Officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were on patrol in John’s Pass March 26 checking permits and licenses, as well as keeping the boating community safer by discouraging DUIs, speeding, and children under 12 not wearing life jackets.
The arrival of baitfish into our back waters signifies a change is in the air. Spring has sprung and the fishing is finally going to get really good for the next few months.
Kingfish made their entrance into our near-shore waters this week. Plenty of smaller kingfish ranging in size from 8 to 15 pounds can be targeted in 20 to 40 feet of water. Live pilchards, threadfin herring and blue runners are all available and can be caught on sabiki rigs within a couple of miles from shore.
INDIAN SHORES - Seaside Seabird Sanctuary will celebrate its grand opening Thursday, March 30, 4-5 p.m., at its facility at 18328 Gulf Blvd.
The event will include a meet and greet with the sanctuary’s avian ambassadors, staff and volunteers and a chance to check out the daily pelican hand feeding.
The celebration will feature a ribbon cutting with the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce and a chance to win prizes in a raffle to raise money to help the mission. Visitors also will get the chance to meet 10-year-old Charlie Parker, the young author and illustrator of “Charlie’s Shore Pals,” which was inspired by his visits to the sanctuary.
ST. PETERSBURG - The two largest soccer presences in Tampa Bay have come together, with the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Tampa Bay United announcing a milestone partnership.
Tampa Bay United is the largest youth soccer club in the Tampa Bay area and will rebrand as the TBU Rowdies beginning this season. The TBU Rowdies’ highest-level teams will wear the Rowdies’ familiar green and gold hooped jerseys on the field, expanding the visibility of the Rowdies throughout the region.
The partnership enhances the Rowdies’ goal of being the backbone of soccer in the Tampa Bay community and developing elite players both through the U.S. Soccer Development Academy on the boys’ side and the Elite Clubs National League on the girls’ side.
TIERRA VERDE - Tampa Bay Watch will host the 12th annual Ed Alber Tarpon Rodeo, a catch and release fishing tournament, on Thursday and Friday, June 8 and 9, with cash prizes totaling $4,000.
Anglers will fish their favorite spots throughout Tampa Bay from 1-mile offshore running north to Redington Fishing Pier and south to Longboat Pass. Proceeds from the tournament will benefit Tampa Bay Watch, a nonprofit organization with a mission to protect and restore the marine and wetland environments of the Tampa Bay estuary through scientific and educational programs.
The tournament festivities will kick off at the TradeWinds Island Resort in St. Pete Beach on Thursday, June 8, 6 p.m., with exciting live and silent auctions, food and drinks, and the Captain’s Meeting. Anglers will hunt for the Silver King on Tampa Bay during the all-release tarpon tournament on Friday, June 9, 2 to 8 p.m. Vessels will launch from the Fort De Soto Park boat ramp. The awards ceremony will be held at the Tampa Bay Watch Marine Center from 8 to 10 p.m., for anglers to enjoy a well-deserved meal by Bonefish Grill.
A rough couple of weeks (weather wise) should be in our past with a warming trend upon us. It won’t take long for our near-shore water temperatures to rebound and once they do the fishing should really turn on.
Our spring kingfish run will likely be extended this year with the cool spring we’ve had. Our near-shore waters should finally clean up this weak with light winds on the forecast. This should bring the bait in closer and in turn the kingfish and mackerel. Traditional near-shore spots such as the Blinds Pass drop, Clearwater hard-bottom and the 90-foot hole at Egmont Key will be top spots for big fish this weekend. The artificial reefs like the south county, Betty Rose and the Rube Allyn are definite hot spots for good numbers of fish, with most of the fish being schoolies.
GULFPORT - The groovy vibe of 1969’s Woodstock will be revived Saturday, April 1 in the form of the Goodwill Hippie Dash races in downtown Gulfport.
The main event, the Hippie Dash 5K, a chipped race, is being promoted as “3.1 Miles of Peace, Love and Goodwill.” Other events include a “Flower Child Fun Run” for “little hippies,” and a 1-mile “Walk, Woof & Roll” walk for walkers, dogs and strollers.
Prizes will be awarded for Best Dressed Dude, Best Dressed Dudette and Best Dressed Flower Child.
A late season cold front this spring break week has made for some tough fishing conditions. High winds and cool overnight temperatures have made it difficult to find bait and or fish.
