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  1. Captain's Corner: Tarpon migration along Pinellas beaches

    Outdoors

    The tarpon migration continues along Pinellas beaches. It has been an excellent first part of the season. Favorable winds have made for ideal conditions for spotting incoming pods of fish. With the holiday weekend here, you better be sitting on your favorite stretch of beach in the dark waiting for the sun to come up. Tarpon have been easiest to spot in that first hour of daylight. That's when the fish are "happy" and can be seen milling and slowly drifting with the tide. A well-placed cast with a live pinfish, threadfin, scaled sardine or crab will usually draw a strike. Once the sun is a bit higher, the fish don't show as much but are still there. Anchoring up in the same lanes where you've been spotting fish and keeping fresh baits out is a good option. Keep one rod baited and ready in case fish pop up. Catch-and-release snook fishing has been good. Pods of snook can be spotted all along the beach cruising the swash channel. Free-line grass grunts or frisky threadfins around the schools for a shot at big snook. Along with snook have been schools of adult trout and the occasional redfish. Fish smaller pinfish or pilchards when targeting redfish and trout. …

  2. County planners say decisions about Dunedin Causeway near

    Growth

    DUNEDIN — After more than a year of gathering information and public opinion about the two Dunedin Causeway bridges connecting Honeymoon Island to the mainland, county planners say a final decision on what to do with them is near. …

    Bryan Lynch strolls on the south side of the drawbridge at the Dunedin Causeway. It’s one of two “functionally obsolete” bridges in the study.
  3. Senator promises to study issues of concern to residents on Weeki Wachee River

    Environment

    WEEKI WACHEE For nearly two hours last week, state Sen. Wilton Simpson listened to a crowd of people worried about the condition of the Weeki Wachee River. …

    State Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, vowed to get a task force on the river problem.
  4. 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. …

  5. Captain's Corner: Kingfish crawl

    Sports

    If you've not had your fill, kingfish are still being caught along the outer markers of the Ships' Channel. Slow troll Spanish sardines, cigar minnows and greenbacks bunched around the cans. Scattered blackfin tuna have been mixed in, particularly around markers 1 and 2 and The Whistler. Mangrove snapper are cooperating on seemingly every piece of structure. Last weekend we caught them plus grouper and mackerel in 45 feet just south of the channel. We did as well on chunked dead stuff as on live whitebaits. Around here, the next couple of months mean tarpon time. If you didn't get in on the preferred tides during the days surrounding Saturday's full moon, don't worry. The few days before and after the June 4 new moon promise to be just as good. The crab flush will be in full swing during stronger than normal afternoon outgoing tides. Tarpon instinctively know where the largest concentrations pour out and gather in those passes to take advantage. Though there are many options, the north and south ends of Egmont Key often hold big numbers of silver kings. Whether drifting a crab, fly-lining a greenback or chunking a dead bait, the Skyway Bridge always deserves a look during these moon phases. …

  6. Captain's Corner: It's a great time to target tarpon

    Outdoors

    Tarpon fishing is the biggest thing happening along the Suncoast. Full moon outgoing tides are moving lots of water which transports millions of swimming crabs, shrimp, and small fish from the estuaries to the Gulf. On the Suncoast, many inlets from John's Pass to Tarpon Springs are likely to have at least a few tarpon lingering around. Generally speaking the larger the pass, the more tarpon it will have. By far the biggest in our area is the Egmont Key channel, where much of the Tampa Bay estuary squeezes through the cut, concentrating the food sources to maximum levels. The tarpon action can be crowded at times, but there is usually somewhere to find hungry fish outside the main feeding zone. The small swimming crabs that the tarpon gorge upon flow all around the area, not just in the main channel. One of my favorite places is along the shallow edges of adjacent sand bars or flats. The fish here feed by gently sipping crabs from the surface without making a big splash. It takes patience and a good eye to notice them, then getting hooked up is easy. Simply cast a live crab well up-current from the spot you see them and allow it to drift naturally with the tide. …

  7. From the archive: One man, a kayak, the open, angry sea — Solitude is the quest

    Outdoors

    Editor's note: This was the first of a three-part series chronicling Times outdoor writer Terry Tomalin's 75-mile journey down the west coast of Florida in a sea kayak. It appeared in print on Feb. 23, 1993. EVERGLADES CITY — The ranger appeared amused at my plan. …

