49TH ANNUAL ST. PETE OPEN
SEE RESULTS INSIDE
KAYAK FISHING STUART, FL
ON THE BANKS OF LAKE OKEECHOBEE
& DIVE IN WITH CAPT. AJ INTO THE BLUE CHARTERS WWW.BETTEROFFWET.COM BETTEROFFWET.COM 1
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Catch BOAT SHOW It All THE FORT LAUDERDALE INTERNATIONAL
Whether you’re competing for the prize fish, or Just a weekend warrior, this show has something for you. See the latest Models: Blackwater, Bluewater, Boston Whaler, Buddy Davis, Cabo, Century, Contender, Deep Impact, Everglades, Grady White, Hatteras, Hell’s Bay, Hurricane, Hydra-Sports, Invincible, Jupiter, maritimo, Maverick, Midnight Express, Pioneer, Pursuit, Regulator, Riviera, Roscioli, Scout, SeaHunter, Sea Vee, Silverton, Spencer, Viking, Wellcraft, Yellowfin and more. plus Motor Yachts, inflatables, Personal Watercraft and all the newest electronics, engines and technology. Talk to Factory Reps & Experts from around the world.
Oct. 30-Nov. 3, 2014
OWNED & SPONSORED BY:
Marine Industries Association of South Florida
Tickets & Great Hotel Deals: www.showmanagement.com
MYBOATSHOW APP SPONSORED BY:
BAHIA MAR YACHTING CENTER - LAS OLAS MARINA - HALL OF FAME MARINA - BROWARD COUNTY CONVENTION CENTER - PIER 66 - FT LAUDERDALE HILTON MARINA - THE SAILS MARINA
CHECK OUT THE FISHING, DIVING & CRUISING SEMINARS AND SEE THE OPENING NIGHT FIREWORKS PRESENTATION!
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Two organizations diving for one cause Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge and Divers 4 Heroes
Head aboard the beautiful 57’ Spellbound, with Better Off Wet, for a day of action with Captains Jay and Chris
Kayak fishing in Stuart, FL with Capt. Brian Nelli
Get Geared up for Kayak Fishing | Engel Coolers, DOA and more
Meet Capt. AJ Hally with Into the Blue Spearfishing Charters
Q & A with Sheri Daye: World Record Spearfishing Champion
Better Off Wet covers the 49th Annual St. Pete Open - Largest Spearfishing Tournament in the World
On the Tournament Trail with Team High Water Companies
Fun filled night of Frog Giggin’ along the banks of Lake Okeechobee
The perfect companion to a day on the water!
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Benjamin Chewning email@example.com SALES & DISTRIBUTION Andrea Duenas firstname.lastname@example.org CREATIVE DIRECTOR Joe Sweat email@example.com WEB MASTER Jesse Stevens firstname.lastname@example.org PRO STAFF Captain Billy Norris email@example.com Captain Brian Nelli firstname.lastname@example.org COVER PHOTO courtesy of Outdoor Channel / Photographer Joe Marino
CONTACT Better Off Wet P.O. Box 821 Okeechobee, FL 34973 863.634.7710
CENTRO YBOR • YBOR CITY 1600 East 8th Ave. Tampa, Florida 33605 TampaBayBrewingCompany.com | DraftBeerToYourFace.com
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Better Off Wet, all rights reserved. No part of this magazine or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted without the express written consent of the Publisher.
SCUBA CEN TE R
SPINES & SPINYS TO
Tilden’s Scuba Center Has Spiced up our Mini Season Lobster Tournament. This year we want participants to bring a lionfish to accompany their bugs for weigh in. Lionfish are a non indigenous species that threaten the fragile eco system of our beautiful reefs. What many don’t know is, THEY ARE GOOD TO EAT!!! The Tournament is to promote the health of the reef while having a fabulous time.
DIVE TODAY ages 8+ WITHOUT EXPERIENCE OR CERTIFICATION
Enjoy breathing underwater without time consuming pool training or the need for heavy equipment in the water. Our instructors will give you a thorough orientation before you arrive at one of our beautiful reefs and they will accompany you while you are in the water. Whether you live here in the Keys or you have friends/family visiting, SNUBA® is great for the whole family, ages 8 and up. We also train all levels of scuba certifications, starting with Open Water at age 10. Combination trips of SNUBA®, Scuba, Freedivers and Riders are run twice daily at both of your locations.
We are also trying to help out a local who is suffering from stage IV bone cancer. Cathy McKoy, is the wife of one of our dear friends who runs another dive /fishing operation here in Marathon. We are donating 50% of all proceeds for the tournament to them to help in their very costly treatments and travel.
Winners for a variety of categories will be rewarded with AWESOME PRIZES such as :
Scuba Regulators ~ Spear Guns ~ Cameras ~ Dive Accessories ~ Scuba Gear ~ Local Restaurant Certificates and more… National:
Our Sponsors: Local:
Call today for your reservation. 2 Training Facilities • 4 Boats • 2 Retail/Repair Centers
D A I LY R E E F T R I P S 8a.m. 12 p.m. & 1 p.m. 5 p.m.
All dive trips go to 2 sites
Dive from Long Key to West of Sombrero - over 60 sites!
