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Terry Tomalin, Times Outdoors/Fitness Editor

Terry Tomalin

Terry Tomalin moved to Florida in the spring of 1980 for the sun and surf. After graduating from the University of South Florida in 1983, Tomalin backpacked through Europe, returning a few months later to work for a small Central Florida newspaper, where his stories on the Ku Klux Klan resulted in the resignation of a local sheriff.

Tomalin joined the Times as a police reporter in 1986, but left 18 months later to backpack through New Zealand and Australia. He returned a year later and transferred to the sports department to cover the great outdoors.

During the past 20 years, Tomalin has lived with witch doctors in the Amazon, explored sunken Mayan archaeological sites in Mexico, sailed to Cuba, canoed to the Bahamas and swam around Key West. Tomalin loves to fish, surf, paddle and enjoy all Florida has to offer.

A fellow of the prestigious Explorer's Club in New York City, Tomalin holds a master's degree in Florida studies and is involved in many community organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America.

Phone: (727) 893-8808


Twitter: @WaterTribe

  1. With hurricane season heating up, take steps to secure your boat


    Danny has disappeared. But Tropical Storm Erika is gaining strength. Maybe it is time to make sure your boat is prepared to weather a storm.

    If you are like me, you probably don't start thinking about hurricane season until the end of August. That's when low pressure systems seem to line up like freight trains and start barreling across the Atlantic. Over the years, several have made landfall on or near the Labor Day weekend, including an epic Category 5 storm 80 years ago....

    Jeanne Follow up on damage and cleanup from Hurricane Jeanne in North Pinellas.--3) A sailboat sits on the northside of the Dunedin Causeway on Monday morning (9/27/04) after having washed ashore from the wind of Hurricane Jeanne.
  2. Take It Outside Planner: Courtney Campbell trail (w/video), how to catch tarpon and how to beat a gator



    Looking for a great sunrise? Take a hike on the new Courtney Campbell Causeway Trail. The 9.5-mile paved pathway that connects Clearwater and Tampa is an urban hiker's dream.

    You will find parking on both sides of the bridge. It's a little easier on the eyes if you start in Tampa (Ben T. Davis Beach) and walk west. You'll share the road with other walkers, joggers and bikers, so there's plenty of company. The 5.5-mile portion in Hillsborough County opened in 2013. The 4-mile extension, opened this summer, offers easy access to the Pinellas Trail and the Duke Energy Trail via Clearwater's Ream Wilson East-West Trail....

    Gators look for easy prey, so if you struggle, you are more likely to get away.
  3. Guide to summer survival gear to help beat the heat


    The last week of August always seems like the hottest time of the year. I don't know if there is any empirical evidence to support this assertion, but I can tell you that when I hit this point of the summer, I'm tempted to trade the outdoors beat for something cooler, such as air-conditioned city hall.

    But if you are a dedicated, boater, angler or paddler, somebody who pursues your passion 24/7, 365 days a year, you've got to carry on in spite of the elements. Fortunately, gear technology has advanced by leaps and bounds in recent years. Today's outdoor clothing and accessories make fishing the flats a little easier, even if it is, as author Thomas McGuane would say, Ninety-two in the Shade....

    A few clothes and accessories from Bill Jackson’s Shop for Adventure in Pinellas Park to help you survive the summer heat. Hat by Outdoor Research Oasis, $38. Neck Gaiter by Buff, $25. Sol Cool Ultimate Hoody by ExOfficio, $78.
  4. Take it Outside Planner: Canoe Juniper Run (w/video), cruise the bay and search for scallops



    Ocala National Forest's Juniper Run has been named one of the top 25 canoe runs in America. The 7-mile paddle through riverine swamp, hardwood forests and Florida scrub takes about three hours to complete, and when you are done, you will wish it were longer. The paddle starts at Juniper Springs, one of the oldest and better-known recreation areas in the forest, about 25 miles east of Ocala. During the Great Depression, men from the Civilian Conservation Corps built the surrounding roads, campgrounds, picnic areas and a water-powered millhouse that still stands today....

