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Pleasure Island busy with weekend events

 

Friday night storms gave way to beautiful sunny skies Saturday to welcome throngs of people to Port Arthur’s Pleasure Island, where two events promised a good time while promoting the island.

For the fifth consecutive year the Island hosted the Spring Fling 2016 Pleasure Island Rendezvous — an extravaganza that features mostly out-of-town boaters from the Houston, Galveston and Lake Charles area who made Port Arthur their destination on Memorial Day weekend.

Across the street from the Spring Fling, anglers were readying to weigh in their day’s catch in the hopes of winning top prize during the 42nd Annual S.A.L.T. Fishing Tournament.

The tournament is the oldest in Texas, and has drawn anglers to the shallow waters of Pleasure Island mostly from the region, Stand Armstrong, one of the event organizers with S.A.L.T. said.

About 198 entered the tournament, which is down slightly from the normal 200 to 225, Armstrong said.

“Most of those entering are from the Golden Triangle area, though we have a few from Houston, Louisiana, Buna, Kountze,” Armstrong said. “Last night the thunderstorm worried me a little bit and the showers, but it looks like it did not hurt much. Many waited until the last minute to sigh up.”

Beside, a good angler can always find a spot to fish.

“You may have to go to a different location because the wind is blowing or some other reason, but you can always fish somewhere,” Armstrong said.

Weigh-in started at 2 p.m. Saturday and will continue Sunday when prizes are awarded for the biggest catch in three categories: specs, reds and flounders.

A grand prize was also awarded to the winning ticket holder and prizes were available just for entering.

“Just about everybody leaves with something,” Armstrong said.

While the S.A.L.T. fishing club was waiting for the anglers to return, across the street boaters were enjoying the sunshine.

The island’s new slips were filled with sail and motor boats that had braved yesterday’s high winds and wet weather to make the 12-hour trip from the Houston area, while others traveled a shorter distance including some Pleasure Island residents.

“We came out to see what was going on,” Kevin Sutcliffe said.

Songa Gremillion also lives on the island and took the opportunity to bring her boat out.

“This event actually promotes the island,” she said. “Yesterday people took a dingy ride to see all the houses for sale. The island is like a well-kept secret.”

Judy Walters does not live on the island, but her boat, Free Fallin does.

“We come every year,” she said. “They say it might rain this afternoon, but I am keeping my fingers crossed.”

Pam Ellis, 62, is a member of the Port Arthur Yacht Club, and has been a member since the 1980s or 1990’s.

“We got out first sailboat when my son was 12. He’s 39 now,” she said.

Her son, Scott Ellis came from his home in Austin along with his two children to enjoy the Spring Fling with his mother.

‘It’s a good event. We need more like it,” Ellis said.

Neil Houser, treasurer of the Texas Mariner Cruising Association, the group that sponsors Spring Fling, said about 118 people signed up to participate but some cancelled because of the weather.

Janice Henderson, of Clear Lake Shores, brought her boat, ADAGIO, which she lives on.

While Henderson has attended every year, her friend, Cindy Welch, of League City, was a first-timer.

“It’s been great, and the weather was a vast improvement today. We lost an engine along the way, it overheated, not because of the weather, but because, well, it’s a boat.”

Kevin Berkebile, of League City, praised Pleasure Island as a good venue for the destination event.

“We love it. The dock is big enough to handle all the boats. It’s easy in, easy out. Just a great spot,” he said.

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