Trailmix: Outdoors news and notes: Tarpon all the rage, fishing regulations, a monster lobster

St. Petersburg skipper sails new circuit

St. Petersburg's Ed Baird, a former America's Cup helmsman and world match-racing champion, is back on the water, this time racing across Europe in a 52-foot, carbon-fiber speed machine on a new pro circuit called the Audi MedCup. Baird is part of the only U.S. team, Quantum Racing. Last week off Cascais, Portugal, Baird's boat hit a top speed of 22 knots, quite a mark for wind-powered watercraft. To follow the action, go to Medcup.org.

Snook update

The Tampa Bay area experienced one of the worst snook kills in decades in January 2010, and state fishery managers are struggling to gauge the long-term impact it will have on this prized sport fish.

Snook season here on the west coast of Florida is closed through Aug. 31, but officials must decide soon whether to reopen the fishery this fall or keep it closed through the end of the year and perhaps even into 2012.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will receive a report next week in St. Augustine that lays out several options. The preferred alternative, the plan endorsed by state biologists, would limit snook fishing on the Gulf Coast to catch-and-release until Aug. 31, 2012. To learn more, go to MyFWC.com.

It's tarpon time. From Tampa Bay to Islamorada, anglers are pitting their skills against the silver king of sport fish, Megalops atlanticus. Here in Tampa Bay, the Suncoast Tarpon Roundup, now an all-release event with a 10-weekend format, is in full swing and runs through July 24. Go to Suncoasttarponroundup.org. Tampa Bay Watch, one of Florida's leading environmental groups, will run its annual Tarpon Rodeo on June 10-11. Go to Tampbaywatch.org to sign up. And in Boca Grande, many of the Tampa Bay area's top anglers are doing battle in the Professional Tarpon Tournament Series, which runs through June 19. To follow the action, go to PTTS.tv.

What's hot

Now that it's June and the flats are on fire, you need some gear to keep you from burning up in the midday sun. The folks from Lakeland-based Breathe Like A Fish have developed a fishing shirt that protects anglers from harmful ultraviolet rays but still lets the air flow across the body to keep it cool. These ventilated shirts come with or without a mask. Suggested retail price: $38.95 and $44.95. Available locally at Dogfish Tackle Company (8750 Park Blvd., Seminole). Go to Breathelikeafish.com.

Grouper, snapper and amberjack

Recreational anglers will finally get a chance to fish once again for gag grouper. The season in gulf federal waters will reopen Sept. 16 and run through Nov. 15.

This popular species is currently considered "overfished," which means there are too few to maintain healthy population levels, and undergoing "overfishing," which means anglers are catching too many of those that are left.

Anglers can keep two gag (within the four-fish aggregate grouper bag limit) at least 22 inches or longer during the open season.

Red snapper season opened June 1 in gulf waters. The season is expected to close July 18 when recreational anglers meet their federally mandated quota. But anglers will be able to switch gears in August and once again fish for amberjack on Aug. 1.

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You're going to need big butter

Pulling up one of their last traps on the last day of the season in Lobster Bay off Nova Scotia, skipper Landon Shand and crewmember Lorne Pace knew they had a heavy catch inside. But instead of a hefty haul of typical 2-pounders, they pulled up a 22.8-pound male lobster that would fetch more than $100 by itself at $4.50 a pound, according to the Nova Scotia Chronicle Herald. The biggest lobster ever recorded was caught off Nova Scotia in 1977, according to National Geographic, and weighed 44 pounds and was 42 inches long. "It was the biggest lobster I've ever seen come up in a (trap)," Pace said. I don't know how he got in there."

Silver kings test anglers' mettle

Trailmix: Outdoors news and notes: Tarpon all the rage, fishing regulations, a monster lobster 06/02/11 [Last modified: Thursday, June 2, 2011 9:43pm]

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