Billfish Open Rebirth

The Bay Point Billfish Open brings high stakes, big trophy fishing back to Panama City Beach and Capt. Justin Leake joins his buddy’s crew intent on getting a piece of the million-dollar purse.

In its heyday, the Bay Point Invitational attracted serious anglers, record catches and huge crowds of locals and visitors for the intense competition and a dockside party that many considered to be the social event of the summer. In 2012, for a variety of reasons, the high profile tournament went away.

In 2023, a group of local business and community leaders decided to bring the tournament back. “It was the greatest tournament on the Gulf Coast,” says George Roberts, one of the new event’s founders.  Roberts, along with partners John Warren, Jay Quave and Scott Rossman, formed the nucleus of a team that brought the inaugural Bay Point Billfish Open to Point South Marina at Grand Lagoon.

The event opened with a spectacular line of 60 sportfishing boats navigating the St. Andrews Pass before turning westward along Panama City Beach’s sugar white coastline to await the flare to start the competition. “It’s a big deal to see the boat parade,” says Rossman. “We really wanted to accentuate the entire beach.”

Meanwhile, Capt. Justin is onboard the Ellie B, one of the competition boats. The crew heads for deep water with high hopes of landing a marlin, wahoo, tuna or mahi mahi that will excite the crowd back at the weigh-in and perhaps put some prize money in their pockets.

For tournament organizers, year one of the event was just a start. “We could not have asked for a better time and I hope that it just continues to get better and better, bigger and bigger,” says Roberts.