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Outdoors & Recreation
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LARGO - The journey over trails and unpaved paths of the Florida Divide mountain bike route took Charlie Kemp of Largo a little longer than expected.

For about 868 miles, Kemp traversed across the Florida Scenic Trail, forest roads and the South Florida Water Management District levee system, using only a few paved roads to make his journey across the length of the state. He traveled alone, with all the equipment and provisions he would need strapped to his mountain bike.

Kemp, 45, is an insurance claims specialist by day. But recently, he was the first to travel the entire distance of the recently defined Florida Divide in a sport few have heard of - bikepacking.
 ... Read More 
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Below normal temperatures for much of December thus far isn’t exactly helping the fishing. Water temperatures are holding in the low 60s to upper 50s, a little low for this time of year.

This week’s warm up should get the redfish and trout moving around a bit more.

Speckled trout fishing was outstanding just before this stretch of cold weather. The fish have moved in from offshore and are staged up right where they should be, spoil islands throughout the Intracoastal Waterway are good places to find these schools of trout. These fish normally hold on the deep side of the island adjacent to a point. Bouncing soft-plastic jigs on the water and working with the current will allow you to move around until you find them. Under most conditions these fish will eat a soft-plastic jig as well or better than a free-lined shrimp. However, the shrimp excel when the water gets too cold for the trout to be active enough to chase down a jig.
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For the sixth consecutive year, the Outback Bowl has chosen celebrated marine wildlife artist and conservationist Guy Harvey to design the game’s official program cover and T-shirt.

The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, which earlier this month coordinated a Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Symposium at the St. Petersburg Campus for USF, announced it will pledge a portion of its revenues from 2015 Outback Bowl T-shirt sales to help rebuild critical oyster populations in coastal areas of Tampa Bay.
 ... Read More 
SEMINOLE - The Holland G. Mangum Recreation Complex, 9100 113th St. N., is now enrolling children ages 7 through 14 for its youth basketball program.

The instructional league for ages 7 through 8 will practice on Friday evenings starting Feb. 13 at 6 p.m. followed by games. Program fees are $40 for members and $60 for non-members.

Juniors, ages 9 through 11, will practice for one hour Mondays and Wednesdays, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., starting Jan. 26. Games are Saturday mornings starting Feb. 14. Program fees are $80 for member and $120 for non-members.
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CLEARWATER - The city of Clearwater will host a free pickleball clinic and exhibition from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 20, at the Henry L. McMullen Tennis Complex, 1000 Edenville Ave.

Pickleball is a combination of badminton, ping-pong and tennis. It is simple to learn and suitable for all ages and athletic ability levels. To register or for questions, call 669-1919.

The Clearwater Beach Recreation Center, 69 Esplanade, Clearwater, also will hold a pickleball demonstration and clinic at 2 p.m. on Jan. 15. For more information, call 462-6138.
 ... Read More 
Winter Play Camp
SEMINOLE - The Holland G. Mangum Recreation Complex, 9100 113th St. N., will host a Winter Play Camp Monday, Dec. 22 through Friday, Dec. 26, and Monday, Dec. 29 through Friday, Jan. 2, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be no camp Thursday, Dec. 25, Christmas Day, or Thursday, Jan. 1, New Year’s Day.

This camp is open for children in kindergarten through sixth grade. Cost is $56 and campers must have a valid recreation card to register. For more information, visit www.myseminole.com/recreation.

Belleair drop-in camps
BELLEAIR - The Belleair Parks and Recreation Department is offering a holiday drop-in camp for children ages 6-12 during holiday break, Dec. 22, 23, 29, 30, 31 and Jan. 2. Join the rec staff from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a day filled with sports, games, arts and crafts and fun. Daily camp fee is $30 for members and $45 for nonmembers. There will be no camp on Dec. 24, 25, 26 or Jan 1. For more information or to reserve your spot, visit www.belleairrec.com or call 518-3728.
 ... Read More 
CLEARWATER - Freedom Spirit of Florida, a 75 and older traveling women’s softball team, recently completed a successful year, participating in five softball tournaments nationwide.

The players traveled in April to a tournament in Pensacola and earned first place. They won first at a tournament in Hendersonville, Tennessee, in June. In September, they traveled to Dalton, Georgia and took first. In October, they won first in St. George, Utah and in November won third place in Jacksonville.

These grandmothers and great-grandmothers are an example for staying active and healthy, gaining many friends throughout the United States and Canada for the love of the game.
 ... Read More 
Wednesday, December 10
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You just cannot convince some people. No matter what you say or how you say it, you can never get some people to see your point of view.

As a Taurus-Gemini, I personally have a double dose of the astrological bull’s stubbornness, I mean, persistence and determination. I can be very hardheaded and therefore I sympathize with skeptical people. I do not, however, try to change their minds.
 ... Read More 
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Pinellas County offers anglers some of the best fishing for speckled trout in the entire Gulf of Mexico. But winter can be a difficult time of year to fish both inshore and offshore.

However, many less than perfect days can be saved by the speckled trout. Finding a lee-shore line just about anywhere along the Intracoastal Waterway will give you an opportunity to catch a few trout.

In the northern part of the region, Dunedin/St. Joseph’s Sound is prime trout habitat. The many spoil Islands that line the main channel are full of trout this time of year. The water is clean and the bottom is diverse, laden with grass, hard bottom and rocks. Drift fishing around these islands is an effective way to cover water and find the schools of fish. Soft-plastic jigs are easy to fish and work as good as live bait for the trout. Using a quarter ounce jig-head will help you get your jig down quick, color is up to you.
 ... Read More 
INDIAN SHORES - A gulf oil spill research extension specialist working with the Florida Sea Grant program and the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative told members of the Barrier Islands Government Council Dec. 3 that Florida beaches could feel the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the future.

When asked by State Rep. Larry Ahern what the long-term effect of the massive 2010 oil spill could have on Pinellas County beaches in the event of a hurricane, UF/IFAS Extension agent Monica Wilson said it would depend on the shifting of the currents in the Gulf of Mexico during the storm.

“They (scientists) really don’t know what’s going to happen in the event of a hurricane,” said Wilson. “They can guess but haven’t been able to show where it’s going to be located. But it is a possibility. Ten years from now, it could come if a hurricane gets it into the main currents.”
 ... Read More 
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Tampa Bay Newspapers
9911 Seminole Blvd.,
Seminole, FL 33772
Phone: (727) 397-5563
Fax: (727) 397-5900
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