Anglers gear up for Port Mansfield tournament

PORT MANSFIELD — Along the Texas coast, big boats are heading for this legendary fishing hole off the Laguna Madre.

Across much of Texas, others are packing their gear for the drive to this tiny bayside village for the 44th Annual Port Mansfield Fishing Tournament.

“A lot of people are excited,” Laura Lester, vice president of the Port Mansfield Chamber of Commerce, said Tuesday as she prepared for Thursday’s registration.

“We’ve had quite a few calls,” she said.

Lester expects a good turnout from Houston anglers for the tournament that runs Friday through Saturday.

“It’s all around Texas and all our Valley people,” she said. “I’m expecting a good turnout.”

Every year, the tournament draws about 300 anglers who pull in prize catches of redfish, trout and flounder.

“We’re generating a lot of great vibes,” Sybil Simmons, owner of a lodging business, said. “Everyone’s getting ready for the tournament. They work real hard to get it together. It’s homegrown. It’s ours. All the money stays here.”

This year, the chamber is counting on the tournament to raise about $100,000 to upgrade its headquarters.

Tom Floyd, the chamber’s president, is counting on sprucing it up into a showcase to help diversify the local economy.

“What I’m trying to do is build a first-class facility so we can use it as an exhibition center so we can put on regional shows,” Floyd said.

Floyd said he would like to stage art and flower shows to help draw visitors here.

“We want a facility to create commerce — not just fishing,” he said.

Organizers also plan to extend the building’s fishing pier.

“We want to extend the pier so the boats don’t jam up when they weigh-in,” Floyd said.

Floyd said he also wants to build an office, replace the chamber building’s rusting siding and upgrade its new commercial kitchen’s vent system.

The event includes a silent auction followed by a live auction at 8 p.m. Saturday.

At 8:30 p.m., the Houston-based band True Country takes the stage.

fdelvalle@valleystar.com