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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. Tomalin: Delicious but contentious tale of red snapper

    Outdoors

    "I love the smell of fresh snapper fried light ..." — Jimmy Buffet

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

  2. 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. ...

  3. Joining Swim Across America on May 30? If not, you have a year to train

    Health

    CLEARWATER

    Ron Collins likes to go big. The open-water enthusiast wasn't satisfied just crossing Tampa Bay, so he had to swim the entire length, all 24 miles, from the Sunshine Skyway bridge to the Courtney Campbell Causeway.

    And as if that wasn't enough, the 53-year-old Clearwater man also swam around the island of Manhattan and across the English Channel. His biggest accomplishment to date, however, is helping to make the annual Swim Across America fundraiser a success. ...

    Ron Collins of Clearwater is the local race director of Swim Across America and a member of St. Pete Masters Swimming.
  4. Natural gas powers next-generation boat

    Outdoors

    ST. PETERSBURG

    The bright-green and blue boat with the words "powered by natural gas" emblazoned on the hull turned a few heads on Tampa Bay this week.

    The 32-foot Intrepid looked like your typical tournament kingfish boat — big and fast — the kind of craft that can get you there and back in record time.

    But what was special about this lean, mean fishing machine was what you couldn't see. Below decks, were built-in natural gas tanks that the owners said can cut fuel costs for a typical offshore trip by nearly 50 percent....

    An Intrepid 327 has built-in natural gas tanks below the decks that can cut fuel costs by nearly 50 percent.
  5. Old Salts club raising funds for Jon West

    Outdoors

    old salts club raises funds to help jon west

    The Old Salts, the largest recreational fishing club in the Tampa Bay area, has started a fundraising campaign for Jon West, a well-known tournament angler and fishing writer who is battling cancer. West, a longtime Old Salt who once worked for the St. Petersburg Times, has worked the deck for several bay area captains over the years, and as a result, some of region's top fishing guides have donated charter trips to an auction that will help pay West's medical bills. West, who grew up a bike ride away from Boca Ciega Bay, has contributed to many publications. The online auction, open for bids at oldsaltfishing.org/jon-west-fundraiser, closes May 31....

  6. STAR tourney offers chance for a prized ride

    Outdoors

    RUSKIN

    Leiza Fitzgerald swore me to secrecy. "You can't tell anybody where we released this fish," she said. "I mean nobody."

    The red drum, easily identifiable because of the tag sticking out of its back, could be worth a lot of money. If caught in the opening days of the inaugural Coastal Conservation Association Florida Statewide Tournament and Anglers Rodeo, or STAR, some lucky angler could end up driving home a new pickup truck....

    Brian Gorski is executive director of the Coastal Conservation Association Florida.
  7. Florida boating fatalities increased in 2014

    Outdoors

    FLORIDA BOATING FATALITIES WENT UP TO 70 IN 2014

    Florida's boating fatalities went up in 2014 while the number of deaths nationally decreased, according to data released by the U.S. Coast Guard. Seventy people died on Florida's waterways last year which was the highest number since 2007 when 77 people were killed in boating related accidents. Since 2000, the lowest number of deaths was recorded in 2012 — 50. The highest was in 2005 with 81. Nationally, alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents. Also, where the cause of death was known, 78 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned; of those drowning victims, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket. Nationally, 610 people died in recreational boating accidents in 2014, up from 560 in 2013, the lowest number on record. The greatest number of boating deaths was recorded in 1973 when there were 1,754 fatalities....

  8. Know what you want before buying a boat

    Outdoors

    There is an adage that the happiest day in a boater's life is when he buys his first boat. The second happiest day is when he sells it.

    There's a lot of truth to that statement. But not because boats are expensive or they break down too often. The hard, cold truth of the matter is this: Most unhappy boaters simply bought the wrong boat.

    I count myself among those disappointed. When I went boat shopping, I was looking for a lean, mean fishing machine. But when I told my wife about my brand new center-console, the first thing she asked was, "Does it have a bathroom?"...

    A Starcraft 231 Crossover will be featured at the Tampa Bay Boat Show by Pro Marine USA, St. Petersburg.
  9. How to prepare a hurricane kit

    Hurricanes

    Building a hurricane kit is a lot like packing for a wilderness camping trip. You need to be able to survive for several days on your own without any outside assistance.

    Store your supplies and gear in a large plastic tote, something that is durable and easily transportable. A cooler with wheels is another good option. Once you unpack your supplies, you have a place to store fresh food if you are lucky enough to find some ice....

