Photo provided by Blue Heron Communications Kory Matherne, left, and Jason LeBlanc show off the two redfish they caught to win the IFA Redfish-Louisiana Division tournament held Saturday from the Empire launch near the Mississippi River. The New Orleans-area anglers ran to the west of the launch and worked waters in the Lafitte area for their winning 17.04-pound total. LeBlanc said they were sight-fishing the reds with Gulp! baits.

When Jeff Angers and Mike D’Antoni gathered media at The Fourchon in 1995 to launch a summer-long, big-prizes saltwater fishing event, it was difficult to imagine that CCA-Louisiana’s Statewide Tournament and Angler’s Rodeo — The S.T.A.R. — would become a fixture for thousands of fishermen and spread to include their angling brothers and sisters in Mississippi, too.

D’Antoni nursed the rodeo through its first years, worked hard to expand prizes and increase categories before Sam Barbara took the reins for 10 years and added more weigh stations and youth categories.

Now, with Rad Trascher leading CCA’s efforts, S.T.A.R. begins its 20th year Saturday with another run all the way through September’s Labor Day. Rules demand anglers wanting to participate be CCA members and pay the $25 rodeo entry fee.

Youngsters 17 and younger have no entry fee and vie for prizes with 14-inch-long speckled trout or flounder in each of the four geographic divisions along the Louisiana coast.

Through these two decades, the constant has been the 50 specially tagged redfish earn the rodeo’s biggest prizes, a new Chevy pickup for the first tagged red and nine 2110 Nautic Star boats rigged with a 150-horse four-stroke Mercury on a Mike Gerald trailer.

“We’re celebrating the 20th year and hope the 20th will break all records, and I believe it will,” Trascher said Wednesday while on the road to Cocodrie. “The 50 tagged redfish are swimming on the coast and are ready to be caught, and we’re ready to award the prizes.”

The total prize package is estimated at more than $500,000 with the addition of divisions for flounder and sheepshead from Mississippi waters.

Trascher said the first prize packages will be in red snapper.

“We’re going with the federal (June 1-9) season, so the frenzy will begin June 1,” he said.

There are the usual four Louisiana zones for speckled trout anglers — East, Southeastern Southwest and West — which are the same zones for the Youth Division. The winners will take home a wide range of boats and outboards in each zone, as well as flounder in Louisiana and Kayak divisions.

Other divisions with prize packages ranging from $5,000 to $1,500 are offered in Ladies-only Speckled Trout, Mangrove Snapper, Dorado, Lemonfish, Red Snapper, Sheepshead and Fly Fishing divisions.

Another continuing competition is the The Calcasieu Calcutta for the heaviest trout caught then released from Calcasieu Lake.

There are 33 weigh stations across the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts. CCA’s website:, has all the details. Sign-up is available by calling (877) 422-2782.

Locals win it

Marrero’s Jason LeBlanc and Harvey’s Kory Matherne hauled in two solid redfish weighing 17.04 pounds from the Lafitte area to win the year’s IFA Redfish-Louisiana Division stop Saturday out of Empire.

“I think we did an excellent job of taking advantage of the water conditions today. We caught the two biggest fish we saw today and that was the difference for us,” LaBlanc said in the IFA release.

LeBlanc said they sight-fished with Berkley Gulp! baits to win the Ranger boat-Yamaha outboard rig and added another $2,513 in what the IFA calls, “Anglers Advantage cash.”

The women’s team of Texas’ Barbara Scopeletis and Alabama’s Starr Boykin were second just a little over one ounce behind the winners. They reported taking their 16.96-pound catch from ponds in the Venice area on Gulp! Shrimp.

Gary Wilson of Madisonville and Gus Wilson of Metairie were close a third-place finishers. Their 16.95 pounds also came from the Lafitte area.

Lessard wins again

The IFA’s companion stop, the Kayak Tour-Louisiana Division, Steve Lessard started 2014 where he left off last year. The Geismar angler, the winner of the 2013 Kayak Tour, brought in a combined 61.13 inches, a total measurement of a single redfish and a single speckled trout, to win Sunday’s event at Empire.

Hackney in second

Even though he dropped from Saturday’s lead into third place in the Bassmaster Elite Series on Lake Dardenelle, Gonzales touring pro Greg Hackney is a mere one point behind overall standing leader Mark Davis in the tour’s Toyota Tundra Angler of the Year standings through five of eight events.

Pierre Part’s Cliff Crochet jumped into 18th place in the standings with a seventh-place finish. Both Louisiana pros finished with 20-fish limits.