Redfish are the prized catch on Saturday as anglers take to the Laguna Madre in pursuit of the popular game fish.
But the winners will not be determined by the size, weight or number of fish. Instead they want to bring the redfish with most spots to the docks.
Called a spot tournament, the redfish must be in the legal slot of 18 to 28 inches and the fish with the most spots will win in the three age divisions of adult, junior (ages 13-18) and kids (under 12).
“We do that so we don’t have a bunch of fish killed and targeting of just big fish,” said Miriam Ford, president of Dargel Boats. “Nobody knows where the spotted fish are, so it takes some strategy and some luck.”
“The strategy comes in because the winner is determined by who brings in the first fish with the most spots,” Ford said.
The weigh in starts at 8 a.m., only one hour after fishing starts and goes until 4 p.m.
“It can get so funny,” Ford said, “because people will call in and ask but we don’t divulge how many spots have been brought to the docks.”
She said that one year the winning redfish had eight spots.
Ford said on Wednesday that 75 boats had registered, but she expects that to be more in the neighborhood of 100 boats by the weekend.
“We usually have about 100 boats and average 350 to 400 participants,” she said. “A lot of people always wait until the last minute and we do have late registration available Friday evening.”
The festivities start Friday, June 27 with a mandatory captains’ meeting and dinner at the South Padre Island Convention Center from 6-10 p.m. Late registration is available that day from 6-7 p.m.
A cannon blast will signal the start of fishing at 7 a.m., when the boats will fan out across the bay from Tequila Sunset, where the weigh in will also be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The public is invited to come out watch the fish being brought to the docks, Ford said.
The tournament is open to owners of Dargel, Explorer, BayQuest and new this year Baymaster boats.
“Last year Dargel bought Baymaster so we’ve invited them to be part of the tournament,” Ford said.
Dargel Boats was founded in 1937 by Russell Dargel. Miriam and Cleve Ford purchased the company in 2007 and have continued to build boats designed for shallow water fishing.
“Since 1937 Dargel Boats, Inc. has been building, testing and improving shallow water fishing boats making us the oldest boat manufacturer in Texas and the second oldest in the nation,” according to the company website.
Last year Dargel opened a new location at the old Baymaster location on Highway 100 outside of Los Fresnos.
“We’re so excited to be part of that community,” Ford said. “We’ve had a really good welcoming from that area and sales have been good.”