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Showdown on Sabine scheduled for July 11-12 but with adjustments

In two weeks, fishing teams will descend onto Port Arthur’s waters to participate in the Showdown on Sabine tournament, part of the Elite Redfish Series.

Despite recent developments in the COVID-19 pandemic, as of Friday, the event is still planned for July 11-12 at Pleasure Island, with a few adjustments to stay compliant with orders from Jefferson County and Texas officials.

Pat Malone, host and producer of the Elite Fishing League, said that some of the precautions taken at the Elite Redfish Series’ first event in Myrtle Grove, Louisiana, will be adopted for Port Arthur with a couple of changes.

At Myrtle Grove, tournament officials decided to do away with the large, 10-foot by 10-foot water tank the participants would keep their fish in during the weigh-in process and instead allow the fishermen to stay on their boats.

The weigh-in stage was turned toward the water, giving all fishermen the chance to witness the process.

“We decided not to set up those tanks to eliminate guys gathering around them, just as a precaution,” Malone said. “We felt for the anglers that would be the safest thing, and the tour wants to be as safe as possible. What we did is flip my setup to where I faced the water. Usually the water’s at our back and we’re facing the audience, but we’re not really promoting having a big audience and all that now, or having big groups of people.”

The weigh-in stage at Myrtle Grove, Louisiana, during the Myrtle Groves Madness event June 19-20 was turned to face the water to allow fishermen to view the weigh-ins while staying in their boats. (Courtesy photo)

The downside was that the weigh-in took nearly an hour and a half. The large tanks usually would have helped keep the caught fish healthy while they waited to be weighed.

“We have a really good 99.2 percent live release rate,” Malone said. “If the fish comes in live to us, he goes back out live. We don’t lose fish.”

Malone said the Showdown on Sabine will have the best of both worlds. One 10×10 tank with treated water will be used, but only four teams at a time will be allowed to keep their fish there, while the rest of the teams will be able to wait and watch from their boats at the weigh station at the Pleasure Island RV park basin.

Since Gov. Greg Abbott issued the order that outdoor gatherings would need to be limited to 100 people or fewer, Malone said on Friday the current plan is to limit teams at the Showdown on Sabine event to 50, as each team has two people per boat.

Events are allowed to exceed the 100-person limit with permission from local authorities, and Malone has been working with the City of Port Arthur and Jefferson County to make sure the tournament meets their requirements.

“Usually we’ll go 75 to 100 teams, and we’ll make more money, but 50 teams felt like a good number to me,” Malone said. “We had 42 teams over in Louisiana and that was good. We can do 50 and that won’t be any problem.”

Should city or county officials require it, Malone is prepared to further reduce the number of teams, or break up the teams into flights that will launch and weigh in their catches at different times.

“I can split my field and make sure we never go over 100, even if I had 150 people entered in the tournament,” Malone said. “In the first flight I might have 30 boats, in the second flight 30 more and in the third 30 more. That’s 180 people, and that may cause concerns but they would never be there at the same time.

“We really do feel like we’re set up for any scenario that might come up, except if they say everybody has to stay home.”
Malone said if Port Arthur or Jefferson County decided to cancel the event, it would likely not be retried at a later date.

“We were supposed to do this tournament in May,” Malone said. “We’ve already postponed and lost thousands of dollars, and we cannot postpone again because of a local community. If the governor says stay home, then we have to try to come back next year. We’re looking to do it in the guidelines that they issue.

“If the governor says everyone has to stay home, no activities, then at that point there’s nothing that the city council or the judge can do. If a judge or someone on the local council says ‘I just feel better if we cancelled all this stuff,’ then at that point we’re just done and we would not reschedule the event.”

The entry fee for the event is $600 per team. First place is guaranteed a Tidewater 2110 Baymax boat with a Yamaha 200 XB outboard motor and McClain tandem axle trailer.

For more information, visit theredfishseries.com/showtime-on-sabine/

or visit the Elite Redfish Series fan page on Facebook.