John Jefferson writes a weekly outdoors column for the Victoria Advocate.

Jefferson fish

Carrie Buchen, pictured, caught a prized tagged redfish in the STAR tournament, but she was a year late. Its tag was for the 2018 tournament and ineligible for the current tournament. She used it, however, to win the woman’s division of the 2019 TIFT tournament. The fish must have been a slow learner to have been caught three times within a year.

Man! Have I got a fish story for you! In fact, several!

But, first, an explanation. I vary my column subjects and have received compliments for it. When I decided to write this column about the CCA-Texas STAR tournament, I knew it was somewhat redundant – I’d written another in June.

But stories from STAR change every time another angler casts his bait upon the water. They’re always new. I had also decided before I heard these tales to tell readers they have only until Sept. 2 to enter before the tournament ends.

If you read my column entitled “Lightning strikes twice” in mid-June, you might remember that the STAR tournament is probably the richest in the world in terms of prizes awarded. The most attention-grabbing category is the tagged redfish division, which awards a Ford 150 pickup and a boat, motor and trailer to the first five entrants to catch a tagged redfish. Re-read that if you hadn’t heard about it. It’s true. The second five entrants catching a tagged redfish win a boat, motor and trailer – not a bad consolation prize!

Since only four of the five truck packages have been claimed thus far, one winning fish is still swimming. And the second five boats, motors and trailers are unclaimed.

That news is enough to justify another STAR story.

All tagged redfish are wild-caught before stocking. One was first caught in April 2018 by a volunteer catching reds for STAR-stocking and wasn’t eligible. That fish’s second catching was in August 2018, but it was caught by a guide who was also ineligible to enter it. That angler carefully released it. A year later – on August 2 – Carrie Buchen was fishing the 2019 version of same tournament as catcher # 2 last year and caught the same fish. But this time it was heavier and helped Mrs. Buchen win the women’s division of that TIFT tournament.

Why didn’t she enter it in STAR and win the truck package? It was tagged, but it bore a 2018 tag, making it ineligible in 2019!

That was disappointing for sure. But a 17-year old lady from College Station was more dejected. She caught a 2019 tagged redfish … but hadn’t known about the tournament and hadn’t joined CCA-Texas, which would have made her eligible. That happens almost every year. And it reminded me that I haven’t rejoined CCA. I shall. I’d look cool in that new truck towing my new boat around town.

But there are numerous other divisions in STAR for many popular game fish awards. One such category is for dolphins (the fish, not the porpoise!), also called dorado and Mahi-Mahi. Those beautiful and highly sought-after delicacies are offshore fish and often caught trolling around oil rigs. The current leader this year, Wayne Brock, hauled in one weighing 50 pounds, 11 ounces!

There are trout divisions for the upper, middle and lower coast and even a category for gafftops!

But you must join CCA ($35) and enter STAR ($25). Do so now at startournament.org/member- benefits/registration/.

John Jefferson, “Woods, Waters and Wildlife” columnist, may be reached at 512-219-1199 or on his website, johnjefferson.com.

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