Tournament director Rad Trascher has been a busy man since the Coastal Conservation Association-Louisiana’s STAR kicked off on Memorial Day weekend.
Raymond Champagne of Baton Rouge was the first registered angler to catch a tagged redfish along the barges in Fourchon just days into the tournament, and he is the presumed winner of a 2016 Chevy Silverado Pickup truck.
Since then, the action hasn’t really slowed down — but all of the catches have unfortunately been made by unregistered anglers.
“Right now we’re a month in, and we’ve had four tagged redfish caught and two tagged trout, and only one potential winner,” Trascher said on Wednesday morning. “So those people have missed out on boats, and the $10,000 bonus from Louisiana Sportsman.”
This year, for the first time ever, the first STAR-registered angler who catches a tagged redfish and is also a current subscriber to Louisiana Sportsman magazine wins a $10,000 bonus prize. Champagne was not a current subscriber, so the bonus is still available, Trascher said.
“We had a tagged redfish caught this weekend in Buras on the west side of the river and it was released, but the gentlemen was not registered,” Trascher said. “The trout was at the long rocks in Hopedale, and was also caught by an unregistered angler. But he put it in his ice chest and didn’t discover it until he got to the cleaning station.”
The first four STAR-registered anglers who catch a tagged speckled trout receive a $2,500 tackle package, he said.
“This guy had actually pulled up the website to register and the phone rang or something, and he never completed the process,” Trascher said. “He was heartbroken, and incredibly nice. He signed up since then, but he was very, very, very close to being a winner.
“All he had to do was hit ‘submit.’
The next nine registered anglers who catch a tagged redfish will win a 2110 Sport NauticStar boat, with a 150 hp Mercury 4-stroke engine.
Trascher said except for the cobia division — where first place is currently occupied by Mike Valenciano’s 79-pound-plus fish — almost everything else is probably still in play.
“It could be beat, but that’s a big fish,” Trascher said about Valenciano’s cobia. “But I think almost every other division out there is probably wide open. It’s not too late to register. There’s plenty of tagged fish swimming around and getting caught, so you don’t want to be a loser.
“Especially for this weekend — it’s a big family weekend — so get your kids and grandkids in. That’s the easiest way to win.”
Signing up the youngsters is a good tournament strategy for a couple of reasons, he said.
“The trick to the youth division is you are not counting on a big fish, because all they have to do is enter a trout or flounder over 14 inches and they’re put into a hat for a drawing for a boat, motor and trailer,” he said. “And they’re also eligible for all of the adult division. So if a 12-year-old catches a tagged redfish, they’re going to get a brand new NauticStar. And you don’t even have to worry about weigh stations — you can email the picture directly to me.
“Your odds greatly increase when you put your kids and grandkids in.”
Trascher's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Entry fee for the CCA STAR is $30, and youths 17 and under can enter for free. But you must also be a CCA member to enter — membership is $30 for adults, $15 for spouses, and $10 for youths.
For the Sportsman $10,000 prize, anglers must have subscribed to Louisiana Sportsman magazine at least one day prior to catching any eligible tagged redfish to claim the bonus, so don't put off subscribing.That means if you catch a tagged redfish this Saturday, July 2— you must have subscribed to the magazine by Friday, July 1.