CORPUS CHRISTI, TX — Redfish are one of the most commonly caught fish in the Texas Gulf. But, so is speckled trout. That's what gun manufacturer, Bettina Mathis was hoping to catch on a quick getaway to the coast.
With her husband, the Dripping Springs resident went on a guided fishing trip with Corpus Christi Outfitters Owner, Carson Bashaw.
"When Carson asked us what we wanted , or ya know what we were trying to fish for. And we both said trout. We thought we were on a trout fishing mission," said Mathis.
Bashaw had known Mathis for 14 years. He said Mathis came down a few times a year to fish, but she only started fishing more recently.
Within a few hours on the water, Mathis' husband caught a huge redfish. Bashaw told them it could be a tournament fish if they were registered with the Coastal Conservation Association, or CCA. Mathis was unaware of any CCA tournaments, but while fishing in the Laguna Madre, decided to sign up and register.
CCA is a non-profit, aiming to help restock the redfish and speckled trout populations, as well as give scholarships to kids through tournaments. CCA's Texas Star Tournament gives CCA members a chance to win up to $1,000,000 in prizes and scholarships.
As for Mathis, she just wanted to keep fishing to hit their trout limit.
After a couple different spots, Bashaw saw Mathis' rod hook up. She reeled the fish in and Bashaw said he thought it might have been another trout.
"Whenever the fish got close it came to the top of the water and noticed it was a redfish," said Bashaw, surprised.
"I netted it and then the fish flipped over in the net and the tag was sticking straight up. I had never seen one before but, there's no question about what it was whenever I saw it."
Mathis said he told her it was a CCA tagged redfish, "it just didn't feel real, I-I didn't even know what a tag looked like," she laughs.
CCA rules state that an angler has 24 hours before the fish needs to be brought into a CCA certified weigh station.
Mathis wanted to fish longer, but that storm was starting to come through.
Bashaw said when they made it back to Bluff's Landing & Marina, and rushed to Roy's Bait & Tackle, where a CCA weigh station was located.
When they got to Roy's to register the CCA tagged redfish, Mathis said everyone was excited.
"Once everybody figured out I had the tagged redfish, Roy's was packed! And everybody was freaking out because I had the tagged redfish!"
Mathis had to send in information about her tagged redfish and take a polygraph test to be an eligible winner.
She was contacted by CCA to inform her that she was the fourth winner this year.
"Catching a tagged redfish is like winning the lottery," said Bashaw.
A CCA tagged redfish is like a fishing lottery. Come October, Mathis will take a trip to Houston to receive her prizes; a 2020 Ford F-150, a 23-foot boat and a trailer.
In the meantime, Mathis has already booked another fishing trip with Bashaw in the next couple weeks. She is also on the way to becoming a Port Aransas resident, where she intends to fish as much as she can.
Her CCA tagged redfish was 4.07 lbs and just under 23 inches.