PANAMA CITY BEACH – The Grand Lagoon National saltwater fishing tournament is forging ahead, with minor alterations to the schedule. A favorable track, at least for the Panhandle, regarding Tropical Storm Fay has prompted changes in both the schedule and some divisions in the inaugural event.
Wednesday’s festivities, which included the kickoff party, dock walk and Ms. Grand Lagoon contest, have been moved to Thursday. Competition and winnings in five of the eight divisions remain the same.
The first day of the Charter Boat and Party Boat divisions, also slated for Thursday, has been canceled. The divisions will still compete Friday through Sunday. The catch and release category in the Big Game Division has been discontinued. The cash awards associated with the catch and release category will be distributed equally to the blue marlin, swordfish and tuna categories. The tournament is establishing a $2,500 optional cash award category in the blue marlin and swordfish categories.
Tournament organizers also added the Miz Fay Grand Champion Award. The award has a guaranteed $10,000 prize to be given to the angler who weighs the fish that comes closest to, or breaks by the largest margin, the Florida state record of an eligible tournament fish. The top spot will be determined by dividing the weight of the heaviest fish in each category by the weight of the 2007 Florida state record for the same species. The angler with the highest resulting percentage will be the winner. There also is an optional “winner take all” category. Anglers who pay an additional $100 to enter are eligible to win the pool based on the same rules. The award is open to seven of the eight divisions. Kayak is excluded since the division is entirely catch and release.