Part of the What's Biting Series

Billfish caught in Orange Beach AL

The big game fishing season along the northern Gulf of Mexico starts off with a bang with the Orange Beach Billfish Classic, scheduled May 15-19 at The Wharf.

What’s special about the Orange Beach Billfish Classic (OBBC) is what it contributes to big game fishing. Concerned about the health of billfish populations around the world, a group of anglers formed the OBBC in 1996 as a way to raise money and awareness for billfish research and conservation.

In the past 20 years, the OBBC has donated more than $700,000 to The Billfish Foundation (TBF) and other conservation organizations. The OBBC ranks at the top of the list in money donated to The Billfish Foundation with 100 percent of net profits going to TBF and other qualified 501(c)(3) conservation organizations.

When the OBBC got so large that the Mobile Big Game Fishing Club dock at Orange Beach Marina couldn’t handle the huge crowds that gather for the weigh-ins, the Classic moved in 2013 to its current home at The Wharf, where anglers and spectators have ample room to watch the Gulf Coast’s top anglers complete for more than $1 million in prize money.

The OBBC not only kicks off the 2019 Gulf Coast tournament fishing season, it is the first of the five Gulf Coast tournaments qualifying for the Gulf Coast Triple Crown Championship Series.

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

The fish eligible for tournament awards include blue marlin. Only one blue marlin per boat is allowed. 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.

Anglers will 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.

Registration for the tournament and the optional cash awards party is scheduled from 4 p.m.-10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 15 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 16 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 16.

Fishing begins at noon on May 16. Boats must clear the Perdido Pass Bridge or Sailboat Bay in Bon Secour by 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 18th in order to weigh fish.

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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…