SNUBA® SCUBA SNORKEL RENTALS SPEARFISH LOBSTER
AIR FILLS NITROX HYDROS REPAIR RETAIL
Entry Fee is $30 per person (Each participant gets a cool hat!) • Last entry taken at 8am Wednesday, July 30th. • Final Weigh In at 6pm Thursday, July 31st. • All contestants will be asked to sign a waiver and lionfish collection understanding sheet. • We will have both lobster and lionfish gear for sale at the shop. • Our hours are extended for Mini Season.
2 GREAT LOCATIONS NEAR YOU! Tilden’s Scuba Center
Dive Duck Key
4650 Overseas Hwy 49.5mm Next to Hurricane Bar & Grill
61 Hawks Cay Blvd. 61mm Hawks Cay Resort & Marina
Tilden’s Scuba Center
4650 Overseas Hwy Marathon, FL 33050 (305) 743-7255
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said Erich Bartels, Manager of Mote’s Coral Reef Science and Monitoring Program who oversees the coral nursery project. Gold Star Teen Adventures provides adventure camps to the surviving youth of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps Special Operations personnel who have lost their lives in the line of duty. The Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge improves the lives of wounded and injured Veterans through rehabilitative high-adventure and therapeutic outdoor challenges while furthering the physiological, biomedical and pathological sciences associated with their injuries. The mission of SCUBAnauts International is to guide young men and women, ages 12 through 18, along an exciting pathway for personal development by
R 1 S CAU
COMBAT WOUNDED VETERAN CHALLENGE Over the last two years, veterans wounded in combat and youth interested in learning leadership skills through scuba involving marine science activities have been volunteering at Mote Marine Laboratory’s underwater coral nursery in the Florida Keys. This year Mote dedicated a coral restoration site as a special remembrance site for fallen American veterans. During July 23 - 30, combat wounded veterans of the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge, SCUBAnauts International and the Gold Star Teen Adventures joined with Mote scientists and transplanted over 850 staghorn corals at this underwater site for the first time. “Our mission with this project is multi-faceted,” said Dr. Michael P. Crosby, President & CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory. “As the southernmost marine research laboratory in the nation, we’re dedicated to restoring the only barrier reef in the continental U.S. And, as an organization dedicated to helping the public understand ocean ecosystems and in supporting the next generation of scientists, we’re always looking for new opportunities to involve ‘citizen scientists’ — like the SCUBAnauts, like the Combat Wounded Veterans and the Gold Star Teens — in our research programs. “Members of SCUBAnauts International and the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge have been with us working in the nursery since 2012, coming out to help propagate coral and replant fragments in our transplant area near Looe Key,”
Photo Credit: Darcel Schouler
involving them in the marine sciences through underwater marine research activities such as special environmental and undersea conservation projects that builds character, promotes active citizenship, and develops effective leadership skills. A special thanks to Bill Jackson’s Shop for Adventure and Dive Key West for their exemplary efforts to equip the vets and teens.
INFO Darcel Schouler 727.942.8415 www.combatwounded.org facebook.com/WoundedNot Conquered twitter.com/CombatWoundedVC LinkedIn.com/company/CombatWounded-Veteran-Challenge instagram.com/combatwoundedvc youtube.com/user/CombatWoundedVC/ Photo Credit: Keith Zeier BETTEROFFWET.COM 9
DIVERS 4 HEROES How do you feel when you see a wounded warrior? The sight provokes many emotions, but for some they feel called to action. Which is exactly what inspired the founders of Divers 4 Heroes (D4H).
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While on vacation in the Keys, the founders of the organization did such a thing. Debbie Rivera -Twillman saw these young men and women and decided to take action… “Let’s teach them how to SCUBA Dive”! Now 7 years later, D4H is still serving wounded veterans with SCUBA Discovers every month, quarterly Open Water Certification, continuing monthly education, fun dives and 2 international trips annually to Bonaire, and the Bahamas. We have wonderful volunteers with collaborative partners that allow us to serve the Wounded Warrior Project Alumni and other veterans who have served and been injured prior to 9/11 from all branches of our military. “I want you to know that being involved has become an important part of my life and recovery. The different levels and certificates for diving achievement have allowed me to set attainable goals, and successfully achieve them despite my injuries. I always look forward to the knowledge, laughter, experience and the comradery that I share with the other Veterans whenever I participate in any D4H’s events,” says Wounded Warrior Damon Zeigler.SCUBA is an opportunity to be free. Many injuries are visible, however, so many are not. Our goal is freedom, free from crutches, prosthetics, wheel chairs, and all the cares that life brings, not leaving anyone behind. Water is truly the great equalizer. Join us in “giving back to those who gave so much of themselves.” 10 BETTER OFF WET | FALL 2014
INFO There are many ways to help Divers 4 Heroes 501c3. Please contact us: www.Divers4Heroes.org photo copyright Debbie Twillman
VETERAN OWNED AND OPERATED
Creating Divers & Changing Lives
• Fantastic Dive Trips • Quality Instruction • Honest Sales Staff • Full Equipment Service Captain Scott Crawford - Advanced Open Water Instructor 2109-A Main St. Dunedin • 727-733-1919 • 727-637-8463 ROCKBOTTOMDIVESHOP.COM
Captiva Island’s only small resort DIRECTLY ON THE BEACH!
