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  1. STAR tourney offers chance for a prized ride

    Outdoors

    RUSKIN Leiza Fitzgerald swore me to secrecy. "You can't tell anybody where we released this fish," she said. "I mean nobody." …

    Leiza Fitzgerald, Trenton, Fl., prepares to release a tagged 21" Redfish into the waters of Tampa Bay, May 18, 2015. Fitzgerald is the STAR Tournament Director.
  2. Captain's Corner: Strong tides increase fish action

    Outdoors

    Strong tides this week have turned on the fish in north Pinellas. Incoming water flooding area passes has influenced snook to stage in troughs, cuts and sandy dropoffs. Usually facing into the tide, snook often wait for food to be forced in their direction. Always cast uptide and allow your offering to drift naturally. When fishing in swift current, try opening the bail on your reel to allow line to be pulled off by the tidal flow. This method can make your bait look more natural than a tight line. Once a fish grabs the bait, the line will pay out quickly. Flip the bait over and reel to get a positive hook set. Tarpon are slowly making their way up the coast. Single tarpon are being sight-fished by fly fishermen over the shallow bars from Caladesi Island to Anclote Island. A few pods have been spotted yards off the beaches. Casting baits floated 4-6 feet under a cork in front of migrating fish is an effective way to hook a tarpon. Once spotted, use a trolling motor or quietly drift into the zone. Long casts with the wind at your back will give you the best chance to get a bite. Trout are jumping on greenbacks freelined over shallow grass flats. Target flats with clear water and thick turtle grasses. Large sandy holes in the middle of these areas can be 2-3 feet deeper and will often hold the larger trout ambushing baits exposed in the sand. Place a small split shot a couple of feet above the hook and cast around the edges of the sand holes. Wait for the line to get tight and reel. …

  3. For summer, Adventure Island brings scream of a new water slide, Island Nights party

    Florida

    Adventure Island brought a screamer of a new water slide on board this summer called Colossal Curl, (above) a 622-foot-long thrill slide with a "weightless wave wall" that leaves riders a little breathless in the finale.  …

     Colossal Curl, the new thrill slide at Adventure Island
  4. USF wins region golf title, qualifies for NCAA final

    Colleges

    The USF men's golf team earned its first NCAA championship final berth Saturday with a 54-hole, wire-to-wire triumph in the New Haven (Conn.) Region. …

  5. Captain's Corner: Tarpon bite ridiculous

    Outdoors

    Welcome to summer. The heat and humidity make it feel like August already. There doesn't seem to be any relief this weekend. We're coming up on the new moon, so expect the afternoon tarpon bite to be crazy. The tarpon bite is ridiculous. It usually isn't this good until early June. They've been here by the thousands for at least two weeks. The best bite has been at Bean Pointe on the incoming tide. First thing in the morning, you want to drift crabs. Unfortunately as the tide starts ripping in, people anchor in the channel and use cut bait. This makes it impossible to set up a drift. You either have to join them or move. Using cut bait while chumming is productive but not for everyone. On the inshore scene, there are big schools of redfish all over the spoil islands. They're eating cut bait the best. Snook are on the beach first thing in the morning. Make sure to take care of them as they are there to spawn. …

    Mike Gore
  6. Souzou, an upscale Asian fusion concept, will join foodie scene in St. Petersburg in June

    Dining

    ST. PETERSBURG — Despite a densely populated restaurant landscape, downtown St. Petersburg in recent years played second fiddle to South Tampa, which welcomed a more notable array of high-end "destination restaurants." …

    Construction continues Thursday on Souzou, an Asian fusion restaurant, at 435 Fifth Ave. N in St. Petersburg. The 180-seat restaurant is scheduled to open June 22.
  7. Treasure Island official blames lawsuit for lack of beach grooming

    Localgovernment

    TREASURE ISLAND — Complaints about unkempt and ungroomed beaches have prompted City Manager Reid Silverboard to post a letter to the public on the city's website explaining the reason. …

    Seaweed lines the shore last week at Treasure Island. Hotel owners say a lawsuit over beach vehicles is not to blame.
  8. Captain's Corner: Tarpon migrating down west coast beaches

    Outdoors

    Tarpon are migrating down the west coast beaches. Watch for silver flashes as fish roll to breath. Any beach is a good place to start. I anchor right off the beach and wait; have the anchor attached to an anchor ball to avoid wasting time pulling it in. Pods of fish eventually move toward where I am anchored. Once a pod is found, I throw my anchor ball and get into position, careful not to disturb the fish. I use a 12-foot cast net to throw for bait. This allows me to fill the well quickly and to throw in deeper water. I have a variety of bait; you never know what tarpon will eat. Scaled sardines, or whitebait, are the top choice. Threadfin herring, or greenbacks, are just as good but are very sensitive and die quickly once their scales fall off. Crabs are floating on grass lines on outgoing tides. Use a long dip net to scoop them up. Approach schools of fish with care. Use a push pole or a trolling motor on the lowest setting to get close. Running motors will spook fish and shut them down. Tarpon head west to deeper water when spooked, making it hard to sight cast.  …

  9. Thursday's letters: Deep pockets pull legislative strings

    Letters

    Water farms' tides rising | May 11 Deep pockets pulling the strings …

  10. Hurricanes mean good surf — and danger

    Hurricanes

    Surfers love hurricanes because these low-pressure systems produce long lines of well-spaced waves that are easier to catch than the sloppy whitecaps of a typical winter cold front. …

