Rad Trascher is a man on a mission right now.
The tournament director for the Coastal Conservation Association’s STAR Tournament is busy tagging redfish and speckled trout in advance of this year’s event, which kicks off in exactly one month — May 27.
And this year, with the tournament featuring 100 tagged redfish instead of 50 like years past, Trascher is extra-busy leading up to the opening on Memorial Day Weekend.
“We’re making the rounds, and we have to hit every port on the coast,” said Trascher, who works with a small team of volunteers to tag the 100 redfish and 50 speckled trout featured in the tournament. “I was in Cocodrie last weekend, and I’ll be in Fourchon on Thursday.
“Going from 50 to 100 redfish means that many more fish have to be caught and tagged. Whether people want to believe it, there’s no good way to really do it — except going down to the place, trying to catch as many as you can and putting them out where all the fishermen go.”
The first prize for a registered angler who catches a tagged redfish is a Chevy Silverado pickup. New for 2017 is another truck for the second tagged red — a Chevy Colorado. The next eight anglers who catch a tagged red receive NauticStar boats.
Once again this year, Louisiana Sportsman is sweetening the pot in the Tagged Redfish Division by offering a $10,000 bonus prize to the first STAR-registered angler who catches a tagged redfish and is also a current subscriber to the magazine.
Anglers must have subscribed to Louisiana Sportsman at least one day prior to catching any eligible tagged redfish to claim the bonus, so don't put off subscribing.
Trascher said the tagged speckled trout division will remain the same, with 50 fish being tagged and released along the coast. The first four registered anglers who catch a tagged speck will win a $2,500 tackle package.
Time is counting down for Trascher to complete his tagging mission, so he has to venture out on days most anglers wouldn't even consider leaving the dock. Wednesday was one of those days — when he headed out of Cypremort Point with CCA state president Kirk Seiber in howling winds to pursue some redfish.
“Holy cow, that was unbelievable,” Trascher said Wednesday afternoon after leaving Quintana Landing. “Let me put this in perspective: Out at Marsh Island, in the ponds there were not only white caps and 2-foot seas, but it was powerful enough that I broke my Power-Pole. I don’t think I’ve ever attempted to fish in winds that high.
“It was nuts. I didn’t wear a hat the whole day because I couldn't keep it on my head.”
With the tournament only 30 days away, Trascher encouraged anglers to sign up now while they’re thinking about it.
“We have a month left, and with 100 fish out there, I can almost guarantee there’s going to be one caught on opening weekend — and you don’t want to be that person that’s not registered,” he said.
The cost to enter the tournament this year will be the same as in 2016.
“You have to be a current member of CCA, which cost $30, and it’s $30 to enter the tournament,” Trascher said, noting that more than 13,000 anglers participated last year. “For your spouse, it costs $30 to enter the tournament, but their CCA membership is $15. Youth memberships for those 17 and under cost $10, but they can fish the tournament for free.”
For all the tournament details and updated tournament rules, go to the STAR's official website here.