Updated: Jan 5
While the MONGO Offshore Challenge is a fishing tournament, the event is much more than that. As much as anything, the MONGO showcases the incredible fishing and camaraderie within the Gulf Coast sportfishing community.
The MONGO creates an umbrella from which boats from Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas can compete in the quest to catch the biggest fish. The sportfishing scene on the Gulf Coast is an interconnected community.
Boats from all five states not only fish similar conditions, but share a kindred relationship that is more prominent here than in other places. As much as Gulf boats enjoy trying to catch bigger fish than each other, captains here are the first to help and welcome each other on their travels.
While the MONGO Offshore Challenge showcases the Gulf Coast’s great fishing (to win the 2020 edition, it took a 851.9 pound blue marlin, 313.2 pound swordfish, 197 pound yellowfin tuna, and 73.3 pound wahoo), the tournament is more than a fishing profile. The MONGO Offshore Challenge is a celebration of the Gulf Coast sportfishing scene and all of the things that make it so great.
What is the MONGO?
The MONGO Offshore Challenge is a season long quest to catch the biggest fish in the Gulf of Mexico. The tournament lasts 153 days—from May 1- September 30, 2021.
The MONGO is a season-long proposition with a simple objective. To win the MONGO, you must simply catch the biggest blue marlin, swordfish, yellowfin tuna, wahoo or dolphin in the Gulf of Mexico.
This approach relates directly to the prime objective of most anyone who has ever fished: catch big (MONGO) fish. The tournament’s format results in many benefits to the Gulf sportfishing community and sponsors.
1. The MONGO is inclusive.
Because the tournament is 153 days long, boats of all sizes can participate. In 2020, boats from 25’- 95’ fished the MONGO.
The 66 participating teams in 2020 included center consoles, express boats, multimillion-dollar sportfish boats, novice private boats, charter boats, and professionals-- all fishing on the same, level playing field.
Not only is the tournament open to boats of all sizes, but fish caught in other Gulf of Mexico tournaments are eligible to win the MONGO. The same fish that can win the Gulf Coast Triple Crown or the Texas Legends can win the MONGO.
That said, the winning fish could also be caught by a boat and crew and that normally doesn’t fish tournaments. That is part of the charm of the MONGO—everyone is welcome.
2. The MONGO promotes fishing.
The MONGO’s format allows participating boats to fish as often as they like. Whether it be simply picking a weather window or making it a special trip, the MONGO makes everyone a tournament angler.
The season-long approach not only invites smaller vessels, but the duration of the event makes it possible for anyone to win. Winning the MONGO takes one big fish… a fish that can be caught any day between May 1 and September 30.
Traditional tournaments—those that last a weekend and require a combination of release numbers and a big fish or two, increasingly require a dedicated, professional crew to consistently compete. By opening the competition to the biggest of each species caught over a wide period of time, the MONGO creates an equal opportunity, all are welcome environment that results in more boats spending more time on the water.
3. The MONGO is geographically expansive.
From Port Isabel, Texas to Key West, Florida all 1,680 miles of US Gulf Coastline are in bounds. In 2020, all five Gulf States were represented in MONGO’s participating fleet.
Not only can boats fish anywhere in the Gulf of Mexico, the MONGO works with a network of Gulf Coast marinas to allow captains to weigh their catch across the Gulf. Participating marinas—the facilities where MONGO catches must be weighed—are located in all five Gulf States.
4. The MONGO’s price tag invites participation.
These days, the price tag to enter big game sportfishing tournaments can set a barrier to entry. Including entry fees and Calcutta’s, the price tag to go across the board can surpass $80,000. Investments of this magnitude effectively limits participation.
The MONGO is not only priced to promote participation, but captains can choose their targets. Blue marlin entry is $2,500 per boat… wahoo and dolphin are $500 for the entry.
This pricing structure opens participation to boats from across the Gulf of Mexico—whether or not the owner of the boat can afford a private island in the Caribbean. All are welcome—biggest fish wins.
The 2021 edition of the MONGO will feature two new bonus, optional entries. The first is payable to the first team in each division that catches a fish that meets the tournament’s minimum size (the minimums are set high to promote conservation).
The second optional entry is a winner take all entry open to the biggest fish in each division.
5. The MONGO is boat based… everyone who comes on the boat can fish.
Keeping with the tournament’s theme of inclusivity, the MONGO is set up to allow everyone who comes on the boat to participate. The MONGO Offshore Challenge has an app that allows captains to check in before each trip.
When checking in, captains list the anglers on they have on board. While some boats have the same group of five guys fishing every trip, others have put together whichever of their buddies can make the trip at the time.
The fact that the tournament can accommodate either scenario is part of the MONGO’s charm. The tournament is set up to promote fishing and participation—not to stifle boats with rules and regulations.
The benefits of this set up are especially apparent when it comes to charter boats. Not only can every angler fishing on a participating charter boat be a tournament angler, but they can win the tournament any day of fishing.
In fact, the winning wahoo in the 2020 tournament was caught by a charter angler on the Breathe Reel Deep in Orange Beach. The winning yellowfin tuna was caught by a charter guest aboard Paradise Outfitters in Venice, Louisiana.
6. The MONGO is just getting started.
2020 was the inaugural MONGO Offshore Challenge. In spite of a global pandemic and the uncertainty that surrounded much spring of 2020, the MONGO had a fleet of 66 boats.
With proof of concept—and a successful year one under its belt, the MONGO Offshore Challenge is set to increase its scope in 2021. With total 2020 payout of $144,550 (and the mahi division’s $17,425 rolling over to 2021), the future is bright for the MONGO.