The 7.28-pound speck Pam LaFosse caught during the Lake Charles Trout Shootout on June 6 could turn out to be a pretty valuable fish, indeed.

In addition to placing third in the Shootout — which netted LaFosse two $100 gift cards plus $750 in cash — the big speck currently resides in first place in the Ladies Only Speckled Trout Division of the CCA-Louisiana STAR Tournament.

The first prize winner in that division when the STAR ends on Sept. 7 receives a $2,500 travel voucher, which would make LaFosse’s 7-plus-pounder worth almost $3,500 in cash and prizes.

“That is the biggest one I’ve ever caught,” said LaFosse, who owns Cajun Tackle on Country Club Road in Lake Charles. “We do spring fishing in Toledo Bend from January to May, then we start offshore fishing. And we duck hunt in the fall, so my time out on the lake is very seldom. 

“There’s just not enough hours in the day.”

LaFosse caught the sow in a boat on the south end of Big Lake free-lining a live croaker at about 9 a.m. that Saturday.

“We caught a few nice ones early, then we had a couple hours of slack tide that day,” she said. “Then it picked up again and I caught her on the morning bite.

“But everybody struggled that day with the slack tide.”

She knew the fish was special from the moment it inhaled the croaker. 

“I knew she was big, absolutely,” LaFosse said. “She never came up on top. It took a while to get her in,” she said. “We were all high-fiving. It was one of those sweet moments. She was a beauty.

“It was awesome, so much fun. I went back the Wednesday after to try to get another one.”

LaFosse said they tried to keep the big trout alive because live fish at the weigh-in received a half-pound bonus, but the boat ride was too far that early the morning of the event.

“We tried our best,” she said. “But it was too far of a run, and we didn’t want to leave our fishing spot because we knew we had a good spot. That’s why she ended up dying.”

The three people she was fishing with — her husband Pat, employee John Bell and boat owner John Logan Fournerat — all caught a nice mess of fish, with Bell placing 16th in the Shootout with a 4.29-pounder and Pat coming in 17th with a 4.04 pounder.

But like in many fish stories, what was probably the day's biggest speck never quite made it to the boat.

“John Logan had something big on a topwater, and it came up and jumped,” LaFosse said. “It was a 9-pounder easy, but it came up and spit the hook. We were sick.

“That would have won it.”

In the meantime, LaFosse is keeping an eye on the STAR calendar, and doing her best to find time to catch an even bigger trout before Sept. 7.

“I’m hoping it holds up,” she said “I’m trying to go back and catch some more big ones and maybe up that weight.”

Rad Trascher, tournament director for the STAR, reminded all anglers that you don’t necessarily need to catch a monster trout to win this year.

For the first time ever, 50 tagged speckled trout were released across the coast this year, and the first four tagged trout caught by registered anglers are worth a $2,500 tackle package. 

No tagged trout have been caught so far, but Trascher thinks it’s just a matter of time.

“I think we’re going to have one sooner or later,” he said. “It’s going to be a wait-and-see kind of thing.”

Sign up for STAR by visiting any official weigh station, dialing 877-4CCASTAR (877-422-2782) or by clicking here

You must be registered before catching and entering a fish.