What are They and What Do They Mean?

If you have been fortunate enough to be around the fisheries of Port Aransas during tournament season, it’s likely you’ve seen the flutter of small flags that line fishing boats as they pull in for weigh in. These flags add an element of excitement to the already-upbeat tournament vibe…but what are those flags, exactly? What do they mean?

In short, they are fish capture flags, and they can tell an onlooker quite a bit about what might soon be brought to the weigh-in scales. Each flag is printed with an illustration of a  species in a specific color. Some species are blue with white illustrations, some white with blue, others are yellow with blue illustrations, etc. Anglers hang these capture flags to give those waiting onshore a heads up, and to proudly display the results of their fishing prowess.

However, there are rules to be flying these flags—rules that will help you as observer (or angler) discern what the boat’s team has caught. Generally, flags should be flown on the boat’s starboard rigger, and only on the day of the catch to avoid coming across as “bragging.”

As for the flags themselves, there are a few more guidelines...

Fishing Flag Guidelines

  • Flags are flown in order of species size from top to bottom (For example, Blue Marlin at the top, followed by White Marlin, Sailfish, etc.).

  • Billfish take precedence over meat fish. Only a few tournaments around still have kill pots for billfish, in which case those flags are flown above others of that species, and upright.

  • A flag that is flown upside down means the fish was caught and released.

  • A red “T” flag flown underneath the species flag means that fish was tagged before being released.


A row of boats fly fish flags



The more you know! What else would you like to know about fishing tournaments or traditions? Let us know by emailing marketing@visitportaransas.com.