Even though Old Man Winter is lingering around, it’s never too early to start planning for the 16th Annual Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic at Sandestin. If it’s not on the monthly planner yet, the dates are June 20-24, 2018. Known as the Richest Offshore Fishing Tournament in the Gulf, early preparation and reservations will ensure your team has everything covered long before lines go in the water.
For starters, are your team members set? Besides the crew, you’ll need plenty of anglers to cover some long hours on the water. Those signing up should put in vacation requests now and allow enough time for travel and possible pre-fishing. Discussions about permits, gear, bait and tackle responsibilities should also be happening in the near future.
Accommodations are another consideration that needs early attention. Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is an extremely popular convention and vacation destination, so early reservations are a must. Even 1,250 vacation rentals fill up quickly. Choose the type of accommodations needed between studios, multi-bedroom units, condo, homes and villas. Will the family be staying at the resort while you’re fishing? Go to sandestin.com to check out the options and be sure to use Group Code FISH18 when making your reservation.
Boat slips are another hot commodity at this popular event. Most of the teams prefer to stay close to the action at the Baytowne Marina. To ensure there’s a slip with your name on it, enter early. As soon as your deposit/entry fee is paid you’re added to the dockage list.
It never hurts to get the money questions settled early, either. Are the entry fees and expenses going to be split equally or are there varying contributions? Of note, there are a few changes to the fee and jackpot structure for 2018. The mandatory deposit of $1,000 remains regardless of whether you are staying at the Baytowne Marina or not. An additional $5,000 is required for the mandatory base entry (for a total of $6,000). If you enter during onsite registration, you just need to pay the entry fee in full. The optional Release Division (E2) and Crew Division (E3) remain at $2,000 and $300 respectively.
The optional jackpot entry levels and payouts have also changed slightly for the 2018 season. Jackpot levels are $500, $750, $1,000, $2,500 and $5,000 for blue marlin, billfish release, dolphin, tuna and wahoo. There are two additional $10,000 level options in the blue marlin and billfish release jackpots, but a base entry into the Release Division (E2) is required in order to enter any billfish release jackpots.
Visit www.fishecbc.com/rules/ to see fee and payment details.
Before you know it, Gulf water temperatures will be flirting with 80 degrees again and six-figure marlin and gamefish will be prowling the weed lines and rips offshore. Make sure your team is ready to capitalize on the hot bite by taking care of necessary tournament details early.