Experience TRUE CAPTIVA ISLAND! Near the village-nothing between you and our beautiful white beach, close to everything yet away from the buzz.
GoCaptiva.com (239) 472-4684
Closest to Outer Islands!
RESERVE A BOAT TODAY Boat Rentals • Boat Rides • Boat Tours Visit Cabbage Key North Captiva & Cayo Costa
Fishing Guides available TACKLE Rent or Sale • BAIT • ICE • GAS
ON THE BAY
Fish • Boat • Relax • Have Fun! Historic “Twin Palm” Cottages & Marina Family Owned & Operated Cozy - Clean - Great Rates
Easy walk or bicycle to beach, restaurants, shops & more
CHARTERS / GUIDES
Spellbound | Miami, FL
BOUND to CATCH Andy Durham
You couldn’t have placed an order for a more perfect day – sunny, but a slight breeze, with calm, clear waters in North Biscayne Bay and out through the Haulover Inlet. Today we were guests on Spellbound, a 57 foot custom built “Battlewagon” as clean and crisp as the day she was first put into the water in 2009. There was no doubt amongst all the gawkers on the sandbar and the jetties that this boat was going to come back with some serious fish! Captain Jay Cohen (Deep Sea Fishing Miami) and Captain Chris were professional and gracious hosts – familiarizing us with the boat, icing down our drinks, and psyching us up for a great day of fishing.
Our 15 minute cruise included a lively discussion on the World Cup action with our lovely guests Patricia, Carmen, and Carla, and before we knew it – we were anchored up on a nice little reef just inside of the Gulfstream. Captain Jay and Chris rigged us up on some light tackle St. Croix / Penn spinning combos, and so began a steady stream of Yellowtail Snapper bending everyone’s rods. Doubles, triples, and sometimes four fish were hooked at the same time, as everyone had a blast fighting the Yellowtails, Triggerfish, and Muttons for an hour of non-stop action. Just as it seemed like we had time to sit back and enjoy some cold beverages – Chris’ pole rocketed downward with the drag whining like a buzzsaw. Patricia was able to strap the belt on just in time to get set up for a fight, and we got to see an angry 42” King Mackerel fly through the air twice on its way to the stern of the Spellbound, as Captain Chris gaffed it and brought it on board. High fives all around and some congratulatory Portuguese cheers for the Brazilian beauty as she landed her first King. Another hour and a half went by in no time, as it just doesn’t 12 BETTER OFF WET | FALL 2014
seem like there are enough hours in the day to reel in fish after fish. Everyone took time to cool off in the spacious, air-conditioned cabin of the Spellbound – fully equipped with comfortable seating, a full galley, head with shower, flat screen Smart TV, and WiFi. As some clouds began to roll in – Chris and Captain Jay set up the outriggers and hoisted the anchor as we began a spectacular afternoon troll. It wasn’t long before drags began whining, and Carmen and Carla got in on the action by muscling in a monster Bonita and some beautiful Mahi. As we headed back toward North Bay – it seemed as if the end of a perfect day was drawing close. That’s when the big one hit, and we immediately saw the bill of an irate sailfish thrash the water about 35 yards behind us. I didn’t ask for it – but everyone insisted that I take the chair, and the fight was on! It was a beautiful trophy sailfish – at least seven feet long – angrily attempting to spit the lure out with two full extension leaps out of the Atlantic. Everyone gathered around me – cheering me on – which fueled me to crank on the reel as fast as I possibly could. Unfortunately –
the voice I didn’t hear until last was that of Captain Jay – telling me to slow down and crank steady. At that point it was too late – the big sail used my adrenaline against me and wiggled off the hook as I tried to rip its jaws from off of its bill! I was dejected – but it was short-lived, and the Better off Wet team did their best to cheer me up. We all agreed that it was better to hook up and lose than to cruise without a line in the water.
CHARTERS / GUIDES
SPELLBOUND www.deepseafishing miami.com
“...we got to see an angry 42” King Mackerel fly through the air twice on its way to the stern of the Spellbound”
The trip back was amazing, as the big fishing yacht cut through the choppy water effortlessly. As we backed in to the slip at the Haulover Marina – the jokes were being laid on me pretty heavily for the sailfish debacle. I guess I’m content to be known as “Captain Hook” to the Better off Wet team from now on. We lounged and laughed in the cabin as Captain Chris worked furiously to carve up Yellowtail and Mahi fillets and some beautiful Kingfish steaks for all to take home. It was the end of a perfect fishing trip on the Spellbound, and I left feeling proud that there is still a trophy sailfish out in the Atlantic for the next group to catch.
Capt. Jay Cohen Cell Phone: (305) 785-0552 Office: (877) 94 Deep C – (877) 943-3372 email: email@example.com Haulover Park Marina | Miami, FL
Come with us and discover Weedon Island.
