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Tampa Tribune, Fla., Frank Sargeant Column: Tribune Outdoors Editor To ‘Semi-Retire’

July 20, 2008

By Frank Sargeant, Tampa Tribune, Fla.

Jul. 20–All good things come to an end, and for me, the best time of my life has been the past 24 years as the outdoors editor of The Tampa Tribune. Economic conditions and a proffered buyout combined with the fact that I’m only a few months from Medicare make this prime time for me to take a bow and start easing toward the exit. Though I hope it won’t be curtains for me, so to speak. As Bobby Bowden has famously pointed out, there’s not but one big event left after you retire. So I am “semi-retiring.”

First off, I’ll be continuing to appear in the Trib one day per week, writing and photographing the Friday outdoors page as always. I’ll also stay on as host of the Tribune Outdoors Expo and Boat Show each March.

However, I will no longer be doing the Sunday and Wednesday outdoors columns, as of Aug. 1, and those columns will not be replaced.

Unfortunately, this means a lot of conservation news, fishery and wildlife management issues and other topics won’t fit, and that’s regrettable. But it’s the reality of the newspaper business today that survival requires dramatic and sometimes painful change.

On the bright side, I will be covering these topics in my new Web site, , which will boot up at the end of this month. And the Trib has excellent staff reporters who will continue to provide quality coverage of conservation issues of general interest.

My columns and stories will continue to appear in Florida Sportsman magazine, where I’m now editor at large, as well as in Boating, Trailer Boats, Outdoor Life and others. And I hope to have time to write a few more books, as well, and do a little TV. And of course I’ll spend more time chasing wild turkeys and mountain trout, and also plenty of time just leaning against a tree and thinking “Who in the heck made all this?”

I’ll have a continuing need for information on fishing, boating, hunting, camping, conservation and outdoors clubs, tournaments and happenings, and I welcome all of you involved in these activities to e-mail your announcements to me at . They will run on my Web site, and I’ll assist the Tribune staff in getting them into the newspaper and on , as in the past.

Our daily Go Fish fishing reports will also continue in the Tribune, in the capable hands of our stable of expert Tampa Bay area skippers — this has become one of our more popular features during the last several years.

In short, the Tribune will still have plenty of outdoors coverage and remain a central source of information for the outdoors community of Tampa Bay. And I’ll remain a part of that for the foreseeable future. See you on the water.

SNOOK ACTION HOT: Anglers in search of catch-and-release snook action can’t do better than to visit area passes the next few days, as the effects of the July full moon will have pulled hundreds of spawners to these spots as well as to adjacent beaches.

Snook spawn most often just off the main current flow; often a jetty, sandbar or marina harbor causes an eddy area where the fish stack up, sometimes several dozen.

The time-tested way of catching these fish is to use a few live sardines as chum, and then free-line the same baitfish, nose-hooked, on size 1/0 Octopus or circle hooks. The fish hook themselves, usually in the corner of the jaw, and can be exercised, photographed and released without damage — the snook season remains closed through the end of August on our coast.

They also readily take DOA plastic shrimp, topwaters like the Top Dog, and slow-sinking plugs like the Mirrodine. Lures are particularly effective when the fish travel out along the beaches, which they often do during the spawn around the passes. (Be sure to flatten the barbs for easy release.)

It’s possible to walk the sand in the morning and actually see the fish in the first slough, often less than 10 feet off the beach.

Some of the fish found along the beaches at this time of year are likely to be trophy class, and you’ll want a photograph. Just remember, the best way to handle snook without injury to them is to get into the water, support them at the surface, and let your pal shoot the photo. Never hold them up clear of the water by the lower jaw; this is very likely to cause mortal injury.

Snook spawning is common at every pass from the north tip of Anclote south through the Everglades at this time of year; pick a spot, keep alert and your bait fresh, and you’ll find plenty of action.

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Copyright (c) 2008, Tampa Tribune, Fla.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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