Fish On! 76th Annual T.I.F.T. kicks off this weekend

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

Load up your rods and reels and stock up on sunscreen, because it’s time once again for the Texas International Fishing Tournament (TIFT). This year marks the 76th year that anglers from across the country and abroad will compete to haul in some of the biggest catches the Gulf and Laguna Madre have to offer.

Originally started in 1934 as a way to increase tourism in Port Isabel, the event has grown into a much anticipated highlight of the summer tourist season. Over 1,200 anglers participated in 2014 and similar numbers are expected this year.

Tournament Director Kristi Collier says anglers need not have a boat to participate, however. “It’s a common misconception,” she said, explaining that anglers are invited to fish from boats, docks, piers and kayaks.

“It’s a family friendly event and we encourage anglers of all levels to participate,” she said.

The tournament truly offers something for everyone. While all weigh-ins will be conducted at Southpoint Marina in Port Isabel on Friday and Saturday, South Padre Island will host a number of social events.

Parents are invited to bring their kids to the South Padre Island Convention Centre on Thursday for a Play Day that includes inflatables, games and prizes. Play Day will run from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. A Captain’s meeting will also be held at the Convention Centre at 5 p.m., with a dinner at 6 p.m.

Fishing kicks off promptly on Friday at 6:30 a.m. for the Bay Division and 7 a.m. for the Offshore Division. The weigh station at Southpoint Marina will be open from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a final dock time of 5 p.m. for Bay fishers and 8 p.m. for Offshore competitors.

The action continues on Saturday with Bay fishers starting again at 6:30 a.m. and offshore beginning at 7 a.m. The weigh station will open at 2 p.m. and close at 7 p.m., with final dock times at 5 p.m. for bay competitors and 7 p.m. for Offshore.

The tournament wraps up with lunch at the Convention Centre on Sunday, beginning at 11:30 a.m. and an awards presentation at 1 p.m.

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