The very first day of the CCA STAR Tournament started with a bang for Todd Black.

The Baton Rouge angler reeled in a 15.14-pound mangrove snapper in the South Timbalier area about 5 p.m. on May 24 that could not only break the current state record, but also earn him a $5,000 tackle package if it holds up on the STAR leader board.

“We caught two other ones over 14 pounds that day,” said Black, a financial planner with Brian Low Financial Group. “We caught 37 at one rig and they were all Jurassic.”

If certified by the Louisiana Outdoor Writers Association, Black’s fish would become the new No. 1 mangrove snapper for the state, replacing the 14.36-pounder caught by Michael W. Lorio Sr. in June, 2008.

Black, who has fished out of a camp in Cocodrie for 30 years, said it’s getting increasingly more difficult to catch mangroves because of the sheer number of red snapper seemingly at every rig.

“I’ve always caught them in 50 feet of water, but there are just so many snapper now. You can go and catch maybe one or two mangroves and as soon as some commotion goes on at the surface, the snapper don’t stay down anymore,” Black said. “They just come straight up to the boat. You take a GoPro and stick it down there, and there are 50 snapper that come up with one mangrove. 

“Then you can’t get a bait down past 10 feet because a giant red snapper comes up and works your guts out for 20 minutes, and you want to move after that. You don’t want to get another one, especially because you can’t keep them.”

Black caught the mangrove on a 7-foot Shimano rod outfitted with a Shimano Tekota reel spooled with 50-pound braid and a 60-pound fluorocarbon leader. 

The big fish bit on a white jig hooked with half a pogey.

“I didn’t even think about the state record,” Black said. “I didn’t even think about STAR. I didn’t realize it had started until we got back to the dock.”

He’s completed all the necessary paperwork for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and plans on getting a fiberglass replica of the mangrove to remember the catch.

“He’s already filleted,” Black said. “Nowadays, the paint job on replicas looks brand spanking new 10 years later.”