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  1. Captain's Corner: Morning moving tide is key for anglers

    Outdoors

    Morning moving tide is the key to success during these dog days of summer. Bait is smallish but it's what the fish are keying in on right now. Virtually every grass flat in Tampa Bay has bait. Once the well is loaded head to deeper water. Spanish mackerel up to 30 inches are traversing the deep edges of the same flats bait was caught on. Chumming with live bait works well and don't be afraid to cut some up to get a slick going. A chum bag is never a bad idea as it will draw in all sorts of bait fish and predators will soon follow. Recently Spanish mackerel, trout and small sharks have been all over the deep flat edges and they have been cooperating well. Snook are biting but you have to fish the peak tidal movement of the day. They are eating the small baits just like everything else is. Chum heavy to get them fired up and trickle back enough to keep them interested. Redfish are the same as the snook — pick the best part of the tide to target them. Cut bait and live sardines are baits of choice. All the above said, morning incoming tide is best if you have that option, if not the best time to fish is when you can. Scalloping in Homosassa has been fantastic and is a great way to beat the summer heat.  …

  2. Captain's Corner: Weak tides presenting challenge to early morning anglers

    Outdoors

    If early morning trips have not been productive, weak tides may be the reason. After checking weather, head out to some of your usually productive shallow water locations. One close to an inshore bridge, with improved tidal flow, would be a good choice. The absence of normal-sized baitfish that help concentrate predators may have trout, pompano, redfish and other shallow water fish scattered. Have an 8-weight fly rod rigged with a floating line and a popper that imitates a baitfish. White is the best choice, switching to darker colors in low light. Make sure your tapered leader does not have fluorocarbon components as this will sink and pull the floating popper's nose under the surface, causing it to not work properly as well as making casting more difficult. The noise of the popper disturbing the surface will attract gamefish similar to a popping cork used by bait fishermen. Don't let it sit too long. This will make it seem like it is trying to escape from the large fish. Put an artificial eye on the side that floats instead of on each side of the head. This more clearly represents a struggling baitfish lying on its side. …

  3. Red Tide linked to pelican deaths, but St. Petersburg still denies any link to sewage dumps

    Water

    ST. PETERSBURG Earlier this spring, a city-funded study concluded that dozens of pelicans found dead in January had been exposed to botulism while feasting on tilapia carcasses. …

    Dead pelicans were found around Riviera Bay and Coffee Pot Bayou early this year.
  4. Another defensive score sparks Tide

    Sports

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — When Alabama couldn't shake Texas A&M in a battle of unbeaten Top 10 teams, it was Jonathan Allen's scoop-and-score defensive touchdown that effectively brushed aside the latest would-be challenger. What else?  …

    Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts gets out of bounds as Texas A&M defensive back Armani Watts gives chase in the second half.
  5. Captain's Corner: On hot days, it pays to prepare

    Sports

    Fishing can be quite a chore during these hot months. It's important to monitor the tides, water temps and many other variables. Water temps are teetering at an extremely warm 90 degrees. Many fish become lethargic during the hot part of the day, especially when the tide is not moving. Doing a little homework, before you even wet a line, can make all the difference. There are many patterns that become obvious to anglers, after repeatedly having success during certain tidal movements. Simply paying close attention to the tidal flow helps. Another obvious plan is to venture deeper into the gulf, where waters are cooler. Of course, you still need to locate the fish first. That's where closely monitoring your sonar machine is a top priority at all times. This machine allows you to see what going on down deep. We often find our best spot of the day bottom fishing, by keeping a close eye on the sonar while on the move. Deeper waters also put more distance between you and the bottom fish, so your offering isn't so obvious. Fishing clean water conditions can have a major effect on how fish bite. Early mornings seem to be the best time when the sun is not overhead. Most important is still the tides movement. …

  6. Tide LB faces gun charge

    Colleges

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama linebacker Tim Williams has been charged with carrying a pistol without a permit. Campus police arrested Williams on the misdemeanor charge at about 1 a.m. Thursday in his vehicle in a grocery store parking lot two days before the game with Kentucky.  …

    Tim Williams, who has moved into the starting lineup this season, might face internal discipline.
  7. Worst of Red Tide seems over in Pinellas

    Environment

    It has been a busy time for Treasure Island city workers, who in the past few weeks have cleaned up 40,000 pounds of dead fish on the city's beachfront. But public works director Mike Helfrich thinks — and hopes — the worst is over. …