It will take at least until the weekend before good fishing conditions return to our area.
On a more positive note, these late season fronts, despite this one’s terrible timing, will help to extend our spring season. Perfect water temperatures for peak fish activity are somewhere between the mid 70s up to 80 degrees. So the longer we can stay around that mark the better.
TARPON SPRINGS - In partnership with the Tarpon Springs Recreation, Anglers for Conservation will coordinate AFC’s Hook Kids on Fishing program on Saturday, March 25, 10 a.m. to noon, at Spring Bayou/Craig Park, 5 Beekman Way, Tarpon Springs.
Kids, ages 6 to 16, are welcome along with their parents. The first 40 kids registered may receive a free rod and reel. Registration is required. To register, call 727-942-5628.
These conservation-minded Hook Kids On Fishing programs teach casting, fishing safety, knot tying, the tackle box, catch and release tactics, fishing habitat and conservation; and are taught by professional guides and knowledgeable anglers.
As spring approaches, so does horseshoe crab mating season, and the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission is asking for the public’s help in reporting horseshow crab sightings.
Horseshoe crabs mate year-round, and spring is the peak season to see them in groups along the shore. To identify mating pairs, look for a smaller male on top of a larger female. Beachgoers will likely have the best luck spotting horseshoe crabs around high tide, within three days of a new or full moon. The next new moon is Monday, March 27.
Sightings can be reported through one of several options. Go to MyFWC.com/Contact and go to “Horseshoe Crab Nesting Activity” for the “Florida Horseshoe Crab Spawning Beach Survey” link. Findings also can be reported via email at horseshoe@MyFWC.com or by phone at 866-252-9326.
Coast Guard crews along the west coast of Florida responded to four separate search-and-rescue calls Tuesday, March 14, and remind boaters to stay vigilant on the water especially during this week's inclement weather.
"Due to multiple factors, including weather, Coast Guard crews have assisted 18 lives, seven of whom were pulled out of the water in the last 12 hours," said Cmdr. Randall Brown, deputy commander of Sector St. Petersburg. "Working closely with partner agencies we were able to assist and ensure these people made it home to their loved ones."
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called for scattered thunderstorms throughout the region Tuesday that may cause low visibility, rough sea conditions and deadly lightning strikes.
There could have been eight or ten dolphins in the narrow corridor of water between two bays shaped like the number eight. It was hard to tell. The November day was gray. Pale jade waters had a patina of pewter. The dolphins surfaced and submerged quickly but at leisure, a rhythm that only dolphins can do.
A nice big boat rumbled by. The slim female we call PeeWee, now eight years old, used its wake to glide theatrically over to the four bulls attending the other female. But that did not get their attention.
This past weekend’s cold front is most likely a preview of things to come.
We’re far enough south to escape most of the rain and truly cold air these late season fronts bring to the rest of the country but there’s no escaping the wind. It looks like we’re going to be on a seven-day pattern between cold fronts.
This should allow water temperatures to climb back up this week to the low to mid 70s, where they were late last week.
Snook and redfish have been aggressive at times in the shallows. Targeting the afternoon incoming tide remains your best bet.
OLDSMAR - The 2017 USA BMX Gator Nationals rolled through Oldsmar during the final weekend in February, bringing more than 1,200 riders from all over the world, including dozens of locals, to the city’s world-class Supercross track at Canal Park.
With U.S. Olympic gold medalist Connor Fields and silver medalist Alison Post in the field, not to mention a slew of decorated international riders, plus a healthy number of spectators and dozens of campers filling the track’s parking lot, the third Gator Nationals event to be held at the newly remodeled track was once again considered a huge success, according to officials.
The Florida Botanical Gardens Foundation and the Florida West Coast Orchid Society are partnering to host an orchid re-potting clinic and bromeliad sale on Saturday, March 25, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Florida Botanical Gardens, 12520 Ulmerton Road, Largo.
Orchid owners who are unsure on how to re-pot their orchids or who don’t have the time can bring their plants to the experts from the Florida West Coast Orchid Society for help.
Orchid Society members will demonstrate how to re-pot orchids in a new pot or hanging planter. Orchid owners can ask questions on continuing care for their orchids and best practices to keep them blooming and healthy. There is a small charge for each plant re-potted, depending on size. All proceeds will go to the Florida West Coast Orchid Society.