Eighty specially tagged redfish are the STAR attraction in the inaugural CCA Florida State-wide Tournament and Anglers Rodeo (STAR). The kick-off is at sunrise on Saturday, May 23, 2015, Memorial Day weekend and ends at 5 p.m., September 7, 2015, Labor Day offering participants a total of 108 fishing days! This will be one of the most angler inclusive tournaments in the state of Florida and will provide all anglers an opportunity to participate. With nearly $500,000 in prizes, STAR anticipates recruiting over 4,500 participants, who will each have an opportunity to win, making it Florida’s largest saltwater fishing tournament.
STAR Florida is a Catch & Photo tournament designed to educate the general public about the importance of conservation of Florida’s marine resources. The format encourages sportsmen and sportswomen of all ages to protect and conserve Florida’s fishery resources for future viability and availability for all recreational anglers. By promoting participation in STAR, CCA Florida will aid in the collection of significant scientific data while providing anglers of all skill levels with the opportunity to participate in a family-friendly angling competition. All STAR participants should develop a heightened appreciation for the challenges facing Florida’s fishery resources and should thereby develop a newfound awareness of the efforts needed to preserve them.
The signature division, STAR tagged redfish, will have Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and CCA Florida officials releasing up to 80 STAR tagged redfish along the west coast of Florida several days prior to the start of the tournament. These specially tagged redfish will be released throughout hundreds of miles of Florida’s gulf coast and bays, from Pensacola to the Everglades National Park.
Terrific prizes can be claimed by STAR participants who catch and bring in the first 6 tagged redfish. The first tagged redfish winner will drive home in a NEW 2015 Pickup truck. The next five winners will each claim a brand new boat, motor and trailer package.
STAR and tagged redfish are not new concepts for CCA. CCA Texas STAR is in its 25th year and in 2013 had over 45,000 angler participants making it the largest saltwater tournament in the country. CCA Louisiana STAR is in its 20th year with over 11,000 angler participants, making STAR the largest saltwater tournament in their state. In 2013, CCA Texas STAR had eleven tagged redfish caught but only six anglers claimed prizes. The others, unfortunately, were not registered for the tournament and therefore could not claim a prize. This year in STAR Louisiana, the first two tagged redfish caught were by anglers that were CCA members but were not registered for STAR and therefore could not claim a prize.
In addition to the Tagged redfish division, STAR will feature an Open, Ladies, Fly, Kayak and Professional Guides division with the eligible species being spotted seatrout, snook, cobia and sheepshead. Tournament participants who win first place in the OPEN division species category of spotted seatrout, snook, cobia and sheepshead will each take home a boat, motor and trailer or an All-terrain vehicle. There will be an additional 2nd thru 6th place winner in each species category of the Open division. In the Ladies, Fly and Kayak division the winners, first thru sixth, will have the ability to enter any Open category species in these divisions to win valuable prizes. The Professional Guides division offers licensed charter captains the ability to win first, second and third place prizes based on the number of clients they have register for the tournament.
Another featured division which is unique only to Florida STAR is the Conservation Division. This division is designed to reward anglers that provide the most catch data on all fish caught and released, no matter what species or size, while fishing in the STAR tournament. To date there has been little or no catch data provided by recreational anglers or tournament participants to the fisheries management community. The non-tournament species data combined with the tournament species catch data will be extremely instrumental in science based fisheries management. Therefore the quantity and quality of the catch data provided via the STAR Smart phone application will be a benchmark initiative.
In hopes of luring more youth to the sport of fishing, STAR offers a Scholarship Division with prizes valued at $100,000.00. The Youth Scholarship Division will provide two winners a $25,000 college scholarship each and an additional ten winners a college scholarship of $5,000 each. STAR will offer FREE entry to participant’s ages 6 to 18 who are current New Tide members. STAR participants, ages 6 thru 18, who enter a spotted seatrout, snook, cobia, sheepshead, ladyfish or jack crevalle in the Scholarship Division will be eligible for the drawing of the winners in that division.
Angling skills are required to catch fish in the tournament however, STAR is designed to make it easy for every tournament entrant to be a winner. Winners of STAR will not be determined by longest length or weight of their catch. To be eligible to win a registered participant who is a CCA current member need only enter a photo of their species category or division catch which meets the FWC, state regulations and tournament rules via STAR’s smart phone app or upload to website. Winners of each category or division except for the tagged redfish will be determined by a drawing from all confirmed entries in the category or division. A participant may only win in one category or division.
STAR is a not-for-profit entity. All revenues from angler entry fees and sponsorships will be used for prizes, tournament promotion, advertising, and data collection. The first year of STAR will be limited to the West coast of Florida, although anglers throughout Florida are eligible to participate, as long as they are members of CCA in good standing. A stated goal of STAR in future years is to expand to all of state waters, including the east coast and the Florida Keys. In doing so, the tournament will eventually include other species in its format (pelagics, for example). Your help is needed to promote and sponsor this CCA initiative. The major focus of STAR is to educate recreational anglers and the general public about the importance of conservation of Florida’s marine resources. Florida STAR’s new format encourages anglers of all ages to protect and conserve Florida’s fishery resources by practicing responsible catch, handling and harvest of tournament species as well as data collection allowing for future viability and availability for all recreational anglers. By promoting participation in STAR, CCA Florida will aid in the collection of significant scientific data. The information gathered from STAR participants will help CCA and other fisheries management groups make science based decisions related to the protection and conservation of Florida’s marine resources.