They say lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same place, but don’t tell that to Gary and Stacey Kinler.

In July of 2014, the couple was fishing near Elmer’s Island when Stacey reeled in a CCA STAR-tagged redfish. Unfortunately, the longtime CCA supporter simply forgot to register for the tournament that year — and it cost her a brand new Chevy Silverado pickup truck. 

Now fast forward to Sunday morning about 10:30 in Raccoon Bay, about four miles north of Grand Isle. Gary and his brother-in-law, Joe Lopez, were targeting redfish using live pogies under a popping cork. (Stacey wasn’t feeling well and didn’t make the trip.)

“The day before, we were in the same spot, the same cut, and I caught the majority of the reds, and it was his birthday, so I brought him back the next day and said, ‘You throw where I was catching them yesterday,” Gary explained. “And I just tossed off to the side, way to the left to get out of his way, and lo and behold, I got a good smack.

“We saw it blow up on the cork and we pulled it in. He netted it, we unhooked it and it was laying in the boat, but we didn’t see the tag. He cast out and I rolled it over to put it in the ice chest, and I was like, ‘Holy crap, this cannot be.’ I said, ‘Joe, we got us a tagged redfish.’”

Sure enough, almost four years after Stacey’s missed chance at a truck, Gary was registered, and pending a polygraph is now in line for a 21-foot NauticStar with a 150 hp Mercury 4-stroke motor. 

“We’re going to name the boat ‘Redemption,’” Gary said with a chuckle. “Either that, or ‘Too Lucky to be True.’”

To top it off, Kinler also will receive the $10,000 Louisiana Sportsman bonus prize for being the first STAR-registered angler to catch a tagged red who was also a subscriber to the magazine. 

But that part of the prize package had Stacey nervous all day Sunday, wondering if she had renewed Gary’s subscription in time.

Turns out, she had.

“I was sweating it, because he said, ‘You just asked me if I wanted to renew my subscription like six weeks ago,’ and I was like, ‘I don’t remember that, Gary,’” Stacey said. “I don’t remember doing it, so I was like, ‘Just don’t get too excited about that $10,000 part.’”

So the first thing she did when they got to their home in Luling Sunday evening was check her paid bills.

“It was my son’s renewal notice that we had seen, but I didn’t realize it was his and not ours,” she said with relief in her voice. “I didn’t remember writing a check or doing anything with Louisiana Sportsman recently, but it was because I renewed last year for two years.”

So Stacey might have missed out on the truck in 2014, but Gary looks like he’s all set for a brand new boat, plus $10,000 in cash. All in all, not a bad deal.

“They said it wouldn’t happen again, but I kept telling them, ‘It’s going to happen again,’” Gary said with a smile. “We’re going to make it happen.”

Bryan Dorsey of Youngsville claimed the Chevy Silverado on May 27 after he caught the first tagged red for the 2018 STAR. Now the next three registered anglers who catch a tagged red will win a 21-foot NauticStar. After that, the next five registered anglers who catch a tagged red get a 1754 GatorTail Extreme Series with a 40 hp EFI motor.

Tournament director Rad Trascher said one tagged red was caught by an unregistered angler near Marsh Island, so with two winners already just 10 days in, 97 tagged fish are still swimming across the coast. The tournament ends on Labor Day, Sept. 3.

To register or check out the current leaderboard, click here