One of the “must sees’ in Florida. Weedon Island Preserve is an expansive 3,190-acre natural area located on Tampa Bay. It is comprised mostly of marine ecosystems. The Preserve is a well-known birding and fishing site. The Preserve’s rich human history began with prehistoric peoples who thrived on the abundant fish, shellfish, plants, and mammals of the wetlands, islands and estuaries of Tampa Bay. These people evolved into Photo credit: Bay Soundings. the Weeden Island culture that lasted some 800 years. Their social structure included ceremonial and artistic pottery. In 2011, archaeologists and volunteers excavated an ancient dugout canoe from the shoreline of Weedon Island Preserve. The canoe was first discovered by a local resident in 2001. Radiocarbon testing yielded a date of AD 690–1010. Today, the preserve protects this wide diversity of natural and cultural resources for current and future generations. Sweetwater Kayak’s self-guided kayak tours give seafarers a quiet look at the ecosystems of Weedon Island without the
clamor and commotion of a motorboat. Wind along the 4-mile marked trail, across the crystal clear lagoons and through mangrove tunnels in which you will likely see a resident bird, dolphin, or manatee. Each trip lasts up to four hours and provides a panorama of pristine environments and a glimpse into the life of a pirate or native floridian. Sweetwater Kayaks will provide the necessary vessels, paddles, life vests, and trail maps. They sell kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards for the novice paddler, the expedition minded paddler, and everyone in-between. Everyone on Sweetwater’s staff is a coach and possesses certification from the American Canoe Association (ACA), British Canoe Union (BCU), or both. “We have put hundreds of paddlers on the water over the last 20 years, and are skilled at matching your size, physical capabilities, and paddling skills with the right kayak, thereby enhancing your comfort, fun, and safety for your style of paddling.”
“Tampa Bays hidden gem”
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CHARTERS / GUIDES
Order on-line www.doalures.com
New 4” Shad
Our C.A. L. Jigheads, proven to be the best with holographic eyes and unique design, are available in a variety of colors and sizes from 1/16 oz thru 1 oz.
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Made in USA BETTEROFFWET.COM 15
Photo Credit: Joe Sweat
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SILENT APPROACH Captain Brian Nelli
or most people fishing is a way to escape from the “real” world. For some it’s the thrill of hooking into a big fish and others it’s just about being out in nature. Kayak fishing allows an individual to hear, see and smell the fishing environment up close and personal. A kayak allows an angler to get into areas that most watercraft cannot access due to tight quarters, skinny water or motor restricted zones. Stealth is a big advantage when flats fishing. A kayak allows you to approach an area quietly to sneak up on the big one. On our kayak fishing trip, we targeted the Stuart, FL area. Our plan was to target areas of high current and channel edges. Our Hobie Outback Kayaks were outfitted with Hobie’s Mirage Drive System in which we used our legs to propel us across the flats. It didn’t take long to arrive at our first spot where we jumped out to knee deep water. These kayaks were rigged with anchor trolleys to not only use with an anchor but to be able to attach to an angler as they walk across a flat. Wading the fast moving outgoing negative tide is a great way to cover the area well. This negative low tide forces fish in areas of deeper pockets and channels. This tide allowed us to concentrate on these deeper areas rather than trying to cover the whole area of flats. Anglers were outfitted with 7 foot 8-15lb inshore rods, Shimano 3000 series reels and lined with 15lb test braid. To start the day rods were rigged with DOA 3” Shrimp and a variety of top water lures tide to 3 foot of 25lb fluorocarbon leader. BETTEROFFWET.COM 17
Photo Credit: Joe Sweat
A great sunrise greeted us as we began to make our cast with top waters. Things were slow to start, but then we got into the swarms of glass minnows that have been congregating on these flats. Our baits were getting blown up on, but the hooks were just not connecting. The fish seem sluggish and wary as they were just what I call
“spitting” at the lure. We decided to switch a couple rods to the DOA shrimp to see if the slower moving lure would increase the bite. We kept at it for an hour or so only to lose a few smaller Snook and land one Jack. It was time for a move. Jumping back into our Hobies it was very easy to get to our next spot pedaling against the current. After a short trip, we jumped out into a little deeper area that was about to our waist. The tide was getting close to changing at this time and I knew our bite would come to a halt soon. We worked a “hot spot” with no luck and made our way down the flat as the tide crawled to a stop. After a 30min break the tide had switched and was moving pretty good again, so we made our way back to the “hot spot”. The
tide change did the trick as the bite turned on, but the hooks still didn’t want to do their job. We lost a few more Snook and some smaller Trout. We stuck it out in this area and as the tide picked up we finally landed a quality trout to end the day. Fishing in a kayak is an amazing experience if you have only fished out of a skiff, flats boat or bay boat. It provides the angler with the feeling of being a part of the environment rather than powering through it. Not only can it be a great exercise, but your gas bill will be greatly reduced. Get out there and enjoy a new on the water experience.
