Big catches recorded
One of the first to weigh in was Frank Gentry of Burleson, Texas, with a 49 3/ 4-inch kingfish that weighed 33.15 pounds.
He also brought in a red snapper that weighed 11.95 pounds.
“I’ve fished out here four or five times,” Gentry said. “I was in this tournament last year.”
“We fished it years ago, then we skipped it for a few years.”
When Matt Schmidt of Dallas weighed in a 21 3/8- inch flounder that weighed 4.85 pounds, a local expert who has witnessed many tournaments, proclaimed it the “new flounder leader.” That was the assessment of Cameron County Marine Extension Agent Tony Reisinger, the Texas Sea Grant biologist who examined each catch as it was weighed in.
Offshore catches were weighed in at South Point Marina in Port Isabel since the channels at Port Mansfield are silted in and larger boats may not have been able to tie up at the Port Mansfield Chamber of Commerce's dock.
One veteran angler, J.L. Jay, of Shoreacre, Texas, said he didn’t compete this year be- cause there was no category in the PMFT for his favorite fish, the Spanish mackerel, he said.
“I’ve probably won this tournament six or seven times,” he said. “I’ve also won the Texas International Fishing Tournament (at Port Isabel) six or seven times.”
He also likes to enter with the jack cravelle, he said. “I’ve won first place with the kingfish,” he said.
How he catches Spanish mackerel is a closely guarded secret, Jay said.
“I use really small lures,” he said, with a wink. “I make them up myself. It’s a great fish, it’s great to eat.”
Jay, who also has a house in Port Mansfield, is a municipal judge in four towns in the area around Laporte and Seabrook, he said. His son, J.L. Jay Jr., also an attorney from El Paso, and a grandson flew down to Port Mansfield for some serious fishing, they said.
“We love being here,” J.L. Jay Jr. said.
But they didn’t understand why Spanish mackerel wasn’t a category in this year’s PMFT, they said. “It’s a fish that’s in these waters and it’s a good fish,” J.L. Jay Sr. said.
He loves to take his 29-foot twin engine Cape Horn boat into the Gulf, he said.
But larger boats have a tough time getting into and out of the harbor at Port Mansfield because more dredging is needed, the Jays said.
Probably the Port Mansfield Fishing Tournament could grow, J.L. Jayrouh the Sr. said.
“That depends on the people in charge and how well they publicize it.”
Longtime tournament officials Tom Floyd was pleased with this year’s event, he said.
“It was a little less (participation) than last year,” he said. “It was a nice tournament but not a great tournament.”
As usual, the dredging of the channels needs more work, which will cost more money, he said. Since the larger boats have to weigh in at Port Isabel, that takes away some of the attraction to Port Mansfield, he said.
“I wish they could come in here,” he said.
It is a catch-and-release program with offshore fish providing the most excitement.
“They had a bunch of sailfish and a blue marlin,” he said.
The increased participation in the artificial lure category was new this year, he said.
“There were more boats in the artificial than the live bait this year,” he said.
Having the tournament so close to the date of the TIFT might be a good thing or a bad thing, he said.
“We talked about it,” he said of board members. “It’s nice if you can do both with a one week vacation,” he said.
TIFT will be held August 2-6.