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  1. Captain's Corner: Going after mangrove snapper


    Mangrove snapper have taken up summer residence on almost any submerged inshore or nearshore structure. Natural limestone outcroppings, artificial reefs, bridges, rock jetties, piers, residential docks and even mangrove roots are hosting a seemingly abundance of fish. Many typical snook haunts have produced bonus snapper catches recently. Mangrove snapper have very keen eyesight and an instinct to avoid anything deemed suspicious. Downsizing leaders and hook size are often necessary with clear water and high sun conditions. Making sure your bait selection is offered in a natural way is key when targeting snapper. They generally fall for smaller live baits and with our yearly summer spawn of juvenile sardines and herring taking place now, we are in luck. Snapper also respond to chum and often move up-tide of their structure to aggressively but warily attack fresh cut bait. If you fish at night, you will find a completely different attitude in the snapper as they often let their guard down and feed with abandon. …

  2. Column: North Florida vies with South Florida to be most polluted region


    South Florida's guacamole-filled coastal waters are finally receiving the state and national press they deserve given the environmental disaster that has continued to engulf the estuaries and beaches on both sides of the state. Toxic floating algae and rafts of dead fish continue to slime the once-blue waters and white sandy beaches thanks to on-going releases of nutrient-laden water from Lake Okeechobee. …

  3. Gulfport buildings provide an empty canvas for murals


    GULFPORT Just like St. Petersburg, this city has a thriving arts community. It has arts festivals, like St. Petersburg. And it has regular art walks that feature the work of local artists, like St. Petersburg. …

    Largo’s grapefruit-themed mural at the intersection of West Bay Drive and Fourth Street. It is the city’s first mural.  
  4. Bob Buckhorn proposes $906 million Tampa budget


    TAMPA — When Mayor Bob Buckhorn took office, putting together a city budget had real drama to it. His first year in office, he had to close a revenue shortfall of more than $34 million. His second year, it was nearly $28 million. This year, not so much. …

    Backed by his finance and budget staff and other city department directors, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn presented his $905.9 million proposed city budget for 2017 to the City Council on Thursday.
  5. Movie planner: Filmme Guild screens 'Safe'; 'Star Trek Beyond' and yet more 'Ice Age'


    These are defiant times for women in movies, from Jennifer Aniston's scathing open letter to prying paparazzi to shushing Ghostbusters bias; from protesting the industry's salary gap between men and women to demanding better roles. …

  6. Captain's Corner: Snook plentiful just off the beaches


    Snook fishing has been going strong in north Pinellas. Several schools are lining the beaches, occupying the swash channels and troughs a few feet from shore. Fly fishermen have been able to hook snook sight fished from the beach. East winds in the morning create very calm waters, allowing single fish and groups to be spotted easily. Small hatchling baits have invaded the flats, and clouds of them are moving along the beaches through the passes as well. Often snook will be nearby, gorging on these easy targets throughout the day. A larger bait such as a sardine, threadfin or grunt cast into the pods of small baits will quickly get a snook's attention. As spawning comes to an end, they will begin to move toward the back country into fall; however, they remain on the beaches into August. Redfishing has been best at the higher tide position and certainly around the stronger moon phases. Generally, cut baits cast near the mangroves work best, especially in the early morning hours before the flats heat up to near 90 degrees. There are still tarpon filtering through the passes. Midday boat traffic keeps them down, so early dawn anglers have had the most success sight fishing or drifting baits in the passes. …

  7. Column: St. Petersburg official defends city's actions on wastewater


    The city of St. Petersburg has spent the past 10 months focusing on the sewage system's failings — and to good effect. Working together, our city administration, elected officials, staff and community stakeholders have established a master plan to address the long-term viability of our sewer system. As our challenges are chronic, our goal has been to plan for the next 100 years and not just for the next possible event. Mayor Rick Kriseman's charge has been clear: Do it right. …

  8. Captain's Corner: Fishing tips during summer


    The summertime heat is in full swing. You want to get out early to avoid the heat. Another option is to fish docks and bridges at night. With water temperatures in the upper 80s, you will only be able to spend about an hour on the flats in the morning. After that, you need to follow the fish to deeper water where it's cooler. The Tampa Bay area as far south as Joe's Island to Safety Harbor is starting to go off. There's an influx of newly hatched bait pouring into the bay. Use a quarter-inch net if you plan on netting them. There's bigger bait holding in 15-20 feet. The snook bite has been the best on the outgoing tide in most places. Just find a point with good water flow and you will find snook piled up waiting for bait to be pushed by. Redfish have been a little harder to target. Patience is key. The most success has been with cut bait tossed way up under the mangroves on high tide. If you are to get the small bait on the flats or shrimp, you can have great success on mangrove snapper this time of year. It's not too late to target tarpon. In July they like to hang around bridges and shipping channels. The Gandy is a good place to target them at night. …

  9. As Florida banks get stronger, many customers are still waiting to reap the benefits


    Florida, a financial minefield of failing banks six years ago, is overflowing with healthy, top-rated community banks, including a dozen in Tampa Bay alone. …

