COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Summer is right around the corner, and while this season is often associated with beaches, sun, and warmer weather, it also means the ramping up of saltwater fishing tournaments in Texas. There are hundreds of saltwater fishing tournaments hosted annually throughout the coast, many with inshore and offshore divisions as well as divisions for youth and adult anglers. Every tournament hosts a variety of anglers and fishing styles, from those who would prefer fishing from shore or on a boat to anglers who want to keep or release their catch after it is weighed and recorded.
“Fishing tournaments are a great way for new and seasoned anglers alike to have fun on the water and gain more fishing experience with a chance to win trophies and prizes,” says Texas Sea Grant Fisheries Specialist Alexis Sabine. “Tournaments can also provide economic benefits to their host communities, raise money for charitable organizations and even support scientific research.”
Some of the popular upcoming saltwater fishing tournaments include the Texas International Fishing Tournament (TIFT) in South Padre Island August 2-6, 2023 and the Texas Womens Anglers Tournament in Port Aransas August 25-27, 2023. Many tournaments in Texas raise money for charitable causes, including the BACH Tournament which benefits Brazoria County Association for Children’s Habilitation, and the Mid-Coast Smackdown in Port O’Connor which benefits several charitable organizations including St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
These are only a few of the many great saltwater fishing tournaments in Texas. If you’re interested in finding a fishing tournament in your area, join a local fishing club! There are many fishing clubs that exist in coastal Texas like the Houston Big Game Fishing Club, South Texas Big Game Fishing Club and the Gulf Coast Lady Anglers.
Before entering a fishing tournament, decide if you will be fishing with a guide, as a team, or as an individual depending on the tournament’s policies and divisions. Be sure to register for your tournament before the deadline, pay your entry fee and get the required fishing license. Familiarize yourself with the tournament rules as well as the local fishing regulations, and ensure you know the tournament specifics including permitted gear types, fish species, size limits and any other applicable rules. Also, make sure you check how the weigh-in will be conducted, including start and end times as well as designated weigh-in locations.
Once you’re registered, it’s recommended that you attend the Captains’ meeting, which is typically held the day before a tournament begins. The Captains’ meeting is where you can meet organizers and other tournament officials, sign any waivers or paperwork and pick up registration materials. This meeting is also an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may still have before the tournament begins.
Want to get involved in fishing tournaments but don’t want to go fishing? Consider becoming a weighmaster! At fishing tournaments, weighmasters ensure the accuracy of fish measurements, help identify and confirm fish species and enforce tournament rules. With so many fishing tournaments in Texas, there is a community-wide need for well-trained, knowledgeable weighmasters along the coast. Texas Sea Grant’s new weighmaster training program equips interested individuals with the skills and knowledge required to become successful Texas weighmasters through a combination of lectures, practical experience and a final exam. The next round of weighmaster training courses will be held virtually May 24-25, 2023, with a registration deadline of May 10th. For more information, visit tx.ag/weighmaster.
Whether you are fishing, helping as a weighmaster, or volunteering in any other capacity, participating in a fishing tournament is a great way to support Texas’ recreational fishing industry. So, if you’re interested in saltwater fishing tournaments in Texas, get out there, follow all tournament rules, be a good sport and most importantly, be safe and have fun! Find more resources for recreational anglers online at tx.ag/RecFishingResources.
Anglers participating in a south Texas saltwater fishing tournament hand off their catch to
tournament officials. Photo credit: Seth Patterson
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