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Capt. Tommy Thompson's Saltwater Angler's Guides


SeaTow Urges July 4 Boating Safety


Southold, NY – – Over the long July 4th weekend, countless coastal and lakeside towns across the country mount fireworks displays, many of which will launch from the water. These exciting events draw hundreds of boaters, who anchor out or raft up in order to have “ring-side seats” for the show. Boating at night and in the smoke caused by the fireworks can prove challenging, however, the non-profit Sea Tow Foundation offers the following six safety tips for boaters watching a July 4th fireworks display from the water:

1. Wear you life jacket! Make sure everyone onboard the boat is wearing either a traditional life jacket that fits properly, or an inflatable PFD. Navigating at night in smoky conditions can be just as dangerous as boating in stormy weather or in fog.

2. Designate a Sober Skipper to stay at the helm all evening and be responsible for returning the boat and its passengers safely to shore after the fireworks display is over.

3. Watch your weight. Don’t overload the boat with passengers. The number of seats available on board is not always the best indicator of capacity. Look for the boat’s capacity plate on the transom or by the helm, or look up the passenger capacity in the boat’s manual.

4. Things look different at night. Remember that in the dark, visual navigation markers you rely on during the day may be invisible. Chart your route to your fireworks-viewing spot in advance, and use GPS-enabled electronics to help you find it, if necessary.

5. Listen Up! Follow the directions issued to boaters by U.S. Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary as to where you may safely anchor to view the fireworks away from sparks and ash.

Relax and enjoy the show. Don’t be in a rush to get home; let some of the boat traffic clear out before you raise anchor after the fireworks display is over.

About Sea Tow
Sea Tow Services International Inc. is the nation’s leading on-water assistance provider for boaters. Established in 1983 by Founder & CEO Capt. Joe Frohnhoefer, Sea Tow serves members inland to the coast throughout the United States, Europe, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. For a full list of membership benefits, how to become a Sea Tow member or to inquire about becoming a Sea Tow franchise owner, please visit seatow.com. Sea Tow also offers free boating safety information including the Sea Tow App for smartphones, Sea Tow’s Automated Radio Check Service, and the nonprofit Sea Tow Foundation’s Life Jacket Loaner Station program. For more information, visit seatow.com and boatingsafety.com.

About the Sea Tow Foundation
In 2007, Sea Tow Founder and CEO Capt. Joe Frohnhoefer created the Sea Tow Foundation – a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization – to promote safe boating practices. The Foundation’s goal is to reduce accidents, fatalities and property damage related to recreational boating. For more information, please visit boatingsafety.com. – See more at: http://www.thefishingwire.com/story/322574#sthash.57Pd6RrQ.dpuf

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Bonefish & Tarpon Trust Launches Genetics Program, Calls for Angler Help


Bonefish and Tarpon Trust is excited to officially announce the launch of our Bonefish Genetics and Tarpon Genetics Programs. These two programs will use tissue samples collected by anglers for genetic analysis to determine the extent that bonefish and tarpon in different locations are related. We are asking anglers who fish for bonefish and tarpon to collect tissue samples from the fish they catch (a scale for tarpon, a fin clip for bonefish), and then submit the samples to us for analysis. Our focus is the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and southeastern US. We are especially interested in tarpon DNA samples that come from outside the state of Florida, but all samples will be helpful. We already know from tagging research that bonefish have a relatively small home range except for spawning migrations, while tarpon are capable of undergoing long-distance migrations. The goal of the Bonefish Genetics Program is to determine the extent that bonefish populations in different locations in the Caribbean and Western Atlantic are related. The goal of the Tarpon Genetics Program is to determine if there is a single, regional tarpon population or multiple sub-populations. The data will provide invaluable information to help us guide management strategies. But, these multi-year programs will only be successful if anglers and guides participate.
To obtain a bonefish genetics or tarpon genetics sampling kit, please email info@bonefishtarpontrust.org or call 321-674-7758.
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Don’t Miss the 2014 Doug Johnson Reeling For Kids Tournament, Steinhatchee, June 12-14!

by on May.31, 2014, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS, Steinhatchee

Thursday, June 5, 2014 – Kick-Off Event

Kick-Off Party at Touchdown Terrace located in the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

Live Entertainment by Nashville Recording Artist Jamie Davis

Live & Silent Auction

Cocktail Hour 6:00-7:00pm and Reception 7:00-10:00pm

Open to the public – tickets are $125 each or 2 for $200 and can be purchased by calling Laura at 352-372-5342

Tuesday, June 10, 2014 – Captains’ Meeting 6:00PM


8200 NW 15th Place, Gainesville,  Fl 32606

Thursday, June 12, 2014 – Tournament Check-In

Tournament Headquarters (base) open 1:00–6:00 PM
The Estuary, Steinhatchee
Boat Registration (if you haven’t already registered)
Captain’s Check-In
Sponsor Check-in
Captain’s Meeting at Roy’s Restaurant – 7:00 PM

