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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

Email: ttomalin@tampabay.com

Twitter: @WaterTribe

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  1. Include weather in snook fishing preparations

    Outdoors

    Top snook fishermen will tell you the key to success is timing. While tide and temperature are key, a knack for predicting the weather will serve an angler well this time of year. A successful angler must be smart, skillful and patient. Sometimes that means waiting till after the evening thunderstorm rolls through to go fishing. • Big snook, above and beyond the 34-inch slot limit, are females. They gather in coastal passes during the summer to spawn. The common snook, largest of the four species found in Florida waters (the other three are the sword-spined snook, fat snook and tarpon snook), is a finely tuned eating machine that will shut down when the barometric pressure drops. • A smart snook fisherman understands the factors that influence any species, including moon phase and tide, but the impact of weather, even a small localized thunderstorm, is often overlooked. That's why you should keep your snook outfit handy, right next to your umbrella and rain jacket. • Find a good weather site on your computer so you can watch the storm and wait until it is safe to hit the water. When there is no longer a threat of lightning, head out to your favorite snook spot and start casting. You will be glad you did....

    Nesting Black Skimmers care for their young at a nesting colony along Pinellas’ municipal beaches.
  2. Florida's original water parks: the springs

    Human Interest

    ICHETUCKNEE SPRINGS STATE PARK — In the summer of 1539, the conquistador Hernando de Soto and several hundred men lumbered up the Florida peninsula and stopped by this spring-fed river to rest.

    They had to be hot and tired after months on the trail and probably welcomed a respite in the cool, clear water. Given the choice of continuing into the unknown wilderness, or staying put and chilling out by the creek, more than one Spaniard probably chose the latter....

    Ten-year-old George Rowan of Tampa plunges into the main spring at the Juniper Springs Recreation Area in the Ocala National Forest.
  3. Take It Outside Planner: Fort De Soto's fort, scallop season and sea turtles

    Outdoors

    A HISTORY LESSON: DISCOVER THE FORT AT DE SOTO

    Fort De Soto Park, once called America's best beach, has a lot going for it: an 800-foot boat ramp with 11 floating docks; a 238-site campground; two great swimming beaches; two fishing piers; 14 group picnic shelters; a 7-mile-long, 12-foot-wide paved recreation trail; a 2-mile canoe trail; and a 1-mile nature trail. There also are places to run, surf, kite surf, windsurf, skim board, mountain bike, skate, bird-watch, surf cast, even fish for tarpon. But this 900-acre natural wonderland, located at the southern tip of Pinellas County on Mullet Key, also has a rich history many visitors never see. In 1849, the island was surveyed by Robert E. Lee, who recommended the government build a fort. The Army got to work during the Spanish American War, but the battery never fired a shot. The park offers regular guided tours (check at the ranger station) or you can explore on your own. You also can catch a ferry and head to Egmont Key, which has its own set of battlements....

    Steinhatchee is a sleepy little fishing village located about three hours north of Tampa Bay.
  4. New size limit for amberjack approved

    Outdoors

    making news

    new size limit for amberjack is approved

    Offshore anglers will have a new size limit for amberjack when the season reopens Aug. 1. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved new rules this week. Amberjack, known for their belly-bruising fighting ability, must now measure 34 inches fork length. State-water regulations in the Gulf will now be consistent with pending federal regulations. Stock assessments show greater amberjack in the Gulf of Mexico are overfished. Officials hope that the minimum size limit will mean more amberjack will reproduce before being harvested....

  5. Strategies to keep bugs from bugging you

    Outdoors

    Summer is high time for mosquitoes, no-see-ums and ticks. Some people just stay inside to avoid these pesky bugs; however in my line of work I can run but I cannot hide.

    Over the years, I've encountered some pretty savage biting bugs — sand flies in New Zealand, black flies in Maine and a variety of mosquitoes in the Amazon — and as a result, have developed a three-tiered battle plan for combating ravenous insects....

    Brent Long, manager of Bill Jackson’s, left, and Terry Tomalin discuss a mosquito coil holder while comparing insect repellent products. Campfire smoke, cigars and spray are options, as is a simple who-cares attitude.
  6. IT'S A REACH

    Features

    When Chris Brown was 17 years old, his mother sent him on an Outward Bound expedition, where he learned to rock climb. It was a life-changing experience.

    "I was totally hooked," said Brown, now 36. "Then I came back home to Clearwater where there was nothing to climb."

    Luckily, he heard about a new gym in Tampa that featured an indoor rock climbing wall.

    "That was it," said Brown, co-owner of the new Vertical Ventures St. Petersburg. "From that point I was there every day."...

    Elle Smith, 7, of St. Petersburg enjoys the view atop a climbing wall at Vertical Ventures.
  7. Gag grouper season nears for most counties

    Sports

    making news

    gag grouper season set to open on july 1

    Stock up on hooks, line and sinkers — gag grouper season opens July 1 in most state and all federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. But if you live in Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties, hang up your grouper sticks. The gag season closes in state waters off your coast. The gag season will remain open in state waters (except in those previously mentioned areas) through Dec. 3....

