tampabay.com

Going outdoors

By TERRY TOMALIN and RODNEY PAGE
Published September 23, 2005


Florida won't close grouper in Nov., Dec.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted Thursday to reduce the recreational bag limit for red grouper from two to one fish per angler but decided not to follow the federal government's lead and close the fishery in November and December. "This will reduce the catch by 20 percent," said vice-chairman David Meehan of St. Petersburg. "We didn't feel a closure was also necessary." The rule, which applies only in state waters, will be voted upon at the commission's November meeting. In other action the commission got a look at the controversial commercial longline-buyback plan. "The first anybody saw this thing was a week ago," Meehan said. "We have instructed our staff to take a close look at it before we take any official action."

CHECK IT OUT

BOAT SHOW: The Tampa Boat Show celebrates its 40th year at the Tampa Convention Center on September 29 through October 2. The show boasts more than 700 boats on display as well as accessories, apparel and seminars. On Thursday and Friday the show is open from noon-8 p.m. On Saturday it is open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday's hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information, visit www.nmma.org

FISH TOURNAMENTS

SPANISH MACKEREL: Billy Moore, owner of Billy's Stone Crab restaurant in Tierra Verde, says the mackerel are back - in a tournament Sept. 10, Moore said his team caught several Spanish mackerel. So the fishing should be good for Moore's next tournament, the Big Spanish Mack Attack tournament October 1. Fishing starts at sun-up and the weigh-in is from 3 to 4 p.m. Registration is Sept. 30 at the restaurant's rooftop bar. Registration fee is $50 per boat. For information call (727) 542-3900.

INSHORE/OFFSHORE TOURNAMENT: The Old Salt Fishing Club is sponsoring its 22nd annual Charlie Rice Challenge this weekend. Fishing begins Saturday and ends Sunday with the weigh-in at 1 to 4 p.m. at Gators Cafe and Saloon at Treasure Island. There are several divisions and allowable species at the tournament. For more information call (727) 497-1060.

EDUCATIONAL

ESTUARY ACADEMY: Saturday is National Estuaries Day, and to celebrate Weedon Island Preserve is hosting a Tampa Bay Estuary program from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The program includes lectures on Red Tide, hurricane impacts and diamondback terrapins. Participants also will learn how to remove invasive plants from their back yard, how to tell the age of a fish, collect some of the bay's basement dwellers, identify sea grass and mangroves and how to make a rain barrel. For more information, contact Nanette Holland at (727) 893-2765.

HUNTING

ARCHERY: Archery season opens Saturday in the central zone and runs until October 23. An archery permit is required in addition to a hunting license. During archery season it is legal to take deer of either sex, gobblers or bearded turkeys, wild hogs with a shoulder height of 15 inches or more, gray squirrel, quail, rabbit, raccoon, opossum, coyote, nutria, skunk and beaver. Shooting hours are half an hour before sunset to half an hour after sunset. For bag limits and other regulations, check out www.myfwc.com

VOLUNTEERS

HELP WANTED: Tampa Bay Watch, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the Tampa Bay estuary, is looking for volunteers for several events in October. Call (727) 867-8166.