Friday, June 13, 2014 – Tournament Day One

Tournament Headquarters open at 5:00 AM
Captain’s Check-In
Sponsor Check-In
Lines in at 6:00 AM
Weigh Station Open 2:30-5:30 PM (or 6:00 PM if Captain has purchased a Mulligan)
Sponsor/Captain Thank You Dinner at 8:00 PM

Saturday, June 14, 2014 – Tournament Day Two

Tournament Headquarters open at 5:00 AM
Captain’s Check-In
Sponsor Check-In
Lines In at 6:00 AM
Weigh Station open 2:30-5:30 PM ( or 6:00 PM if Captain has purchased a Mulligan)
BBQ with Friends from 4:00-7:00 PM at The Estuary. Open to all tournament participants.
Awards Ceremony 8:00 PM – The Estuary

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THE PLAIN TRUTH ABOUT GILL NETS–Why the Court of Appeals decision matters!


From CCA-Florida’s Special Advisor-Advocacy, Ted Forsgren:

On May 15 the First District Court of Appeals heard arguments on a local judge’s ruling that overturns Florida’s 20 year old Constitutional Amendment limiting marine net fishing. The three judge panel questioned lawyers representing the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Wakulla Fisherman’s Association. The Court’s ruling will likely come between July and August 2014.

The truth is that commercial gill net fishermen want to use these entangling nets to take the large egg laden breeder mullet. The damage done by this practice represents a double whammy to the mullet population and ultimately to many other species.  Mullet is a staple food fish for other species. Snook, Redfish, Trout, Tarpon, and Snapper feed on “baby” mullet. When netters demolish the breeder population, the ability to reproduce is decimated and they destroy eggs they are carrying, thus there are fewer fish to grow up and breed. In the case of nets with a 2 inch mesh size,  larger fish cannot get their head through the mesh and  do not become entangled, allowing many more of this critical breeding population to survive. The intent the FWC rule defining gill nets by limiting the mesh size was to allow for a commercially feasible net that would not gill fish, thus allowing net fishermen to take enough fish to maintain their livelihood.

In November of 1994 72% of Florida voted for the Constitutional Amendment limiting marine net fishing. The amendment includes both a prohibition on the use of gill and entangling nets in all state waters and a size limit on other nets. Although the restrictions have been in place for nearly 20 years, there are still small factions within the commercial fishing industry that refuse to accept the legal reality that the constitutional prohibition on gill nets means no gill nets.

Numerous administrative challenges and lawsuits have been filed over the last 20 years in an effort to challenge these regulations and allow the use of gill nets which are contrary to the Amendment Court decisions have upheld the implementing rules which established a 2 inch size stretched mesh size as the “bright line distinction” between a legal seine net and an illegal gill net. The size was established based on the historic mesh sizes prior to the gill net ban. The Courts ruled that the 2 inch maximum size for seine nets was “historically based, rational and practical”.

CCA Florida will continue to be outspoken advocates and protectors of the Constitutional Amendment that has salvaged Florida’s marine fisheries from overzealous gill netting and has helped the recreational fishery become a multibillion dollar economic impact to Florida’s economy. CCA will help protect the mature breeder fish and their ability to spawn and keep mullet populations thriving and ensure that Redfish, Snook, Sea trout, Grouper, and other shallow water predators have forage fish to consume throughout their lifecycle.

Coastal Conservation Association Florida

Dedicated to Conserving and Protecting Florida’s Marine Resources

P.O. Box 568886, Orlando, Florida 32856-8886 (407) 854-7002 Fax (407) 854-1766

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Fly Fishing Stars Bob Clouser and Wanda Taylor Headline 2014 Florida Fly Fishing Expo Oct. 10-11, 2014


The Expo returns to The Plantation on Crystal River with fly casting and fly tying workshops for men, women, and children of all skill levels.

Crystal River, Florida — Organizers for the fifth annual Florida Fly Fishing Expo have selected world renowned fly fishing experts Bob Clouser of Pennsylvania and Wanda Taylor of Georgia as special guest instructors at the Oct. 10-11, 2014 Expo at The Plantation on Crystal River.

Clouser and Taylor bring different insights and flyfishing strengths to their programs.

Clouser, an internationally respected fly fishing instructor and author, created the Clouser Deep Minnow, the most-used, most recognized fly in the world. He is renowned for his broad knowledge and experience in all areas of fly casting.

Taylor is the first ever woman certified as a master fly casting instructor by the International Federation of Fly Fishers (IFFF). Her programs include just-for-women workshops and clinics. She is known for her skills as an instructor and her fly fishing and fly casting skills. Taylor is also co-founder of Casting for Confidence, a retreat for breast cancer survivors.

