By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
For Harlingen native Bailey Miller, TIFT isn’t just about spending the day on the bay hoping to catch a trophy trout or flounder, it’s a time for family. It’s a generational affair.
“It was really special to my family and I because we’ve been involved in the tournament since the very first one,” Miller said. “My great-grandpa fished it and I’m the fourth generation to fish this tournament. So, it meant a lot to us, and TIFT is usually our family reunion time,” she said.
Miller, who graduated from Harlingen High School and now attends Texas A&M University in College Station, has been participating in TIFT since she was a child. “I love bay fishing. … Every year my sister and I bay fish,” in the tournament, she said. She has also volunteered at the tournament for about 10 years, serving as a dock helper, and helping to set up the dock and South Padre Island Convention Centre.
This year, however, she took a break from fishing to serve as the tourney’s hostess. “The TIFT advisory board nominates girls, … and from then on you can follow through on the application process and then you get selected from there,” she said. Her hard work has benefits, too. In 2013, Miller was awarded a $2,000 scholarship. She was awarded another $2,000 scholarship for serving as hostess.
For Miller, one of the most rewarding parts of serving as hostess comes from seeing the tournament’s youngest anglers. “I really think getting to see, especially all the little kids, their faces, coming in, weighing their fish in and their stringers of piggy perch,” she said. “That was always surreal to me when I would come in and look up to the hostess and get to take a picture with her and weigh my fish in. So, getting to be on the other side of that is super cool.”
It’s not just the people or the fish that interest Miller. For her, part of the weekend’s excitement comes from seeing the different vessels the tournament draws each year. ” You get to meet new friends every year and see all the new, huge boats come in. That’s really one of the most exciting parts for me. The fish are cool, but the offshore boats are my favorite thing.”
Miller says she plans to continue participating in the tournament in years to come. She hopes to be able to bring her own family and children one day. She also hopes to serve on the advisory board.
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