    Juniper Run in the Ocala National Forest offers a 7-mile canoe trek that takes about three hours to complete and kicks off at Juniper Springs, about 25 miles east of Ocala.
  5. Rains interfere with nesting sea turtles


    Turtle trouble

    Weeks of torrential rains have taken their toll on nesting sea turtles. Beachgoers should keep their eyes open for nests and eggs that may be washed out by flood waters. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has received numerous reports of stranded hatchlings. Some were washed out of their nests; others swept back to the beach after sea weed blocked their swim offshore. If you come across live hatchlings on the beach, call the FWC's Wildlife Alert at 1-888-404-3922 (FWCC). An operator will tell you where to take the baby turtles, which should be placed in a damp towel and kept in the dark in a bucket or other container....

  6. Save a buck and book time on a party boat


    Summer's almost over. School's about to start. But there's still time for one last hurrah.

    You could pack the kids into the minivan and head to the water park like you've done a dozen times before. Or you could do something completely different. Hint — it involves the word "party."

    But to be clear, the word is not used as a verb, but an adjective, as in "party" boat.

    For those of you who are unfamiliar with the vernacular of the docks, a party boat is not a booze cruise. On the contrary — it is good, clean fun....

    Captain Garrett Hubbard shows off a big gag grouper caught aboard one of his family's boats that run out of Hubbard's Marina, out of John's Pass in Madeira Beach. Party boats are inexpensive and ideals for a quick family getaway before school starts up again. [Courtesy Dylan Hubbard]
  7. Take It Outside Planner: Hiking the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary (w/video) and beach safety



    The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, just about three hours south of Tampa Bay, is a watery wilderness that is fun to saunter through and explore any time of year. A 2.25-mile boardwalk will take you through pine flatwoods, a wet prairie and the largest old growth Bald Cypress forest in North America. Some of these trees stand nearly 130 feet tall and are every bit as impressive as their cousins, the California redwood. While their girth might take your breath away (some measure 25 feet around), the real show is up above: Moss, lichens, bromeliads and ferns cover huge branches. Be ready to see some big gators, otters and, of course, white-tailed deer. A birders paradise, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is home to water birds and raptors. After the turn of the 20th century, when much of southwest Florida was being logged, the National Audubon Society made sure that this patch of paradise would be protected for generations to come. Today, the 14,000 acres at Corkscrew are maintained to sustain the native plants and animals no differently than they have been for thousands of years. The only difference is you get to be there, too....

    Get off the beach and find a safe area at the first sight of lightning.
  8. Tampa man to head north, go south on 2,700-mile off-road biking trek


    Jim Hartnett has never been the kind of guy to shy away from a challenge. After college he joined the Marine Corps just to see if he could handle it.

    Years later, he and some friends cycled from Tampa to Everglades City to raise money for cancer research and, when they got to Florida Bay, threw their bikes in canoes, paddled across, then got out and rode to Key West.

    "I am no stranger to logistical and physical endeavors," said the 51-year-old Tampa real estate manager and adventure race promoter. "But 2,700 miles of off-road biking is another thing altogether."...

    After kayaking from St. Petersburg, Jim Hartnett rides on Davis Islands in Tampa. From there he biked up to Tarpon Springs and then down the Pinellas Trail to make one big circle. 

Courtesy of Jim Hartnett
  9. Take It Outside Planner: Tubing on the Ichetucknee (w/video), camping and snorkeling in the state parks



    When the temperature is heading for triple digits and the humidity is on the rise, there's no better way to cool off than going north to the chilly waters of the Ichetucknee River and springs in north-central Florida. Just walk down the path to this waterway and the air suddenly feels 10 degrees cooler. Nine springs pump 233-million gallons of crystal clear water into the Ichetucknee River, which then flows south into the Sante Fe and Suwannee rivers. Right off the main parking lot at the north entrance to the state park, you'll find Ichetucknee Spring, also called the Head Spring. The spring has a bluish hue that makes it particularly appealing, especially on a warm summer day. During peak season (Memorial Day through Labor Day), tubers who want to complete the entire trip of three-and-a-half hours must arrive early. Rangers limit the number of people on the river. A tram is available at the south end to bring you back to your car. After Labor Day, things quiet down a bit. To keep the Ichetucknee wild and clean, tubers may not bring food, drink, tobacco or any other disposable items on the river....

    Visitors appear as if they’re floating on air, not tropical water, as they snorkel over Christ of the Abyss, an underwater statue at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park off Key Largo.
  10. National Free­diving Championship in Tarpon features top teams


    TARPON SPRINGS — Many hook and liners think spearfishing is like shooting fish in a barrel. But that's because they never had to hold their breath for three minutes and pick off a grouper hiding on a rock ledge in 60 feet of water.

