By DINA ARÉVALO
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
The 76th annual Texas International Fishing Tournament (TIFT) was a huge success, bringing in almost 1,300 anglers this year compared to just over 1,200 in 2014.
Ideal weather and water conditions also led to some spectacular catches over the course of the tournament’s two days. “There’s no question this has been a great tournament,” said photojournalist Richard Moore, who served as weigh master. Moore has been a TIFT weigh master for about two decades. “It’s been a number of years,” he said. “I’d have to go back and look,” he said.
Moore, who kept a measuring tape close at hand, was kept busy during the tournament. “This has been a phenomenal tournament as far as angler participation — I think we had a record number of contestants — and the number of fish has just been extraordinary, both in the bay and offshore,” he said.
Indeed, the tournament draws anglers from near and far. Dallas resident Slavomir Leszinski has been fishing TIFT since 2000, he said. “We caught a whole bunch of blackfin tuna, and we released a whole bunch of blackfin tuna — same thing with kingfish released and some dolphins,” he said.
Leszinski was fishing aboard the South Padre Island boat, Ronnie’s Century, along with a friend whose family originally introduced him to the tournament. “A friend of mine … he grew up over here, and that’s how we ended up over here,” Leszinki said.
The atmosphere on the docks at Southpoint Marina in Port Isabel, where anglers brought their catches for weigh-in, was buzzing with excitement both days. “It’s a lot of excitement. The whole Island seems like they’re talking about, thinking about it,” Leszinski said.
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