Sunday, January 21, 2018

Outdoors news and notes: Rotary Club of Clearwater sponsors kingfish event, April marks change in fishing seasons

Making news

March of the Kingfish events continue

The Rotary Club of Clearwater will host its 20th annual kingfish tournament on April 14 out of the Clearwater Harbor Marina at Coachman Park. The event starts 6 p.m. Thursday with the Fishing for Charities Gala at the Harborview Center (300 Cleveland St., Clearwater). This kid-friendly event will include a game zone, touch tank and the movie A Dolphin Tale. Admission is $20 for adults and $10 for children under 12. The tournament has an entry fee of $250 a boat and will pay $5,000 for the heaviest king mackerel. To learn more, visit


Many grouper species in season

April 1 was a big day for anglers who fish the Gulf of Mexico. Spiny lobster is now off limits for divers until July 25-26 for the two-day sport season. Regular lobster season opens Aug. 6.

Several species of grouper — including red, black, yellowfin, yellowmouth, rock hind, red hind and scamp — are now fair game in state waters of the Gulf of Mexico (to 9 miles offshore). The season remains open through Jan. 31.

Anglers north of Tampa Bay in Taylor, Jefferson, Wakulla and Franklin counties — including all waters of the Steinhatchee River, Apalachicola Bay and Indian Pass — can also fish for gag grouper through June 30. But these regulations will only be in effect for 2012.

Anglers in the rest of the state (excluding the previously mentioned counties) will have their grouper season in both state and federal waters from July 1 through Oct. 31. To learn more about the gag grouper season in the Gulf of Mexico, visit and click on "Saltwater" and "Latest News-Hot Topics."

Remember, when fishing for grouper in the gulf, federal law requires the use of circle hooks and having a dehooking device and venting tools aboard the boat.

Free fishing days

Florida has announced four free fishing days and the first one (freshwater fishing only) is Saturday. You won't need a license, just a rod, reel and bait. The other free-fishing dates are June 2 (saltwater), June 9 (freshwater) and Sept. 1 (saltwater).

Solunar Chart


minor major minor major

4/6 5:30 11:40 5:50 0

4/7 6:20 12:05 6:55 12:45

4/8 7:30 1:15 8:00 1:45

4/9 8:30 2:20 9:05 2:50

4/10 9:35 3:25 10:10 3:55

4/11 10:40 4:30 11:15 5:00

4/12 11:45 5:35 0 6:05

Send your news to Outdoors Editor Terry Tomalin at [email protected] or call (727) 893-8808.


Captainís Corner: Live baits outperforming artificials

Amberjack have been the hot topic in the area since their season opened Jan. 1. Anglers have been targeting wrecks and other large structures in depths of 80-120 feet for these tackle-testing monsters. Although amberjack are caught on a wide variety ...
Updated: 12 hours ago

Captainís Corner: What to expect from fish coming out of the cold spell

Extreme cold has brought backcountry water temperatures down. As in years past, extreme dips have shocked many fish, especially snook, which take the biggest hit and become extremely lethargic and often near death. Luckily the cold wonít be long, and...
Published: 01/19/18

Captainís Corner: Divers, anglers going after amberjack

Over the past two weeks divers and anglers have been in search of amberjack. The season opened Jan. 1 and ends Jan. 27. The short season for gulf amberjack has pushed many divers and anglers to venture offshore, even in questionable weather. Donít fo...
Published: 01/18/18

Captainís Corner: Cold weather brings different but effective fishing styles

This past week has seen a variety of different fishing styles prove effective. Fishing for trout in deeper depressions with live shrimp has provided steady action. Rig as follows: Use a ?-ounce jighead, grab a shrimp from the well and pinch the tail ...
Published: 01/17/18

Captainís Corner: Devise a strategy before heading out into the cold

The quality of fishing this month depends on how many cold fronts are in our future. When the water creeps down below 60 degrees, many fish will slow their metabolism in order to survive. They require less food than in the warmer months, making some ...
Published: 01/16/18

Captainís Corner: Make sure the fly gets in front of a hungry fish

Back-to-back winter cold fronts not only confuse inshore fish but the fly fishers who pursue them. The most perfectly tied fly is not effective unless it is in front of a fish that is anxious to eat it. The best daytime tides, very low early and inco...
Published: 01/12/18
Updated: 01/14/18

Captainís Corner: Cold, windy days just fine for trout fishing

Trout have been my most productive target during the start of this new year. Winter cold fronts and cold water are making conditions difficult to target snook and reds. Strong winds from passing fronts make it hard to work the shallow-water flats. Th...
Published: 01/12/18
Updated: 01/13/18

Captainís Corner: Cold driving out kings, but there are alternatives

Mother Nature gives and she takes away. Nature gave us warm water and great king fishing until Dec. 31. She ushered in the new year with a severe cold front with high winds and rough seas that kept us in port every day. The cold air and overcast skie...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Captainís Corner: Techniques for catching (and cooking) tasty sheepshead

Cold water has fishing in sort of slow motion. Middle bay temperatures (Gandy area) are holding in the 54-56 degree range. During this time of year the stalking of large snook and redfish take a back seat to finesse fishing and trying to figure out w...
Published: 01/10/18
Captainís Corner: Colder weather calls for different approaches

Captainís Corner: Colder weather calls for different approaches

With colder weather the first big change is what bait to use. Before the cold fronts in the first week we were using greenbacks and catching a bunch of snook. With the cold weather that has hit us we are now shifting gears and using shrimp and throwi...
Published: 01/08/18
Updated: 01/09/18