    Banks in Florida have mostly pulled out of the financial malaise of six years ago. Big banks are doing well in federal stress tests.
  10. Kerry meets Putin in bid to halt Syria fighting before deadline


    MOSCOW — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presented Russian President Vladimir Putin a proposal aimed at curtailing violence in Syria ahead of an Aug. 1 deadline, as the Obama administration seeks to salvage a cease-fire in the 5 1/2-year civil war. …

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met in Moscow on Thursday. The meeting was about cooperating against the Islamic State in Syria.
  11. Homestretch for arts champ: Sunday Conversation with Art Keeble


    TAMPA  …

    Art Keeble, retiring executive director of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County, sits in his office next to Ybor Rooster, a sculpture created by an Orange Grove Magnet School sixth-grader and made of cigar boxes and plasticine.
  12. More babies to kiss, expectations to exceed for LSU RB Fournette (w/ video)


    HOOVER, Ala. — LSU running back Leonard Fournette has grown accustomed to surpassing unrealistic expectations. He entered high school as one of the most highly touted players Louisiana has ever seen; he left as the only two-time Gatorade player of the year in state history. …

    FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2015, file photo, LSU running back Leonard Fournette (7) gets past Syracuse cornerback Wayne Morgan (2) for a touchdown in the first half of an NCAA college football game, in Syracuse, N.Y. It might be the matchup of the season: LSU running back Leonard Fournette, perhaps the nation's best player vs. Florida's vaunted defense. The No. 6 Tigers and No. 8 Gators meet in prime time Saturday in a game between unbeaten teams. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File) NY182
  13. Manatee die-off in polluted Indian River Lagoon begins anew


    The manatees are dying again. Between 2012 to 2015, state officials said 158 manatees died in Florida's Indian River Lagoon, once known as the most diverse ecosystem in America. They weren't alone — pelicans and dolphins died by the score in the polluted lagoon too. …

    There is no discernible pattern to the 167 manatees killed since 2012 by whatever is in the Indian River Lagoon — the victims are calves and adults, males and females.
  14. Captain's Corner: Snook plentiful in south Pinellas


    Snook fishing along the south beaches of Pinellas County has been amazingly productive. Large schools are hanging in the swash channels formed by wave motion right off the beach. The water clarity changes depending on the wind. If the wind is from the west, the water becomes cloudy, which makes it difficult to find schools. An easterly wind pushes the dirty water offshore, causing water to clear and making it easier to locate the large shadows along the beach. I drift with the tide and use my trolling motor to steer the boat. Once I see a dark shadow, I drop my shallow-water anchor and start fishing. Sometimes the shadow is one fish, or it might be a huge shadow, indicating a whole school. The shadow could be grass, but I target every shadow. Threadfin herring, a larger bait, has been producing the largest fish. The opening of Tampa Bay has been loaded with fish. The Egmont Key area has been thriving, too. Massive schools of small baitfish are in the deep hole off Egmont Key. Bonito, Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, blacktip sharks, and tarpon are feeding on these schools. …

  15. Nick Saban, Alabama rarely stray from top


    HOOVER, Ala. — The buzz began before the first chant of "Roll Tide Roll" echoed through the Wynfrey Hotel lobby and continued after the four-person police motorcade pulled away. Nick Saban was coming. …

    COLUMBIA, MO - OCTOBER 13:  Head coach Nick Saban watches from the sidelines during the game against the Missouri Tigers at Faurot Field/Memorial Stadium on October 13, 2012 in Columbia, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
  16. Take it Outside Planner: Scallop season is here, paddle the preserve, emergency beacon rental



    The gulf floor off Homosassa is prime scalloping territory.
  17. Carl Hiaasen: Enjoy your vacation on Playa Guacamole


    They say a picture tells a thousand words. If it's a picture of an algae-covered beach, it can also cancel thousands of hotel reservations. …

    Foul-smelling algae slops along the shore of the St. Lucie River in Stuart. The bloom has slimed Florida beaches on both coastlines.
  18. Nick Saban's influence evident with new Georgia coach Kirby Smart


    HOOVER, Ala. — Kirby Smart's coaching roots became apparent moments after he stepped to the stage at the Wynfrey Hotel on Tuesday for SEC media days. …

    Georgia coach Kirby Smart speaks to the media at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days, Tuesday, July 12, 2016, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson) ALBA102
  19. Across Tampa Bay, cities and counties enjoy rising tide of taxable property values


    After a debilitating illness and a prolonged recovery, Tampa Bay property values are finally healthy. Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties are projected to enjoy their fourth consecutive years of rising taxable property values in 2016. Hernando County expects a third straight year of growth. …

    Pinellas County Property Appraiser Pam Dubov attributes the growth in local property values to a decline in foreclosures on the market and a drop in the supply of homes for sale. 
[Cherie Diez, Times]
  20. Captain's Corner: Fish the best-moving tide


    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. …

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