When teams head to the scales at the Baytowne Marina Saturday and Sunday nights to weigh fish, a familiar voice will welcome them. Scott Rossman, the man behind the microphone, has been serving as the ECBC master of ceremonies since 2007. Jim Roberson, the local International Game Fish Association representative, also assists. Rossman is well-suited for this role since he is the sports director of WJHG News Channel 7, the NBC television affiliate in Panama City.
“I started covering the Bay Point Invitational Billfish Tournament in 1988 for the station,” Rossman recalls. “I did that for a couple years when the tournament officials told me if I was going to be there anyway, they might as well hand me a mic. So I became master of ceremonies until Bay Point dissolved and later switched over to the ECBC.”
“In this role I do anything that needs a mic,” Rossman explains. “Introductions, thank sponsors, charity auctions. And then, once the weigh-ins start, I announce the teams and interview the anglers and crews. I love the joy they bring to that stage. These men and women are hyper-passionate about the sport, which is very competitive by nature. It’s angler against fish and that’s a big-game atmosphere. I really do enjoy being a part of it.”
Rossman adds to the excitement level by announcing the potential cash awards for each fish weighed. He has cheat sheets prepared beforehand and quickly adds up the tournament awards and optional entries to come up with a figure.
“I always underestimate but the teams know beforehand, they know how much they stand to win. But the crowd wants to hear those dollar amounts, whether it’s a six-figure fish. Money is a huge part of this game.”
During tournament week Rossman continues to file reports for the television station. The cross promotion is important since the ECBC is so popular throughout the Emerald Coast.
“This is such a first-rate, first-class event,” he says. “It’s my favorite of the year. There are so many local boats competing and they have a huge fan base. Plus it’s a smooth machine. The staff works so well together to pull it all off.”
With the start of fishing delayed a day by inclement weather offshore, the fleet of 80 boats departed Destin Pass early Friday morning. All are hunting for the biggest marlin and game fish worth more than $1.86 million in overall prize money. And when they return, the man behind the mic will be there, avidly telling ‘em how much they won.