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      Nature Report: 74th TIFT

      The largest single event saltwater fishing tournament in the state of Texas begins this week on South Padre Island and Port Isabel with more than 1200 anglers expected to participate. The 74th Texas International Fishing Tournament or TIFT starts Wednesday, July 31 with registration.

      A play day for youngsters and continued registration is set for Thursday at the South Padre Island Convention Centre, and the fishing competition is scheduled for Friday and Saturday with the weigh station located in Port Isabel at South Point Marina. While most of the popular annual tournament activities remain the same, there are a couple of changes in store for this year's event. Betty Wells, TIFT Director, "There have been some significant changes this year. One that will impact the offshore fishing boats is that they are allowed to depart earlier for safety reasons. Now, they can leave anytime after 7 pm on Thursday night, still no lines in the water until 7am Friday morning. They can also stay out overnight, which is an effort to conserve fuel." In addition to the changes in offshore regulations, this year TIFT is providing a wonderful opportunity for young bay anglers to "catch" a valuable scholarship. Wells, "Probably the most exciting change this year is a new program called TIFT CARES, and it is Catch A Redfish Educational Scholarship program.

      We are releasing tagged redfish in the bay from Port Mansfield to South Bay.

      The first five juniors who catch one of our tagged fish will each receive a $10,000 scholarship. Every junior 16 years or older that is registered in TIFT qualifies automatically for the TIFT CARES program.

      There will be no registration after TIFT and the program starts the first day of fishing this year and ends July 6 of 2014." With your Nature Report I'm Richard Moore