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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides

Siesta Key to Boca Grande

Tarpon statewide snagging definition, gear rules in Boca Grande Pass changes effective Nov. 1, 2013

by on Oct.29, 2013, under Siesta Key to Boca Grande

Changes that will add language to the current statewide snagging definition for tarpon and modify what types of gear can be used when fishing in Boca Grande Pass will go into effect Nov. 1.
These changes will provide further protection for this iconic fish.


The first part of the adopted changes includes adding language to the snagging definition to prohibit catching or attempting to catch tarpon that have not been attracted or enticed to strike an angler’s gear. This change will apply to tarpon fishing statewide. The current definition for snagging or snatch-hooking is the intentional catch of a fish by any device intended to impale or hook the fish by any part of its body other than the mouth. Adding language specifying that gear must entice the fish to strike with, and become hooked in, its mouth will help further protect tarpon from the act of snagging.
The second part of the changes prohibits fishing with gear that has a weight attached to a hook, artificial fly or lure in such a way that the weight hangs lower than the hook when the line or leader is suspended vertically from the rod (see photo below). This change will apply to fishing for all species year-round within Boca Grande Pass.

If this prohibited gear is on board a fishing vessel while inside the boundaries of the pass, it cannot be attached to any rod, line or leader and must be stowed. This change will further reduce the likelihood that tarpon in Boca Grande Pass will be snagged.
These changes will provide further protection for tarpon.
To learn more, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Tarpon.”

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At Punta Gorda Without A Boat? Give King Fisher Fleet A Try!

by on Aug.07, 2013, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS, Middle Charlotte Harbor, Siesta Key to Boca Grande, Upper Charlotte Harbor

Yes, there are times when I travel to good fishing spots in our state and don’t take my boat.  After all, sometimes I’m on a trip that’s featuring food and food writing, not fishing.  That was the case last week when I was invited to participate in Charlotte County and The Gulf Islands’ food writer trip.  I did manage to take a shorter-than-I’d-like trip with Capt. Ralph Allen, who owns King Fisher Fleet, with a whole bunch of boats headquartered at downtown Punta Gorda’s Fishermens Village.  Ralph and I took one of the smaller boats, a Hewe’s 18 Redfisher, and headed south towards Burnt Store Marina, on a high tide looking for reds and snook.  Charlotte Harbor, the 2nd largest body of water (after Tampa Bay) in Florida, was surprisingly calm and we were able to leave the fish biting on the East Wall, north of Burnt Store, and head quickly over to the area around Turtle Bay.  There, where we’d expected to find more fish on the falling tide, the bite was slow despite Ralph’s carefully and quiet poling efforts.  I blamed summertime;  Ralph blamed the fact that I insisted on using only artificial lures and that I made him leave his bait net back at the marina!  So it goes!

Capt. Ralph at work! Be sure to give your guide a big tip if he poles you around all morning!

Despite his "live bait" attitude, Ralph managed a nice keeper trout on a Rapala Skitterwalk plug!

In addition to a variety of inshore and offshore fishing opportunities, King Fisher Fleets also offers day trips to Cabbage Key and Cayo Costa State Park.  Cabbage Key is an isolated island in middle Charlotte Harbor, and its restaurant’s cheeseburger is supposedly the inspiration for singer Jimmy Buffet’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise”.  Cayo Costa is an isolated Gulf beach island that’s just out-of-the-way enough to make you think you’ve left all your cares behind!

A sunset dinner at the Captain's Table Restaurant at Fishermen's Village is a great way to start the evening.

If you're lucky, the setting sun will light up the Peace River Bridge.

Be sure to bring your camera, or whatever device you have, to capture the beautiful Charlotte Harbor sunset.

Finally, don’t miss taking one of the King Fisher Fleet’s Sunset Cruises.  The hour-and-a-half cruise makes a loop around the mouth of the Peace River and the Captain does a really great job of setting the boat up for some wonderful sunset shots!  A good cheap date, or just time to relax after a seafood dinner at any of Punta Gorda’s great restaurants!

