The 75th Annual Texas Fishing Tournament (TIFT), held from July 30 to August 3, is supposed to attract as many as 1,500 anglers and more than 500 boats during the two-day fishing competition. The tournament will be divided into three divisions: Bay, Tarpon, and Offshore. Anglers will haul in catches of speckled trout, redfish, and flounder. Every registed child participant will receive a trophy for their efforts.
Registration will be held on Wednesday and Thursday with a special playday set for junior anglers on Thursday. Fishing will begin early Friday morning: bay boats will be required to return to their berths each night: however, offshore boats will be allowed to stay out overnight while adhering to the official start and stop fishing times.
The festivities will conclude with a lunch and awards ceremony on Saunday.
As always, the year-long TIFT Cares scholarship propgram is open to all junior anglers, 16 and under, who register for this year’s tournament. Any angler who catches one of the specially-tagged fish will receive a $10,000 scholarship.
“The purpose of this new program is to invest in the future of TIFT’, said TIFT President Charles Kennedy Jr. “We feel this is a wonderful complement to our existing annual scholarship program and encourages the family-friendly experiences that have kept our tounrnament growing.”
Madeline “Mattie” Rowe, 19, of Harlingen, has been named this year’s official TIFT Hostess. The Texas State University freshman received a TIFT scholoarship last year and will add a $2,000 scholarship this year for her service as hostess.”Being TIFT hostess has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl,” she said in a statement. “I was quite the tomboy growing up, but I always secretly looked up to theTIFT hostesses as my own living princesses. Making kids smile, mingling with all the anglers and meeting all of the families are things I love doing.”She added that she strives to be a woman that young girls can admire, one who carries herself “in a way that shows respect towards others.”
Mattie’s older sister, Alexandra Rowe, previously served as TIFT hostess.Tournament Director Betty Wells shared some background on the event’s 75-year run and discussed plans in store to recognize the tournament having reached this remarkable milestone. “The TIFT Executive Board has been planning this 75th anniversary for several years and there are a variety of events that will focus on both our history and our future,” she said. “Although this is the75th tournament, TIFT was actually founded in 1934 by the- Port Isabel Mayor J. A. “Doc” Hockaday.” She added that Hockaday saw the event as a means to promote tourism in the Valley and to form an ideal platform for PI to boast about the area’s fishing bounty. “In many respects, TIFT remains true to his vision today,” Wells said.
The tournament was forced to cancel only twice since its inception: during World War II when fuel was rationed; and following Hurricane Dolly in 2008.
Wells said this year’s guests can expect improved meals service, video displays and special appearances by former TIFT presidents and hostesses. “As the second-oldest tournament in Texas, we are proud of our heritage and realize the challenges that make it rare for other tournaments to achieve this milestone,” She said. ” Port Isabel and South Padre Island were, in many ways, founded upon the popularity of our fishing (It) has (remained) an important draw for tourists and continues to be a major economic factor.”
TIFT organizers also remind the public that any adult or non-registered person who catches one of the tagged fish to release the specimen back into the water and allow on of the eligible, youth participants a chance to win the scholarship.
The event was founded by Doc J.A. Hockaday in 1933 and was designated to showcase the remarkable fishing bounty that graces the Laguna Madrea.
For more information call 956-943-8438 or visit www.tift.org to register.
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