Pierre Part angler reels in Leeville leopard red

18-inch fish bit dead shrimp under a cork south of Hackberry Bay

If the International Grand Isle Tarpon rodeo had a category for most spots on a redfish, Sally Chapman Mabile likely would have been the 2017 winner in a landslide.

Mabile and her husband Todd were enjoying the rodeo festivities and went fishing for a fun trip out of Leeville Friday morning south of Hackberry Bay in the couple’s 22-foot Blue Wave.

She was using dead shrimp about 18 inches under a popping cork working along the bank around 9 a.m. when lightning struck.

“On that particular spot, as soon as I dropped it and it hit the water, the cork took off,” said Mabile, who lives in Pierre Part and works as a CSR for Dow Chemical in Plaquemine. “Honestly, when we got it in the boat, I thought it was a red, and then I saw all the specks and said, ‘Well, maybe it’s a speck.’

“And as I held it up, we saw it really was a red. It was pretty exciting. Honestly, we didn’t know it was anything special at the time until we started showing it to other people in the area …. Our plan was just to clean it and eat it until they told us it was something rare.”

Rare, indeed.

The red may have measured only 18 inches and wasn’t particularly bronze, but it appears to have hundreds — upon hundreds — of spots.

Exactly how many is really anyone’s guess at this point.

“I tried counting but there’s no way to do it,” she explained. “I have no idea how to count them because a lot of them are connected, especially at the top near the head. It’s almost like you’re looking at white spots — everything is black with white spots instead of white with black spots.

“Even counting just a few at the end of the tail, there was like 50 in an inch. There’s just no way to count them all.”

Dr. Kyle Piller, a fish geneticist at Southeastern University in Hammond, has told LouisianaSportsman.com in past leopard encounters that the redfish’s unique spots are likely the result of its parents both having a recessive pigmentation trait.

Since the fish avoided the fillet knife, Mabile said they now plan to get it mounted to commemorate her special catch. She’s just sorry there wasn’t a suitable rodeo category for her speckled leopard red.

“I had asked a friend if there was a category for most spots on a redfish,” she said with a chuckle. “Because I think I would have had it.”

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About Patrick Bonin 1315 Articles
Patrick Bonin is the former editor of Louisiana Sportsman magazine and LouisianaSportsman.com.

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