Flora-Bama Mullet Toss - Gastro Obscura

Flora-Bama Mullet Toss

Every April, contestants fling a dead fish over the Florida-Alabama state line for charity.

In late April, excited beachgoers flock to the Flora-Bama Lounge in Pensacola. Everyone is there for one reason: to see a dead fish get thrown across the state line from Florida to Alabama.

Not to be confused with the hairstyle (though you will see plenty of wigs worn by participants and spectators), the mullet is a plentiful fish along the Gulf Coast. It’s often eaten fried, coated cornmeal and served alongside the likes of hushpuppies and coleslaw. But at the Flora-Bama Mullet Toss, this fish doesn’t fry. It flies.

Contestants are divided into categories of men, women, and children. Those hoping to win prizes and bragging rights must first grab a dead mullet out of a water bucket. Standing in a 10-foot circle in Florida, they throw the slippery fish as far as they can over the state line into Alabama. Wearing gloves, having sand on your hand, or stepping outside the circle will get you disqualified, so no cheating. As of the 2018 competition, the record toss is held by a man who threw his fish 189 feet, 8 inches, in his preliminary toss, and 174 feet, 3 inches, in his final toss.

Why throw a dead fish over the state line? For every fish thrown, the Flora-Bama Lounge contributes to a local charity, including Girls and Boys Clubs and substance abuse programs. Plus, every Mullet Tosser walks away with a commemorative T-shirt. 

To avoid waste, the same batch of fish gets reused throughout the day (every thrower must retrieve their fish after throwing). After the tossing has concluded, they’re fed to seagulls.

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