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  1. Captain's Corner: Cold-water fishing tips

    Outdoors

    Fishing had been good right up to this recent cold front. Although the outside air will warm quickly, water temperatures will climb more slowly. Florida fish are mostly subtropical, preferring warmer waters. Species more tolerant of cooler waters during these cold snaps are spotted sea trout, silver trout, sheepshead and redfish. Live shrimp is best for live bait fishing, and slowly worked artificials can be effective. It might take a couple of days for fish to acclimate to the steep drop in temperature, so success will vary based on conditions. Any shrimp-imitation-style lures bounced along the bottom slowly and patiently can get a reaction strike from fish warming in the sun. Focus on east-facing shorelines since they receive direct sun first thing in the morning. Also edges of flats less exposed to high winds will hold fish, especially on falling tides that have had waters heated by the sun. Darker colors tend to work best on dark, muddy bottoms in the canals and back bays. …

  2. Captain's Corner: Change fishing tactics with cold weather

    Outdoors

    Water temperatures have plummeted of late, requiring a change of tactics in fishing for gag grouper. After trolling large plugs in 30-40 feet, overcome murky water by anchoring and letting the fish sniff you out. A little chum during slower tides goes a long way. The size of many of these fish is astounding. We've landed grouper up to 18 pounds. The murky water from consecutive cold fronts has made the larger gags more apt to bite. The three days after a cold front is a great time to target these larger fish because as the temperature falls, the fish are more cooperative in deeper water. Start in 40 feet and work your way to 60 toward warmer water. …

  3. Captain's Corner: Low tides, cold fronts can benefit fishing

    Outdoors

    Low tides combined with passing cold fronts can lead to rewarding fishing. Northeast winds blowing 20 mph and an astronomical low tide around the new moon result in a low tide that empties the bay and exposes every nook and cranny that reds and trout hang out. Take your boat along the edge of the sandbar and look for cuts that lead into the flat, which are dry from the cold front. Strong outgoing tides form channels through the sandbar that reds and trout use to move on and off of the flat. Anchor far enough from the channel so as not to block the path of the moving fish. With colder air temperatures, bring neoprene waders, gloves, boots and a belt. Use a 7-foot rod rigged with 10-pound braid and 25-pound leader. Soft plastic baits on red quarter-ounce jighead are my favorite. Any eel-type or grub plastic tail works. Throw the jig in the sandy areas and let it hit bottom every time, creating a poof of sand to imitate a crab or shrimp. …

  4. Captain's Corner: Speckled sea trout action strong

    Outdoors

    Speckled sea trout becomes one of the most reliable targets this time of year. The grass flats are usually empty because of extreme low tides, causing high concentrations of fish on the edges of the flats. And no live bait is needed. There are a number of lures out there that work well for sea trout. A red quarter-ounce jig head with eyes painted on it, rigged with a soft plastic tail is my favorite. My choices of colors for tails are root beer, white and a color called electric chicken. The tail can be a shrimp look alike, eel type, paddle tail grub or a minnow type with a swimming tail. Trout shake their head vigorously out of the water when they are hooked, so I use super glue to keep the tail in place. Top water plugs are my next favorite, providing an impressive strike on the surface, but you also get a lot of misses. …

  5. Playoff system is a success, but FSU should be No. 1

    College

    You just knew this was going to happen. College football finally ditches the controversial BCS system and puts together a four-team playoff and now, every week, we have more bedlam than ever before. …

  6. Captain's Corner: Fishing hot for trout, redfish, sharks, cobia

    Outdoors

    Fall fishing is in full swing, with an incredible bite on the flats and backcountry of Tampa Bay. With water temperatures in the low 60s, the trout, redfish, sharks and cobia are the best bet for Thanksgiving week. Redfish, snook and the big gator trout have been plentiful the length of Tampa Bay. Good schools of redfish are roaming almost every flat, while snook are in the creeks and rivers looking for warmer water. Fishing the low incoming tide. Cobia are showing up on the flats around the power plants on the back of rays and manatees. Also check buoys, markers and the flats around the power plants. Anchor up, put out a chum block and wait for the cobia and sharks to arrive . The flats at the power plants are also holding jack crevalle and ladyfish. …

  7. Another shutout puts 'Backs in bowl

    Sports

    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas officials lowered the goal posts in anticipation of a second straight week of onrushing fans. The rain-soaked Razorbacks faithful stayed in the bleachers this time, though the celebration in Fayetteville was every bit as emphatic as a week ago.  …

  8. Alabama claims No. 1, FSU stays at 3 in CFP

    Sports

    Alabama is the new No. 1 in the college football playoff rankings, and Mississippi State remains in the top four after losing to the Crimson Tide.  …

