Fishing rods Orange Beach Billfish Classic Orange Beach, AL

Top Offshore Anglers Get Ready for Orange Beach Billfish Classic

The Orange Beach Billfish Classic, scheduled May 12-17 at The Wharf, is unique among billfish tournaments on the northern Gulf Coast.

Billfish caught in Orange Beach AL

First, it’s a family-run tournament with blue marlin as its main focus, both for big-game fishing and for billfish conservation.

Because billfish populations around the world are among a number of fish species that are of concern for conservationists, the Orange Beach Billfish Classic (OBBC) was formed to make a difference for those who to fish bluewater and the fish species that thrive in the deep.

Since its inception in 1996, the OBBC has donated more than $730,000 to The Billfish Foundation (TBF) and other conservation organizations to promote research and conservation of the big-game species. The OBBC takes 100 percent of the net profits and donates to The Billfish Foundation and other qualified 501(c)(3) conservation organizations.

The OBBC moved to its current home of The Wharf in 2013 to accommodate the growing crowd of spectators who come to watch the Gulf’s best anglers bring their catch to the weigh dock and complete for more than $1 million in prize money.

The OBBC kicks off the 2020 Gulf Coast tournament fishing season and is the first of the five Gulf Coast tournaments qualifying for the Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship Series. That series wraps up with the Blue Marlin Grand Championship, set for July 14-19 also at The Wharf

Tournament awards include blue marlin and catch-and-release. Only one blue marlin per boat is allowed to be weighed. In the catch-and-release category, properly documented catches are awarded points, 500 for blue marlin and 200 for white marlin, sailfish and spearfish. Swordfish is not an eligible tournament species.

father and son watching the billfish catch The Wharf Orange Beach AL

Anglers also compete in tuna, wahoo and dolphin categories with a minimum of 20 pounds each. Each boat is allowed to weigh three each of those species.

The details of the 2020 OBBC are being finalized, but will likely follow last year’s schedule, which means registration for the tournament and the optional cash awards party is scheduled from 4-10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 13 under the big tent at The Wharf. The kickoff party will treat the fishing teams to live music and dinner.

A mandatory captain’s meeting is set for 10 a.m. Thursday, May 14 under the big tent. Boats may leave The Wharf Marina at 10:30 a.m., heading through Perdido Bay to Perdido Pass. Boats may leave Perdido Pass at noon. Any boat that chooses to leave through Sailboat Bay may not leave the Wharf Marina until noon on May 14.

Fishing begins at noon on May 14. Boats must clear the Perdido Pass Bridge or Sailboat Bay in Bon Secour by 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 16th in order to weigh fish.

Spectators will find plenty of viewing space on the boardwalks and balconies at The Wharf when the first weigh-in starts at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 15, and ends at 10 p.m. Saturday’s weigh-in is scheduled from 6-10 p.m. The tournament awards breakfast is set for 9-11 a.m. on Sunday.

While the billfish tournament may be the reason for coming to The Wharf, don’t forget about the fine dining and shopping available. As always, the Wharf provides ample free parking.

Share This

David Rainer Blogger
David Rainer (2 Posts)
David Rainer has written about the great outdoors on the Alabama Gulf Coast for more than 20 years. For 14 of those years, he covered the many fishing opportunities on the Gulf Coast as outdoors…