Updated on June 24, 2022
One weekend each May, something special happens in Port O’Connor, Texas. The coastal town is transformed from a small fishing village into the site of a massive charitable fishing tournament in support of our military heroes. This event, known as Warrior’s Weekend, honors people in the military who defend the United States and secure our freedom to do the things we love.
Hundreds of soldiers and their families travel from across the United States to Port O’Connor to fish and enjoy the fellowship of other veterans and the many volunteers. The weekend-long event includes dinners and awards both Friday and Saturday nights, and a full-day fishing tournament for the soldiers on Saturday. The fishing guides for the tournament include both some local Port O’Connor professional fishing guides as well as hundreds of everyday anglers and boaters who are willing to take 2 or more soldiers out on their boats for exciting day of fishing.
If you look at the size of Port O’Connor, then you would never guess that it can host this many people for a charitable event. The organizers of Warriors Weekend pull out all the stops to make the event a success. A vast circus-style tent is set up to host the evening meals, and the hotels and motels are booked in all the surrounding towns within 100 miles so that everyone has a comfortable place to sleep at night.
One of the more challenging, but also memorable, moments of the event comes Saturday morning when hundreds of boats line up to board the soldiers to go fish. Everyone involved is full of anticipation of getting out on the water to catch a redfish or speckled trout. Port O’Connor only has a few boat ramps and bait shops, so both the soldiers and the boat captains must wait their turn to safely tie up to the docks and load-up the crew for the fishing to follow. The scene at the boat ramps is a parade-like atmosphere that is all part of the fun.
Although getting to go fishing is an award just by itself, the Warrior’s Weekend tournament also offers prizes to the heroes to add to the enthusiasm. Hundreds of dollars are given out to the soldiers who catch the biggest legal redfish, black drum, trout and flounder. There are other interesting tournament prize categories as well including “biggest other fish” and a spot pot for the veteran who catches the redfish with the most spots.
For the fishing captain volunteers and their first mates, it is a privilege to be able to have so much fun while sharing a day of fishing with military heroes, many of whom have been wounded during the course of their duties. To participate, the soldiers and their families must apply well in advance because the demand to go fish this tournament has grown from many years of success and fellowship. The organizers of the Warrior’s Weekend have done a remarkable job of positively impacting so many lives: the veterans, their families, and the volunteers.
Fishing offers many opportunities for people to put their everyday worries behind them and enjoy time on the water making memories. Many of the best of these memories are made when sharing the joy of fishing with others. If you want to share your excitement for fishing with others, then there are probably some kid-fish groups, conservation associations, or other charitable fishing-related opportunities in your area that would appreciate your participation in whatever capacity is right for you. Keep on fishing, and take others with you to share the joy on your next fishing adventure.