Port Mansfield fishing tourney draws 300 anglers

PORT MANSFIELD — Across the Laguna Madre, anglers are casting off for prized redfish, trout, black drum and flounder.

Along the Gulf coast, boats are cruising for red snapper, black fin tuna and sailfish.

Today, anglers from across Texas are vying for top prizes at the 45th Annual Port Mansfield Fishing Tournament.

“The fishing is great,” Bill Gregson, the tournament’s director, said yesterday. “Our weather is really good — really cool weather with a north wind.”

About 300 anglers are registered for the tournament that pumps in money to fuel the village’s lodges and restaurants along with the Port Mansfield Chamber of Commerce.

“It looks like participation is up this year,” Gregson, one of the area’s fishing guides, said.

Forty-five years ago, the Port Mansfield Fishing Tournament put this bayside village on the map, offering some of the best fishing on the Texas Gulf coast.

“We’re a fishing town — we’re not commercial,” Gregson said. “Our waters are just pristine because we don’t have industry to hurt the waters.”

For Port Mansfield, the tournament marks the biggest event of the year.

This year, organizers are planning on using $40,000 to $60,000 in proceeds to build an office and continue improving the chamber’s pavilion.

“It’s our biggest fundraiser,” Gregson said. “It’s a boost for our chamber to keep things maintained.”

Today, bay fishing opens at 6 a.m., with weigh-in from 2 to 5 p.m.

In the off-shore division, anglers weigh their catches from 2 to 6 p.m.

Meanwhile, youngsters hone their skills at the annual Piggy Perch from 7 to 11 a.m.

“It’s a great time,” Gregson said. “It’s family-oriented.”

Tonight, visitors bid on everything from golf carts and rod-and-reel sets to coolers and knives at the event’s annual silent auction.

“There are some really nice items,” Gregson said. “A lot of top-of-the-line items — anything to do with hunting and fishing.”

Following the auction, D.J. Spider headlines the event’s annual concert.

Tomorrow, the tournament’s awards ceremony opens at 9 a.m.