CCA Florida STAR has its first official winner
Lucky angler in Cockroach Bay takes home 2015 GMC truck
TAMPA, FL (5-28-15) - The inaugural CCA Florida STAR Tournament presented by Yamaha got off to a fast start with three tagged reds landed in just the first week of action, and one caught even before the tournament officially started. However, Jerry Bergeron of the CCA Tampa Chapter is the first to not only land one of the 120 tagged redfish released along the Florida Gulf coast, but also be registered in the tournament. As the first official winner in the CCA Florida STAR, the 70-year-old Bergeron wins a 2015 GMC 1500 crew cab pick-up truck provided by Conley Buick GMC valued at more than $40,000.
“It has been an exciting week to say the least,” said Brian Gorski, executive director of CCA Florida as he officially verified Bergeron’s fish at T. A. Mahoney’s in Tampa. “We knew it was just a matter of time before a registered angler caught one of those redfish, but the suspense kept building to see who would be the first lucky winner. We couldn’t be happier for Jerry.”
Bergeron renewed his CCA membership and registered for the Florida STAR Tournament on April 8, but had previously fished in the CCA Texas STAR Tournament and knew what was possible. He was on the hunt for a tagged red as he was fishing with his wife, Nancy Mach, in Cockroach Bay yesterday using live shrimp. He saw a tag as he was reeling in the fish, but was unsure if it was a research tag or a STAR tag. When he discovered what he’d caught, his wife was convinced he was just joking until he made a frantic call to Tournament Director Leiza Fitzgerald.
“When I got the call he was so excited I couldn’t understand a word he was saying so I wasn’t sure what had even happened,” said Fitzgerald. “Once we got the story, we were all too excited to speak!”
His STAR success is a particularly fitting reward for Bergeron, who recently battled cancer and underwent his last chemo treatment in April 2014. Shortly after that last treatment he bought a boat and fished his way from Tampa across the Florida Panhandle, across Louisiana and all the way down to Brownsville, Texas.
“My thought was that none of us know how much time we have left and so I was going to make sure I spent as much time doing what I really enjoy as I possibly could,” he said. It was on that trip through Texas that he learned about the CCA STAR tournaments, but it was Capt. Mike Anderson of Reel Animals who reminded him that the tournament was being offered for the first time in Florida this year.
Bergeron’s lucky catch yesterday was followed by the capture of yet another tagged red in the Panhandle area that would have won that angler a Hells Bay Waterman with custom trailer and Yamaha outboard motor if he had been registered in the tournament. That angler’s misfortune means the next registered angler to catch a tagged red can still win the boat/trailer/motor package.
“As much fun as it was to see Jerry claim his new truck it is equally heartbreaking to explain to people who caught a tagged red but weren’t registered what they almost won,” said Fitzgerald. “We’d like to avoid those conversations altogether, so if you haven’t registered yet, go online and do it before you wet a line. We want to see more people like Jerry win these great prizes.”
The CCA Florida STAR runs until Labor Day so there is still plenty of time to sign up online. Visit www.CCAFLSTAR.com to register and for a complete list of divisions, verification locations, and rules.