Fishing is Family Affair at MBGFC Memorial Day Weekend Tournament

Part Of The What's Biting Series

family fishing for wahooThe Mobile Big Game Fishing Club (MBGFC) has always been a family-friendly fishing club. Just stroll down the docks during any tournament weekend, and you’ll see boats loaded with fathers, sons, moms, daughters, and grandkids all together while competing against the best of the best in the Gulf of Mexico.

The same goes for spectators who pack the MBGFC Clubhouse at Orange Beach Marina to watch the weigh-ins. “I have been coming to the beach for years to watch the boats and fish come in during these tournaments. Our family always looks forward to these holiday weekend events,” said Wayne Gardner of Mobile.

Teams come from all over the world to fish MBGFC events, but most family teams are from the Southeast. The Johnson’s from Mississippi aboard their boat Reel Worthless are regulars at all MBGFC events. Owner Johnny Johnson cherishes weekends when he can load his family on the boat, especially the grandkids. For most competitors, the most beautiful sound during a tournament weekend is a screaming clicker after a strike. But Johnson’s favorite sound comes in the form of a question from his young granddaughter Raegan, “Can I reel it in Papaw?”

Reel Worthless has had enormous success along the Gulf Coast in tournaments, and the build up to winning is one of the Johnson’s favorite parts of the competition. “Weighing in the fish with the children participating in the excitement of the announcer and the crowd brings a smile to my face, every time!” There were lots of smiles on Reel Worthless last weekend as they won the tuna division during the Orange Beach Billfish Classic at The Wharf with 158.8 pound yellowfin tuna.

As most anyone else who fishes MBGFC events, a tournament weekend offers Johnson and his family a little real world escape while enjoying their time together. “In this fast paced world, everyone lives at the click of a mouse or text message. It is wonderful when we can get together on the water and have some fun without a phone or the TV’s distraction. It provides time for sharing of knowledge, relaxing, and hopefully catching a winning fish.”

A fellow Mississippian Robert Douglas on the boat Jacquelyn agrees with Johnson about families needing a little technology downtime together. “With iPhones, FaceBook, and social media, it seems to get harder and harder to make quality time together as a family. When we fish, we leave the phones turned off and turn the focus on having fun and spending quality time together.”

Douglas and his crew range from his 83 year old father all the way down the family tree to his brother’s young grandsons. “It is just one of those rare activities that we all truly enjoy. Frankly, most of us are obsessed with saltwater fishing! I have two daughters at Ole Miss that absolutely love to tournament fish with me.”

While many boats have professional captains, it’s all about family for the Douglas team. “We made the decision a few years ago to forego a professional captain to increase space for other family members. We always try to make our angler someone who has yet to catch a billfish – preferably a junior or female angler.”

The focus on the Douglas family even extends all the way down the name of the boat. “It’s my mother’s name. The name works well since it’s either someone’s mother or grandmother to all us on our fishing team.”

Family fun for the MBGFC Memorial Day Tournament weigh-ins begins at 4 p.m. on Sunday at the MBGFC clubhouse on Marina Road in Orange Beach. There is no admission fee, and all ages are welcome.

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Jim Cox
Jim Cox (1324 Posts)
Jim Cox is an avid inshore, offshore, and big game fisherman. He has twice qualified for the prestigious IGFA Offshore Championships in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. He is the past president of the Mobile…