  8. Stumped on a gift for dad? Try gear for outdoors

    Outdoors

    ST. PETERSBURG

    I am a sucker for hardware stores and tackle shops. I love the mom-and-pop joints, the family-owned independents where the folks behind the cash register know every item in the inventory.

    But it is hard to be a small business in this era of big box stores. The little guys have to try harder. They might not be able to buy in bulk, but small companies sometimes have the upper hand, because in the end, nothing beats local knowledge....

    The Bubba Blade ($64.95) is the best filet knife money can buy.
  9. Tarpon remain a fascinating species

    Outdoors

    There are some things you never grow tired of seeing — osprey diving for fish, dolphin herding mullet and tarpon cruising along the beach on a calm summer morning. You can keep your trout, snook and redfish. Nothing gets my blood pumping like the silver king of sportfish.

    It is usually about this time of year, when the fish are thick in Tampa Bay, that I call Kathy Guindon, the state's tarpon guru, to learn something new about what I consider the most interesting fish in the world....

    Tarpon are popular for acrobatic leaps and their fight, and there are always more interesting facts to learn.
  10. FWC removing Australian pine trees at Fort De Soto

    Outdoors

    If you head out to Fort De Soto this weekend you might notice something different about the park's North Beach. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is removing the Australian pine trees, an exotic species that interferes with sea turtle nesting.

    Some people love Australian pines, but this non-native species has no business on a wild Florida beach. This tropical evergreen, which can grow to 150 feet and is sometimes called an ironwood or horsetail tree, is native to the South Pacific islands and Southeast Asia....

  11. Spa treatments for men? Make his a Bern's Bourbon on the Rocks

    Health

    Whenever my wife gets mad at me, which is often, she threatens to "soften up my rough edges." But as a professional adventurer I can't afford to get too accustomed to creature comforts. In a typical day I am usually baked by the sun, bitten by insects and covered in salt, so rough, tough skin is an asset.

    When I was approached by a local public relations executive to do a story on a "Gentleman's Spa Treatment," my initial reaction was "no way." ...

    Hot stones are placed between the toes before moving on to a hot stone massage of the calves during the Bern’s Bourbon on the Rocks stone pedicure.
  12. Kids' saltwater fishing camps include St. Petersburg

    Outdoors

    making news

    FWC saltwater fishing camp offered for kids

    St. Petersburg is among locations throughout the state that will have a summer Kids' Saltwater Fishing Camp hosted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Children can catch a variety of fish, and learn the basics of environmental stewardship, fishing ethics, angling skills and safety.

    St. Petersburg information: Aug. 3-7, ages 8-15, go to weedonislandpreserve.org. ...

  13. Plan now for a summer of fun

    Outdoors

    Last summer, on opening day of scallop season, I grabbed my mask and snorkel as I raced out the door at 5 a.m. I'm usually pretty good about checking my gear before a trip, but for some reason, this time I forgot.

    A few hours later, I found myself on the grass flats of Homosassa, ready for the hunt. So I hopped over the side and slipped on my mask, only to have the strap break. The mask, of course, sank and disappeared into a thick bed of sea grass. It took two or three tries to find it, and when I finally did, I vowed to be proactive when it came to summer fun....

    Michael Love, general manager of Bill Jackson’s Shop for Adventure, demonstrates what to look for in a mask and how to clear it underwater.
  14. Delicious but contentious tale of red snapper

    Outdoors

    "I love the smell of fresh snapper fried light." — Jimmy Buffett, singer, songwriter

    Twenty-five years ago, you could head offshore to deep water, drop anchor, fish all day and never catch a red snapper. Today you can run 50 miles west, pitch bait over the side and hook 100 or more of these prized sport fish on one spot.

    Why, then, will local anglers have just 10 days to fish for the Gulf of Mexico's most fought-over finfish? The answer has more to do with people and politics than fish. ...

    Tampa lawyer Steve Yerrid shows off a large red snapper caught offshore in the Gulf of Mexico in October 2013.
  15. High school sailing

    Outdoors

    making news

    The Shorecrest Sailing Team capped off a stellar season on May 22-24 by winning the Baker Championship in Club 420s on Lake Michigan. The event pitted the top 12 high school teams against each other in a team race format. Each team qualified in their respective districts. Schools from as far away as Washington State, California, Florida and Rhode Island were represented at this Illinois Regatta. Shorecrest sailors won all five district championships and four of the five national championships. Sailing for Shorecrest Preparatory School: skippers Nic Baird, Patrick Shanahan, Hannah Steadman and Josh Dochoda; crews were Kathryn Booker, Peninah Benjamin, Kyle Dochoda and Andreea Ranney-Pace. ...