After a 10 minute fight, Christian hauled in a 41-inch long red fish.
Fishing where the Rollover Canal empties into the Gulf of Mexico, Christian and his father, Jake, were fishing for speckle trout one morning. They were fishing with a cork and doing well for a while. But after things slowed down, the Heberts were thinking about leaving. Christian caught a shark, unhooked it and then threw back out his line.
Within minutes, a huge fish took the bait and ran with it. Christian first thought it was another shark. He battled with it for 10 minutes and when it got to the side of the boat, his father noticed there was a number on the tail of the fish.
The number looked to be a 13.
“At first, I thought it was tagged fish from the CCA’s Star Tournament,” said Christian.
If it was a STAR tagged fish, and Christian is a member of the organization, he had just won a boat.
But as they looked closer, they realized the 13 on the red fish was natural and not placed on the fish. On the other side of the fish, the dots formed the No. 12, but not as distinct as the No. 13.
A red fish naturally has a black dot or two, three near the tail. The dot is to fool predators into thinking the black dot is the eye of the fish. A red fish can have as many as 20 small black dots on the tail. The fish that Christian caught had at least nine black dots that formed the image of “13.”
While still on the water, Christian took a picture of the fish with his phone and E-mailed it to a friend who is a wildlife agent for the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries. The agent thought the photo was a fake.
The Heberts drove to Intracoastal City to the wildlife agent office to show them the fish.
After showing them the fish, Christian brought it home and was still shocked. He got on-line and researched how rare is it to find a dot pattern that forms a number. He learned it was very rare.
Instead of cooking it that night, he brought the fish to David’s Taxidermy, owned by David Meaher in Lafayette.
“I have mounted close to a 1,000 red fish, and I have never seen one with a distinct number like this,” said David.
The skin will be mounted over a foam form with the No. 13 showing. Meaher plans to touch up the No. 13 with black paint so it does not fade.
Christian will not get his prize catch for another six to eight months. He is not sure where he will display No. 13, but he knows he’ll probably never see another red fish like the one he caught.