In memory of a fallen special agent who had a love for fishing, many anglers will be venturing the waters of the Laguna Madre area this weekend in support of a good local cause.
The Jaime J. Zapata Fishing Tournament is entering its fourth year this September.
The annual fishing tournament was created as a tribute to Jaime Jorge Zapata, a Homeland Security Investigations special agent who was killed by drug cartel members on February 15, 2011 while on duty in Mexico.
In remembrance of Jaime’s life and the heroic efforts of all who serve and who have served, Jaime’s family introduced the fishing tournament in 2017 and established a nonprofit foundation.
“On behalf of the Zapata family, they wanted to make sure they commemorate their son, his spirit and and his giving of himself both to our government, country and for law enforcement for all those that are dedicated to this profession,” foundation and fishing tournament committee chairman Trey Martinez said. “The one way that we’ve been able to do that is to start a fishing tournament on his behalf because that’s something that he loved.”
According to organizers, the tournament is attracting a growing number of anglers.
Because of the tournament’s success, the foundation was able to establish a scholarship program for those pursuing a career in law enforcement.
In the first three years of the tournament, the foundation awarded $500 scholarships to 27 students.
“This is one way we can raise money for the young people that continue with law enforcement and not just law enforcement, but first responders everywhere,” Martinez said. “We encourage you to come out to the fishing tournament and register.”
Schedule of events
The tournament kicks off with late registration that will be held upstairs at Louie’s Backyard’s Sports Bar on Friday, Sept. 10 from 5 to 8 p.m. There will be complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar.
Registration fees are $450 per boat/team. There is a maximum of four anglers per team. Any team with a law enforcement member is eligible for a $100 discount.
Registration for social only is $50 per person. Registration and social fees include — a tournament hat, T-shirt, tournament goodie bags and meals.
A mandatory captains’ meeting will be held at 7 p.m.
Optional boat pots will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. The pots include — heaviest redfish, trout, flounder and stringer. Optional team pots are $50, $100 and $150 per category. A percentage of each pot will be donated to the tournament to fund its scholarship program.
Fishing starts on Saturday at 6:30 a.m. Teams are able to launch at any location. Fishing may only be done out of a boat or wading. No pier, jetties or surf fishing is allowed in this tournament.
The weigh-in station will be open from 1 to 3 p.m. at Louie’s Backyard. Each team may weigh-in one redfish, trout and flounder.
An awards ceremony with a prime rib and seafood buffet dinner will be held at 4 p.m. Trophies will be awarded for first, second and third place for the heaviest fish in each division.
Grand champion, second and third place overall will be awarded to the heaviest full three fish stringer, which consists of one trout, redfish and flounder.
For more information about the tournament, visit www.alpha5197.com.