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8-6-2013 Fishing Report, Placida and Englewood, by Captain Van Hubbard

by on Aug.07, 2013, under Siesta Key to Boca Grande

Venice to Boca Grande fishing still offers several options.
Many of our kids are starting back to school soon, so it’s back to weekends for the kids. Most recent trips have been for the younger anglers and its fun for all. I try to make it entertaining for the kids while teaching them about our waters and wildlife. Their enthusiasm is a blessing to share and experience. Their energy and awareness also inspire me; we motivate each other.   These trips have been a blessing for families to share.
The trick to successful trips is for parents or grandparents to sit back and let me take over. Keep the camera ready and let them play. If they want to enjoy the minnows in my Dorado’s big live well let them. I get them to help me throw minnows to chum gamefish. The more involved the better. We take time to check out the dolphin, birds, and manatees. If things get slow we crank up the Evinrude E-Tec and ride around exploring, we can even stop and look for sharks teeth if they like. It’s all about the kids and if they are smiling we are doing our jobs. PS it’s a hundred dollars less for kid’s trips; they are easier to entertain.
Fish has been productive most trips. We have caught numbers some days and a few quality snook to show off and brag about. The tides are more important now than usual because of the significant rain and downstream runoff. It’s harder to see thru the darker tannin stained waters. The fish are even more colorful but finding them can be challenging.
Snook, snapper, and few mackerel are the best bets right now. They are running around all of our areas passes. The minnows are small but abundant and easy to catch if you have a tiny mesh castnet. Redfish are around but require more patience and effort. Trout are down in Charlotte Harbor around Boca Grande. Mackerel should be dropping in around the Venice pier any time. We are fishing early around the heat and showers.
I’m expecting some good action in September when snook season opens up. The mackerel are improving everyday and should peak in late October or early November depending upon our weather. Kings will improve soon and few available now just farter out around the artificial reefs. Fish will begin to bunch up for fall soon. Line up reservations as soon as you can.
Thank you for your support and business.

Captain Van Hubbard. <www.captvan.com>

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Weston’s WannaB Inn, Englewood Beach At Its Finest! Fisherman Friendly, too!

by on Aug.07, 2013, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS, Siesta Key to Boca Grande, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA, Upper Charlotte Harbor

As a kid, in the 1960s, my parents’ idea of a great vacation was to drive to the border of Sarasota and Charlotte County and stay in a small motel at Englewood Beach.  There, we’d swim during the day and usually fish for snook all night.  Englewood Beach takes up the southern, Charlotte County, end of Manasota Key, and is accessed by a bridge from the mainland south of Englewood “proper”.  The island’s main road is Gulf Blvd, which runs from the entrance to Stump Pass State Park all the way to the northern end of the island.

Lodging options at the WannaB Inn Range from low-rise to high rise. All are comfortable and nicely appointed.

The fishing's great at Englewood Beach, as is the beachgoing!

At the aforementioned southern end of Gulf Blvd (At #985, to be exact and to help your GPS), lies Weston’s WannaB Inn, a true Florida treasure, and one of the most angler-friendly lodgings in the area.  At the WannaB Inn, you can launch your boat and tie up to one of the three docks on Lemon Bay, or rent a boat (powered by one of those “green” 5HP outboards that runs on propane).  Then, you can fish Lemon Bay while the rest of your crew basks in the sun at the pool or the beach, or takes a walk down Stump Pass State Park to the pass.  There are 80 clean and nicely-appointed rooms and suites at the WannaB, each with comfortable appointments, including kitchens.  And for the folks who just can’t get away from their iphones and ipads, there’s full Wi-Fi throughout the property.

Going fishing in Charlotte County is wonderful, but so is the local food.  I recommend you take the 15-minute drive to Placida and eat at least one dinner at The Fishery Restaurant (13000 Fishery Road, Placida, FL  33946  PH: (941) 697-2451).  There, always ask about the specials, and if they have shrimp and scallops over pasta, give it a try.  You’ll enjoy the food and the view to the docks and Charlotte Harbor.

