Bass tour kickS off season on Lake Okeechobee
The mild winter has pro anglers hoping for big bass and record catches as the Forrest L. Wood Tour's season-opening event on Lake Okeechobee continues this weekend. The bite usually doesn't get into full swing until March but things could start a little earlier this year.
The FLW season, under way Thursday at Roland Martin's Marina & Resort in Clewiston, features many of the world's top bass anglers competing for $125,000 first prize. Clewiston native Scott Martin is a fan favorite and is coming off a win worth $600,000 at the 2011 Forrest L. Wood Cup in August on Lake Ouachita in Hot Springs, Ark. Martin caught a five-fish limit of 19 pounds, 4 ounces Thursday. Randall Tharp of Gardendale, Ala., leads Clewiston's Brandon McMillan by 2 ounces with a 33-pound, 7-ounce Day 1 limit. Fishing continues through Sunday. Follow the action at FLWoutdoors.com.
Turkey time nears
In 2011, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission established a special Youth Turkey Hunt weekend on private lands. The hunt proved so popular, state officials plan to do it again this year on all private land and 78 wildlife management areas (49 of which require a quota permit).
Young hunters can hit the woods in Zone A (the southern part of the state) Feb. 25-26, and March 10-11 everywhere else. A youth hunter must be under 16 years old and supervised by an adult 18 years or older. No license or permit is required, except for a quota permit in the WMAs.
The Youth Spring Turkey Hunt takes place the weekend before the regular turkey season, which runs March 17 through April 22 in zones B, C and D except for Holmes County. (Zone A, the area south of Tampa Bay, typically has earlier hunting seasons.)
Mel Berman, the longtime local radio host and angler, died two years ago this month, but anglers can pay homage to this fishing icon by entering the Captain Mel Trout & Redfish Classic.
Last year's inaugural tournament drew more than 150 anglers, and organizers are expecting a bigger field this year. The captains' meeting is 5:30 p.m. March 9 at the Fat Cat Tavern in Clearwater with fishing the next day.
Tournament boundaries include all "Pinellas County waters," and fishing will be strictly photo and release. This is an "all lure" and "all amateur" event. To learn more, go to capmel.com.
Send your outdoor news to Outdoors Editor Terry Tomalin at firstname.lastname@example.org, who can be reached at (727) 893-8808.