In conjunction with National Safe Boating Week, Gov. Rick Scott has issued a proclamation declaring May 20-26, Safe Boating Week in Florida.
Although Florida’s boating season never really ends, the traditional start is marked by National Safe Boating Week - a time for boaters to focus on simple and effective steps that make boating safer.
Leading the nation with nearly 1 million registered vessels across the state, Florida is the boating capital of the world and is world-renowned as a prime boating spot for residents and visitors. Each year, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers respond to far too many tragic and preventable boating accidents, so they want all boaters to remember to boat safely.
Judging from the number of local pharmacies, the good citizens of Gulf Boulevard fill plenty of prescriptions to fight off infection or infirmity.
I think about all those pharmacies whenever Capt. John Heidemann and I, who monitor local dolphins under federal permit, are out at sea and find one dolphin in particular. It is little male calf we call Stem. His name is a play on words because we call his mother Stick, for the game of Catch she was playing with a stick when we first met her as a little calf herself in 2003.
With our water temperatures approaching the mid-80s, mid-day fishing especially on the shallow grass flats can get pretty tough. As we approach mid-summer conditions it is imperative to search out those areas that provide good tidal flow, depth and structure.
Structure is a relative term: A deep depression just off the edge of a flat, or a deep trough cut through the sand along the pass shoals can both be considered structure. Some more obvious structures would be jetties, beach breakers and of course the many artificial reefs that line our coast.
EGMONT KEY - The U.S. Coast Guard is seeking input from the public on proposed changes to the beacon for the Egmont Key Lighthouse.
“Since the flooding last year the beacon has operated with reduced reliability,” Richard Sanchez, president of the Egmont Key Alliance, said in a press release. “The changes are needed due to poor electrical power supply, limitations on the batteries and the increasing reliance by mariners on electronic navigation (GPS). They are looking for input from the community due to the historic nature of the lighthouse.”
The changes involve switching the beacon to a more reliable LED optic and a reduction of its visibility to 12 nautical miles.
Sea turtle nesting season is underway. Pinellas County reminds beach residents and visitors in beach communities to keep conditions safe for sea turtles to thrive. Females generally nest from early May through August with turtle eggs typically taking between 50 and 60 days to hatch.
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium monitors nearly 26 miles of coastline and reports on sea turtle nesting activity. The staff engages in early morning patrols to locate new nesting sites and late night patrols to check existing nests for hatchlings. They also watch the nests from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. to make sure that hatchlings make it to the water safely.
Near-shore fishing is typically excellent in the month of May. However, we haven’t had the most consistent weather around here this month.
The weather forecast is looking good for the next several days. With the east wind in place it won’t take long for some of the great beach fishing this area is known for to really start firing up. Snook, flounder, cobia, trout, Spanish mackerel, and tarpon are top prospects along the beach but others, such as tripletail, a few late season kingfish and big sharks, add the variety that makes this fishery so special.
Spring-like weather over the last several days has been the biggest story on the fishing scene.
Inshore water temperatures are 10 degrees cooler this week, which could be a good thing depending on how you look at it. Shallow-water fishing is very temperature sensitive; if it starts getting too hot the flats are going to shut down. This recent stir-up should buy us a little time for targeting backwater snook and redfish.
Redfish numbers are on the rise countywide. Small schools of over-slot reds have been targetable on the lower tidal stages.
CLEARWATER - Ladies, Let's Go Fishing! will host the Clearwater Fishing University Saturday and Sunday, May 20-21, at MarineMax, 18025 U.S. 19 N., Clearwater.
The learning portion is on Saturday, May 20, 4 to 7 p.m. Women, teens and male guests can learn, then practice fishing at hands-on skill stations. Attendees also will have an option to charter fish on Sunday.
Registration includes classes, hands-on practice and more. Guided fishing is additional.
ST. PETERSBURG - Some $650,000 in renovations have begun at Mangrove Bay Golf Course, 875 62nd Ave. NE in St. Petersburg.
The golf course, driving range and clubhouse will remain open while the construction is underway. Renovations are expected to last about four months. This is the first major improvements in the 18-hole championship course since 1998, city officials say.
The project includes the re-grassing of all 18 greens and three practice greens, restoring greens to their original size; resizing and reshaping of bunkers; rebuilding and re-grassing of several tees; and repaving the entrance road, parking lot, and cart paths. The course will feature 419 Bermuda grass, similar to grass used at other area courses, for tees and collars; greens surfaces will feature Platinum Paspalum grass.
After a long day at the hot beach it can feel like heaven to take a shower to get rid of all the sand and sticky sea water.
You may or may not notice a sign that warns of no shampoo or body wash in the beach showers. It can be tempting to ignore this sign but I’ll explain why you shouldn’t.
About 8 million people a year visit Pinellas County parks with direct access to the beach, many of them using the shower facilities. The showers provided by the county drain directly into the ocean. Unlike the wastewater that drains from your shower at home, it is never processed through a water facility.
The call of the wild gets a makeover when it comes to dolphins. Whenever I see wild dolphins go by, I marvel because they are so exotic. They reaffirm the splendor of the Florida lifestyle and the mystique of the ocean.
Yet they are the most accessible of wild animals because they come out of the wild to play with people. Our local bottlenose dolphins also keep us alert with occasional reminders that they are fully capable of splashy renditions of bait-and-switch behavior. One example involves surfing.
Water temperatures and wind direction have been perfect for so long that we really haven’t needed to monitor the forecasts all that much, just wake up and go fishing.
Sure, it’s been windier some days more than others but nothing to prevent you from executing your game plan. With that said, looking ahead at the next several days a definite change in the current weather pattern is coming.
Just as thoughts begin to turn to the silver king (tarpon) migration, west winds become a factor yet again. Plagued by this pattern a couple of seasons ago, we can only hope that we’ll be back to an offshore wind flow soon.