  8. Captain's Corner: Snook, tarpon, mangroves are best bets

    Outdoors

    Summer fishing continues to be awesome inside Tampa Bay, with snook, tarpon, and mangrove snapper on fire. Snook fishing has been phenomenal this year. Plenty of juvenile fish are being caught every day. Tarpon fishing inside the bay has picked up as our resident fish push into the bay and feed on the millions of glass minnows around the channels. The key with tarpon is to pick the right tides. Typically you will find a great deal of success fishing the outgoing tides around the new and full moons. This time of year you will also find plenty of juvenile tarpon around the river systems, which makes for a great fight on light tackle. These are peak times as the tides seem to flow best. Mangrove snapper have also been very productive around the wrecks and rocky structures in the bay. Snapper fishing in the summer is great. On a good day, you can have your limit in an hour or so. Smaller bait has moved into the flats, and this is great snapper bait. Make sure to load up with plenty of chum bait, dead and alive. This will bring the fish to you, and sometimes you can actually fish them from the surface. …

    Jason Prieto
  9. Captain's Corner: Tactics for fly-fishing the tides

    Outdoors

    A strong outgoing tide before daylight is perfect for fishing lighted docks and bridges. Snook, trout, redfish and baby tarpon feed actively on baitfish attracted to the lights by plankton, their favorite food. Match the baitfish size exactly using white fly patterns. Use a shock tippet of 30-pound fluorocarbon for snook and small tarpon. Low and negative tides are perfect for tailing redfish on very shallow flats. Either wade or pole the boat into casting distance, but remove your previous fly and shock tippet. A long 15-pound tippet with a size 4 crab pattern that matches the bottom will produce. As the tide comes in, trout and snook will join the redfish, so change to your dock light setup with a size 1 chartreuse over white Clouser minnow. It lets you cover more water; the hook pointed up avoids weeds and grass. …

  10. Tide unsure if backup QB is still with team

    Sports

    Alabama coach Nick Saban said he doesn't know if backup quarterback Blake Barnett is still with the team after the redshirt freshman saw him before Wednesday's practice "with some concerns about his future." Saban said he hasn't received a final decision on Barnett's plans.  …

  11. Captain's Corner: What to fish for in the summer heat

    Outdoors

    Here we are again with the summer heat and humidity. Water temperature on the flats is pushing 90 by midmorning as the inshore bite starts to slow. You might wonder what to do when your bait becomes unhappy. You need to get them in some moving water. The simple answer is you go after mackerel, snapper and trout. I didn't think the mangrove snapper bite could get any better, but surprise, it has. You can find a good snapper bite around most structures. The surprise is we're catching them on the grass flats, too. The bite seems better on the slack tide or at the beginning of the incoming. The key is get a chum slick going before you start fishing. Use small white bait or shrimp. There have been nice schools of redfish around. They've been easier to find on the outgoing tide. You can see them tailing everywhere. The key to get them to eat is to watch where they're going, then set up in front of them so you won't spoke them. With the water being this warm, they won't always chase swimming bait. Put out a piece of cut white bait or pinfish to get their attention. Snook bite is still good. Fish for them in deeper water that has good tidal flow. Try fishing docks and structure. Tampa Bay is full of small white bait. Snook seem to be keying in on them. …

  12. Down 21, Tide rises to top Ole Miss

    Sports

    OXFORD, Miss. — Alabama coach Nick Saban watched his top-ranked team fall behind by three touchdowns, then come roaring back Saturday. And when his Crimson Tide looked to be in control and leading No. 19 Mississippi by 18 points in the fourth quarter, it nearly blew it.  …

    Running back Bo Scarbrough dives into the end zone for a touchdown in the second half of Alabama’s 48-42 win.
  13. Florida lawmakers in D.C. learn there are no easy fixes for red tide plague

    Environment

    WASHINGTON — Red tide has become a vexing issue for many residents of Pinellas, Sarasota and Manatee counties over the past year, but lawmakers from Florida's 29-member congressional delegation learned Wednesday that the natural phenomenon is hard to stop. …

    Red tide led to fish kills along some Pinellas beaches this past September, coming ashore on Treasure Island. Red tide is caused by algal blooms when naturally occurring red tide phytoplankton form a dense cluster and release toxins, resulting in the death of aquatic animals, as well as a foul odor, along with coughing and watery eyes among some beachgoers. It has persisted long after its normal season from late summer to early fall in the state, dotting the coasts with dead fish.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  14. When is an island not an island? When it's Caladesi

