Lots of things have to fall in place to catch any tagged fish — much less one of the 100 tagged redfish that were swimming along Louisiana’s coast for the Coastal Conservation Association’s STAR Tournament.
Being in exactly the right location, at precisely the right time — and then casting to the unseen fish and actually hooking up — all have to happen seamlessly to put a tagged red in the boat.
In Charles Snider’s case, a big 20-pound jack crevalle hooked by his wife Suzanne Saturday morning out of Venice — and the 20-minute journey it took to land that fish in Custom House Bay — wound up putting him in position for the stars to line up and win a 21-foot NauticStar complete with motor and trailer in the 2017 STAR Tournament.
Just the fact that Suzanne was able to be on the trip with Capt. Jeff Fuscia and Delta Dawn Charters was one of many little things to go right Saturday morning.
“It just so happened I had some clients cancel out at the last minute, and I was able to bring my wife with me,” Snider explained.
He, Suzanne and Fuscia headed out of Venice Marina about 5:40 a.m., and fishing with live shrimp under a cork, quickly started putting together a nice box of speckled trout and redfish.
Then, after 8 a.m., Suzanne hooked up with the aforementioned jack — and the lengthy battle was on.
“And by all means she wanted to land it and take a picture with it. It took about 15 or 20 minutes, so we had to pick up the Power-Pole and we followed it around Custom House Bay for a while, and finally got it in the boat and got the picture and put it back in the water,” Snider said. “And we tried to get back in the first spot we were fishing in, but we had to move a little bit.”
As it turned out, they moved just enough.
“As soon as Jeff put the Power-Pole down, the next cast was the tagged redfish I caught,” said Snider, 62, of St. Rose.
Fuscia immediately saw the tag, but didn’t know if it was a research tag — or a potential STAR winner.
“We weren’t really sure between the yellows and reds (tags),” Snider said with a chuckle. “It took my wife to read it because neither one of us could see the fine writing on the tag itself.
“When Jeff realized what it was, that was the first thing he asked me: ‘You are registered in the STAR Tournament?’ I said, ‘Oh yeah.’
“After that it was all excitement. It was awesome.”
Snider has purchased a STAR ticket every year since the tournament began 23 years ago, so it’s only fitting he wins a brand new boat — just one month into retirement after 41 years in the heavy equipment business.
Pending a polygraph exam, Snider will receive his new NauticStar at a CCA banquet later this fall in Baton Rouge.
Unfortunately, he was not a subscriber to Louisiana Sportsman magazine, so the $10,000 bonus prize is still available to the first STAR-registered angler who catches a tagged redfish and is also a current subscriber.
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.
But a brand new 21-foot NauticStar — for a guy who has long had a camp on Grand Isle and currently shares a boat with his son — isn’t too bad of a consolation prize for someone newly retired.
“I don’t really think it’s sunk in all the way yet. It couldn’t have worked out any better,” Snider said. “My wife and I are still trying to absorb all of this. I told her I felt like a rock star.”