83rd TIFT Rules
All anglers must adhere to all State and Federal regulations. Valid Texas fishing license is required.
Each angler 13 years or older is restricted to weighing in the single heaviest fish per eligible species in their division per day. Angler must select the heaviest fish to be weighed. Trophies are awarded on the basis of total accumulated eligible points for two days of fishing. Angler must accompany his or her fish to the weigh station and initial weigh card to ensure accuracy. All anglers are restricted to weighing in once per day. No person may fish from any tournament boat that is not a TIFT registered angler. All captains or boat operators must be registered in TIFT for the angler’s fish to be eligible for TIFT awards.
- Captain’s Meeting will be held at South Padre Island Convention Center on Thursday at 5:00 pm. It is strongly advised that you attend the Captain’s Meeting in order to ensure you adhere to and comply with all TIFT rules. Any questions regarding the rules can be answered at the Captain’s Meeting. A pre-recorded version of Captain’s Meeting will be posted online at www.tift.org.
- Texas International Fishing Tournament, Inc. reserves the right to refuse entry into the tournament.
- Ladies and Juniors may only win their respective divisions in the Bay, Offshore/No Billfish, and Highest Offshore Points. They will still be eligible for Grand Champion and Heaviest of Species awards.
- The contest shall begin at 6:30 am (Bay Division) and 6:30 am (Offshore Division) on Friday. No contestants shall be eligible for awards unless registered in advance of Friday. Angler must be a registered contestant of TIFT in order for the fish to be weighed. All fish will be measured and weighed only once and the decisions of the weighmaster and TIFT Executive Board are final.
- Receiving Station: All fish brought to the receiving station at Southpoint Marina in Port Isabel to be weighed and measured must be in edible condition. All fish are subject to further inspection if deemed necessary by the weighmaster or a TIFT Executive Board Member. The station hours are from 2:00 pm – 8:00 pm on the first day of fishing and 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm on the final day.
THE WEIGHMASTER AND TIFT EXECUTIVE BOARD ARE THE FINAL AUTHORITIES AS TO THE SPECIES OF FISH AND POINTS AWARDED.
Please note: The Long Island Village Swing Bridge, as a rule, opens only on the hour. Please plan accordingly.
The tournament will be conducted in accordance to the International Game Fish Association rules (“IGFA”), except that an angler in the Offshore Division may receive assistance in moving rod from rod holder to chair. Bay anglers may use treble hooks on any bait. IGFA rules are available on the internet at www.igfa.org.
Team Trophy: To be eligible to win the trophy, the contestant must give the boat name or number at registration. Two to six persons on the same boat constitute a team.
Changing Divisions: If, after registration, the angler wishes to change divisions, he/she should report to the weighmaster or tournament director before the day’s fishing begins. Points will not count in the previous division fished.
Tournament: There will be two days of fishing: Friday and Saturday.
Bad Weather: One day of fishing will constitute a tournament. Parties will be held as scheduled.
Night Fishing: Night fishing IS NOT allowed in any division.
Protests: PROTESTS MUST BE FILED IN WRITING BY A REGISTERED TIFT ANGLER, HAND DELIVERED TO A MEMBER OF THE EXECUTIVE BOARD OR THE TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR, ALONG WITH A $500 DEPOSIT NO LATER THAN 8:00 PM SATURDAY. If said protest is upheld, the $500 deposit will be returned to the angler who filed the protest. If said protest is not upheld, the $500 deposit is forfeited by the angler who filed the protest.
Polygraph Test: All contestants, including minors, agree to take a polygraph test if required by the TIFT Executive Board or the TIFT weighmaster.
Heaviest Fish Awards: Any registered angler is eligible for the award of heaviest of species regardless of division fished, but fish will not count for points unless angler is registered in that fish division.
Bay Division Rules
In addition to the General Rules, the following rules apply to the Bay Division:
The contest shall begin at 6:30 am on Friday.
Special Note: TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE 17”-23” TROUT RULE WILL BE IN EFFECT FOR THE DURATION OF THE TIFT TOURNAMENT.
ANY TIES IN WEIGHT WILL BE BROKEN BY LENGTH. SHOULD THERE BE A TIE IN LENGTH, TIE WILL BE BROKEN BY TIME OF WEIGH IN.
Bay Division, Junior and Senior Classes: All bay anglers, including juniors, are restricted to one designated fishing line per registered angler in the water at any given time.
Fishing hours: Contestants may start fishing after 6:30 am both days. All bay boats must be on their trailers or tied up in the berth by 8:00 pm on Thursday & Friday, and may not leave the dock before 5:00 am each day of fishing. Final dock time for both Friday and Saturday is 5 pm for both Seniors and Juniors. Anglers must weigh in their catch each day. Scoring: Daily bag limits may include the single heaviest of fish of each of the following species: redfish, trout and flounder, scored at one (1) point per pound. Any fish that does not meet state limits at the weigh station will be disqualified without substitution for that species. No redfish longer than 28” will be weighed.