Make the short drive to Placida's Fishery Restaurant

Enjoy the eclectic interior at The Fishery

Don't misss the scallops and shrimp at The Fishery

...and don't forget the view!

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Captain Van Hubbard’s Charlotte Harbor/Placida/Englewood Fishing Report and Observations for 7-25-13

by on Jul.25, 2013, under Siesta Key to Boca Grande, Upper Charlotte Harbor

Crazy weather keeps this years fishing challenging.
.
It is a beautiful day to wake up and I’m thankful; but this fresh west wind makes things difficult. Its eighty degrees and the suns not up yet. Welcome to summertime life around here. The overcast last week was actually a blessing if you missed the rains. We still have fish and fun if the heat doesn’t bother you. This is when my big T-Top really helps. I find we all tend to migrate to the shade as it heats up. The breezes are wonderful if not too strong.  The freshwater runoff is still an issue but fish are always here and still need to eat. I’m just spoiled and used to seeing our targets. This year has been wonderful and even with weird weather very productive. Business has been great even though it’s slowed down now but I needed time to catch up on chores and relax a little. Not as young as I was but not as old as I will be tomorrow! It’s nice to take some time to reflect and remember the many blessings and special folks and fishing we have enjoyed.
The kid’s trips are perfect fit for me and the families. I enjoyed a nice cook out with a friend and his family at Boca Grande last evening. We talked, shared fish stories and watched the girls play. I couldn’t think of a better way to end a day.
Snook and snapper seem to be the best bet right now. They are abundant and close. The minnows are growing but still small so it’s a good fit. Trout are around and we do have some redfish if you want to but in the time and effort. Spanish mackerel are due anytime and I think we could find a few tasty pompano if we went looking for them. If the winds allowed we have kings and a variety of fish in the nearby Gulf if weather permitting. Tarpon are scatted but available if you put in the time! No sitting ducks right now but plenty of fish we can play with depending upon conditions.
If you are planning to eat a snook when it opens for harvest it’s past time to lock up some dates! The season opens September First and should peak in October sometime. Fishing will remain good until the cold weather comes south sometime in November. Everything else is biting then too so don’t miss out. The mackerel migration will be hot in October too with lots of action and liberal bag limits to bring home some fish.
Watch the weather next week it’s that time of the year. Thank you, Let’s Go Fishin’ soon.

Captain Van Hubbard <www.captvan.com>

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Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota & Pine Island Sound, FL Fishing Report for 7/21/2013

by on Jul.21, 2013, under Bradenton and Sarasota, Siesta Key to Boca Grande, Upper Charlotte Harbor

Anglers fishing with me on my Action Craft flats skiff the Snook Fin-Addict, out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, had good action fly fishing for tarpon in the coastal gulf. Fly anglers jumped 2 tarpon, had several other eats and numerous shots at tarpon with a fly in the coastal gulf during the past week. We also fished Pine Island Sound one afternoon and caught and released a big red on a fly.
Jerry Poslusny and Jay Peck, both from the Rochester, NY area fished Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday with me. Conditions were tough a good portion of the week with a lot of clouds and some rain. However there were enough windows of good visibility to get them numerous shots at tarpon each day. They jumped 2 fish and had 3 other eats on Deceiver and Grassett Tarpon Bunny flies.
My brother Kirk Grassett, from Middletown, DE, came down to fish a few days later in the week. Rusty Chinnis, from Longboat Key, FL joined us on Thursday and we came across an osprey struggling and flopping on the surface as we ran in the coastal gulf. As we got closer to investigate, we could see that the bird was near collapse from exhaustion. It showed no fear and allowed Kirk to cover its head with a towel and lift it onto the deck of my boat. We took the bird to the beach and it was too exhausted to either fly or jump off the deck, so Kirk lifted him off the bow and sat him on the beach. The bird appeared to have an injured wing and was very waterlogged, so Rusty contacted Save Our Seabirds who came out to the scene to rescue the bird. A follow up call reported that the bird was recovering at the bird hospital. We only had a few shots at tarpon that day due to heavy clouds and fish deep in the water column but we had a dozen or more good shots on Friday.
Kirk and I were the guests of our friend Capt. Rick DePaiva, from Ft. Myers, FL, to fish Pine Island Sound on Saturday. Capt. Rick knows his fishery well and since conditions were good for reds to tail on shallow grass flats late in the day, we planned to be there at that time. We had some shots at tailing reds and Kirk caught and released a very nice, upper slot red on my Grassett Flats Minnow fly.  Due to the dark, tannic water that is prevalent in that area this time of year, colors on the fish were vivid!
Tarpon fishing in the coastal gulf should be good next week depending on conditions. Beat the heat by catch and release snook fishing before daylight in the ICW and then look for reds and big trout in shallow water early in the day. Fishing deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay for trout, blues, Spanish mackerel and more should also be a good option.