Capt. Brian Nelli Capt. Brian is owner and charter captain of Pushin’ Wate Kayak Charters, as well as Pro Staffer for Better Off Wet. To follow more on Capt. Brian, see his info below. www.tckayakfishing.com firstname.lastname@example.org 772.201.5899 youtube: TCKayakfishing Follow Capt. Brian - “tckayakfishing”
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GEARED for KAYAKS SWEET RIDE
The latest generation of fishing kayak is now here. The Feel Free Lure, coming in three sizes (10 ft, 11.5 ft and 13.5 ft), has all the amenities a fishing fan could ask for. Rod and drink holders, places for tools as well as tackle boxes, coolers ect. They also have all the handles molded into the hull so there is no place for a line to catch on as a fish works its way around the boat. Also they all have a standing deck in front of the most comfortable seat in kayak fishing today! The Stern wheel makes getting your kayak to and from the water a breeze. Here at Sweetwater Kayaks, we are all paddlers and can help you make the right decisions to maximize your on water experience. Sweetwaterkayaks.com l 727.570.4844
COOLER THAN THE REST
Finally, a cooler to make your fishing trip frustration-free! The Award Winning Engel UC30-RH, for even the most expert fisherman or angler, getting an armful of rods out to the water is beyond frustrating, especially when you’re carrying so much other gear. That’s why Engel created the Cooler / DryBox with Rod Holders, a unique cooler with fishing rod attachments that hold your rods, so you don’t have to! This ideal gem has all the reliable insulation, rugged durability and storage protection you’ve come to expect from Engel Cooler / DryBoxes – with the added convenience of removable rod holders that stay firmly secured thanks to specially-molded brackets that attach to our cooler wall from the inside. ICAST 2014 New Product Showcase “WINNER” Best of Show in Tackle Management Systems. *Shown with: Comfortable - Optional Cooler / DryBox Cushion Made of durable vinyl dipped closed cell foam rubber. Die cut for accessing cooler handle - for easy carrying. Hook and loop attachment for securing to your coolers lid. Engel Cooler / DryBox weight limit is 220lbs - for UC30 model. Engel-USA.com l 888.272.9838
The new DOA 4 – inch Shad was developed in response to the company’s customers’ demands for a larger profile shad-style bait. The heavy mass of plastic in the nose of this bait allows for maximum holding power when matched to a DOA jighead. The large opening in the belly of the bait and recessed hook slot allow for flawless rigging with worm or screw lock-style hooks. The Shad’s broad tail provides a hard “pulse” in the water as well as a natural flutter on the drop. This new bait has already performed impressively in both salt and freshwater. Doalures.com l 877.DOA.LURES
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The EyeOuts UPF 50+ Microfiber Hat Features: * Microfiber Fabric - for light weight, UPF 50+ sun protection and it is water repellent * Hydrotec Moisture Wicking Fabric - four inserts at the top for heat release and minimizing sweat * Hydrotec lining - to avoid side head pressure * One Sided Strap with elastic strap - for sizing multiple users * Plastic Visor Body - for those who like to go boating or doing water sports * This Hat Floats! Eyeouts.com l 203.936.8872
1. UPF 40+ Certified. Blocks out harmful UV rays 2. Mesh venting system - superior airflow for maximum coolness 3. Moisture management - quick dry and wicking properties 4. MicroFiber Weave - thin, lightweight, and durable Fishwareoutfitters.com l 859.797.5748
FEEL THE RUSH
STEP IN STYLE
Zeko Shoes are a comfortable, performance and versatile deck shoe. Perfect for water sports enthusiasts, these lightweight shoes have water-resistant, moisture-wicking microfiber mesh uppers that drain and dry quick. The high-performance ventilated outsoles help keep your feet cool and dry with integrated ventilation through the non-marking, slip resistant soles. Easy to use velcro straps provide a quick and comfortable custom fit and make these fishing shoes a breeze to slip on and off. Zekoshoes. com l 317.644.7695
This featured rod, built by Adrenaline Fishing Custom Rods, is an Inshore 8-17lb test rod that has an extended split grip, two double-footed guides and five single-footed guides. This allows for more distance and better accuracy. Additionally, this unique setup is able to withstand the weight of a 30lb+ fish without the single-footed guides bending or breaking. “Feel the Adrenaline Difference!” Adrenalinefishingrods.com l 561.866.2776
IT’S NOT SCOTCH. IT’S NOT BOURBON. IT’S JACK.
Photo Credit: Alessandra Hally
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BLUE AJ Hally
I was born and raised in the Florida Keys and started freediving at the age of 6. I remember not being very interested in it at first and feeling intimidated by freediving. At the age of 7, my parents bought me my first small speargun, and I shot my first fish. It’s funny, because I actually missed that hogfish about three times before I was able to put a solid shot into it. From that day onward, I have been obsessed with hunting fish and the overall experience of freediving. My friends, family, and I spend as much time as we can in the water. For many in the Keys, it’s not only a hobby, but a lifestyle that we all love. My world of freediving and spearfishing all changed in 2006 when I met Sheri Daye. I emailed her after watching her TV series on the Outdoor Channel called Speargun Hunter. To my surprise, she responded to my email and invited me to be on her TV show. That was the beginning of a great friendship which we still have to this day. I was 13 years old, and I will never forget the experience of that first show. We were shooting fish and filming and having a great day on the water for two days. I look back and realize how inexperienced I was in front of the camera, but I was so excited to be underwater with Sheri that I really didn’t care what I sounded or looked like on camera.