Special Note: The TX numbers will be required for all bay boats. Anglers must specify their correct TX numbers to be registered in the Bay Challenge Pots. TIFT flags must be prominently displayed on all bay boats fishing in the tournament.
Grand Champion: Bay anglers must have weighed in at least one redfish, one trout and one flounder during the two days of fishing to qualify for Grand Champion, Second and Third Place.
Juniors: Ages 12 and under may enter stringers of no more than one (1) each of speckled trout, redfish, flounder, drum, jack crevalle and snook in addition to five (5) fish each of all other species common to the bay (excluding sharks, stingrays, and alligator gar) per day. Whole stringers will be weighed and awarded on (1) point per pound. Ages 13-16 will be scored the same as Seniors.
Special Note: All Junior Bay Division contestants must hook and play their own fish. A fishing pole with a fish already hooked and handed to a junior to reel in is NOT a legal catch. Please restrict help to saving lives and limbs.
Dock Time: Final dock time for both days of fishing is 5 pm. Anglers must be in sight of weighmaster in front of weigh station no later than 5 pm to qualify.
Offshore Division Rules
In addition to the General Rules, the following rules apply to the Offshore Division:
The tournament will be conducted in accordance to the International Game Fish Association rules (“IGFA”), except that an angler in the Offshore Division may receive assistance in moving rod from rod holder to chair. IGFA rules are available on the internet at www.igfa.org. However, if there is a conflict between an IFGA rule and a TIFT rule, the TIFT rule supersedes and will apply.
Fishing Hours: Contestants may start fishing at 6:30 am on both days. Offshore boats may depart their dock any time after 7 pm on Thursday, and may stay out Friday night if they choose. They must stop fishing by 6:30 pm on the first day and 4 pm on the final day. During the last 30 minutes of fishing each day, all hook ups must be reported to a committee boat or the Tournament Director. DEPLOYABLE SONAR TECHNOLOGY IS ONLY ALLOWED DURING FISHING HOURS. Dock time for the first day is 8 pm; final day, 7 pm.
ANY BILLFISH THAT ARE TO BE WEIGHED IN AT THE DOCK MUST STILL MAKE DOCK TIME ON EACH DAY OF FISHING AND MAY NOT BE ACCUMULATED OVER THE TWO DAYS OF FISHING. ALL RELEASED BILLFISH WITH ACCOMPANYING VIDEO FOR BOTH DAYS MAY BE TURNED INTO THE WEIGH DOCK ON SATURDAY.
ANGLERS ARE STILL ALLOWED TO WEIGH IN ONLY ONE FISH PER SPECIES PER WEIGH IN. NO LINES OF ANY KIND ARE ALLOWED IN THE WATER PRIOR TO FISHING START TIMES.
a) Blue marlin shall be scored, regardless of line size, as follows: the weight of the fish, multiplied by two (2). Minimum length for blue marlin to qualify for points is 110”.
b) White marlin and sailfish shall be scored as follows: the weight of the fish multiplied by three (3). Minimum length to qualify for points is 70” for white marlin; 66” for sailfish.
c) Other offshore fish—blackfin tuna, yellowfin tuna, bonito, ling, wahoo, barracuda, dolphin, king mackerel and jack crevalle will be scored on (1) point per pound. Spanish mackerel are only awarded a Heaviest of Species Trophy and are not eligible for points. Catch is limited to the single heaviest fish per eligible species per weigh-in.
d) Catch and Release Class: Any offshore fisherman may elect to Catch and Release his catch. Points for Catch and Release trophies will be awarded for the following only:
- BLUE MARLIN ---- 1,000 POINTS
- WHITE MARLIN ---- 250 POINTS
- SAILFISH ---- 200 POINTS
To qualify for Catch and Release points, only smartphone or tablet video will be allowed. Photographs or polaroids will not be accepted.
Video image must contain the following:
1) Mate with leader in hand, the fish, TIFT object of the tournament, and release of fish.
2) Clear identification of the species of billfish. In order for a fish to be scored as a blue marlin or white marlin the video must clearly show it is a blue marlin or white marlin. Otherwise, it will be scored as a sailfish and will score the minimum 200 points
3) All images must be presented by smartphone or tablet.
ALL BILLFISH, WHETHER BOATED OR RELEASED, MUST BE REPORTED OR RELAYED TO THE TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR OR THE TIFT PRESIDENT BY VHF RADIO, CELL PHONE, OR SATELLITE PHONE BY STOP FISHING TIME EACH DAY AND THE LANDING TIME MUST BE VERIFIED WITH A VERIFICATION NUMBER BY THE TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR OR THE TIFT PRESIDENT TO QUALIFY FOR EARNED POINTS. A FISH OR VIDEO BROUGHT TO THE DOCK WITHOUT A VERIFICATION NUMBER WILL NOT BE ELIGIBLE FOR POINTS. THE TIME REPORTED AND VERIFIED BY A COMMITTEE BOAT, THE TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR OR THE TIFT PRESIDENT WILL BE THE OFFICIAL TIME. IN THE EVENT OF A TIE, THE FIRST ANGLER TO ACCUMULATE THE HIGHEST RELEASE POINTS BY TIME WILL BE DECLARED THE WINNER.
