Dr. Vance Misuraca looks into lots of mouths at his orthodontist practice in Baton Rouge, but the big yellow mouth he caught Saturday morning was extra-special - and it didn't even need braces.
Misuraca was fishing with live shrimp near the mouth of the Mississippi River along a beach about 10 a.m. when his popping cork vanished.
Minutes later he was holding an 8.29-pound speckled trout, good enough for his personal best and 1st place now in the CCA STAR Tournament's eastern division.
"We had been fishing since about 8 and basically we caught scattered fish all day," said Misuraca, who noted there were about 15 boats in the area early that morning. "Every five or 10 minutes we'd catch a decent trout. Quite honestly, by the time current had picked up and we started getting into them, it was just me and two other boats."
Misuraca said he caught the big speck with a 7 ½-foot Falcon rod and a Shimano Sustain 4000 spinning reel spooled with 30-pound PowerPro braid and a 40-pound leader.
"That was one of those full moon trout still lingering a couple days off that full moon from the spawn," he said. "That's what they do - they go up along that beach three or four times a year to spawn."
He was using a No. 6 4X treble hook with a split shot sinker about 30 inches under his cork.
"The speckled trout were scattered over that whole shelf and the current had picked up," he said. "The current was parallel to the shore, and there's redfish in there, too. I had just caught two redfish, and when I hooked this one, I thought I had caught another one.
"My buddy was joking with me and said, 'That might be a giant speck, you never know.' And sure enough, we saw it when it got closer to the boat. Normally they come up and shake their head, but this one never did."
He was struck not only by the fish's length, but its impressive girth, he said.
"The fish was over 28 inches, so I was thinking, 'Man, this is a 6-pounder," he said. "But I kept looking at the fish, and it had a girth on it. It had a redfish girth.
"I've caught 28-inch fish before, but that's what gave it the weight. The girth was unbelievable."
It was the biggest speck he's ever caught, and the tenth he's reeled in weighing more than 6 ½ pounds, but he doesn't like its chances to stay on top of the STAR leader board all the way until the tournament ends on Sept. 1.
"This is the fish of a lifetime, but I don't think it will win STAR, I really don't," he said. "I think there's bigger trout going to be caught this year. The trout in Venice are on their way back."
Misuraca, who finished in 3rd place in the STAR's eastern division several years ago with a 7.9-pound speck, had a great weekend including 45 specks, four red snapper, several cobia and a limit of mangroves.
"You just can't beat that," he said. "I've been fishing down there for 25 years in Venice. There's no place like it on earth."