Lionfish tournament at Harvey Outpost
The Guy Harvey Outpost on St. Pete Beach is hosting a lionfish spearfishing tournament on Sept. 6. Lionfish are an invasive species that compete with native fish such as gag and red grouper on local reefs. The only way to get rid of lionfish is to shoot them. Divers who participate in the Lionfish Safari must surrender their catch on Sept. 7 when the Outpost hosts a Family Fun Day. All lionfish captured during the tournament will be filleted, cooked and served to participants. Lionfish have venomous spines, but when handled properly, are fine dinner fare. The entry fee is $20. The deadline to sign up is Saturday. Go to guyslionfishsafari.com....
Nothing creates more confusion and anguish among anglers than the words "Red Tide."
For weeks now, a harmful algae bloom has been lingering 5 to 20 miles offshore between Tarpon Springs and Dixie County. There have been reports of fish kills in deep water, but as of today, there have been no issues reported inshore.
Local fishermen and boaters remember Tampa Bay's last major Red Tide. In 2005-06, water- and tourism-related businesses lost millions as dead fish covered local beaches and shorelines....
TIERRA VERDE — Organizers don't know what to expect when hundreds of snorkelers hit the water Saturday to look for scallops.
"We have had some really good years, and others … they have been hard to find," said Peter Clark, president of Tampa Bay Watch, sponsor of the Great Bay Scallop Search. "But one thing is for sure. The water quality in the bay is the best it's been since the 1950s."...
Shea Showalter thought it sounded too good to be true. "Work out for 15 minutes twice a week and lose weight?" she recalled. "Let's just say I was skeptical."
The 38-year-old from Tampa had heard about Bob Kissel and his magic machines from her life coach. "I didn't have a particularly active lifestyle," she admitted. "I had been a swimmer when I was younger, but I hadn't done anything in years."...
AMBERJACK season to close
Add greater amberjack to the list of offshore species off limits to recreational anglers. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council announced this week that the season will shut down on Aug. 25 and remained closed until Jan. 1, 2015.
According to the Gulf Council, sport fishermen will reach their 888,839-pound catch limit by Aug. 24. The Gulf's amberjack stocks are split between the recreational and commercial sectors, with roughly two-thirds of the quota going to sport fishermen....
ST. PETERSBURG — Ron Taylor was just a boy, maybe 7 or 8 years old, but he remembers that first snook as if it were caught just yesterday.
"It was the biggest tussle … such a robust catch," recalled the 72-year-old marine biologist. "Over the years, the visions of snook in my brain, instead of fading, just became more brilliant.
"For many people, fishing for snook is not a sport," he said in a slow Alabama drawl. "It is a religion."...
LOBSTER SEASON OPENS, RUNS THROUGH MARCH
If you missed last month's two-day recreational lobsters season, don't worry. The regular season for spiny lobster in Florida state waters in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean opened this week and runs through March 31.
Many veteran bug hunters wait for August, when the crowds are gone, to dive for spiny lobster. If you are a newcomer to the sport, make sure you measure the lobster in the water. The body shell must be longer than 3 inches. If the lobster is "short," leave it in the water....
ST. PETE BEACH — Dave Markett has been fishing the Gulf of Mexico for more than 50 years, but the Tampa charter boat captain and former commercial fisherman fears his grandsons will not be able to do the same if federal fishery managers move ahead with new red snapper rules this month.
Markett, and more than 100 angry recreational fishermen, packed into a tiny ballroom at the Sirata Beach Resort this week to hear representatives of the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council discuss "Reef Fish Amendment 40," also known as sector separation....
GULF OF MEXICO — Some anglers prize grouper for their delicate flesh. Others praise king mackerel for their long, fast runs. But when it comes to on-the-water entertainment, the great amberjack just can't be beat.
Pound for pound, you won't find a better fighting fish in the gulf. After a two-month closure, the season for these offshore brutes — which can be found from Key West to Pensacola — reopens today....
Forget about getting anything out of Tom Matthews. The lobster biologist is as cagey as the crustaceans he studies.
"The problem is that lobsters are notoriously hard to count," said Matthews, who works in the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's field office in Marathon. "If you took all of the lobsters and put them in one room, they would all gather together in one corner."...
ST. PETE BEACH — Keith Overton didn't know what to do about his skinny snook. The avid angler had caught the linesiders in Tampa Bay and transferred them to his new 33,500-gallon fish tank, but now he watched helplessly as the apex predators slowly wasted away.
"There was plenty of food in the tank," said the man behind Guy Harvey's RumFish Grill & Bar on St. Pete Beach. "But for some reason the snook just weren't eating."...
World-renowned shark expert George Burgess, keeper of the International Shark Attack File, is used to getting silly questions about the ocean's most fearsome predator. "Are sharks out to get you?" is among the most common, he said. "The short answer is 'No.' " The 64-year-old University of Florida professor is co-author of a new book, Sharks: The Animal Answer Guide, which contains a trove of great information for sharkophiles. "There are more than 400 species of shark but only a select few have been implicated in attacks," he said. "But another way you can look at it is this: Any shark that can get to be 6 feet or longer can be considered dangerous." Burgess said he receives many inquiries about great white sharks. "They are identified in many shark attacks because they occur in areas where they are the only species," he said. "But if you are looking for the most common 'grabber' in Florida, that would be the blacktip shark.''...
Michael Poole doesn't remember his first epileptic seizure. He was cycling. When he came to, bruised and battered, he thought his triathlon career was over.
"It wasn't pretty," the 22-year-old said. "I went through a hard couple of months and wondered how I could possibly go on."
Poole was one of the best young competitive cyclists in New Zealand, and he was just 18. A gifted runner and swimmer as well, many thought he would be the next great champion from a nation that has produced so many gifted triathletes. Then epilepsy nearly derailed his dreams....
new diver safety rules take effect
Summer is the season for snorkeling and scuba diving so boaters should keep an eye out for "diver-down" flags. But whether you are scalloping on the Nature Coast or "bug" hunting in the Florida Keys, new rules will help keep divers safe.
Effective July 1, divers and snorkelers have the option of displaying a buoy with a series of divers-down symbols (red field with a white, diagonal line) as an alternative to the traditional divers-down flag. The buoy can be three- or four-sided and must have a divers-down symbol of at least 12-by-12 inches displayed on each of the flat sides. Such a buoy should help divers, especially those in open waters, be more visible to passing boats....
HONEYMOON ISLAND — Peter Krulder is no salesman. As the manager of Florida's most visited state park, his product sells itself.
"I guess you could say we have it all," said Krulder, who not only works but also lives on Honeymoon Island, "… great water, beautiful beaches, a fantastic nature trail … what's not to love?"
In the fiscal year 2013-14, which ended June 30, Honeymoon Island had 1,144,285 visitors, making it Florida's most popular state park for the eighth year in a row....