“Women and teens are increasingly attracted to fly fishing, so this year the Florida Fly Fishing Expo offers even more women’s and kids’ fly fishing clinics, programs, and classes,” said IFFF-Florida Council President Tom Gadacz. “Bob Clouser and Wanda Taylor will demonstrate and teach their fly fishing skills. In addition a team of some of the most knowledgeable and respected fly tiers, fly casters, and fly fishing guides in the Southeast and the entire country will provide excellent programs and clinics.”

Special Expo programs will include IFFF-certified fly casting instructors and fly tiers teaching their skills. Hands-on clinics, demonstrations and workshops include instruction for beginning through advanced fly casters, outdoor photography classes, fly fishing techniques, building first-aid kits for boat and trail, tying effective new fly patterns, fly casting accuracy and distance and much more. The Florida Fly Fishing Expo also offers resource-awareness exhibits and indoor and outdoor and displays of the newest fly rods, reels, lines, clothing, kayaks, and other gear.

Admission to the family-friendly expo is $10, which includes both days. Admission is free to kids 16 and younger when accompanied by an adult.

Visit the IFFF-FL website www.fff-florida.org for more information and to pre-register online.

Media contacts: Bill AuCoin, wmaucoin@verizon.net
David Lambert, dlambert@onwatermedia.com

– See more at: http://www.thefishingwire.com/story/319785#sthash.PBSlskTO.dpuf

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Free Fishing Days Set For Florida, 2014


Free Fishing Days Set for Florida

Free fishing days provide an excellent opportunity for parents who don’t yet have licenses to take youth fishing, or avid anglers to introduce a friend to fishing without having to purchase a license. On these days, the fishing license requirement is waived for all recreational anglers (residents and non-residents).

All other rules (e.g., seasons, bag and size limits) apply.

License-free freshwater days for 2014

  • Saturday, April 5
  • Sunday, April 6
  • Saturday, June 14
  • Sunday, June 15

License-free saltwater days for 2014

  • Saturday, June 7
  • Sunday, June 8
  • Saturday, September 6
  • Saturday, November 29

The saltwater waiver applies to any recreational harvest requiring a saltwater fishing license (e.g., crabbing, lobstering, scalloping, etc.) as well as fishing from shore or a boat. A snook or spiny lobster permit are not required on these days.

The June free fishing days were chosen because they coincide with the first and last days of National Fishing and Boating Week External Website which is set as the first to second Saturday in June each year.

License-free freshwater days for 2015 and beyond

  • First Saturday and Sunday in April
  • Second Saturday and Sunday in June

License-free saltwater days for 2015 and beyond

  • First Saturday and Sunday in June
  • First Saturday in September
  • Saturday following Thanksgiving

– See more at: http://www.thefishingwire.com/story/315342#sthash.3w3GiDNU.dpuf

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THE “NET’ PROFIT–A Cast Net Primer From Capt. Rick Burns


From Capt. Rick Burns, Homosassa:


We probably don’t mind talking about money, especially when you’re making a bunch of it. However, I’m not talking about dollar and cents, or the opposite of a gross.
And I’m not going to get into the gill nets, longlines, or even a landing net.
I’m talking about the benefits and rewards you can get from learning the “Art of Cast Netting.”
If you like to use live bait when fishing and don’t use a cast net to catch your bait, it should be in your arsenal.
If you don’t use live bait, and are primarily a artificial angler, cast netting can still be beneficial, a lot of fun and enjoyable.
Cast nets have been around since biblical times. They talk about throwing their nets, washing their nets, and catching fish in their nets.
And we use them today. More for catching bait and such, than our main means of food. Although there’s nothing wrong with catching a mess of mullet or shrimp for dinner with a cast net.
And think about it, throwing and learning to throw a net can be done without water. Go out on your lawn and practice away. No, you’re not going to catch many baitfish in St. Augustine, or Bahia, but practice makes perfect. “You catching many?” The neighbors will holler. (I just go along with it.)  I reply, “No! These dang worms keep slipping through the net.”
But it’s a lot of fun, setting Frisbees, or tennis balls, or something like that out there for a target to throw at, or even my daughter.

The main reason more people don’t utilize and throw cast nets is the misunderstanding of how difficult it is to throw them. Throwing a net isn’t magic. It’s easy to learn, and once you get the technique down, and with a little practice, you’ll never want to buy live bait again.
There are a lot of different uses for them as I mentioned for shrimp, and mullet that you could catch for eating. For baitfish’s you can catch the ever-abundant Pinfish. Also, Pilchards, Scaled Sardines, Greenbacks, Mud Minnows, Croakers, Pigfish, Herrings, Bluerunners, Menhaden, and Spots. Did I mention Shiners for Bass fishing? You get the idea.