Photo Credit: Alessandra Hally
was invited on the show again at age 17. It was fun to have the whole experience recorded and to be able to share it with some of my non-diving friends and relatives. Sheri and I still go out on the water to this day, and we consider her family. I am now 20 years old and presently run a spearfish/eco-freedive charter company called Into the Blue Charters LLC out of Little Torch Key. With my knowledge of the reefs and conditions, I’m able to put clients on the fish. I’m also able to supply photo/video with the help of my sister and mother for those that would like to record their ventures. My good friend, Daryl Wong, supplies my company with spearguns so my clients can try them out during my charters. I consider myself lucky to be doing something I love and to be able to share this underwater world with clients, family, and friends. To me, this is the ultimate job! Some last words – I know I am a Young Gun and have a lot to learn, but I want to share my experience with fellow divers. Being a freediving spearfisherman is a dream come true for me, but I will always remember our lost friends and divers who will not come back to us. We must always remember to be safe and to follow one simple rule, and that is, ALWAYS have a dive partner/buddy. It could save your life!
Postscript, by Sheri: I’ve been lucky to make some genuine friendships through spearfishing, and one of my dearest is with AJ Hally and his family. I’ve had the honor of seeing AJ grow from a sweet boy when I first met him into the talented young man he is today. He is one heck of a spearfisherman, and he’s landed some very impressive fish, but I’m equally impressed by his captaining skills and his desire to help others achieve their dreams in the water. You go, AJ -- looking forward to our next adventure in the water!
Photo Credit: Alessandra Hally
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AJ Hally Into the Blue Charters Ph: 305.923.6085 / Em: AJ@Intothebluecharters.com Facebook: Into The Blue Spearfishing Charters Instgram: @Intotheblue_charters Sheri Daye The Blue Wild - Ocean Adventure Expo www.TheBlueWild.com Facebook: The Blue Wild
Q A &
SHERI DAYE Q&A
ARE YOU A FLORIDA NATIVE AND WHERE DO YOU RESIDE NOW?
Yes, Florida native -- grew up in Miami, went to college in Gainesville, and live/ work in Boca Raton. I love the weather and ocean in South Florida! Q&A
SO YOU’RE INTO FREEDIVE SPEARFISHING?
Yes, got into it when hardly anyone was doing it – about 15 years ago. It’s really catching on, seeing a lot of young people now, and it’s great to see the enthusiasm. Q & A WHAT IS FUELING THIS GROWTH?
There is an addictive quality to this. It’s fun and challenging and intense. It’s an escape into a beautiful and mysterious world with amazing sights. Not only that, it’s good exercise, you make good friends along the way, and you get to eat fresh seafood. What’s not to like?!? Also, it’s an honorable and selective way to take a fish for dinner – no netting, no long-lining, no by-catch.
WE KNOW YOU TRAVEL A LOT. Q & A DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE PLACE?
ANY GEAR TIPS FOR THE Q & A READERS? WHO MAKES YOUR FAVORITE SPEARGUNS?
I was fortunate to dive all over the world as host of “Speargun Hunter” for six years, but my favorite place is my own back yard – including the Keys and Bahamas. You just can’t beat the warm clear waters of the Caribbean.
I am very particular about my wetsuit and my spearguns. I want to be comfortable in the water, and I want my spearguns to have good range and accuracy. I use Yazbeck wetsuits and Wong spearguns which are custom made in Hawaii. The products keep improving and there are a lot more choices on the market nowadays.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE FISH TO SHOOT FOR DINNER?
I thought hogfish was my favorite to eat until I brought home some Pacific Red Snapper from Baja recently. Wow, was that good! But -- black groupers, mutton snappers, cobia – they are all great. ASPECTS OF SPEARFISHING ARE POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS. Q&A WHAT CAN BE DONE TO MITIGATE THAT?
This is a safe activity if you take certain precautions. The biggest threat to freedivers is from blackouts. I tell newcomers to take a freedive class and always dive with a buddy. You also have to watch out for other boats running you over, curious sharks, entanglement, etc. Sounds dangerous, but I’d rather be in the ocean than driving on I-95…ha ha.
WE ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO HEADING TO THE NEXT BLUE WILD DIVE EXPO, IN FEBRUARY Q&A 2015. CAN YOU PLEASE TELL OUR READERS AND US A LITTLE ABOUT THE EVENT?
