Ryan Towns, Assistant Director, CCA Texas STAR Tournament
“Where did you release those tagged redfish?” This is easily the question I get asked the most from curious STAR registrants.
We all know how big Texas is, from South Padre Island all the way up to Port Arthur, the Texas coast offers anglers nearly 600 miles of coast to fish. This means that our amazing CCA Texas STAR Tournament Volunteer Release Teams have many different spots to release these valuable tagged redfish.
The bottom line is we want our tagged redfish to be caught…and by STAR-registered anglers. To ensure our registered anglers have the best odds to catch them and claim their share of over $1,000,000 in prizes and scholarships, we release them in spots where people fish.
This year, we released 123 tagged redfish along the Texas coast, averaging a release every 4.8 miles.
Spots the redfish are released include boat ramps, piers, jetties, bridges, channels, flats, and popular spots in the bay. This year, we released 123 tagged redfish along the Texas coast, averaging a release every 4.8 miles. Therefore, there’s likely a tagged redfish closer than you think!
You may be wondering how our release program compares to others. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has a 3 percent annual recapture rate on their tagged fish, meaning only 3 out of 100 fish will be caught in a year’s time. But they are not trying to get them caught right now. In short, we want these CCA STAR tags to be caught within 100 days. The CCA Texas STAR tournament supports a much higher recapture rate of 15 to 20 percent quarterly. Last year, a total of 37 tagged fish were caught. We do everything we can to achieve our goal of having these tagged redfish caught!
So far this year, high winds have been a big enemy for anglers to get out there but the next half of STAR could be “lights out” if the wind finally lays down. Now that you have a better idea of how many are out there and generally where they are released, here’s my personal advice on how to go about catching them.
I encourage you to put yourself into the mind of these redfish. For example, ask yourself these types of questions: What do they like? What kind of structure holds these fish? Is there bait nearby? Am I throwing what they like? Is my spot blown-out from the wind and, if so, where else might I fish today? All these factors play a huge role in targeting redfish.
When I am fishing, my eyes are constantly scanning the water for any little detail or advantage I can gain. Keep your head on a swivel. Whether it is a mullet jumping or birds on the water, nature provides a lot of clues to locate redfish. I find I have the most success when I lay out a game plan for myself and stick to it.
If they are biting on top, I love using a Heddon One Knocker Spook when fishing potholes or a grass line. If the bite is down low, switch to a Trout Support with a 1/8 oz. Lazer Trokar Magnum weighted swimbait hook, Texas Custom Double D Bone Diamond, or a Fat Boy. Most importantly, have confidence in what you’re throwing. This is critical to becoming a better angler.
As y’all know, even with the best game plan there is always going to be a caveat: the unknown. And it’s how you adapt to the unknown that will help determine your success in tracking these coveted redfish.