By Bill Kinney, CCA Texas STAR Tournament Director
“The 2021 CCA Texas STAR Tournament was a tremendous success. In response to a devastating freeze that impacted the entire state and caused significant fish kills in some coastal regions just a few months before the start, the tournament completely changed its inshore format to help our state’s marine resources recover as quickly as possible. Several divisions – trout, flounder, sheepshead and gafftop – were removed entirely. The famed Tagged Redfish Division became catch and release only, with anglers required to clip the tag and verify that the fish was released back into the water.
STAR has had the same basic format for 31 years and we were concerned that the new rules would cause confusion. In the very worst-case scenario, a long-time participant could catch a tagged red, keep the fish and be disqualified, not realizing that the rules had changed. That would be devastating to the angler and to all of us here at CCA.
We released more than triple the number of tagged redfish in a normal year, and had different colored tags for different prize packages. We launched an intense information and advertising campaign on the need for catch and release and how to do it properly. We dearly hoped all our participants would see the new rules, and understand and support the changes.
We are proud to say the Texas angling public responded enthusiastically to the new format and CCA members proved again they are the best stewards of our marine resources. We didn’t have a single incident related to the new rules and comments were overwhelmingly in support of the catch-and-release format. Videos and photos of anglers clipping tags and proudly releasing fish popped up all over social media.
The 32nd annual CCA Texas STAR was unlike any other. This year we applaud not only our winners, but every single participant who went out this summer to enjoy our coastal resources and did their part to help them recover from the freeze. And we must also recognize our valued corporate partners and sponsors who stayed by our side during a difficult year – these are the brands that care about the future vitality of our precious fisheries, and back it up.
STAR 2021 began with a feeling of uncertainty and ended with an emphatic confirmation of our fellow Texans’ commitment to conservation. Thank you all for a great year, and we can’t wait to see you all again next year!”