A CATCH AND RELEASE CARD MUST BE COMPLETED FOR EACH RELEASED FISH WITH THE DATE, OFFICIAL TIME, VERIFICATION NUMBER, AND SIGNATURES OF THE ANGLER AND CAPTAIN AND SUBMITTED TO THE WEIGH STATION.
ALL BILLFISH TO BE RELEASED MUST REMAIN IN THE WATER. VIDEO SHOWING SAID FISH IN OR ON THE BOAT WILL NOT BE ELIGIBLE FOR POINTS.
Catch and Release points will count toward the Texas Grand Championship.
The Junior Offshore Class will consist of children through the age of 16. The same scoring rules apply as in the Senior Class. Please note: In order to qualify for Texas Grand Champion, the angler must have weighed in or released a billfish or tarpon.
Dock Time: Dock time is 8:00 pm on the first day and 7:00 pm on the second day. Offshore boats must be past jettie buoys 2-3 in the Brownsville Ship Channel by final dock time to qualify. A committee boat will be standing by on VHF Ch 68 to verify.
No transfer of fish from one offshore boat to another is allowed.
Hooks: Anglers fishing with natural bait (or natural/artificial combination bait) may only use non-offset circle hooks. J-hooks may be used with artificial lures.
Fishing in Mexico: Fishing in Mexican waters is NOT allowed. If any vessel is found to have fished in Mexican waters, that vessel and its anglers will be disqualified from the tournament.
Tarpon Division Rules
In addition to the General Rules, the following rules apply to the Tarpon Division:
ALL TARPON MUST REMAIN IN THE WATER. VIDEO SHOWING SAID FISH IN OR ON THE BOAT WILL NOT BE ELIGIBLE FOR POINTS.
Tarpon Division, Junior and Senior Class: Fishing hours: Contestants may start fishing 30 minutes before official sunrise. They must stop fishing on the first day by one hour after official sunset. All tarpon anglers, including juniors, are restricted to one designated fishing line per registered angler in the water at any given time. Tarpon Division Catch and Release must be verified with the same video requirements as listed in the Catch and Release information as contained in the Offshore Division Rules. Scoring will be 125 points per tarpon, regardless of size. Tarpon released must be reported to THE TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR OR THE TIFT PRESIDENT. Tarpon division anglers are limited to TARPON ONLY and will not be allowed to weigh in or receive points for any other fish.
Dock Times: For the first day only, fish hooked after 8:00 pm and before official sunset may be reported on the second day. DOCK TIME ON FINAL DAY IS 7:00 PM, REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCES.
Fly Fishing Division Rules
The Fly Division will be governed by the General Rules and Bay Fishing Rules. Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place. Anglers will be eligible for Grand Champion Bay prize and heaviest of species award.
Channel 68 VHF
Tournament Director Kristi Collier (956) 802-3475
TIFT President Art Delgado (956) 433-9304
ALL BILLFISH AND TARPON WHETHER BOATED OR RELEASED, MUST BE REPORTED OR RELAYED TO TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR OR TIFT PRESIDENT BY VHF RADIO, CELL PHONE, OR SATELLITE PHONE BY STOP FISHING TIME EACH DAY AND THE LANDING TIME MUST BE VERIFIED WITH A VERIFICATION NUMBER BY TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR OR THE TIFT PRESIDENT TO QUALIFY FOR EARNED POINTS. A FISH, VIDEO BROUGHT TO THE DOCK WITHOUT A VERIFICATION NUMBER WILL NOT BE ELIGIBLE FOR POINTS. THE TIME REPORTED AND VERIFIED BY TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR OR TIFT PRESIDENT WILL BE THE OFFICIAL TIME.
Video Release Points
All boats will be required to present their video at the South Point Marina weigh station for the Billfish Review Committee to verify.
All boats must be able to display their video on a monitor or laptop when presenting their video for verification.
The Billfish Review Committee will have a monitor and laptop available at the tournament however it is the responsibility of the angler/participant to provide everything needed to view their video.
No more than two team members may accompany the video in the review process.
When reporting the boating or release of a billfish to the tournament director please provide the following: Name of boat, species of fish (blue/white/sail), released or boated. THE TIME REPORTED AND VERIFIED BY TOURNAMENT DIRECTOR OR TIFT PRESIDENT WILL BE THE OFFICIAL TIME.
Tournament Video Tips
Here are a few tips from TIFT on capturing video releases. Most important of all is to read the tournament rules. Rules vary from tournament to tournament and from year to year.
- KISS principles apply.
- Do not zoom in.
- Make sure recording devices are thawed out prior to use.
- Have someone who knows how to operate your recording devices.
- Ipad video has proven to be very effective.
- Start with a clean ID card if your device uses one.
Many hours of preparation and planning go into this sport. Hopefully these tips can help you avoid mistakes many of us have paid the price for. Good luck.