The long wait is over, and the winners have left Baton Rouge with boats, more fishing stuff than some tackle shops and one, Bruce Honore, was able to drive his prize home.
Honore was the biggest winner in this summer’s Statewide Tournament and Angler’s Rodeo, the S.T.A.R., when he hooked and landed a specially tagged redfish, a catch that earned him the keys to a new Chevy Silverado half-ton pickup.
Although others caught several of the 2012 red-tagged reds, none among them was entered, and the other nine places in the Tagged Redfish Division, identically rigged 21-foot NauticStar bay boats, went unclaimed.
Maybe the best part about the 2012 S.T.A.R. was how competitive it was.
In some cases, the winners were determined by hundredths of a pound.
Ricky Landry won the 16-foot Weldbilt bateau and 40-horse Mercury because he weighed a 5.76-pound flounder a few weeks ahead of the 5.76-pounder Charles Carnahan brought to the scales.
Close, too, was Kevin Horton’s winning speckled trout in the Southwest Division. His 7.31-pound trout edged Butch White Jr.’s 7.29-pounder.
Other trout division winners were Bob Weiss (8.02, East), “Bootsie” Toups (5.22, Southeast) and Troy Thibodeaux (8.16, West). Weiss also had the third-place fish in the East, a 7.13-pounder. The two giant specks proved the retired physician is among the top big-trout catchers in the state.
There was more to Weiss’ story: After he posted the 7.13-pounder, St. Amant’s Fritz Englade, at the Grand Isle Tarpon Rodeo , caught rodeo winning 7.43-pounder east of the Mississippi River. It was weighed for the S.T.A.R. at Venice Marina.
Englade’s entry stayed atop the East Division for all of a week before Weiss boated the 8.02-pounder from his “secret” Lake Pontchartrain spot.
Jarrod Malley won the first Mississippi Trout Division with a 7.69-pounder.
Still, the biggest trout came from Big Lake, Calcasieu Lake south of Lake Charles, and Thibodeaux is the king of the S.T.A.R. hill until somebody tries to unseat him next year.
And if you need more “close,” then check out Lemonfish: Blake Ballard’s 61.35-pounder beat Ladd Hay’s 61-pounder for the Louisiana Fish Fry’s sponsored $2,500 tackle package.
Most other category winners showed up with the “wow,” fish big enough to draw oohs and aahs from most any angler.
Cindi Natal: 7.9 pounds, Ladies Only Speckled Trout Division.
Darryl Elias: 13.4 pounds, Mangrove Snapper.
Cody Gielen: 43.4 pound, Dorado (bull dolphin).
Gordon Joffrion IV: 27.29 pounds Red Snapper.
Fred Harris: 12.92 pounds, Sheepshead East Division.
Kevin Natali: 6.9 pounds, Sheepshead West Division.
After that came the specialty trout-division winners:
Jack Boyer: 2.55 pounds, Fly Fishing West.
Victor Tedesco: 2 pounds, Fly Fishing East.
Winners of Hobie Outback kayaks included:
Christopher Suchand: 5.66 pounds, Kayak East.
James Grady: 4.0 pounds, Kayak Southeast.
Tray Collins: 4.72 pounds, Kayak Southwest.
Jeff Robinson: 7.06 pounds, Kayak West.
The S.T.A.R. ran from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Membership in CCA-Louisiana is required along with a rodeo entry fee.
The first shots
The cold front invading Louisiana this weekend brings more than a chance for the first big cool-down after a long, hot summer.
Almost right on cue, the front that’s sending below-freezing temperatures as far south as Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma and into the 30s in Arkansas is sending loads of ducks into Louisiana just in time for next weekend’s youth-only hunts in the West Zone and the newly created Coastal Zone.
Planning a hunt for the 15-and-younger crowd and for the Nov. 10 opener in those two zones — or for the Nov. 10-11 and the Nov. 17 opener in the East Zone — demands waterfowl hunters go to the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (http://www.wlf.louisiana.gov) to make sure your zone hasn’t changed from the two-zone state map waterfowl hunters have used for the last 30 years.
Also remember that the change from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time comes at 2 a.m. next Sunday.
Another reminder is that the first split in East Zone goose season opens Saturday, a move that was made several years ago to take advantage of the early movement of geese into ag fields in the state’s northeastern parishes. The split runs through Dec. 2.
Ducks Unlimited’s http://www.ducks.org has a migration map to follow duck movements.