  8. Captain's Corner: It's tarpon time

    Outdoors

    Tarpon fishing has turned on along the north Pinellas coast. Fish are moving up from South Florida and out from the rivers to the mouth of Tampa Bay. The migrating silver kings continue their migration along the beaches, turning in and out of the passes with the tides to forage on bait and seeking protection from sharks in open water. On calm mornings with light winds, it's easy to spot them rolling as they ingest air into their swim bladder. Often they're moving quickly in pods, "greyhound-ing," as they move north or south. Those fish are hard to catch. Fish that are slowly rolling in a tight circle or "daisy chaining" are easier. They are apt to eat a sardine, threadfin, grunt or especially small crab placed in their path. Many anglers will choose a lane along the beach that the tarpon are likely to follow. Always give other boats a wide berth as you look for your own lane to work. Try moving quietly with a trolling motor to position yourself in front of the fish. Lead them by several yards if possible. Tarpon spook easily if baits are cast directly onto the school. Remember to use heavier gear when targeting tarpon. Although a long fight on light tackle is fun, it's harmful to the fish. A boat-side picture with the fish in the water is less stressful to them and will help in a quick recovery. …

  9. Pinellas County Commission talks strategy for BP money

    Growth

    CLEARWATER — With the help of dry-erase boards, cushy chairs, boxed lunches and wide-screen computer projectors, Pinellas County commissioners spent almost six hours in a St. Petersburg College classroom Thursday deciding criteria for the $7.2 million BP settlement.  …

  10. Sports in brief

    Sports

    COLLEGES TIDE STAR FACING DRUG, WEAPONS CHARGES …

  11. Captain's Corner: Snook tips

    Outdoors

    Snook and the water temperature have bounced back after the front, though it took a few days. You might find that the snook you were on have moved, some far away but some only a few hundred yards. Either way there are a variety of shad tail-type bats as well as spoons that work fantastic to search out new pods. The big females seem to have separated from the males in preparation for the spawn. Redfish are scattered about the flats and mixed in with snook of similar size. Cut threadfin herring are top baits for the live bait crowd; you can't beat a sardine and a small pinfish is a close second. Gold or bronze spoons are perfect for tossing in and around the mullet schools. Trout are all over in the 15- to 17-inch range and are feeding well on an incoming tide. Look for deep water nearby with good flow and fish the edges of the grass and sand. The bigger fish have been on the sand and choose to strike when you least expect it. Cobia have finally made a good push into the bay. Look on the backs of stingrays and manatees. Some of the places they are found you can fish trout or mackerel with a chum bag out, which draws in the rays. Cobia follow, waiting for the rays to spook up an unsuspecting pinfish or crab. …

  12. Captain's Corner: Tarpon showing up on beaches, bridges

    Outdoors

    Well, it didn't take long for the weather to heat up. It's good to see the consistent strong winds of the past four months have subsided. The mornings are hot, but at least we get the afternoon sea breeze. If you are a tarpon angler, then you are in luck. Tarpon are starting to show up thick on the beaches and bridges. You have to work a little to get one to eat, but they are eating. Threadfins have been the bait of choice but expect that to change next weekend with the full moon. I expect them to key in on the crabs with the afternoon hill tides. The bite should be in full swing after next weekend's full moon. If you want to catch a fish of a lifetime, get out on the water the next couple of months. There's nothing better than watching a 6-foot, 150-pound tarpon jumping in the air time after time. The snook bite is hot as they start to fatten up for the spawn. They have been more aggressive in the late morning and afternoon. When you first get to a spot, throw out the biggest bait you have in the water without chumming. This usually entices the bigger fish to eat. After about 15 minutes throw out some chum to get the snook all fired up. …

  13. Tell Me About It: Shy guy is having an identity crisis

    Relationships

    Q: I like to think of myself as a well-put-together person. I'm educated, have a good job, responsible, etc. But I'm starting to see signs that I'm just kidding myself. I dress well for my job, but rarely go through a day without spilling something on my tie. …

