The Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo draws in a crowd of over 3,000 anglers and 75,000 spectators annually, causing Guinness World Records to name the event the largest of its kind in 2011. However, ticket sales for the behemoth event are dwindling and organizers are planning some big changes.

According to, a combination of federal regulations, entry fees, and lack of incentive have been keeping anglers away. Kayak fishermen were also miffed at not being able to enter the large jackpot divisions due to the rodeo’s two-angers-per-boat minimum limit.

“We felt like we had to do something to increase ticket sales and draw more anglers back to the tournament,” said event president Chris Hankins.

That something turned out to be a cash incentive, as well as a lot of rule tweaking. The 2013 Rodeo will parcel out over $400,000 in awards in addition to boat, motor, and trailer prize packages. Over a period of three days, participants can compete in 30 categories with one Master Angler prize. King mackerel, speckled trout, and “big game” competitions are the key drawers.

A massive overhaul to their prize system will now allow solo kayak or motorized anglers to compete in the big cash categories. The event’s previous boat-based payout has been changed to a per angler system that made less second guessing and fewer headaches. Competitors have their pick of entering a $100, $250, $500, $1,000 and $2,500 price levels and will only be fishing against anglers at the same level. Prize purses are the sum of entrance fees for each level, with the event keeping 10 percent. First place winners will receive a lion’s share of the amassed amount: 50 percent. Second and third place participants will receive 30 and 20 percent respectively.

“We set it up so the fisherman who’s enjoyed fishing the big Rodeo for years can keep on doing what they’ve always loved doing while also giving other fishermen the choice of competing with the potential for a higher level of return on their chosen level of investment,” Hankins said.

Image from Extra Zebra on the flickr Creative Commons

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