Help weed out invasive lionfish species

Published July 24, 2015

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.

Bass pro set to open

The new Bass Pro Shops Brandon/Tampa Outdoor World will host a kickoff event at 6 p.m. Wednesday that features some of the biggest names in sports and the great outdoors. The event is free and open to the public. Celebrities, including Mike Alstott, a Bucs six-time Pro Bowl player; Tony Stewart, driver of Stewart-Haas Racing's 2015 No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet SS and Boo Weekley, three-time PGA Tour champion, are scheduled to appear and sign autographs from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Jimmy Houston, host of Jimmy Houston Outdoors, will serve as the event emcee. Located at 10501 Palm River Road, Tampa, the 130,000-square-foot Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World also will feature the Islamorada Fish Company restaurant. The 8,000-square-foot restaurant in the Brandon/Tampa store will offer fresh seafood and steak entrees and features a 2,000-gallon saltwater aquarium offering scores of colorful and exotic Pacific reef fish. The store will officially open for a preview celebration during the fundraising event and ribbon-cutting ceremony. For every dollar spent during the Evening for Conservation, 50 cents will be donated to Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation and Conservation.

Compiled by Terry Tomalin. Send your news and notes to or call (727) 893-8808.