    Environment

    CLEARWATER — North of Clearwater Beach, beyond the last brown beach house, where the mangroves jut nearly out to the sea, lies seclusion. …

    Franco Cerliani, left, and Daniella Cerliani, of Beunos Aires, Argentina, hike into the tidal area while exploring Caladesi Island. The swath of vegetation is close to the connection between Clearwater Beach and the so-called island. .DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times
  15. Florida's latest environmental headache: Red Tide hits Pinellas County

    Water

    Red Tide, the toxic algae that has plagued Florida's coasts since the days of the Spanish conquistadors, is making a big mess on Pinellas County's beaches this week. The sewage that was dumped into Tampa Bay could make it even worse. …

    Thousands of dead fish and other small marine life lined the beaches of Treasure Island on Tuesday.  [Les Neuhaus]
  16. Captain's Corner: Fish the best-moving tide

    Outdoors

    At 10 a.m. the air is thick, hot and slippery and, recently, the morning tide sluggish. The general rule is fish the best-moving tide, if possible. The past week in the Gandy area the preferred tide has been incoming, and the time of day has proven to be a nonissue. The sluggish tide provided a sluggish bite on the morning trips. The afternoon trip I had on Thursday was set for a 1:30 start. As we arrived to the first spot, the tide was slowly trickling and the seabreeze produced showers around the bay and gave us a nice refreshing breeze. The tide began moving faster after about five minutes. Over the next hour or so we caught and released snook from 22 inches all the way up to 41 inches. Three fish were over 35 and two were at 30 inches, not a bad start. Don't be afraid of the bait fry, the big stuff is out there if you're looking for snook. If not, snapper are grinding hard on the fry baits. They can be found on just about any dock piling, rock pile or bridge piling around the bay. Mackerel have also been engulfing the fry and turning up their nose at the larger sardines. The terminal tackle for snook is a 40 series reel spooled with 15-pound braid attached to a 20-pound leader and a 1/0 or 2/0 circle hook. If the bait is smaller, I use a Nos. 1 or 2. Snapper same rig as above and add split shot. If the bite slows, try dropping to a 15-pound leader. For mackerel I prefer the same rig but add a 40-pound leader with a No. 1 long shank silver hook. If the toothy critters cut you off, go to 60 pound. …

  17. Bilirakis helps search for money to dredge Anclote

    Localgovernment

    TARPON SPRINGS — A federal official is continuing Tarpon Springs' push to fund dredging the Anclote River. …

  18. Tide keeps Aggies slumping

    Sports

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Avery Johnson has already brought big wins to Alabama's program even during an up-and-down season.  …

    Alabama’s Retin Obasohan scores two of his 16 in a 63-62 victory over No. 15 Texas A&M, which has lost three straight.
  19. Captain's Corner: Mackerel hot on moving tide

    Outdoors

    Mackerel are chewing well on any moving tide, as long as it's moving. Some of these fierce, toothy fish are weighing between 4-6 pounds, and with every moon phase, bigger fish are funneling into the bay. Cobia are making an appearance on the markers south down near the bridge. I'm still seeing packs of three to five on the flats. They eat anything this time of year. Snook have been crushing greenbacks and threadfins on the beaches and the deep mangrove shorelines at the top of the tide an hour before and an hour after the switch of the tide. Clients have caught and released several slot and overslot snook. Snook seem to be doing well. There are lots of small fish in the 22- to 26-inch range. Redfish are feeding on the high outgoing tides and staging up around the creek mouths ambushing baits. Live greenbacks and pinfish have been excellent baits. Tarpon time is here, and there are plenty. Live and dead bait have been effective. The technique to fighting tarpon is to keep the pressure on and bow down to it the instant it jumps. The reason is the tarpon shakes its head so violently that you're trying to keep it from breaking the line. Long pumps up, then reeling down gives the fish a little breather. Long stokes should be avoided if at all possible. …

  20. Anti-hate vigils set for St. Pete and Tampa after violence in Virginia

    Humaninterest

    A day after a white supremacist rally spiraled into deadly violence in Virginia, anti-hate vigils are set for St. Petersburg and Tampa. …

    A Facebook group called Tampa Democratic Socialists of America posted that it will host a "Tampa Vigil Against Hate for Charlottesville" outside the Hillsborough County Courthouse in downtown Tampa. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]

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