DMR has announced that July 4 will be a free fishing day in marine waters, which includes the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi Sound and those portions of the coastal bays and rivers that are below I-10.

It couldn't be timed more perfectly - the 65th annual Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo opens Thursday at the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor. There is also no charge to enter the Rodeo completion.

"I invite all Gulf Coast families and visiting tourists to take time out this Independence Day to enjoy our marine resources by saltwater sportfishing in the Mississippi Sound," said DMR executive director Jamie Miller.

All other regulations remain in play.

"Please remember to obey all size and possession limits during this free fishing day," said Rusty Pittman, the interim chief of enforcement for Marine Patrol. "Enjoy your fishing and remember to have all safety equipment onboard your vessel in good working order before leaving the dock."

The Rodeo will be staged at the new Barksdale Pavilion just east of the intersections of U.S. Highways 49 and 90, back at its traditional home on the Gulfport beach for the first time since Hurricane Katrina.

The scales open daily at noon, and close at 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and at 4 p.m. on Sunday's final day. Daily and overall prizes will be awarded in 19 saltwater and six freshwater divisions.