Authorities to monitor Gasparilla
If you're planning to take your boat to this weekend's Gasparilla celebration in the waters off downtown Tampa, be forewarned. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, U.S. Coast Guard and local law enforcement agencies will be conducting safety inspections and looking for boaters operating their vessels under the influence of alcohol. To avoid trouble on the water: have a designated driver, have enough personal flotation devices for everyone on board, watch your speed and post a lookout for other boats. Don't overload your boat and have all of the necessary safety equipment (fire extinguisher, etc.) in working order. Check your navigational lights before leaving port. If you head back after dark, turn off any decorative lights before you hit the main navigational channel.
File a float plan with friends or family and have a working VHF radio on board. Give your passengers and crew a safety talk so they know what to do in case of an emergency. To learn more about boating safety, go to MyFWC.com/boating.
Snook season in Atlantic to open
Snook season reopens Wednesday in Florida's Atlantic waters. It takes about 2½ hours to drive across the state to hit some of the east coast hot spots. If you go, remember that you can keep one fish per day within the 28- to 32-inch slot limit. And don't forget to renew that snook stamp.
The season is scheduled to reopen Sept. 1 in the Gulf of Mexico, Everglades National Park and Monroe County.
But you can still fish for snook as long as your release them. Biologists encourage anglers to handle these fish carefully. The stock was hit hard by cold weather of 2009 and 2010. The closure, which went into effect Dec. 15, 2010, is designed to give the snook population time to recover. The FWC is expected to receive a new stock assessment sometime this year.
Terry Tomalin, Times Outdoors/Fitness Editor