  14. Captain's Corner: Gearing up for tarpon fishing

    Outdoors

    Silver kings are cruising the beaches on their yearly migration up and down the west coast of Florida. Next week's strong full moon tides and the strong new moon tides in two weeks provide some of the best tarpon action you will see. Tarpon will congregate in the 90-foot hole off Egmont Key, waiting for the falling tide. Once the current is its fastest, crabs will go out with the tide. Tarpon are in the hole waiting for the flush of crabs to fall with tide. Two of the biggest mistakes people make while drifting for tarpon is dipping crabs in the "drift" and running on plane through the pack of boats that are fishing. Crabs are all over; there's no reason to interrupt everyone's drift. Once the drift is over, go out and around the pack of boats, not through the fish and people who are fishing. Running on plane will disrupt the fish and cause unnecessary boat wakes. I gear up and use heavy tackle for tarpon. A 60 or 80 series reel loaded with 80-pound braid on a 7'6" rod rated for 100 pounds will work. Eighty-pound flourocarbon leader with a 7/0 J hook will finish the rigging with plenty of fighting power to land the fish as quickly as possible. …

  15. Economists say recession threat looms for next president, whether it's Trump, Clinton or someone else

    Business

    The last national recession smacked Florida so hard in so many ways, it's hard to believe that wrenching downturn officially ended way back in June 2009. …

     Whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton (or someone else) is elected president doesn't matter, economists say: The U.S. is likely going to have a recession during the first term of the next president. Washington Post photo by Melina Mara.
  16. Review: Engel's 'Veins of the Ocean' a poignant voyage toward freedom

    Books

    Reina Castillo has spent most of her life waiting. …

  17. Longtime Tarpon Springs boat builder to construct state research vessel

    Water

    TARPON SPRINGS Junior Duckworth has been building boats in Tarpon Springs for 44 years, usually specializing in fishing boats, scallop, clam and ferry boats. But on June 1, he will begin work on something new: a $6 million state research vessel. …

    Bobby Reese, from left, of Tarpon Springs, Jason Haynes of New Port Richey and Tom Davis of Tarpon Springs install a Caterpillar 1,350 horsepower marine engine in the hull of the deep-sea scalloper.
  18. DeWitt: Even with political enemies, Murray Grubbs always was engaging

    Local

    Even with the recent passing of Murray Grubbs — friendly, funny and folksy as he was — we shouldn't get too sentimental about the collegial good old days of local politics. After all, Grubbs, who died last week at age 87, played a part in bringing modern partisanship to Hernando County. …

  19. Captain's Corner: Kingfish sticking around

    Outdoors

    By now, I've usually put away my kingfish tackle and turned to the back-breaking, drag-screaming thrill of tarpon. This year I'm waiting a minute because there are plenty of kings yet to be caught. On Thursday we caught all we wanted by 10 a.m. at Markers 1 and 2 in the Egmont Channel. An acre of Spanish sardines has settled around the buoys, and it's no surprise the kings have found them. There are bonito in with them, and you'll likely deal with a shark or two, but the action is fast and furious. We also observed schools of high-rolling, tail-slapping tarpon in the tide at the 90-foot hole at Egmont, and there have been fish at the Skyway bridge for weeks. Many early season tarpon infiltrate bays and backwaters. Terra Ceia Bay and the Manatee River have long been personal favorite "honey holes." In Tampa Bay the first places we'll peek at are the "Bootleg," Gadsen Point, "Westinghouse" and "Lizard Flats". If you don't mind fishing in a crowd, Bean Point can be as productive as anywhere. If looking for a little something better to eat, mangrove snapper continue to roam the rocky edges of the ships channel. On Saturday we caught mangrove snapper, red and gag grouper and a cobia bouncing the bottom with whitebait and pinfish at the mouth of Tampa Bay. …

  20. Captain's Corner: Trout fishing at its best

    Outdoors

    Trout action is at spring peak. Catching strong numbers of large fish is the easiest it is any time of year. This action will slow as the water temperature warms later in the month. Enjoy it while it's hot. Trout targeting is very simple. Go with light tackle, light line, light leader and light lures. Make long casts over largely grass bottom areas. Tampa Bay's most prolific fish, trout, are very cooperative, even on poorer tides. They will see lures, follow lures, then eat the lures. The strike is gentle. Their mouths are soft so let them do the work setting the hook, then fight them smoothly to you to prevent fish from pulling free. Trout are good for the dinner table. The regulations for trout in this region: four fish per angler per day, 15-20 inches. One of the four fish can be more than 20 inches. …

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