MAX SMITH of Port Aransas and Luis DeLeon of Corpus Christi were two of the lucky anglers who are now driving brand new Ford F-150s and fishing from a 23-foot Haynie Bigfoot, Mercury marine outboard, and Coastline trailer packages. Both men caught a tagged redfish in the 2019 CCA Texas STAR Tournament.
Max Smith caught his redfish July 26. He, his son, other family members and friends were fishing the Outboard Fishing Tournament from his boat to benefit the Port Aransas volunteer fire department.
The plan was to check several spots looking for fish. Just before tournament check-in time, they checked out one more spot, one of Smith’s favorites:
“We get to my spot and after a little bit, the bite was on. Everyone was catching fish. We probably put back at least six limits of reds. We had four reds, two big trout, a flounder and a sheepshead; we were having a great day.”
Close to 3 p.m., Smith’s cousin, Bill caught a fish. “What the heck,” said Smith. “I’m going drop one more (shrimp) in. Almost as soon as it hit the water, I had a fish on!
“It makes a run and then heads to the anchor rope. I turn it like a header on team roping. It goes under the boat. I get him back and Bill nets him. Not once do we see the tag.
“While I’m trying to remove the hook, my son said that we didn’t need that small fish and to kick it back into the water. Out of nowhere, Bill says ‘that fish has a tag.’ I was really close to dropping that fish back, I never noticed the tag until it was pointed out to me.”
All the anglers had been joking with each other all day telling each other they caught a fish with a tag.
“I roll the fish and I can’t believe what I’m seeing. Billy and I start screaming. Everyone in the back of the boat thought we were messing with them until we showed them the tag. We take a few minutes for the fish to stop kicking so we can get pics. We kept the news under wraps till we got back and told my wife. I wanted to see her face when she got the news.
“My son has grown up through the STAR, this being his first year as an adult. The experience that everyone on the boat had was a lifetime memory that no one will ever forget.”
This was the second year in a row for Luis Deleon to catch a tagged redfish, however the first one caught on July 1, 2018 didn’t count. He was not entered in the STAR Tournament.
This year he remembered to enter the tournament. DeLeon was back in the same spot throwing his favorite lure. He got a hit, and when he landed the fish, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing:
“It’s tagged. “I couldn’t even fill out the paper I was shaking so badly”, said DeLeon.
Is it too early to start thinking about next year? Can DeLeon make it three years in a row? Will Smith’s redfish hole yield another tagged redfish?
There’s no rhyme or reason where they will be. Sometimes they’re working in one place, other times in a totally different location.
“I kind of like to start off in the morning in the location I caught fish the day before,” said fishing guide, Tommy Countz. “If the fish aren’t there we go looking again. Most times you will find the fish in the same general areas you found them before, unless is there is a big change in the weather.”
Communicating with fish:
“People ask me where the fish are. Years ago I used to think I could envision my bait moving through the water and a fish striking it. I honestly believed that. If I could just sit down and drink a beer with the redfish, talk to them, find out a lot more about redfish.
“Right now, I haven’t been able to get one to cooperate with me. I don’t know where they go. You have to figure they are there somewhere. I had an old guide tell me one time that the fish have this thing on the back end of them called a tail and they snoop around by using them, sometimes a little more than other times.”
Where are the redfish in November?
Northers will become more numerous about this time of the year and will be a factor in where to find fish. Shrimp is on the menu, sometimes staying through December. Work sand bars, drop-offs, grass bottoms, the same areas you normally fish until the water gets cold. How cold is cold?—in the 50s.
Even then concentrate on guts. The water may be lower because of low tides and blowing north winds. If you do happen to hook up with one of the tagged redfish that wasn’t caught, remember where you caught him. There might be a 2020-tagged fish there next summer.
Email Tom Behrens at [email protected]