Tagged redfish worth big prizes in STAR

TINA HARBUCK

It looks as though someone has already won the GMC Crew Cab truck, but there are still boats and motors on the line.

The Coastal Conservation Association is conducting a State-wide Tournament Anglers Rodeo, STAR Tournament, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, where anglers have a chance to catch one of 80 tagged redfish released in the Gulf of Mexico a week before Memorial Day.

The tagged redfish were released up and down the coast from the Keys to Pensacola, said Pete Wright Jr. of Ships Chandler.

“So far four have been caught, but only one guy was entered in the tournament,” Wright said.

The first tagged redfish, which has to verified by the STAR committee, was caught near Tampa Bay and is the possible winner of a 2015 GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab.

The second tagged redfish brought in wins a Hells Bay Waterman with trailer powered by Yamaha, and the third redfish wins a Pathfinder 2200TRS with trailer powered by Yamaha. All-in-all the first six STAR tagged redfish caught and verified win big prizes.

But to be eligible for the prizes, the angler must be a Coastal Conservation Association member and pay the entry to participate in the tournament.

Wright, who is the CCA ambassador from Panama City to Pensacola, said cost to become a CCA member is $30, plus $30 to enter the 100 day tournament.

Tagged redfish is not the only eligible fish to be entered in this tournament. However, the tagged redfish are the only fish that have to be brought in to be verified. Ships Chandler is one of the official weigh stations for the tournament.

Other fish eligible for entry in the tournament are non-tagged redfish, spotted trout, snook, cobia, sheepshead, Jack Cevalle and ladyfish. Fish are entered electronically using a measuring device that can be picked up at Ships Chandler in the heart of Destin.

All participants must comply with State of Florida Rules and Regulations and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission saltwater fishing regulations. All FWC rules governing the harvest of fish must be followed. Thus the minimum sizes for the various species set out by the FWC must be followed.

Ladyfish and Jack Crevalle have no minimum size requirement for entry and are only eligible in the Youth Scholarship division, according to the STAR rules.

All entries must be submitted electronically using STAR’s official smart phone application or by using the tournament’s website, within 24 hours of each catch. Each entry must include a digital photograph of the fish on the official tournament measuring device.

Boundaries for fishing include up and down the coast, in state waters out to nine nautical miles.

There are plenty of divisions to enter your catch, from Open, Ladies, Fly Division, Kayak Division and Youth Scholarship Division.

All winning fish for all tournament prizes, except the tagged redfish, will be determined by a drawing. The drawings in each division will be made from all entries made during STAR.

“People are really showing a lot of interest in the tournament,” Wright said.

And if you want to get in on the big prizes, “you better  get on it fast,” Wright said.