The 18th annual State of Texas Angler's Rodeo (STAR) fishing tournament begins Saturday May 26 and runs through Monday, September 3 which is Labor Day at 5 p.m. The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) sponsored tournament is the states largest, richest and longest saltwater fishing event. The summer long tourney offers more than $1,000,000 in prizes, but in order to win all anglers must be registered and be a member of CCA.
Valley anglers have fared well over the years fishing the STAR. This past year was no exception as Joe Palermo from Port Isabel caught one of the first five tagged redfish which garnered him a 2006 Ford F-150 "Texas Edition" Super Cab XLT attached to a 22 foot Blue Wave 220 Super Tunnel with a Mercury 150 EFI motor and Magnum galvanized trailer. Palermo's was the fifth qualifying tagged redfish caught last summer, and he weighed it in at Jim's Pier on South Padre Island on July 14.
Robert Ortega of San Benito had the luckiest fishing day of this life when the CCA member reeled in a tagged redfish during the 2004 STAR. The 2006 contest saw 12 tagged reds caught, but only the first five qualified as you have to be a member of CCA and be entered in the STAR to be eligible for the truck, boat, motor and trailer.
Texas Ford dealers will once again award each of the first five registered STAR participants who catch tagged redfish a brand new truck, boat, motor and trailer package. The fortunate five will receive a 2007 Ford F-150 "Texas Edition" truck with a 22-foot Blue Wave Super Tunnel boat, motor and trailer. The next five weighed in who qualify will receive the boat, motor and trailer combos.
For junior anglers without a driver's license who reel in a tagged red, he or she will receive the boat package plus a college scholarship in lieu of the truck. Last year, 14 year old Luke Crain reeled in a tagged red and instead of a truck won a $20,000 college scholarship.
Winners in the trout division for the upper, middle and lower coast take home a Shoalwater 22 foot Legend powered by a Mercury 150 Optimax and McClain trailer. In 2003 Richard Ostos Jr. as fishing with a cane pole from his dock at Arroyo City when he landed a nine pound four ounce trout. The big trout barely edged out another Valley angler who had a nine pound three ounce fish. That extra ounce won Ostos a boat, motor and trailer.
Registered anglers who catch the largest flounder, gafftop and sheepshead will each receive a Scout 180 Bay boat with a Mercury 90 EFI outboard and McClain trailer. A monster flounder from the Lower Laguna Madre dominated the competition last summer. Timothy Pearson from Seabrook was fishing out of Port Mansfield and weighed in a nine pound 10 ounce flounder at Harbor Bait and Tackle.
Blue water anglers who land the heaviest kingfish, dorado and ling (cobia) will each win a sleek Contender 21 Open Fish rigged with a Mercury 150 and trailer. Branch Zuniga from Pharr took first prize last year with a huge ling that weighed 75 pounds ten ounces.
In the past 12 years, $2,895,000 in college scholarships has been awarded to fisher-kids across the state. The 2007 contest continues to offer plenty of incentive to gather up the kids and go fishing.
Valley youngsters have excelled in the youth flounder division since the competition began in 1995 with Zifa Guerrero of Harlingen taking top honors in the six to 10 age category. John Barrea of Port Isabel, Brock Batsell of Brownsville, Corey Mock of Bayview and Trevor Rowland have also landed winning flounder and each has received a $50,000 college scholarship.
When nine year old Trevor Rowland caught his big flattie on May 29, 2003 it was just one week into the tournament. The competition did not wrap up until September 1 that year and it was a tense three months of waiting for the Rowland's to see if anyone else topped Trevor's five pound two ounce fish.
Special divisions also award a $50,000 college scholarship for the largest gafftop or sheepshead caught by entrants aged 6-10. An additional youth scholarship division awards a similar scholarship for the largest flounder, gafftop and sheepshead caught statewide by anglers aged 11-17.
The largest trout caught in the upper, middle or lower coast by an 11-17 will also garner a $50,000 scholarship. The minimum weight requirement for a winning trout is six pounds.
Even if you don't win a truck, boat or scholarship, spending time on the water with friends and family, and helping to protect our state's coastal resources make all who participate winners.
Early registration in the STAR tournament qualifies entrants for a special "Early Bird" drawing. You could win a 21 foot Shoalwater Cat, motor and trailer without ever even wetting a line, and that is a prize valued at approximately $32,000.
Everyone entered in the STAR tournament is eligible to win all the prizes being offered including the tagged redfish division. Same day instant registrant forms plus complete rules and a list of weigh stations are available at more than 100 locations statewide including all participating Academy Sports and Outdoors stores. Mail in entry forms are available at participating Texas Ford dealerships, NAPA Auto Parts locations and Texas Marine locations throughout the duration of the tournament.
For more information, including a list of weigh-in stations, instant-entry registration locations in your area and weekly leader board updates go to wwwccatexas.org or call 713-626-4222.
Copyright 2007 Richard Moore