Monday, June 18, 2018

Outdoors news and notes: Air potatoes must go, grunt hunt, mammal camp

Making news

Park in need of Potato harvest

Ever come across funny-looking objects on the forest floor that look like potatoes? They are the perfect size and shape for throwing at a hiking companion, but please resist the urge. The invasive species, known as the "air potato," needs no help propagating.

In fact, the Tampa Bay Estuary Program and the Pinellas County Parks Department hopes to eradicate this exotic plant from Sawgrass Lake Park (7400 25th St. N) in St. Petersburg. Volunteers are needed to help collect air potatoes from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday from an area that has been recently treated under a habitat restoration project. Please wear closed-toe shoes and a long-sleeved shirt and pants, as well as a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and bug spray. For more information, go to


Time nears for angling grunt work

People love to catch grouper and snapper, but the white grunt, sometimes called the Key West grunt, rivals either species as table fare, plus it can be caught just about any time of the year. This bottom dweller may be the most underappreciated fish in the Gulf of Mexico.

But now, after years of neglect, this fine Florida fish will have its day thanks to the Madeira Beach Marina, which will sponsor the first Great American Grunt Hunt on March 24. The event, which has a modest $25 entry fee, will pay out $250 for the biggest, fattest grunt caught in local waters.

The captains' meeting is 7 p.m. Thursday at the Madeira Beach Marina (503 150th Ave.). Call (727) 399-2631 for information or go to

Things to Do

March 26-30: Mammalogy Camp, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Lake Maggiore Environmental Education Center in Boyd Hill Nature Preserve (1101 Country Club Way S) in St. Petersburg. A science-based camp for children ages 7-11 focusing on mammals with an emphasis on diversity, ecology and conservation of Florida species. Students will learn about everything from skull and fur identification to reading tracks. Taught by wildlife biologist and environmental educator George L. Heinrich. Cost: $140. Information: (727) 893-7326.

Send your news and notes to Outdoors Editor Terry Tomalin at ttomalin or call (727) 893-8808.

Solunar Chart


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3/17 2:20 8:25 2:35 8:50

3/18 3:05 9:15 3:25 9:35

3/19 3:50 9:55 4:05 10:20

3/20 4:35 10:35 4:45 11:00

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