However, the old’ saying, you get what you pay for, has never been more true than in purchasing a cast net. You’ll either want a cheap one, or a good one. A good one costing around $200.00. A cheap one for around $60.00.
But keep adding up the price of baitfish or shiners by the dozen, and you’ll calculate and see the benefits of cast netting your own.
Will a cheap net catch bait? Yes. But it’s not going to throw as well or last as long as a good one.
That being said. When considering on purchasing or looking for a good net, here also, are some primary things to keep in mind.
1.    Look for HANDMADE! (Better quality than machine made)
2.    Look for 6-panel construction! Like a pizza. 6 separate pieces sewn together, you get a better spread and lay out.
3.    1.5 lbs. of lead weight per foot! Ex: 8ft. net would weigh 12 lbs.
4.    Premium quality co-polymer monofilament netting of about 9 lb. test! (Stays softer, and lasts longer than nylon)
5.    Double reinforced stitching.
6.    The swivel. (Should be a anodized and ball bearing swivel)
7.    The Horn. (Top of net opening. Should have about a 2 ¼” opening.)
8.    Hangline (About 120lb. test)
9.    Hand Rope. Can be a personal preference, you’ll either see cotton nylon, which is softer and limper, but sinks. Or polypropylene, which is a little stiffer, but floats. (I prefer the latter.)
10.    And last but not least, something to keep it in. The cheap ones will come in something you’ll never get it back into when you take it out.
The good ones will come with a 3-gallon bucket and a lid.
And the very best way to care for your net after a day of use is just spread it out on the lawn or driveway, rinse it off with the hose, put it in your bucket, add a ½ cup of fabric softener, and fill with water to the top. Let it soak for a couple of hours then hang it to dry, being careful to keep the leads ON the ground, not off the ground. Say, like a stepladder, or spread out over the bed of your truck. That way you don’t stretch your netting.

Just keep in mind that a good quality net will always throw easier, lay flatter, sink faster, and with a little care, last a lot longer than a cheap one.

Please feel free to call me at (352) 201-6111, or e-mail me at reelburns2001@yahoo.com for more info.
Be safe and good (cast netting) fishing…………><>Capt. Rick

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The Advantages of Using Plastic Shrimp Instead of the Real Thing


Many Big Bend anglers are convinced that plastic (can you say “fake”?) shrimp are the equal of live shrimp when it comes to fishing on our coastal grass flats.  It used to be that artificial shrimp looked nothing like the real thing, but in recent years they’ve almost reached a degree of hyper-reality!  D.O.A. Lures’ 3-inch shrimp (in “glow”) is a good choice, as is the Live Target 3-inch slow-sinking white shrimp.  Either of these lures weights 1/4 ounce and are easy to cast using light to medium spinning tackle.  Many anglers use 2000 to 2500 class reels spooled with 10-pound test braided line and 20 to 25-pound test invisible fluorocarbon leader.  Others, many of whom are not used to making hundreds of casts in a day, rely on popping corks and rig their shrimp so that they just barely skim the grass tops under the cork.

There are several advantages to using artificial shrimp.  One, pinfish don’t eat them up before the game fish have a chance to attack.  Second,  in the long run they’re cheaper than live shrimp.  And finally, your hands don’t stink at the end of the day!

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Alachua Farm and Lumber–Despite The Name A Great Tackle Shop!


In my ongoing quest to visit as many of the small mom-and-pop fishing tackle shops in North Central Florida as I can this spring, I spent a recent morning at  Alachua Farm and Lumber on NW 145th Avenue in downtown Alachua, north of Gainesville. There, owners Wayne and Linda Tanner offer an excellent all-around selection of fishing gear.  The “Fishing Department” is lined with racks full of Bass Assassin, Rapala, MirrOlure, Rapala, Live Target and Berkley Gulp! lures.  I was lucky in that Greg MacLean, the salesman from Big Rock Sports. A major tackle distributor, was in the store making his weekly assessment of AFL’s tackle needs and was able to give me a good idea of what lures and tackle are currently popular.  Greg said that while MirrOlure TTs had been popular throughout the cold months, AFL would start selling more Catch 2000s now that the Gulf waters were warming up.  In terms of soft baits, Gulp! 5-inch jerk shads in “Pink Shine” has been a best seller recently (at the incredible low price of 4 bags for $20!), paired up with Bass Assassin jig heads.   In addition to terminal tackle, AFL also sells complete lines of Shimano and Penn reels, Star Rods, and both Yeti and Engel coolers.   And if you’re a fresh water angler, their selection of freshwater gear is equal to that in the saltwater section.

Do you want to know the only problem I have with shopping at AFL for fishing gear?  The simple answer is that I have to pass through the hunting department to get to the fishing department.  That’s a good problem to have!

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