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St. Pete Open spearfishing tournament

By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 17, 2001


Florida's top bluewater hunters will head to Tierra Verde this weekend for what is billed as the world's largest spearfishing tournament, the St. Pete Open. Since 1966, the open has been the highlight of every hard-core scuba diver's summer.

Eligible species include grouper, cobia, amberjack, sheepshead, hogfish and lobster -- the standard catch for most local spearfishermen. But the Gulf of Mexico is full of surprises.

Earlier this summer, Dan MacMahon was diving in the Florida Middle Grounds when a bluewater ghost, a wahoo, appeared from nowhere. The fish, one of the fastest in the ocean, is extremely wary of divers wearing noisy, open-circuit scuba gear. But MacMahon fired and "stoned" his trophy fish on the first shot.

When he brought his 62-pound prize back to the boat, he checked its stomach and found two large bonito, both perfectly cut into two pieces.

If you want to learn more about spearfishing, head to the St. Pete Open's weigh-in 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Tierra Verde Resort. Or log on to www.spearfishingspuc.org.

But spearfishermen won't be the only bluewater hunters venturing out on the gulf this weekend. Anglers competing in the 10th annual Tuna, Wahoo, Dolphin Shootout will be weighing their catch from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday at Treasure Island's Gators on the Pass.

At last weekend's Loop Tournament sponsored by the Old Salt Fishing Club, anglers caught an impressive number of yellowfin tuna, which are rare in local waters. If the weather holds, anglers can expect similar action this weekend.

For more information on the local tournament scene, log on to www.treasureislandcharities.com or oldsaltfishingclub.com.

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