Fish fry a family affair

Port Isabel-South Padre Press

In the New Testament of the Bible there exists a tale of one of the miracles performed by Jesus Christ. In the story, Christ was able to feed a crowd of 5,000 with just five loaves of bread and two small fish. Behind the grandstands at Southpoint Marina in Port Isabel, something nearly as astonishing takes place during the Texas International Fishing Tournament (TIFT) every year. Though perhaps not a miracle, it’s definitely quite a feat.

Beneath a tent with a view of the channel where boats rush to meet the weigh-in deadline, several folding tables and chairs are lined up beneath the artificial shade. Pickup trucks are backed up against the perimeter, their beds loaded down with ice chests. A counter slick with the evidence of dozens of fish lies to one side, while nearby, a deep fryer bubbles away.

Bustling around this setup are a group of people who offer warm smiles and beckon passersby to come and try the food they are cooking. Here is where the modern miracle takes place.

TIFT attracts over 1,000 anglers each year who scour the Lower Laguna Madre and the Gulf for the best sports fish local waters have to offer. And each year, thousands of pounds worth of blackfin and yellowfin tuna, dorado, bonita, sailfish, blue marlin, shark and more are weighed in before the crowd.

Many of the anglers who fish the tournament choose not to keep the fish they catch. In previous years, that meant they were discarded. One man who has been attending the tournament for the past 44 years, Pablo Cerda, chose to do something to prevent the waste.

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