uncertainty. And when you’re planning a world-class fishing tournament like the 15th annual Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic, uncertainty creates all kinds of scheduling headaches. Which is why fishing will now begin at 3 p.m. on Friday, after the boats check out from the Destin Pass bridge.

“It’s been a fun and challenging week so far,” says Tournament Director Adam Alfonso. “We’ve constantly consulted numerous weather sources and they’re showing by the time the boats leave Friday the seas will be laying down to safe levels. So we’re optimistic we’ll have two great days of fishing and we’re excited to see what the fleet brings in to the scales. We certainly appreciate all the teams that are hanging in there with us and hope more will commit to fish before lines go in the water.”

Schedule Changes

Because of the adjusted schedule, teams will be able to register and enter optional cash categories up until 3 p.m. Friday afternoon. Entries can be made on line (www.fishecbc.com) or at the Marina Bar & Grill at the Baytowne Marina on Friday. Lines can go in right after the official start. Scales will be open until 9 p.m. on Saturday and 10 p.m. on Sunday. Boats must be under the Destin Pass Bridge before 8 p.m. and 6 p.m. respectively to weigh entries.

Sea conditions look very good for Saturday and Sunday, with new moon tides, steady barometric pressure and light winds. The lingering effects of a tropical storm can also be conducive to a hot bite.

Good Prospects

“This storm should be good for fishing,” says ECBC Weigh Master Jack Teschel. “The bait the marlin and tuna were feeding on beforehand was disturbed by the stormy conditions. So the game fish will be hungry and looking for any thing to eat. The water was also stirred up so the surface temperatures are evenly distributed. I expect we’ll see some quality fish come to the scales thanks to Cindy.”

“The fishing could be phenomenal,” says Capt. Allan Legge, from the Texas-based 68 Viking High Cotton. “We haven’t had good water all season long off Louisiana, so this storm could bring the nutrients and bait up to the surface with the fish following. It could be great, but I don’t know. I’ll tell you Sunday. But this is the deal. The real fishermen are going to fish.”

The 15th annual Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic, one of the top events on the world billfish tournament circuit, is hosted by the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Miramar Beach, Florida. The presenting sponsor again this year is the Wind Creek Casino and Hotel—Atmore, Alabama.