The Mississippi Chapter of the Coast Conservation Association is sponsoring an appropriately named Stripes, Spots & Dots Tournament Feb. 22 with a guaranteed payout of $8,000.

“Stripes” refers to the dark bars that run down the sides of sheepshead, while “spots and dots” refers to the adornment on speckled trout and redfish, and the three species are among the most popular game fish found in big numbers along the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the winter.

The competition will be in two divisions for adults.

Sheepshead will stand alone and the top prize is $2,500 for the heaviest single fish. Second is worth $750 and third $250.

For spots & dots, there is a combined stringer of two speckled trout and one “slot” redfish (only legal redfish measuring between 18 and 30 inches may be entered). The heaviest stringer will earn $2,500, with second worth $750 and third $250.

The youth division for children 15 and under will award first- and second-place prize packages for biggest sheepshead, biggest speckled trout and biggest slot redfish.

Early bird entries — $25 CCA members, $40 non-members (receives annual membership) and $10 youth — will be accepted through Feb. 18. After Feb. 18, the fees increase to $30 for members, $45 for non-members while the youth fee will remain $10.

A $15 optional Calcutta will be held, and entry fees accepted only at the Captain’s Meeting at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, at IP Casino in Biloxi.

All open waters of the Gulf of Mexico and its bays and tributaries will be legal for fishing.

The weigh-in will be held Saturday, Feb. 22, between 4 and 6 p.m. at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum.

Entries are being accepted at several tackle shops on the Coast, including the Tackle Box, Bay Marina, Gorenflo’s Tackle Shop, Mary Walker Marina, A&A Marine and Sports Unlimited.

Fishermen can also enter or get additional information online at ccamississippi.org.


Legislative update

Both the House and Senate have given their full approval to versions of a bill that would give the state’s Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks plenary powers to set limits for Mississippi’s deer seasons.

The House approved H.B. 719 by a 103-14 vote, while the Senate passed S.B. 2146 by a 50-0 vote with two abstentions. Such strong support would indicate a strong possibility that one version will receive full legislative approval and be sent to the Governor.

The Senate also unanimously approved S.B. 2369 that would provide a uniform statewide fall/winter squirrel season and create a two-week squirrel season in May.

House members have yet to consider H.B. 940 that would create the May season, but without the change to the regular squirrel season and its current system of staggered starts by zone. The House has until Thursday (Feb. 13) to consider the bill or it will die on the calendar.

One other bill that has passed the Senate and is headed to the House is S.B. 2143 that would add time to the furbearing season that currently ends Feb. 28. The raccoon, opossum and bobcat season would end on March 15 if the bill becomes law.