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      NATURE REPORT:TIFT Grand Champions

      The biggest saltwater fishing tournament on the Texas coast just wrapped up on South Padre Island, and the grand champion bay and offshore winners are in the record book.

      The 73 annual Texas International Fishing Tournament or TIFT boasted nearly 1200 anglers and featured 116 bill fish that were caught, and 107 were tagged and released.

      The offshore grand champion is Wayne Brock from Corpus Christi who fished aboard the Marlin Majic.

      "It's a team effort, everybody chipped in," said Brock. "We had a great time out there."

      Brock caught an amazing 11 billfish to garner the top spot in the offshore division.

      "We caught five blue marlin the first day and four sails and two blue marlin the second day," said Brock

      The bay fishing was also outstanding, and Mike McLelland of Harlingen won the bay division with 30 pounds of fish for the two-day tournament.

      Mike McLelland, TIFT Bay Grand Champion, Well, it is the culmination of a series of year's of effort. I was really close last year just ounces out of it.

      And it was McLelland's fabulous flounder catch that put him over the top this year.

      "We did not get a lot of quality redfish and trout," said McLelland. "Our flounder really put us over the edge with a 7.35 flounder the first day and a four and a quarter the second day."

      And these champions share a love of fishing that no doubt helped propel them to achieve top honors at the 73rd TIFT.

      "I think it is the quality time you spend with family and friends," said Brock.

      "For an outdoorsman you can't ask for a better place than the Rio Grande Valley," said McLelland. "Especially for fishing."