Three years ago a couple of fishing buddies started knocking around the idea of hosting a fishing tournament. What started out as an idea to host a fruit jar tournament turned into something much bigger.
Phillip Ladner wanted to host a spring-time fruit jar tournament, so he called David Bond to share his idea. Bond had hosted saltwater and freshwater tournaments before, and he suggested they do something big.
The two anglers put their heads together, and four weeks later, using some of their own money to get it rolling with less than$1,000 in sponsor prizes, they were able to sign up 105 competitors for the first annual Yellow Mouth Fever Speckled Trout Tournament.
And it's not a one-day or even one-weekend event: Yellow Mouth Fever allows fish to be weighed in from March through May 14.
The tournament is 100-percent payback, so Ladner and Bond aren’t doing it for the money.
“Phillip and I do this because we love the Gulf coast, we love fishing and we want to give back to our communities,” Bond said.
The cool part of this tournament is that it’s anyone’s game.
During the spring, trout are still inside or on the beaches, so having a big boat to go to the islands is not necessary. Waders, kayakers, pier fishermen and folks with small boats all have a shot.
For instance, the 2014 Yellow Mouth Fever tournament was won by Jimmy Dennison with a 7.80-pound monster fishing off the bank.
The tournament grew to 120 competitors in 2015, and that meant a bigger cash payout, along with K2 Coolers and Salt Life Optics becoming the premier sponsors.
Raymond Seymour won the 2015 event with a 7.74-pound speckled trout, and Nicholas Shepardson finished in 10th place with a 5.37-pound speck. Tyler Lander won the youth division with a 3.17-pound yellowmouth.
This year’s tournament is shaping up to be the biggest yet, with more than $19,000 in prizes, not counting the cash payout.
K2 Coolers and Salt Life Optics doubled their sponsorship level this year, and Yellow Mouth Fever added the Sea 2 Swamp five-fish shootout in which the aggregate of the heaviest five trout an angler weighs during the tournament results in prizes and pays five places.
Weigh stations are located across the coast to make it convenient for all anglers: A&A Marine Hardware in Pass Christian, The Tackle Box at Gulfport Harbor and Sea 2 Swamp in Gautier will weight your fish during business hours.
A list of prizes, rules, sponsors and standings from previous years also can be found on the website.