- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 1, 2014

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) - The 66th edition of the Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo begins Thursday at Jones Park’s Gulfport Harbor.

Admission to the four-day event is $10; $5 daily. Anglers fish free.

The rodeo, billed as the World’s Largest Fishing Rodeo, will run through Sunday at Jones Park with freshwater and saltwater divisions.

Two changes are in store for anglers.

Florida pompano is replacing amberjack, which is currently closed to recreational fishing in federal waters.

Mark Wright, the weighmaster, said red snapper has been added back as category.

The red snapper recreational season was extended in state waters recently by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources. The extension allows anglers to fish for red snapper within Mississippi waters on Friday, Saturday and Sunday only throughout the month of July.

“Last year, when the season for red snapper was closed, we removed red snapper as a category,” Wright said. “We were not going to have red snapper again this year until the DMR opened fishing within state waters. When they (DMR) made the call, we added red snapper back as a category.

“Keep in mind that anglers fishing in Louisiana and Alabama waters can also bring their fish over here and enter.”

Rodeo rules permit fishing waters are the Mississippi Sound and the Gulf of Mexico

The saltwater division will now include barracuda, blackfish, black drum, bluefish, bonito, gar, flounder, Florida pompano, grouper, jack crevalle, king mackerel, lemonfish, mangrove snapper, sheepshead, redfish, red snapper, shark, Spanish mackerel, speckled trout and stingray.

The other change is in the freshwater division that used to include shellcracker and bluegill along with catfish, crappie, green trout and striped bass.

“Shellcracker and bluegill are no longer individual categories,” Wright said. “All sunfish have been grouped together this year as bream.”

Gulfport is hosting the Fishing Rodeo for the second straight year. Biloxi and Long Beach hosted the tournament before returning to its original site.

For rodeo officials, Gulfport symbolizes its rich history and legacy. Gulfport hosted the tournament for 57 years.

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