Sunday, April 22, 2018
News Roundup

Medard Park lake one step closer to catch and keep

Christopher Hackney stood waist-high when he first fished with his dad at the Edward Medard Park Reservoir. He has been coming back ever since.

"The variety of fish is great," the 23-year-old Plant City resident said as he plopped a lure into the water. "It's quiet here, too."

Medard may be home to schools of bluegill, channel catfish, sunfish, black crappies and much-prized largemouth bass, but lately the 770-acre lake just south of Plant City has fallen off the radar. Once home to dozens of anglers daily, Medard sees only a handful now, mostly because of a 2-year-old catch-and-release policy.

But that could change soon.

Hillsborough County commissioners approved a plan last week to designate the reservoir a fish management area. Management partners the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Southwest Florida Water Management District (commonly known as Swiftmud) have already signed on to the idea. The county's okay was the last hurdle.

"The benefit to the angler is this will help in maintaining a quality fishery," Fish and Wildlife spokesman Gary Morse said. "All that's left is to sign the documents."

The designation allows a local view toward state fishery regulations. In practical terms, it means officials can impose size and catch limits provided they fall within fishery regulations. In effect, it reverses catch and release.

The current ban on fish removal is set to expire at the end of the year. Commission biologists are monitoring fish levels to determine whether to extend the ban or allow it to expire. So far, the populations seem to be expanding to healthy levels.

Medard will enjoy a sizable bounce once catch and release ends, park manager Jeff Mausch said. The ban followed a $1.9 million restoration by Swiftmud and Fish and Wildlife that included a new boardwalk, boat ramp and restocking of the reservoir.

"They've done a nice job," he said.

Likewise, Hackney said lifting the ban would bring back crowds that fell off two years ago. Weekends seem to be picking up, but weekdays are still slow. He said he doesn't mind throwing fish back but can understand the frustration other anglers feel.

"There are a lot of good eating fish in here. Bass is one of the best tasting fish you can eat," he said. "But me, I just like fishing. This is a nice way to spend your time."

Medard would join 85 other fish management areas around the state, including Dover District Park, Steven J. Wortham Park and Al Lopez Park.

Rich Shopes can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 661-2454.

Comments
Rays’ Carlos Gomez hits two-run walkoff homer to beat Twins for series sweep

Rays’ Carlos Gomez hits two-run walkoff homer to beat Twins for series sweep

ST. PETERSBURG – Carlos Gomez was in such a horrific slump, after one of his three strikeouts Sunday, he broke his bat over his knee. Then he broke the Twins' hearts.Gomez ripped a long two-run home run to leftfield with no one out in the botto...
Updated: 4 minutes ago
District softball schedules for Tampa Bay

District softball schedules for Tampa Bay

Class 9A-8 (higher seed hosts)Tuesday: No. 3 Alonso at No. 2 Palm Harbor University, 4; No. 4 Sarasota Riverview at No. 1 Newsome, 7Thursday: Final, 4 or 7 (depending on who hosts)Class 8A-4 at Strawberry Crest Tuesday: No. 1 Wharton vs. No. 4 Wiregr...
Updated: 5 minutes ago
Tampa Police investigating fatal hit-and-run on Selmon Expressway

Tampa Police investigating fatal hit-and-run on Selmon Expressway

TAMPA — Police say a person is dead after a hit-and-run crash Sunday on the Selmon Expressway.Someone called authorities about 10 a.m., reporting a person on the entrance ramp to the highway near the intersection of W Cleveland Street and S Willow Av...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
4 dead in Nashville Waffle House shooting; suspect sought

4 dead in Nashville Waffle House shooting; suspect sought

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A gunman wearing nothing but a green jacket and brandishing an assault rifle stormed a Waffle House restaurant in Nashville and shot four people to death before dawn Sunday, according to police, who credited a customer with s...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

Andrei Vasilevskiy and the universal language of playoff hockey

TAMPA — As usual, Andrei Vasilevskiy didn't speak in front of the cameras after the game. He has been like that since he hit the NHL. He still isn't comfortable with his English on TV.But Vasilevskiy spoke loudly and clearly in the first-round ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

How Baker Mayfield can benefit the Bucs

TAMPA — The buzz at the top of this year's NFL draft is a class of talented quarterbacks deep enough to challenge the all-time record of six in the first round, set in 1983 with a group that included future Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
It’s Earth Day. Here are 11 stories about how climate change affects Florida.

It’s Earth Day. Here are 11 stories about how climate change affects Florida.

Happy Earth Day, Florida!In the spirit of the holiday that recognizes our planet’s clean air, water and land, here are 11 stories the Tampa Bay Times has published about how climate change affects the Sunshine State.1. The Florida keys have to elevat...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Ex-NFL kicker Jay Feely apologizes for ‘joke’ gun photo

Former NFL kicker Jay Feely, who was born in Odessa and starred at Tampa Jesuit, has apologized for a photo he intended as a joke, showing him holding a gun as he poses with his daughter and her prom date."Wishing my beautiful daughter and her date a...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Deputies: Florida man on LSD knocks out teen girl at RaceTrac while her parent pumps gas

Deputies: Florida man on LSD knocks out teen girl at RaceTrac while her parent pumps gas

ST. PETERSBURG — A man punched a 13-year-old girl inside a RaceTrac convenience store on Saturday, knocking her unconscious as her parent pumped gas outside, Pinellas deputies reported.Kolbe Wayne Smith, 27 and of St. Petersburg, now faces charges of...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Perspective: The Heartland to Headwaters Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition finds frustration and fear seeking a safe path for wildlife across Interstate 4

Perspective: The Heartland to Headwaters Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition finds frustration and fear seeking a safe path for wildlife across Interstate 4

The original Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition in 2012 was inspired by how the Florida black bear roamed — and the space it needed to do so successfully. In 2010, expedition team member Joe Guthrie conducted research through the University of Kent...
Updated: 4 hours ago