September 2014 marks the one-year anniversary that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) moved to make tarpon and bonefish exclusively catch and release species. The health of these fish and their habitats is critically important to sustaining the $465 million dollar per year Florida Keys flats fishery that we all love. The FWC, led by former Commission Chairman Ken Wright, acknowledged this and helped to score this huge win for Florida’s fisheries.
More from BTT: http://blog.bonefishtarpontrust.org/?p=2682
- Walt Durkin with a big MacDill red.
Tide is not everything. A few weeks ago, Walt Durkin and I made our usual trip to MacDill. We were in between moon phases and the incoming tide was weak, yielding a foot or so of movement, if that.
High tide was at 10:30, a 2.6 so sight fishing was not an option. I hate blind casting, but I went along because my options were limited. Beach snook and tarpon were on the way out; the morning tides weren’t really low enough for tailing reds, at least in the Bay.
MacDill mullet were everywhere. Figured what the hell: Throw a spoon in the mix and see what happens. The reds obliged. Walt and I totaled 10 reds, all on fly. Both of us had could have had more. Walt caught the fish of the day, a 10-pounder.
Not long after that. A porpoise rolled in close to the mangroves, a signal that we were pretty much done for the day, but a lesson was learned: Tide and water level are important, but fish when you can. You never know what might happen.
In honor of this weekend’s Florida-Kentucky game, I write about C.T. Ayers, my grandfather, who was Kentucky’s starting quarterback from 1933-1935. He never said much about his football career before passing away in 1982. However, I can’t imagine living in Gainesville and watching your alma mater get bludgeoned year after year — Florida has won an NCAA record 27 straight in the series and has dominated the Wildcats for decades. I used to think that my grandfather got some measure of redemption during basketball season, but my grandmother told me he despised Adolph Rupp because the legendary UK coach was an overt racist and made the football players sweep his beloved basketball court. For the record, Kentucky and Florida only played once during my grandfather’s time Lexington. As a senior, he led UK to a 15-6 win over the Gators. I’m sure he was proud of that.
In 1981, Sports Illustrated ran a scathing article about environmental degradation in Florida.
“The sad fact is that Florida is going down the tube,” the piece asserted. “Indeed, in no state is the environment being wrecked faster and on a larger scale.”
No, that’s not the funny part. Just hold on a sec.
Turns out that the piece ran in Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue. And when the edition hit the stands in Tallahassee, it fell to a trusted aide to break the news to his young governor.
“There is some good news and some bad news here,” Eustus Whitfield, environmental adviser to then-Gov. Bob Graham, told his boss, “and the good news is on the front, Christie Brinkley in her swimsuit.”
Ran across this piece of history while packing for a family move. People always ask me about having kids, why I don’t have any, etc. And technically I don’t, but I beg to differ. Twenty-five years ago, I shepherded a dozen or so of others’ children when I coached Little League, one season in Richmond, Va. and three more in Harrisonburg, Va. Below is a signed ball from my 1990 team, the Harrisonburg Orioles, a club that didn’t win a game the year before I arrived. In 1990, we finished .500; in ’91, we were in the top third of the league; in ’92, we won the AL regular-season championship easily. 1992 was my last year. Covering college basketball took priority at the time. Every kid I coached had my phone number and many kept in touch all through high school. Not sure what happened to all of them thereafter. One went on to play college basketball, another survived a roadside bomb in Iraq. One went into law enforcement. One went to jail. I’m pretty sure one went on to coach college football. A few are on Facebook. I know I did a pretty good job teaching them baseball. They taught me a lot, too.
Editor’s Note: Terry Gibson is scheduled to speak to the Tampa Bay Fly Fishing club tonight (Sept. 3). Below is his bio.
A life-long fly and light-tackle angler, Terry has served in a number of field and in-house editorial capacities for highly respected fishing publications, including Saltwater Fly Fishing, Shallow Water Angler, Florida Sportsman and Outdoor life. He also has contributed to leading fishing, hunting, surfing and dive publications since the late 1990s. Terry has fished abroad in 10 countries plus the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico and in more than 40 states. As a multi-lingual journalist covering the issues, or as an advocate working them, he has promoted conservation issues in more than 20 countries, including the frontlines of water-management, habitat and fisheries management issues in the U.S. Terry’s presentation will focus on forage fish and the need for their conservation.