    But that is just what you might have to do if you want to win next week's U.S. National Free­diving Championship in Tarpon Springs. The five-day event, hosted by the Florida Skin Divers Association, will feature the top teams in the nation from five regional qualifying divisions. The winning team will move on to the World Spearfishing Championships in Greece....

    Ed Walker returns to the surface with an African pompano speared while freediving. 

[Special to the Times]
  11. 5 favorite artificial lures for summer fishing


    August is special. The water is warm. The fish are slow. Sometimes it feels like you need a magic touch to get them to bite. So I called my friends at Dogfish Tackle and asked the folks behind the counter what they do during these Dog Days to get some action. Here are our favorite five artificial lures of summer.

    Heddon One Knocker Spook, 4½-inch, ¾-ounce, $9.49

    This is my all-time favorite year-round lure, although it proves particularly effective this time of year when thrown at first light or just before sunset. This is a good artificial bait to toss when you are looking for fish because you can cover a lot of ground. The action is simple — classic "walk the dog." Use it around schools of mullet, mangrove islands and oyster bards. A common beginners mistake is stopping the action after the lure gets hit. Keep moving the lure until you feel some resistance. Setting the hook too early will cost you fish....

    Left to Right: Johnson Silver Minnow, Storm Wildeye Swim Shad, top, MirrOlure Shallow Water MirrOdine Suspending Twitchbait, bottom, D.O.A. Bait Buster Trolling Model, top, Heddon Topwater One Knocker Spook, bottom. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  12. Take It Outside Planner: Paddle through magical mangroves (w/video), pier fishing and lobster season



    Looking for a great half-day trip? Check out the Lido Key Canoe/Kayak Trail in Sarasota. This well-marked waterway can be as short or as long as you like. Paddling through these tree-covered corridors, it is easy to imagine yourself in another time and place.

    Five minutes from the boat ramp, you turn and follow the signs into what looks like an enchanted mangrove forest. The trees have grown over the water and formed a canopy just large enough for a canoe or kayak to navigate. Inside the darkened tunnels, you will see raccoons hunting among the "walking trees" as mangrove crabs scurry for cover. Wading birds prowl the dimly lit corridor, feeding on fingerlings illuminated by the shafts of sunlight filtering through the treetops....

    Spiny lobster season is about to open in the Florida Keys.
  13. Missing Florida teen boaters reinforce need for safety precautions


    When Chris Turner was a boy growing up on the shores of Boca Ciega Bay, his father set strict limits on how far he could go in his boat.

    "I was allowed to go to this bridge but not past that channel marker," said Turner, a 52-year-old yacht captain from St. Petersburg. "As time went on and I got more experience, my boundaries expanded. But there was always a discussion on where I could and couldn't go."...

    The community gathers for a candlelight vigil and paper balloon release at Jupiter Inlet Park on Monday for the missing teenagers.
  14. Help weed out invasive lionfish species


    Earn extra lobster

    If you are out bug huntin' this lobster mini-season and come across a lionfish, take that too. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has offered a bounty to any diver who spears 10 lionfish during the sport season — an extra lobster and possibly a T-shirt. Lionfish are an invasive species that displaces native species on coral reefs. The only way to stop the spread of these harmful exotics is to physically remove them. The FWC hopes the thousands of divers in the Florida Keys next week will help stop their spread. In addition, people can take a photo of their lionfish and lobster catch during the two-day season and post it on to get a "Be the Predator" T-shirt. One photo entrant will also win a lifetime saltwater fishing license via a drawing held shortly after the sport season. In addition, for the 2015 spiny lobster sport season only, divers will be allowed a single spiny lobster over the bag limit per day for each day that they also harvest 10 or more lionfish. Lionfish must be kept as proof of harvest while on the water. When off the water, a photo of harvesters with their 10 lionfish must be kept to document eligibility for harvesting an extra lobster. Lionfish must be harvested the same day and before taking the additional lobster. All other rules, including no spearfishing zones, apply....

  15. Wily Florida lobsters can be elusive



    The antennae sticking out of the hole gave the creature away. So with great caution and care, I placed my tickle stick behind the lobster and tried to gently coax it into my net.

    But with one flip of its tail, it shot out between my legs like a cartoon crustacean, leaving nothing but a cloud of crushed shell and sand in its wake. The Caribbean spiny lobster, as it turns out, is no easy prey. Masters of camouflage, these wily crustaceans can be hard to find and quick to disappear....