DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. (AP) — Organizers are scaling back plans for a major fishing tournament on the Alabama coast so it can be held despite the coronavirus pandemic.
The Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo has grown to include music events and a “liars contest” that draw thousands of people during 86 years in operation. But this year’s tournament will just involve fishing when it begins July 17 at Dauphin Island.
More than 75,000 people usually visit Dauphin Island, located south of Mobile, for the fishing or the show during a typical rodeo, which lasts three days.
A news release from the state conservation agency said officials who were mindful of the need for social distancing during the pandemic didn’t want to draw crowds.
“We worked with the town of Dauphin Island, and they told us they were OK with us fishing, having a weigh-in and selling T-shirts. They did not want us to give anybody a reason to congregate,” the president of the tournament, Cory Quint, said in a statement released by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
The pandemic has gotten worse in Alabama since leaders allowed many businesses to reopen in a bid to revive the state’s economy.
The fishing rodeo, which began as a competition for tarpon anglers, is billed as the nation’s largest saltwater fishing tournament.