April 16, 2015: The CCA STAR Tournament has been a summertime staple for anglers in Texas and Louisiana for many years, on May 23, anglers in Florida will finally have an opportunity to get in on the action with CCA Florida’s inaugural STAR Tournament.
Thanks to the successful STAR blueprint developed by CCA Texas and Louisiana, Florida has a proven formula, but as Florida’s STAR Tournament Director Leiza Fitzgerald states, Florida is putting its own spin on the tournament.
Like the other STAR tournaments, CCA Florida STAR presented by Yamaha will run from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, for 108 days of competition. By catching one of 80 tagged redfish, anglers could win a new Contender 22 Sport, Pathfinder 2200TRS or Hell’s Bay Waterman. Other division prizes in the CCA Florida STAR will include college scholarships, River Hawk boats, Power Pole shallow water anchors, Costa Sunglasses, Engel coolers, Shimano fishing tackle, marine electronics, Bass Pro Shops, Live Watersports paddle boards & Marathon fuel gift cards – nearly $500,000 worth of prizes in all. Perhaps the most exciting of all, youth anglers are eligible to win a share of $100,000 in scholarships. The Youth Division presented by Bright House Networks includes kids ages 6 to 17 and will award at least 12 college scholarships.
By working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the Florida STAR has added a few unique features of its own, such as the Marathon Petroleum Conservation Division that will help FWC study Florida’s fisheries. FWC’s research arm, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI), is rearing some of the redfish that will be tagged and released on Florida’s west coast in late May. Each fish caught will help further the science of fisheries management and conservation, with the hopes of ultimately improving future hatchery efforts. Conservation is the name of the game, and in the Conservation Division anglers will record and share data about all of their catches to give FWC even more information to better manage the resource.
CCA Florida also worked with the Snook and Gamefish Foundation and its technology partner, Elemental Methods, to create a state-of-the-art smart phone app for the STAR program. Membership application, registration and entering fish can be made right from the dock, boat ramp or boat using the new app. The Catch-and-Photo format is another new twist that allows all fish that are caught to be eligible for prizes.
STAR is a nonprofit tournament focused on attracting people to Florida’s outstanding saltwater resources. It gets families on the water and helps educate all anglers about the importance of conserving and protecting their coastal resources. Last year, Texas, with less than 400 miles of coastline, had 45,000 people fish STAR. By comparison, Florida enjoys more than 1,300 miles of coastline and boasts more than 1.2 million licensed saltwater anglers. With numbers like that, CCA Florida hopes to reach thousands of new anglers every year through the STAR Tournament.
“This tournament represents the most exciting opportunity in our history to educate the public about Florida’s marine resources and how we can best preserve the future for our children,” said CCA Florida Chairman Bill Camp.