Michael Fesco was wade-fishing on the opening weekend of the CCA Louisiana STAR Tournament, but he might have very well won himself another boat after reeling in a giant 8-pound-plus Big Lake speckled trout.

Fesco, of Sour Lake, Texas, was in waist-deep water in Joe’s Cove when the 27-inch trout smashed his live croaker on Sunday afternoon, May 28.

“She hit it so hard it popped slack in my line,” Fesco said. “I knew when she hit it, it wasn’t a baby. When I set the hook, it didn’t give.”

The big speck, which ultimately tipped official scales at Cajun Fast Mart at 8.48 pounds, hadn’t yet spawned even though it was late May.

“The salinity in the water wasn’t right then,” Fesco said, noting how relatively fresh the water was in Joe’s Cove at that point. “She definitely hadn’t spawned — she was swollen. It was crazy.”

Fesco won a 21-foot Nautic Star boat in the STAR two years ago, when he landed the heaviest trout along the coast with an 8.43-pounder. He rigs up with 50-pound Power Pro braid, which he ties direclty to at least a 5/0 Kahle hook.

“Most of my croakers I fish with are 5 or 6 inches,” he said. “When they get bigger than that, I’ll put a 6/0 hook on.”

Fesco basically free-lines the big croakers, but uses a mini-sized Texas Rattlin’ Rig ChatterWeight — rather than a heavy Carolina-rig-type setup — when he targets giant specks.

“The ChatterWeight has got eyes on each side of it, and you run your line through one eye and wrap it through the deal twice, then run it through the back eye and down to your hook,” he said. “When that croaker is swimming, the whole time it’s moving, it’s making that weight make noise.

“Whenever it stops swimming, you can start popping it real hard to make it make noise — plus it makes that croaker wake back up and try to get away from you.”

Like lots of Big Lake wade-fishermen, Fesco targets big specks knowing he’s probably not going to get a whole lot of bites. Since most of the sow trout have now spawned at least once, Fesco’s 8.48-pounder could very well mean another STAR boat is headed his way this fall.

“I could care less about catching a bunch of them,” he said. “I just want to catch a couple of big ones, take some pictures of them and turn them back loose.”

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