But 11-year-old Parker Pierson has already checked that item off his bucket list.
The young Mandeville angler caught a tagged redfish not far from Campo’s Marina in Shell Beach about 10 a.m. on July 11.
“When we got it in the boat and were taking it to the cooler, my dad noticed the tag on it,” said Parker, who will be entering 6th grade next month at Mary, Queen of Peace Catholic School. “I was shocked. I was really happy.”
His dad, Ronald Pierson, 39, thought for a second his son had reeled in a Coastal Conservation Association Louisiana STAR Tournament fish.
“My immediate reaction was, ‘You gotta be kidding me,’” said Ronald, who is signed up for the STAR Tournament along with all his children. “You just reeled in a freakin’ boat.”
But visions of the new rig didn’t last long. Upon further review, the tag was yellow and covered in algae. It listed a tag number, as well as a phone number to call.
“When I started looking at the tag a little closer, it looked like it had been there a while. I thought maybe it was one of the STAR Tournament tags from last year,” he said. “The tag itself just looked like an older tag.”
It turns out Parker’s redfish was part of a research project with the Louisiana Cooperative Marine Sport Fish Tagging Program.
Tony Berrigan, coordinator of the program for CCA Louisiana, said in an email that Parker will receive a certificate detailing where the fish was tagged, its original length and when it was released. In addition, both Parker and his dad will receive T-shirts as a thank you for calling in the tag, Berrigan said.
The Piersons were fishing with Eric Schwing and his son Benjamin in overcast conditions not even five minutes from Campo’s.
The tagged redfish bit on a Carolina-rigged live shrimp right along the rocks.
“We just stayed right there in that spot. We were catching fish steady, between black drum, redfish and a few trout here and there,” Ronald said. “The water was moving pretty good through there, so we didn’t move.
“We just kept throwing.”
The 17.75-inch redfish was promptly cooked on the half shell the next day. But Ronald plans on framing the certificate for Parker, along with the tag and a few photos to create a keepsake of a fishing trip that father and son won’t soon forget.
“I told him that I’ve hunted and fished all my life, and I’ve never caught a tagged fish — ever,” Ronald said. “I just told him how special that was. That’s the story of a lifetime that he can tell forever. I think it’s really, really cool.”