Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Outdoors

Outdoors news and notes: St. Petersburg sailor Ed Baird reaches semifinals of greatest U.S. sailor contest

Making news

St. Petersburg Sailor Falls Final Four vote

Who is the greatest American sailor? St. Petersburg's Ed Baird, a past winner of the America's Cup as a helmsman and as a coach, recently made it to the final four of an online contest sponsored by U.S. Sailing to determine the United States' best sailor. Baird, who got his start at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, lost to Dennis Conner in the semifinals. Not too shabby, considering Conner has four Cup wins, an Olympic medal and three yachtsman of the year awards.

The contest, which ends Monday at 11:59 p.m., started with 64 sailors, a format similar to the old NCAA basketball tournament. There were four divisions, and sailors were seeded 1 through 16 in each. In addition to Baird and Conner, the list of living legends included Clearwater's Paige and Zach Railey, St. Petersburg's Mark Mendelblatt, USF women's sailing coach Allison Jolly, Buddy Melges, and Anna Tunnicliffe.

Sailing fans can cast a vote and receive a chance to win a grand prize that includes the ultimate America's Cup experience next month in San Francisco. In the finals, Conner will face Melges, who won the 1972 Olympic gold medal in Soling. Vote at ussailingentry.com.

Public Safety

Season stimulates large reptiles

It's hot and humid, the kind of weather that puts alligators on the move. These cold-blooded reptiles love the summer, when they can fatten up on fish, turtles, ducks and more.

Florida is home to two native crocodilian species: the American alligator, which is found in every county in the state, and the American crocodile, which is confined to the coastal areas of southeast and southwest Florida. Both reptiles can be dangerous, so anglers and boaters should give them a wide berth.

Alligators typically grab prey in the water, or within a yard or two of the water's edge. In two-thirds of the attacks on humans, the victim never sees the gator coming. In most cases, the gator strikes from beneath. Most attacks occur in residential areas — canals, lakes, golf course ponds — where the reptiles have grown accustomed to seeing humans. The best advice to avoid becoming a statistic is to stay out of freshwater at dawn, dusk and at night, when gators are most active.

If you encounter an alligator that poses a threat to you, your pets or property, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's nuisance alligator hotline toll-free at 1-866-392-4286. To learn more, go to MyFWC.com/alligator.

Send outdoors news to [email protected]

Solunar chart

AM PM

Minor Major Minor Major

7/13 1:45 7:50 2:00 8:10

7/14 2:25 8:30 2:40 8:55

7/15 3:10 9:15 3:25 9:40

7/16 3:55 10:00 4:10 10:25

7/17 4:35 10:45 4:55 11:10

7/18 5:25 11:35 5:45 0

7/19 6:15 12:00 6:30 12:20



Comments

Captainís Corner: Warming waters, better visibility are good signs

Scuba and freediving spearfishermen and women have enjoyed great underwater visibility over the past week. Some boaters going offshore can make out the bottom structure from the gunnel of the boat. Best depths for visibility have been in 30 to 40 fee...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/19/18

Captainís Corner: Flats coming to life in north Pinellas County

The flats are really coming to life in north Pinellas County. Our main focus this time of year is spotted sea trout, though redfish are cooperating and schooling a bit. Snook are also responding to the warm weather, occasionally eating on the falling...
Published: 02/18/18

Captainís Corner: Bait a challenge, but effort will pay off

Bait has made its way into the bay and is on nearly every marker. The problem: Bait is moving and showing up at different times daily. The time spent to get bait will pay off. Fish have been blasting pilchards. Snook and large trout have been communi...
Published: 02/16/18
Updated: 02/17/18

Captainís Corner: Springtime fishing patterns moving in

The first half of February has been hit or miss for inshore fishing. The consistent cold fronts and warmups seem to have the fish confused. The week ahead should be pretty good. The best bite has been midmorning into the afternoon. With temperatures ...
Published: 02/14/18
Updated: 02/15/18

Captainís Corner: Get an early start when chasing redfish

Redfish schools have started to invade the flats around Pinellas Point. On low tide in the morning, I look for a school on an outer sandbar. These fish are staged on the edge waiting for the tide to come in. Once the water level rises, the fish will ...
Published: 02/13/18

Captainís Corner: Baitfish in the shallows improves fly fishing

Seeing large groups of pelicans diving and catching baitfish in warmer, shallow water is a sure sign spring conditions are approaching. The appearance of quality baitfish will spark a feeding frenzy that should steadily improve flats fishing for fly ...
Published: 02/14/18
Updated: 02/16/18

Captainís Corner: Action picking up as temperature rises

The wind finally stopped blowing so hard that we couldnít go offshore. Water temperatures were still in the low 50s offshore at the beginning of the week, and this affected fish behavior. Because the water was calm, we ventured out to the 80- to 90-f...
Published: 02/11/18
Updated: 02/12/18

Captainís Corner: Topwater plugs a great option as warming trend continues

Warm weather for the past week has led to an increase in feeding activity for inshore fish species. Speckled trout have been venturing out of deep holes and channels and back into shallow water to feed. This has presented a great opportunity to fish ...
Published: 02/10/18
Updated: 02/11/18

Captainís Corner: Sardines make a great bait

Bait has made its way into the bay and the fish have been eating sardines with violent strikes. Look deep for bait, most of it has been in 20-plus feet of water. A little knowledge of how to read a bottom machine will help you secure the prized sardi...
Published: 02/08/18
Updated: 02/10/18

Captainís Corner: Fishing conditions have started to improve

The waters are still a bit cooler than the kind a bunch of fish like to aggressively chew in. Fishing conditions, however, have slowly but surely begun to improve. On a recon mission Tuesday, I visited both Sunshine Skyway bridge fishing piers and th...
Published: 02/08/18