A Fort Walton Beach angler won more than $65,000 in prizes after he caught a tagged redfish in a statewide fishing competition.
Alex Hensley caught a 22-inch, STAR-tagged redfish near Rocky Bayou on June 12 as part of the STAR Tournament through the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) of Florida.
The saltwater fishing competition kicked off May 26 and runs through Sept. 3. Unlike traditional fishing tournaments, STAR focuses on conservation and offers up to $500,000 in prizes and scholarships. Registered anglers submit their entries through the STAR smartphone app. Registration is $40 for CCA Florida members or $75 for non-members, which includes a CCA Florida membership.
Of the event’s major prizes, Hensley chose the Pathfinder 2200 TRS, a center-console fishing boat with a 150-horsepower Yamaha motor, Humminbird Solix electronics and a Minn Kota Terova trolling motor. Hensley is the fifth angler to catch a STAR-tagged Redfish, but the first who was registered and eligible to win a prize.
Hensley said he had the competition in the back of his mind when he went fishing that day. The tagged fish still came as a surprise.
“I’m still in shock and incredibly blessed to be the first registered angler," said Hensley, who's been a CAA member since 2017.
Hensley had been fishing for about 40 minutes when he caught the redfish. He said he plans to do more fishing on his new boat.
With 17 divisions and 11 species included in the event, and most winners determined by a random drawing, anglers of all ages and skill levels have opportunities to win.
For more information on STAR or to register, visit its Facebook page or ccaflstar.com.