Tight Lines,
Capt. Rick Grassett
FFF Certified Fly Casting Instructor
Orvis- Endorsed Outfitter Guide
CB’s Saltwater Outfitters-2011 Orvis Outfitter of the Year
Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.
(941) 923-7799
E-mail snookfin@aol.com
www.flyfishingflorida.net and www.snookfin-addict.com

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CB’s Saltwater Outfitters “Orvis Fly Fishing 101” Clinic, July 13, 2013

by on Jul.08, 2013, under Bradenton and Sarasota, Siesta Key to Boca Grande, Tampa Bay, East and South Shore

CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, 1249 Stickney Pt. Rd., on Siesta Key (Sarasota) will hold an “Orvis Fly Fishing 101” clinic with Orvis-Endorsed fly fishing guides and instructors, Capt. Ed Hurst and Capt. Rick Grassett, on Saturday, July 13th from 9am – 11am.  The free clinic will include fly casting and fly tackle rigging basics. Upon completion of the clinic, students will receive free memberships to International Federation of Fly Fishers and Trout Unlimited (each a $35 value). There will also be special in store offers on Orvis products. Call (941) 349-4400 to reserve your spot.

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18 June 2013, Fishing forecast for Venice to Boca Grande ,by Captain Van Hubbard

by on Jun.18, 2013, under Middle Charlotte Harbor, Siesta Key to Boca Grande, Upper Charlotte Harbor