Glad to have you join us. Our next Expo will be at the Broward County Convention Center on February 21 and 22, 2015. We always have lots of excitement in the air. We have a strong presence with freediving and spearfishing, and we also have exhibitors and workshops covering scuba, lobstering, surfing, SUP, marine art, underwater photography and videography, and more. By the way, we also do a mini-Blue Wild at the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show (Nov 2014) and the West Palm Beach Boat Show (Mar 2015). Save the date and come join the fun! www.thebluewild.com BETTEROFFWET.COM 27
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If, you like spearfishing, having fun and enjoying a weekend on the water, you will love the St. Pete Open (SPO)! This was the 49th year that the St. Petersburg Underwater Club (SPUC) has hosted the event, turning it into the largest spearfishing event in the world. In l966, 50 divers entered the first ever St. Pete Open. Since its inception, the Open has grown to an annual attendance of more than 300 competitors. There were 343 shooters this year, the second highest turnout! More than 6,000 people, spanning the last 40+ years have taken part in the St. Pete Open; making it the premier spearfishing event in the world. From the time we arrived and met with Denny, Dean, and many of the other welcoming Club members, we felt right at home. We could instantly tell that the members are very passionate about their sport, event, and of course...having fun. This year the SPO was held at the Magnuson Hotel Marina Cove, marking the tenth year that the event has been held at the hotel. The Magnuson Hotel Marina Cove is a great place for any fishing event or a simple weekend getaway. The Hotel is right on the water and has a beautiful view of the Skyway Bridge. Magnuson Hotel Marina Cove is perfect for family fishing fun. With a private beach and private 32 boat slip marina, guests will enjoy all the first-class amenities of a full service resort. Guests of the Hotel will never lack for fun things to do: there are two swimming pools available, as well as hot tub, fitness center, volleyball, tennis and shuffleboard courts, jogging path, playground, bicycle rentals, yoga classes and arcade room. Don’t worry about getting hungry; because the Hotel offers waterfront dining at Periscopes or Banyan Tree Deli. And, for all of you pet owners out there, it is a pet friendly resort! We would like to thank Steve Springman (Hotel Manager) and all of his great staff, for a wonderful stay. Steve has been at the Magnuson Hotel Marina Cove since 1991, and is very passionate about taking care of his guests. We cannot wait for next year, the 50th St. Pete Open! And, the Magnuson Hotel Marina Cove will be hosting once again. Everything kicked off on Friday night with registration by the pool from 6-8, followed by a Captain’s meeting from 8:30-9 pm. This is where everyone has a chance 30 BETTER OFF WET | FALL 2014
to register, get their Captain’s bags, mingle, catch up with old friends and new friends and hear any rule changes and guidelines the current President GR Tarr announced. We had an incredible time meeting individuals who all share the same passion for the sport and lifestyle of being out on the water, from all over the country. The meeting ended with a big surprise for all the captains, having been told they would each receive a complimentary case of Tampa Bay Brewing Company’s new Reef Donkey APA. After that, the countdown began for all the divers, waiting 3 more hours until the tournament began at 12:01 a.m. on that Saturday. Saturday, the line started around 6 p.m. and teams were allowed until 7:30 p.m. to have their entire catch in the weigh-in line, with at least one team member present. For whatever the reason may be, you can not weigh in a minute past 7:30 p.m. The weigh in line is where the action began, for the captains, friends, family and guests of the St. Pete Open. Shooters are waiting in line to see if their catch will be just a couple ounces or pounds bigger than the last fish weighed. As each fish makes its way onto the stage,
the thousand attendees would roar and applaud every time, and even more when someone topped the previous standing weight. There were numerous large Grouper, Snapper, Amberjack, Hogfish, Barracuda, Cobia, Sheepshead, and Lobster. However, S.P.U.C member and owner of E-SeaRider marine bean bags, Pat Bennett had everyone in the crowd screaming when the biggest fish of the day, a Grouper, showed up at 99.75 lbs! What a beautiful fish it was. Saturday night continued into the early morning with fishing stories, Reef Donkeys, swimming, and celebration for the sport of spearfishing. Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. was the awards ceremony. The ceremony is always held inside, rain or shine. The St. Petersburg Underwater Club had a prize table with the best gear, gift certificates, and marine related items than we could possibly take in. It is known as the largest prize table in spearfishing. As a part of the SPO; every person who weighs a fish on Saturday gets an opportunity to pick a prize on Sunday. Here we saw first year shooters win trophies and prizes as well as shooters who have been coming for decades. Also, there are mystery tickets that give everyone a chance to win. It was an amazing thing to witness so many passionate spearfishing lovers in one room. The awards ceremony on Sunday is fun for every member of the family and is a great finish to an awesome weekend. Better Off Wet would like to give a special thanks to everyone we met at the St. Pete Open! We had a blast as a first year sponsor. And, thank you to Paul Fleming from Intrepid Powerboats for taking us on the Intrepid 327 Center Console for a closing boat ride to a fun-filled weekend. We cannot wait to see everyone next year at the 50th St. Pete Open. And, we cannot stress enough to all the spearfishing men and women out there...to go ahead and start looking into being at next year’s Open. SPUC is a member of the FSDA (Florida Skin Divers Association) West Coast Council. www.divefsda.com
SPO WINNERS 1. Pat Bennet
Grouper - 99.75 lbs
2. Scott Nunn
Snapper - 21.9 lbs
3. Trey Stickland Amberjack - 87.45 lbs 4. Dan Traver
Hogfish - 19.05 lbs
5. Adam Valle
Cudaâ&#x20AC;&#x2020;/Cobia - 35.45 lbs
6. Marc Meyer Lobster - 8.25 lbs 7. Ritchie Zacker Sheepshead - 6.4 lbs INFO
www.stpeteopen.com Magnuson Hotel Marina Cove 6800 Sunshine Skyway Lane St. Petersburg, FL, 33711
