Tribute to an unusual river
There is a little Huck Finn in all of us, but not everybody has the time to take off and float down (or in this case, up) one of Florida's classic rivers. But don't worry, local singer/songwriter/filmmaker Darryl May has just produced a documentary about his recent exploration of the mighty St. Johns, one of only a few rivers in the Northern Hemisphere that flows south-to-north. Whisper of the River is a rare look at Old Florida at its best. Buy it for the holidays for $16.95 at darylmaycomedy.com.
bits and bites
An eye toward redfish
State officials will also discuss redfish when they meet in Key Largo on Nov. 16-17. A new rule that is likely to pass will divide the state into three redfish management zones similar to those used for spotted seatrout. Anglers in the northern zones will see their daily bag limit increase to two fish, while statewide anglers will have a new eight-fish boat limit. Red drum is considered an example of fishery management at its best. Stocks dwindled until officials banned the commercial harvest and sale of the species in 1989, thanks to the efforts of the Florida Conservation Association, now known as the Coastal Conservation Association. The current regulations — an 18- to 27-inch slot limit and one-fish bag limit — have not changed in more than 30 years.
It is hard to keep up with the constant changes to the state's grouper fishery. Local anglers target gag, red and occasionally black grouper in area waters. Federal officials have increased the annual quota for reds, which means anglers can keep an additional two red grouper within the personal aggregate four grouper bag limit. The rule, which went into effect Wednesday, applies to gulf federal waters, which begin 9 miles offshore. But state officials are expected to adopt similar measures later this month. Also on the table: a recreational gag grouper season that will last 123 days each year, from July 1 to Oct. 31. If approved, the bag limit of two fish within the aggregate bag limit and a minimum size limit would remain the same. The new rules are expected to take effect next year.
Fall is a great time to catch spotted seatrout, but if you fish in the southern part of the state, you will have to release these prized sportfish now through the end of the year. The season closed in the "south zone," which on the East Coast is south of the Flagler-Volusia county line, and here on the gulf coast the boundary is south of a line running due west from the westernmost point of Fred Howard Park Causeway, which is about 1.17 miles south of the Pinellas-Pasco county line. If you fish in northeast and northwest Florida waters, the season will remain open until February unless the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission adopts new rules Nov. 16 when it meets in Key Largo to get rid of the current rolling recreational closures. To learn more, go to MyFWC.com.
Also this weekend
Kayak Fishing Classics will host its Invitational National Championship at Whiskey Joe's on the Tampa side of the Courtney Campbell Parkway today and Saturday. … Bicycle Bash Festival at Tampa's Flatwoods Wilderness Park will have cycling fun for the whole family from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.