    A basic hurricane kit from Bill Jackson's, Pinellas Park.  Items in photo include: Large Tote Carrier or Ice Chest, center, Portable Camping Stove with Cooking Set and Utensils, center, Portable Fresh Water Container, front left, Plenty of Batteries, multiple sizes, front left, Insect Repellent, bottom center, Battery Operated Flashlight, bottom, center, Battery Operated Lantern, front, right, Solar Powered Charger/charges electronic items using small solar panels, bottom right, Freeze Dried Food Kit, various foods, center left, Rain Poncho, center right, Sleeping Bag, center right, Pillow, back left, Portable Fan that charges electronic items, back right, Water Purification Unit and Water Bottle/Mister, Water Purification Tablets and Waterproof Matches/Lighter, top of cooler, left, Battery Operated/Chargeable  Portable Radio/Walkie Talkie and First Aid Kit, top of cooler, right. FOR TERRY TOMALIN STORY.
  10. Hurricanes mean good surf — and danger

    Hurricanes

    Surfers love hurricanes because these low-pressure systems produce long lines of well-spaced waves that are easier to catch than the sloppy whitecaps of a typical winter cold front.

    The wind generated by tropical storms blows in gusts, and as a result, the waves form into "sets." The longer the distance ("fetch") the wind travels, the better formed ("cleaner") the waves will be.

    The Gulf Coast has two surf seasons, winter and summer. From late October to early April, the Suncoast typically endures a dozen good cold fronts, each one kicking up two to three days of rideable waves. You don't see many surfers out during the colder months — only die-hard youngsters and veteran board riders....

    A surfer takes advantage of the high surf on Madeira Beach caused by the passing of Hurricane Rita.
  11. Storm passes – danger doesn't

    Hurricanes

    Most Floridians know that hurricanes bring strong winds, heavy rain, high tides and storm surge. If that's not enough to make you move inland, don't forget about flying debris and tornadoes. But there is much more to keep in mind, especially after the storm passes.

    Rattlesnakes live in the sand dunes of barrier islands, one of the first areas to flood. So it is not uncommon to see diamondbacks swimming in the surf after a big blow. Give them plenty of room. They are tired, cranky and looking for a place to rest, which one hopes, is not with you....

  12. After the storm, you'll need the right gear

    Hurricanes

    Doomsday survival gear is big business in the United States, where some worry about threats like the Mayan calendar or a zombie apocalypse. So when it comes time to get ready for a hurricane, we have a lot great gadgets to choose from.

    O2-COOL is a 10-inch rechargeable portable fan with built in USB port: This little beauty will keep you cool and charge your cell phone, It's $69.99 at o2-cool.com....

    Leatherman Super Tool 300
  13. Secure your boat long before storm strikes

    Hurricanes

    The time to get your boat hurricane ready is now, not when there's a hurricane tracking up the Gulf of Mexico.

    Tropical systems impact boats two ways. The storm surge can raise the water level far above normal high tide and break your deck lines, then the rush of water will stack these unsecured watercraft, sometimes miles inland, like cord wood.

    The best course of action is to move your boat inland well ahead of the storm so you won't have to deal with packed roadways. If possible, store the boat in dry storage at a marina or in a garage. If you must motor to safety, take your boat up a creek or river, where it can weather the storm surge out of the wind. Remember, drawbridges can lock down up to eight hours before the arrival of gale-force winds. ....

  14. Mistretta wins King of the Beach

    Outdoors

    mistretta wins king of beach, helps ailing pal

    Dave Mistretta never missed a King of the Beach Fishing Tournament, spring or fall, in 22 years. He had made it to the leader board several times, but never won the big prize. But that changed May 2 when the captain of the Jaws II weighed in a 49.12-pound king mackerel to win the largest kingfish tournament in Florida. Mistretta and his teammates took home $20,000, then the Indian Rocks Beach charter boat captain donated $10,000 of the purse to his old fishing buddy Jon West, a well-known outdoors writer who is battling cancer. The Old Salt Fishing Foundation, the organization that hosts King of the Beach and several other tournaments, has organized a fundraising drive for West, whose articles once appeared in the St. Petersburg Times. To help, go to oldsaltfishing.org....

  15. For outdoors writer, height of dedication

    Outdoors

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Rappelling 19 floors down the side of a skyscraper has never been at the top of my bucket list. But when a colleague asked me to go "Over the Edge" for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay, I knew there was no way to refuse.

    It would be inaccurate to say that I'm scared of heights. I just don't like them. Over the years, I've had to parachute, bungee jump, cliff dive and ride in the back seat of a stunt plane, all in the name of journalism....

    Tomalin, getting his harness adjusted, will quickly realize that his usual strategy for scary things — shutting his eyes — won’t work this time.