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BASS move brings acclaim to Florida

TERRY TOMALIN
Published October 31, 2004

BASS, one of the world's leading fishing organizations, announced it will move its worldwide headquarters to Osceola County in 2005.

Florida is the No. 1 sport-fishing destination in the United States, and the bass fishing giant's move to Celebration should help put national focus on the state's historic largemouth fishery.

BASS, now located in Montgomery, Ala., was founded by Ray Scott in 1968. ESPN bought BASS in 2001, which helped expose competitive bass fishing tournaments to the masses.

Walt Disney World's Sports and Recreation division will offer BASS memberships to anglers who take guided trips on any of Disney's bass fishing lakes.

Central Florida has many of the world's best bass waters. Kissimmee's Lake Tohopekaliga, called Lake Toho by anglers, will be the site of the bass season opener Jan.27-30.

BASS sanctions more than 20,000 tournaments worldwide. The Bassmaster Tournament Trail, which includes the new Bassmaster Elite 50 series, is the oldest professional bass fishing tour.

SNOOK SHINDIG: Bass anglers who fish saltwater often target snook because a linesider's fighting ability is often compared to that of the fabled Florida bucketmouth.

Sarasota's Mote Marine Laboratory is doing what it can to assure the next generation of Floridians will be able to experience the thrill of battling a snook through an ambitious stocking program.

A 7-inch snook that was released into the wild in 1999 recently was recaptured in Sarasota's Bowlees Creek as a 34-inch adult, indicating that snook bred and raised in a hatchery can survive long enough to reach the legal size limit of 26 inches.

Even though water temperatures are cooling and snook are on their way to their winter haunts, there is plenty of time before the Dec.15 end of the season to put a fish in the ice chest.

Anglers can also do their share for research by participating in Mote's seventh annual Snook Shindig Tournament on Nov.13. The event, sponsored by the nonprofit Snook Foundation, is sanctioned by the International Game Fish Association and counts as one of the organization's inshore qualifying events.

The tournament starts after a mandatory captain's meeting at 6 p.m. Nov.12 in the courtyard of the Mote Aquarium, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota.

Adults will compete for a $1,000 first prize. Junior prizes include trophies and fishing gear. The cost is $50 for adults and $30 for youths.

Entry forms can be downloaded from www.snookfoundation.org or call 941 388-4558.

STRICTLY SAIL: One of the nation's largest all-sail, in-water boat shows hits the Vinoy Basin beginning Thursday. Strictly Sail St. Petersburg features hundreds of boats, including the 188-foot square rigged schooner Unicorn, as well as seminars geared for everybody from novices to bluewater veterans. For more information call toll free 1-800-817-7245 or go to www.sailamerica.com Tickets are $10 Thursday and Friday, and $12 Saturday and Nov.7. Junior passes are available for $5.

NEW NAME: The St. Petersburg-based Florida Marine Research Institute, once the state's main saltwater lab, has a new name: the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. The change reflects the facility's broad research, which includes manatee and sea turtle programs.

The research institute will monitor marine and freshwater resources, wildlife and habitats; develop and implement plant and animal restoration projects; provide technical support for oil spills and other disasters; monitor Red Tide and other public health concerns; and provide fish and wildlife data to state officials who manage Florida's natural resources.

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