They say timing is everything. And in Drew Carlin’s case Wednesday afternoon, he probably couldn’t have done it any better if he tried.
The 31-year-old Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist from Lafayette registered for the Coastal Conservation Association’s STAR Tournament in his truck on the way to launch his boat in Intracoastal City at 12:55 p.m.
“I gave her my credit card number while I was driving,” Carlin said with a chuckle.
Incredibly, less than four hours later, he reeled in a tagged redfish on the northwest corner of Marsh Island with dead shrimp under a popping cork, and pending a polygraph, he’ll win a 21-foot NauticStar complete with motor and trailer.
He was fishing in his 20-foot Xpress with a coworker Wednesday afternoon, and they were catching a lot of fish — but not many keepers.
“About 30 yards before (the tagged redfish bit) I caught a trout. That was our first keeper, and I was actually about to make a turn and start heading back toward Bayou Michael and I made one long cast toward a point and the cork went under,” Carlin said. “I didn’t even think it was a keeper at first. I flipped it in the boat - I didn’t even net it.”
As the redfish flopped around on the deck, he noticed the tag.
“The tag wasn’t red. It had algae on it so it was black. At first, I didn’t know what I had,” Carlin said. “My buddy said, ‘Call CCA and see what it is.’ The girl at CCA told me to start wiping the algae off, and she said, ‘What year does it say?’ — and my heart dropped.
“I was thinking, ‘Man this better say 2017 on it.’ But the 2017 part was almost in the fish. I had to basically scrape the algae off to read the whole tag.”
She confirmed he indeed had a 2017 winner — but Carlin immediately started wondering if the STAR registration transaction he completed just a few hours earlier over the phone had actually gone through.
“I checked my bank account right away to make sure that the charge went through, and it didn’t. My heart dropped. So I called, and the girl I bought the ticket from named Jamie answered the phone,” he said. “I said, ‘Jamie, you’re the person I needed to talk to. I bought a STAR ticket from you earlier today around lunchtime, but it’s not showing up in my bank account.’
“She said, ’It takes two days to go through,’ and I said, ‘Look I believe you, but please go in your system and make sure it went through for y’all and it’s time-stamped.’ She said, ‘Yes sir, at 12:55.’ And I’m like, ‘I need you to transfer me to whoever I need to talk to because I just caught a tagged redfish.’”
Carlin, who’s just getting back into fishing after completing three years of anesthesia school, didn’t even know exactly what he’d won.
“But my brother was on it,” he said. “He called me right away and said, ‘You’re the fourth one. It’s a boat! It’s a boat!”
Unfortunately, Carlin 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.
Carlin said no one answered the phone at Maxi Pierce in Intracoastal City where he launched, so he cut the trip short and immediately headed over to Don’s Boat Landing in Erath, which is also an official weigh station for the STAR, and filled out his paperwork.
“I kind of felt bad because the guy at work had been begging me all week to go fishing. I said we’d go either Wednesday or Friday,” Carlin said. “On the way in, I looked at him and said, ‘Dude, I hate to ruin your trip,’ but he said, ‘It’s ok. These are different circumstances. Let’s go.’
“He’s trying to buy my boat already.”