Let see if I can get back on course here with weekly reports.
Life is good and fishing has been even better. Tarpon are the hot ticket right now and they are abundant from Boca Grande Pass south of me to Venice Beach and beyond. Snook have been very good and many larger fish; PS it opens for harvest on the First of September. Trout and reds are around but I haven’t had time to play with them much with the silver kings and snook so cooperative. We do also have fish on the near shore reefs; sharks, barracuda, permit and more, if the wind and seas allow. I have not had much time off the water to take care of things but bookings are slowing down after the Forth of July so it’s time to see if fishing trip fits into your plans. It’s not too soon to line up September and October dates with snook reopening.
Tarpon have kept me busy on and off the water.  Fishing has been good in fair weather. The strong winds can hamper our catching but we have plenty of fish. In fact they seem to be approaching the peak this week with the Full Moon in June. We can expect to enjoy good action for at least another month. We will have some excellent tarpon action into August and even September but it is just not as predictable. If tarpon are high on your Bucket list, like my new friend Gordon McDonald, don’t procrastinate because fishing is great right now and I do have a few days open soon. His day was awesome we got his tarpon of about 125 pounds and then several snook up to almost 40 inches.
Snook have been spoiling us most trips. The weather can mess with us but since we are usually inside the west winds don’t shut us down. Several trips have left anglers with sore arms from catch snook; literally! We have good numbers of smaller fish and I’m excited by the numbers of slot fish, but big trophy fish have enhanced smiles. We are seeing trophy fish from 35 to 40 inches even a few over, every day! So far minnows are available but not getting any easier. Scott Armstrong and family enjoyed a great day of snook action on Tuesday the 11th, they caught fish till the kids were bored and we found some dolphins to watch. Alex’s group wanted food fish and all we could catch was snook most of the time. We did find some trout but mostly smaller we only had a had day to explore. Sunday Don and Lisa joined me to catch some fish and we did. The snook bite was fair and they caught over 20 fish and Lisa got a big one we took photos. I have photos on my Facebook page at Captain-Van Hubbard if you want to see em. Sorry I’m challenged to get them on here but I am updating the web site soon as I get time. Thank you for your patience with me. Waters have cleared up nice since the tropical wave recently but Summer starts now along with evening showers. Get out early, have fun, and let’s get er done.
If you have some patience we can hunt up some food fish. Reds are here just not sitting and waiting like it used to be. Those tournaments keep em running around. Most are slot fish and tons of fun. Trout were great so we have fish they just got lost and I’ve not had enough time to look for them. We have gotten some nice flounder but not consistently.
Spanish Mackerel are around and we should be able to catch a mess if you’re interested? Kings are deeper if you want to chase the bigger fish. I smoked a couple on Sunday after our trip. Sharks are here if you want the big tackle testers. Reef fishing is good and the variety keeps it interesting.
We had our Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting in Lakeland last Wednesday. It was a long day but we got the issues communicated to our Commissioners and they have passed a proposal recommended by the Staff to be finalized in September. We may finally get rid of the weighted hook rig called a Boca Grande Jig!
On a personal note I adapted a beautiful Golden Retriever from Gulf Coast Golden rescue. She is shy but smart and wonderful; sure to keep me busy! I hope you are well and “if you’re too busy to go fishin’, you are just too busy’! Let’s Go Fishin’ soon. Captain Van Hubbard. <www.captvan.com>

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Capt. Rick Grassett’s Sarasota, FL Fishing Report for 6/8/2013

by on Jun.10, 2013, under Bradenton and Sarasota, Siesta Key to Boca Grande

Anglers fishing with me on my Action Craft flats skiff the Snook Fin-Addict, out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, had great action catching and releasing several tarpon up to 110-pounds on live crabs in the coastal gulf early last week.  In addition to tarpon, anglers fishing with me also caught and released trout to 3-pounds and blues and Spanish mackerel to 2-pounds on DOA Deadly Combos in Sarasota Bay.
Domenick Raschella and Dave Reinhart, both from VA, fished with me on Monday and Tuesday. They jumped and landed 3 tarpon on live crabs in the coastal gulf off Sarasota with me on Monday. We bumped into a big, happy school of tarpon as I was easing into my spot with my trolling motor. They were moving slowly which allowed us to get back on them several times and catch all of our fish out of the same school. A couple of the fish were young males, full of energy that put on quite a show jumping around the boat! All fish were measured to estimate weight, DNA sampled and successfully released.
Unfortunately the gulf was unfishable for tarpon in my boat on Tuesday morning. With a big swell out of the south as Tropical Storm Andrea brewed, conditions were unsafe for fishing there.  We hit a tarpon spot in Sarasota Bay for a couple of hours and had a few shots with DOA TerrorEyz and Airheads while we floated a couple of live baits under floats but didn’t hook up. However with the wind out of the south, we were able to fish the west side of the bay. They had good action catching and releasing blues and Spanish mackerel to 2-pounds and trout to 3-pounds on DOA Deadly Combos on deep grass flats near Bishop Point and Buttonwood Harbor.
Weather went downhill on Wednesday and Thursday as Tropical Storm Andrea went from a tropical depression to a tropical storm and passed off shore from us with a lot of rain and wind. By Friday the sun was back out and the winds down but the coastal gulf was still very dirty and rough for tarpon fishing so we didn’t fish. Sometimes tarpon will push offshore for a few days following a weather event, so it may take a few days for them to return to their normal patterns.
Depending on conditions, tarpon fishing in the coastal gulf should be good next week. However if conditions aren’t good for tarpon in the gulf, there should be good action with trout, blues, Spanish mackerel and more on deep grass flats of Sarasota Bay. Look for reds and big trout in shallow water early in the day. Catch and release night snook fishing in the ICW near passes should also be a good option.