  9. Captain's Corner: Cold weather is not all bad

    Outdoors

    Big changes in weather patterns have translated into some inconsistent fishing for much of the bay area. As near-shore waters begin to clean, we now brace for more weather coming this weekend. Although water temperatures have dropped into the 60s, all is not lost. As the bait began to make its way back along the beach midweek, so did the mackerel and kingfish. With most kings cruising 5-10 miles offshore, artificial reefs are holding bait and kingfish, so slow trolling live blue runners both on top and on the downrigger will give you the best opportunity for hooking the larger fish. Inshore, full moon negative low tides will help fishing for redfish, snook and trout. Bottom-bouncing soft-plastic jigs through schools of black mullet has been effective the last couple of days. Huge schools of pre-spawn mullet can be found cruising the outer edges of the flats on this extreme low water. Flats that parallel a channel are often the best. …

  10. Captain's Corner: Snook activity picking up in area rivers

    Outdoors

    Take advantage of area rivers that are really picking up with snook activity. Falling water temperature is causing snook and baby tarpon to head upriver to their winter haunts. Many fish that have been around river mouths, bridges and on beaches are migrating upriver and making feeding stops. Structure is the key as any diversion from a smooth bank often holds baitfish. Points, sand holes, channels, fallen trees and small mangrove islands must all be explored. Don't spend a lot of time in one spot. Cast accurately with baitfish patterns the size and color of what you see in the water. A cast that lands 3 feet from structure will not produce as well as one that is within inches or under fish holding obstacles. Watch your temperature gauge. Warmer water of only a couple degrees can be a hot spot. Fish will often be in groups, so when one or two are caught, continue fishing the area thoroughly. Keeping the boat parallel to shore with an electric motor, two experienced fly casters can work an area using different setups. For example, one with a floating line with a smaller fly and the other with a sink tip and a larger one. Most experienced river anglers prefer an outgoing tide, but often an incoming is better. …

  11. Group calls for overhaul of Florida prison system

    Crime

    Florida's prison system needs a massive overhaul to stem the tide of corruption, mismanagement and inmate abuse that has plagued the agency not just of late, but for decades, a report issued Thursday says. …

  12. Meal offerings expand to supper at some Hernando schools

    K12

    SPRING HILL — Spring Hill Elementary School prekindergartener Eric Tippin held up his dinner roll, declaring, "This is my bun." …

  13. Tampa's Kennedy Blvd. reopens to traffic (w/video)

    Roads

    TAMPA — The Kennedy Boulevard drawbridge reopened to traffic Wednesday night. "The bridge is safe, and normal operation may resume," the Florida Department of Transportation said in an announcement shortly before 7:30 p.m. …

  14. Monday's letters: Ad's content made a difference

    Letters

    Money turned the tide | Nov. 6 Content, not cash, made difference …

  15. Captain's Corner: Flats strategies

    Outdoors

    Cooler air has lowered the water temperature quickly along the coast. High northeast winds have pushed the water off of the flats, forcing many fish to dwell in the remaining potholes. Sunny days will heat the shallow waters quickly, encouraging redfish and trout to forage on baits making their way through the strike zones. Sardines are harder to locate after strong cold fronts, so live or artificial shrimp can be effective. Use a small split shot to gain distance when casting a shrimp towards the holes along the edges of a flat. Using a float can be very effective in waters 3 to 4 feet deep. For artificial shrimp, use a light eighth-ounce jighead and a bronze-colored plastic shrimp or even paddle tail jigs. Cast along the edge of the larger sand holes and let the jig work the entire hole slowly. Fish rarely chase a bait aggressively in cooler water, making shrimp a great choice. Target the falling tides as the warmer water pours across the flats stimulating a better bite while pushing fish towards the holes and edges. Many species will inhabit these areas. Be ready for redfish, trout, flounder, jacks and ladyfish. …

  16. Tuesday's letters: On health care, Legislature should do the right thing

    Letters

    Health care reform Do the right thing: Add coverage …

  17. A real threat to our quality of life: Christmas Creep

    Columns

    Already in the CVSes of this world they have begun and completed their unholy work, stripping the shelves of their cheery weight of candy corn and filling them with green and red foil boxes of seasonal truffles. Yes, Halloween is over. But they were at it before. …

  18. Big Ten, 12 set to clash for final bid

    Sports

    The selection committee for the first college football playoff could wind up choosing between a Big 12 team and a Big Ten team for the final spot. Baylor of the Big 12 and Ohio State of the Big Ten took big steps forward in the Associated Press Top 25 poll Sunday after winning crucial road games.  …

  19. East Bay Fishing Report for Oct. 31

    Outdoors

    What's hot: Snook and redfish are on fire. The fish are staging in the creeks, canals and backwater passes in droves. Seeing more than 30 snook on the right tide is not uncommon. The recent spawns have lots of pups swarming the baits, but the big mamas are there, too. …

  20. For fans, college football poses wedding dilemma

    Relationships

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Emily Younker isn't getting married until next year, but she's already made sure the date doesn't conflict with college football and sent one invitation: to Big Al, the elephant mascot of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide.  …

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