Monday, December 18, 2017

Outdoors news and notes: Bass tour begins season on Lake Okeechobee

Making news

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


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.)


Remembering Mel

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

Send your outdoor news to Outdoors Editor Terry Tomalin at [email protected], who can be reached at (727) 893-8808.


Captainís Corner: Go with live shrimp in deep water

Water temperatures are around 62 degrees throughout most of the bay, so bait has pushed off deep and, for the most part, been ineffective. The cooler water has the fish hunkered down and their metabolism has slowed. When this happens, the inshore fis...
Published: 12/16/17
Updated: 12/17/17

Captainís Corner: Bottom fishing is good with dropping gulf water temperatures

The past few weeks have delivered lots of cold air, dropping water temperatures in the gulf. Thermometers are reading in the low 60s. This is going to change a few things closer to shore. Anglers will find an absence of kingfish on many of the spots ...
Published: 12/16/17

Captainís Corner: Look for that strong speckled trout bite on grass flats

The speckled trout bite has taken off nicely after the first good cold front last weekend. You will find a consistent bite along the grass flats from Apollo Beach down to Pinellas Point. The sweet spot seems to be 4-6 feet of water. If you can find s...
Published: 12/15/17

Captainís Corner: Drop in gulf water temperature means itís sea trout time

The gulf temperature has dropped significantly since our first real cold front last week. One day the water was in the mid 70s, then after the front, it fell to the low 60s. That caused speckled sea trout to become a reliable target. Redfish have bee...
Published: 12/14/17

Captainís Corner: Good time for shallow-water flats fishing

Shallow-water flats fishing can be very exciting this time of year. Trout and redfish are available in good numbers, and the opportunities to catch some gator trout have made recent trips very rewarding. Some of the largest trout have been in very sk...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/13/17

Captainís Corner: Seek clear water for bottom fishing as temperatures plummet

The great weather, calm seas and exceptional fishing we experienced at the end of November and beginning of December came to a screeching halt with the cold front that came through. Surface water temperatures plummeted from an unseasonable 71 degrees...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17

Captainís Corner: Sheepshead action lively in cooler weather

Conditions after the cold front are cool and are going to be for a while. That doesnít mean you canít or shouldnít fish. Many anglers get stuck on snook, reds and trout and forget how fun it is to catch sheepshead. Many reefs are already holding good...
Published: 12/09/17
Updated: 12/10/17

Captainís Corner: Fishing will return to normal, but when?

The severity of this cold front will determine the fishing forecast for the next several days. Bait that had been abundant inshore will scatter. Nearshore gulf waters will muddy, and water temperatures. at least temporarily. will plummet. How cold, h...
Published: 12/08/17
Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

I canít believe we are in the last month of the year. And while this is one of my favorite months to fish, it will be controlled by weather. As cold fronts become more frequent and harsh, planning your trips around them will make the biggest differen...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/09/17

Captainís Corner: Strong results for redfish, speckled trout

This is a great time for variety. Combined trips for speckled trout and redfish are achieving excellent results. With the correct approach, great catches of both species are a reality now. The best anglers use the lightest tackle. Light rods and reel...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17