    A surfer takes advantage of the high surf on Madeira Beach caused by the passing of Hurricane Rita.
  11. Storm passes – danger doesn't

    Hurricanes

    Most Floridians know that hurricanes bring strong winds, heavy rain, high tides and storm surge. If that's not enough to make you move inland, don't forget about flying debris and tornadoes. But there is much more to keep in mind, especially after the storm passes. …

  12. Secure your boat long before storm strikes

    Hurricanes

    The time to get your boat hurricane ready is now, not when there's a hurricane tracking up the Gulf of Mexico.  …

  13. Tampa Bay sea grass beds expand, show water is now as clean as it was in 1950

    Water

    Tampa Bay now supports 40,295 acres of sea grass beds, the largest amount of sea grass measured since the 1950s, a new study by scientists at the Southwest Florida Water Management District has found. …

    Then-Vice President Dan Quayle plants sea grass near the Gandy Bridge with Penny Hall of the Department of Natural Resources.
  14. A Civil War fact: Rebs won the final battle

    Incoming

    It's common knowledge that the four bloody years of the Civil War came to a solemn end when Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox — but it's not true.  …

    This is the Palmito Ranch Battlefield, scene of the last land battle of the Civil War.
  15. Sea rise threatens Florida coast, but there's no statewide plan to deal with it

    Environment

    ST. AUGUSTINE — America's oldest city is slowly drowning. …

    The Lightner Museum, housed in a building constructed in 1887, is seen the in St. Augustine, Fla. St. Augustine is one of many chronically flooded Florida communities afraid their buildings and economies will be inundated by rising seas in just a couple of decades. [Associated Press]
  16. In South Carolina, a Republican scramble to stand out

    Politics

    GREENVILLE, S.C. — Republicans making their pitch to be the party's 2016 presidential nominee aimed to out-do each other Saturday in arguing that President Barack Obama is a failed leader.  …

    Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says the U.S. must be tougher on terrorists. Rubio joined other candidates at a summit Saturday in Greenville, S.C.
  17. Liberia cautiously marks end of Ebola after 4,700 deaths

    World

    MONROVIA, Liberia — On the day Mercy Kennedy lost her mother to Ebola, it was hard to imagine a time when Liberia would be free from one of the world's deadliest viruses. It had swept through the 9-year-old's neighborhood, killing people house by house.  …

    Mercy Kennedy, left, sits with her caregiver  Martu Weefor, right, after school at her home in Monrovia, Liberia. On the day Mercy Kennedy lost her mother to Ebola, it was hard to imagine a time Liberia would be free of one of the world's deadliest viruses. It had swept through the 9-year-old's neighborhood, killing people house by house. Now seven months later, Liberia on Saturday officially marked the end of the epidemic that claimed more than 4,700 lives here, and Mercy is thriving in the care of a family friend not far from where she used to live. [Associated Press]
  18. Captain's Corner: No prescription for tarpon fever

    Outdoors

    For the next three months an epidemic will settle into our area. "Tarpon fever'' is highly contagious. I've had it for over 50 years. This time of year silver kings can be found both in the bays and out in the gulf. A big wad of tarpon has been roaming around the G-Cut, a section of the ships channel well up inside Tampa Bay. Another bunch has been ganged up near Port Manatee. I've observed rolling tarpon at the Skyway Bridge each of the last couple times I've passed through it this week. Coming off of last weekend's full moon, there had been tarpon in the hole at the north end of Egmont Key. They have been off Bean Point at the northern end of Anna Maria too, and Redington Long Pier. Mangrove snapper also are still chewing along the edges of the ships channel inside the Skyway. We caught more than 40 on Thursday during the last of the outgoing tide. Grouper have settled in too. Perfect sized whitebait are on the grass flats practically everywhere. We got ours on the north end approach to the Skyway. …

  19. Captain's Corner: Windy weather limits game plans

    Outdoors

    Windy weather has severely limited the game plan this week. Tucking into creeks and coves throughout Tampa Bay in search of snook has been the only option at times. Pitching live-scaled sardines under mangrove branches will put you in the zone for close-quarters snook action. What many of these snook lack in size they more than make up for with their scrappy fighting. Many larger snook have transitioned out of the creeks where they winter; however, we have been hooking a few big fish every trip. Medium-sized tackle with 15-pound braid and a 30- or 40-pound fluorocarbon leader is preferred for most situations, but have a few larger rods on board for throwing baits around the small bridges that are holding big snook and a few small tarpon. Casting your bait far enough under the mangroves to get a bite requires precision casting. Expect plenty of hangups and breakoffs, especially at higher tides. Bring plenty of rods and have them rigged so if the fish turn on, you aren't rerigging during the bite. Also, try hooking your sardine closer to the tail to get it to swim away from you. This makes it easier to get back under the mangroves. Getting enough bait so you can toss out freebies to fire up the snook has been tricky but worth the effort. Plenty of scaled sardine schools are roaming the grass flats in southern Tampa Bay. Find the birds, mix chum and you should be in business. …

  20. Column: Ruling shores up judiciary's integrity

    Columns

    Last week the U.S. Supreme Court quietly rebuffed a First Amendment challenge to a Florida law that prohibits judicial candidates — whether incumbent judges seeking re-election or lawyer candidates seeking to be elected to the bench — from personally soliciting campaign contributions. The case, Williams-Yulee vs. the Florida Bar, originated in Hillsborough County. …

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