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Fish the Mongo Offshore Challenge

A new season-long event emerges on the Gulf Coast

April 20, 2021
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A fishing team standing on the deck of a boat.
The Fleur de Lis team won the Mongo’s blue marlin division in 2020. Courtesy MONGO Offshore Challenge

The Mongo Offshore Challenge is an interesting and inspiring fishing tournament dedicated to the Gulf Coast region that encompasses a 153-day event in a ­season-long quest to catch the largest blue marlin, swordfish, yellowfin tuna, wahoo and dolphin in the Gulf of Mexico. With weigh stations across each of the five Gulf states, the Mongo not only showcases the great fishing available in the Gulf of Mexico, but also actively invites participation from across the sport-fishing community.

In its inaugural year, the Mongo ­Offshore Challenge boasted 66 boats with more than 1,000 anglers participating. Represented were all five of the Gulf states—with vessels ranging from 25 to 95 feet—and went off without a hitch, despite all the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season. The tournament not only launched successfully, but experienced some pretty incredible fishing and participation rates to boot, including an 851.9-pound blue marlin caught by Fleur de Lis angler Ginger Myers—a fish that also happens to be the new Alabama state record.

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What Makes the Mongo Unique

Most anyone who has ever touched a ­fishing reel has dreamed of a shot at winning money doing it. In a time when many tournaments are governed by complex rules and formats, the Mongo is quite different, and the entry costs are such that you don’t need to be able to afford a private island to enter. It even allows fish caught during other events to be eligible, so the same giant blue marlin that wins another Gulf tournament can also win the Mongo.

The tournament’s framework encourages fishing and conservation. Rules are crew-friendly, the format is boat-based, and it’s designed to get people out fishing. Registered boats must check out when leaving the dock, naming the anglers who will be fishing each trip. Whether the boat is a private vessel with a consistent crew and designated anglers, or a charter boat with different anglers every day, anyone who is fishing can be a tournament angler. And for charter boats, this is an exciting component: Each angler is given an opportunity at glory on any given day. And in 2020, both the winning tuna and wahoo were caught by a charter angler on the rod.

A group of the Fleur de Lis on the deck of a boat.
Team Fleur de Lis won the Mongo’s blue marlin division with owner Ginger Myers’ (seated) 851.9-pound Alabama state record. Courtesy MONGO Offshore Challenge

Because weather inevitably becomes a real factor in traditional tournaments, the Mongo’s 153-day tournament window provides plenty of seasonal bluebird days, and invites small boats to sign up with confidence that they will be able to fish. The fact that a 25-footer can compete against a 95-footer reflects inclusivity, and the boats that participated were indeed a microcosm of the Gulf’s sport-fishing community, featuring center-consoles, express boats, multimillion-dollar sportboats, novice private boats, charter boats and professionals all fishing on the same level playing field.

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While the Mongo does welcome small-boat participation, the tournament has no dividend for killing small fish. The tournament rewards teams for catching a few exceptional fish rather than incentivizing boating many mediocre ones. “Let the small ones go so they can grow!” is the motto, and the minimums for each species reflects this philosophy: 118 inches for blue marlin, 175 pounds for swordfish and tuna (bluefin excluded), 60 pounds for wahoo and 40 pounds for mahi.

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May 1 – September 30, 2021

The 2021 Mongo will span 153 days of competition, with each category ­sporting its own registration and entry fee: $2,500 for blue marlin, $1,500 each for swordfish and tuna, and $500 for each meat fish to include wahoo and mahi. Teams can enter as many or as few categories as they wish, with each ­division paying out first place only: Weigh the biggest fish of the season, and the winner takes all.

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The tournament will also feature two new opt-in entries for each species. The first is payable to the first team in each division that catches a qualifying fish, while the second option is a ­winner-take-all entry, open to the biggest fish in each division. Teams can enter for as little as $500, or go across the board while still paying less than $20,000. When ­considered in terms of cost-per-day ­tournament fishing (or payout in relation to entry), the Mongo is one of the best values in competitive sport ­fishing today.

Recognizing and Uniting Gulf Coast Sport Fishing

With one successful year and proof of concept under its belt, the MOC is staged for growth, anticipating 18 to 20 weigh-in stations across the region, along with a new website and Mongo app for 2021. The app allows for registration, houses the rules, and includes team and qualifying-­fish photos. Boats check out and register anglers on the app also, showing which boats are fishing any given day of the ­tournament. In many ways, this tournament is a product of an incredible sport-fishing community—one that showcases all the amazing fishing, camaraderie and ­culture the Gulf has to offer. Registration for the 2021 event is now open. For more ­information, please visit mongooffshore.com.

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