Tight Lines,
Capt. Rick Grassett
FFF Certified Fly Casting Instructor
Orvis- Endorsed Outfitter Guide
CB’s Saltwater Outfitters-2011 Orvis Outfitter of the Year
Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.
(941) 923-7799
E-mail snookfin@aol.com
www.flyfishingflorida.net and www.snookfin-addict.com

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Capt. Rick Grassett’s Gasparilla Sound, Venice & Sarasota, FL Fishing Report for 4/21/2013

by on Apr.21, 2013, under Bradenton and Sarasota, Siesta Key to Boca Grande

Anglers fishing with me on my Action Craft flats skiff the Snook Fin-Addict, out of CB’s Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key, caught and released snook, reds, trout and flounder in Sarasota Bay, snook, reds and trout in Gasparilla Sound and snook and bluefish in the ICW at night near Venice on lures and flies during the past week.
Tim Graham, from Nokomis, FL, fished Gasparilla Sound in Charlotte Harbor with me on Monday. He had good action catching and releasing 3 reds, a pair of snook and about a dozen trout on CAL jigs with shad tails.
Anna Maria Island and Sarasota winter residents, Bill Morrison and Gary Marple fished the ICW at night near Venice with me on Tuesday evening. They had steady action catching and releasing about 15 snook and a nice bluefish on my Grassett Snook Minnow fly.
Peter and Nini Seaman, from CA, fished the same area with me on Wednesday afternoon and evening. They also had good action catching and releasing a couple of snook on a Clouser fly before dusk and more than a dozen snook on my Grassett Snook Minnow fly in the ICW at night near Venice. We were pleasantly surprised when we encountered a “laid up” tarpon of about 75-pounds or more while I poled a mangrove shoreline in Little Sarasota Bay.  The fish floated to the surface only a few feet from the boat along the edge of channel. We spotted each other at the same time and the big fish splashed us and waked the boat as it left!
I tied flies and gave a presentation on fly fishing bay and backcountry areas in the spring at the Suncoast Fly Fishers club in St. Petersburg, FL on Thursday evening. The club is very organized and the meetings are well attended. They meet on the 3rd Thursday of the month at Walter Fuller Park. A great fly fishing club to belong to if you live in that area!
Mark Nichols, owner of DOA Fishing Lures, and I fished with Capt. Andy Cotton on Friday and Saturday. We scouted Sarasota Bay on Friday in preparation for the Sarasota CCA “Photo All Release Challenge” on Saturday. We had a good day catching and releasing snook around lighted docks and on the flats on DOA shrimp baits on Friday.  Andy caught and released a big flounder on a DOA shrimp and a big red on the new DOA Airhead. A front came through on Friday evening and the wind switched from south to north, changing our game plan for Saturday. We had good action with snook around lighted docks, but nothing measured for the tournament. We worked a bar where we caught and released a red and numerous trout, including a 25” trout that Mark caught and released. This a great event; laid back, low stress family fun with a nice dinner after fishing on Saturday evening that helps support conservation!
Catch and release night snook fishing in the ICW from Sarasota to Venice should be a good option next week. Look for reds and big trout in potholes and on the edges of bars when the tide is low or on shallow flats on sunny afternoons when the tide is high. Action should improve in the coastal gulf with Spanish mackerel, false albacore, tripletail, cobia and more as the water continues to warm and baitfish become more plentiful. Look for “laid up” tarpon along bars and on deep grass flats and in the coastal gulf.

Tight Lines,
Capt. Rick Grassett
FFF Certified Fly Casting Instructor
Orvis- Endorsed Outfitter Guide
CB’s Saltwater Outfitters-2011 Orvis Outfitter of the Year
Snook Fin-Addict Guide Service, Inc.
(941) 923-7799
E-mail snookfin@aol.com
www.flyfishingflorida.net and www.snookfin-addict.com

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