Many measures have been taken in the last few years to fill out the shoulder seasons on the island, from adding more conference space to the addition of several sporting events. The Alabama Charter Fishing Association hopes to add even more stability with the Inaugural Alabama Gulf Coast Slam Fishing Tournament.
Established in 2019, the Alabama Gulf Coast Slam is planned to be the ultimate fishing tournament for saltwater anglers of all ages and to support the beautiful Alabama Gulf Coast fishing and tourism during off season months while promoting a sense of unity and friendly competition.
Tom Steber, Tournament Director and current Secretary of the Alabama Charter Fishing Association (ACFA), said there was previously a tournament the ACFA put on which was widely successful.
“We did a red snapper world championship back in 2004 through 2009,” Steber said. “The problem with that tournament was the federal government decided to move snapper season to June, and that did away with driving business in the shoulder season because we didn’t need a fishing tournament in June. We had done so well with that tournament, which contributed several millions of dollars to the economy.”
He added the new Slam tournament was modeled after the Destin Fishing Rodeo held annually in October.
“Our fishing association, the Alabama Charter Fishing Association, wanted to go head-to-head with the October rodeo in Destin,” Steber said. “After talking with Herb Malone and the tourism board, we decided we knew we did phenomenal with the snapper tournament before. So why not do it in the spring and not the fall? It would be a lot more successful, and so far, so good.”
Even though the tournament started with a storm throwing six-foot seas and competing with Easter weekend, there are already several fish up on the leaderboard at Zeke’s Landing Marina.
Rules for the tournament are as follows:
-Tournament runs every day April 20, 2019 - May 18, 2019
-All boats, charter or recreational, must leave and return via Alabama waters.
-Charter boats and Recreational boats must register to enter the Slam at least 24 hours prior to weighing a fish. Shore fishermen can participate by just bringing their catch to the scale.
-Fish aboard a registered charter boat - there is no entry fee for anglers on registered vessels.
-Fish aboard a registered recreational boat, kayak or paddle board - there is no entry fee for anglers on registered vessels.
-Pier, bridge, jetty, surf, and shoreline fishing (registration required).
-Daily, weekly and overall prizes.
-Eligible species are listed online at the tournament’s website alabamagulfcoastslam.com
-Daily weigh-ins are from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. at Zeke's Landing in Orange Beach and Fort Morgan Marina in Fort Morgan. Fish caught after the 6 p.m. weigh-in time may be weighed during the next day's weigh-in schedule.
Charter boats and recreational boats must register to enter the Slam at least 24 hours prior to weighing a fish. To register visit alabamagulfcoastslam.com or call 251-609-1555.
Anglers also have the opportunity to win a brand-new, 2019 Chevrolet truck currently sitting outside Orange Beach City Hall donated by Southern Chevrolet.
Even though other fishing is permitted in to the competition, Steber characterizes Slam as a boat tournament.
“It has two divisions, a recreational division and the charter division,” Steber said. “The charter division is paid for by the charter boats, and anyone who comes down and fishes on one of the boats is automatically entered into the tournament. The recreational division is for private boat owners and costs $50 to fish for the month.”
Steber said the reasom it’s called the Alabama Gulf Coast Slam is because there is a “grand slam” of fish- four fish inshore, four fish near shore four fish bottom fish and four fish offshore.
“We’re doing shark Saturdays because fortunately the state and the federal government want us to kill these sharks that are a menace to our area,” Steber said.
Steber said from the charter boat side of things, the tournament has been hugely successful already.
“On the recreational side people are still learning from it because there is not a tournament like this anywhere else,” Steber said. “Most tournaments you pay as an angler; this tournament you’re paying the boat to fish in. There is no doubt this will be a boost for our area and will drive business.”
For more on rules, eligible fish, prizes and how to enter, visit the tournament website at alabamagulfcoastslam.com.