, Port Arthur, Texas

May 23, 2013

OUTDOORS COLUMN: S.A.L.T tourney celebrates 39th anniversary

Chester Moore, Jr.
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — The 39th annual Saltwater Angler's League of Texas (SALT) Memorial Day Classic Fishing Tournament takes place Saturday and Sunday (May 25 and 26).

    This will be the second event held at their new clubhouse on Pleasure Island after Hurricane Ike devastated the historic venue.

     “It’s that time again and we look forward to putting on a good tournament and seeing some nice fish brought in from our great local anglers,” said Mark Foreman of SALT.

    The tournament’s entry fee is $40 and allows anglers to compete in redfish ($750 first place), speckled trout ($750 first place) flounder ($750 first place) black drum ($150 first place), sheepshead ($150 first place), and croaker ($150 first place), divisions.

    All categories pay out through third place and there will be a $1,000 grand prize. Both the redfish and black drum categories are slot-sized fish only.

   Junior anglers (15 and younger) can compete for first place prizes for various inshore species ranging from croaker to crabs.

    The youth division is free of charge and signing up is not necessary. Kids can just show up and weigh in their catches.

     The S.A.L.T. tournament is always a good indicator of the health of local fisheries as the top anglers in the area compete and bring their best to the scales. This year has been banner for speckled trout and I suspect we will see some stellar fish brought in. The same goes for flounder.

    Although widely known in the community for its tournament, S.A.L.T. does not get enough credit for is its conservation actions.

    Conservation is defined as the “wise use of natural resources” and over the years they have done a good job in that regard.

    For years the favorite part of a S.A.L.T. weigh-in was the shark category where everything from huge hammerheads to beastly bull sharks were brought to the scales.

    Back in the late 1990s when it was revealed that many of the large coastal shark species were in trouble S.A.L.T.  eliminated that category. Some anglers weren’t so happy at first but it proved to be a wise move and one that ended the needless killing of big, breeding-sized sharks.

    In recent years they have eliminated the garfish category that also aided in conservation since gar regulations have been severely restricted by the state. Whether S.A.L.T.’s aim with gar was conservation or convenience, the result is a tournament more in line with what is happening with our natural resources.

    Those are the kind of actions that make a difference and that is why this tournament has weathered every kind of economy, fishing regulation change and even weather condition imaginable. The people behind it are rock solid and forward thinkers.

     “Everyone is invited to come out and watch the fish brought in. This is a long-standing tradition and while many things have changed the great fishing competition is always a part of our event,” said Stan Armstrong of S.A.L.T.

    Tickets are available at Peggy’s on the Bayou in Bridge City, Simon Outfitters in Orange and Daley’s Hunt-N-Fish in Port Arthur.

    For more information call 409-963-0433.