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ope everyone has had a fantastic summer! We have all enjoyed everything that summer had to offer us, here at Team High -Water Companies. We started the summer with wrapping up a very difficult tarpon season in Boca Grande, FL, however, we continued our adventures into the Florida Keys for a successful mini lobster season. The PTTS series was plagued with the fish either not biting or simply not being in the pass. In the end, we were able to finish 5th overall in the Championship tournament and we were very happy with this performance. We would like to congratulate all of this year’s winners including Capt. Artie Price for his overall win at the Championship. Following the PTTS we set our eyes on our annual Mini Season trip to the Florida Keys. Mini Season is an exciting 2 days of Lobster fever. This
36 BETTER OFF WET | FALL 2014
year over 30,000 people ventured to the Keys in search of Spiny Lobster. When searching for Lobster we like to focus on the Gulf side of the Keys. Anyone with a boat and a good pair of eyes can search for the elusive “bugs”. Simply head offshore into the grass areas in about 8 – 15 ft of water and look for the sandy patches on the bottom. Most of the sandy patches are due to rock/limestone outcroppings that do not allow the grass to grow in the area. Inside all these outcroppings are all sorts of marine life. You will find lobster, grouper, snapper, crabs, and many other species that call these outcroppings home. An easy way to identify if lobsters are hiding in the spot is to either send one or two snorkelers into the water or get a bucket and cut the bottom out. After cutting the bottom, out insert a piece of clear plastic or plexi with silicone and you now have an easy viewing device. Hang that into the water over the side of the boat and have a look!! Look for the antenna sticking out, if they are, there then time for lobster catching time! There are literally thousands of spots to find lobster and just taking the time and being patient will pay off for anglers of all levels. Remember to bring your tickle sticks and lobster bags. Once the lobsters are located simply “tickle” them out with a little belly rub. Then put
the net behind the lobster and let them swim into the net. Be sure to measure them for legal length and keep only 6 per angler per day. This is a great family and friends adventure and all ages can participate in the very exciting two-day mini season. If crowds and lots of action are not your cup of tea, don’t worry regular lobster season opens about a week after the mini season. While we were looking for lobsters this year we ran across
TEAM HIGH WATER COMPANIES
“...Anyone with a boat and a good pair of eyes can search for the elusive ‘bugs’.”
a large number of Lionfish. These invasive species are taking over many areas across the state. Make sure to harvest as many of these fish as possible. We are their only predator. Not to worry, they taste great, just be careful of the spines when you get them, a set of scissors does the trick in getting rid of the spines boat side. We have been trying a lot of different recipes. Our favorite so far is ceviche. We have never tried to catch lionfish until recently and we highly recommend them to anyone. They are really good table fare and it helps out the overall ecosystem. A win-win! Looking forward to this fall we will be
switching gears and getting ready for the Fall Kingfish Run on the West Coast of Florida. Team High-Water Companies will be fishing in a number of different tournaments this coming fall and look forward to a great season! We would like to thank all of our sponsors and friends for their continued support of the team and the businesses that we represent. Being that we are in Hurricane Season, we would like to send a special recognition to High-Water Companies our title sponsor who has operations in both insurance protection from All Lines Insurance Group (your one stop shop for “all” your insurance
needs) and Deluge Products (flood and water protection products from home to commercial usage). In addition, a huge thanks to our other sponsors, especially this top-notch publication Better Off Wet, Dockside Fuel, Hookforlifecharters.com, Sperry Top-Sider, and Physicians Casualty. Tight Lines!!
Team High-Water Companies www.highwatercompanies.com www.teamhighwatercompanies.com www.facebook.com/teamhighwatercompanies
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LIFE JACKETS SAVE LIVES but ONLY IF YOU WEAR THEM! HANK CUSHARD - United States Coast Guard Auxiliary - Flotilla 59
STUART, Fla. | All recreational vessels must carry on board at least one approved wearable-type life jacket for each person on board or being towed. All life jackets, otherwise known as PFDs(personal flotation devices), must be the proper size for the intended wearer, be in good condition, readily accessible and United States Coast Guard (USCG)-approved. Furthermore, ” while on Florida waters, any person under six years of age must wear a PFD of proper size while on board any vessel less than 26 feet in length that is underway.” (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, MyFWC.com). Information below will give you an idea of what it all means.
United States Coast Guard Life Jacket Classifications:
TYPE I: The offshore life jacket provides the most buoyancy. It is effective for all waters, especially open, rough or remote waters where rescue may be delayed. It floats you best but is bulky and not comfortable for extended wear. TYPE II: The near-shore vest is intended for calm, inland water where a quick rescue expectation. These are the basic orange vests most boaters have on board. TYPE III: The flotation type vests are good for calm, inland water, or where there is a good chance of quick rescue. These are the most common jacket used for recreational purposes.They are light weight and comfortable. TYPE IV: Throwable devices like a cushion or a ring and can be thrown to anyone in the water needing assistance. TYPE V: Special-use devices are intended for a specific activities and may be carried instead of another life jacket if used according to the approved conditions. These include work vests, board sailing vests, etc. Some other noteworthy requirements: • Readily accessible means you must be able to put the PFD on in a reasonable amount of time in an emergency. PFDs should not be stowed in plastice bags, in locked or closed compartments. • All vessels 16 feet or greater (except canoes and kayaks) must carry one Type IV throwable preserver (i.e., ring or cushion). • Inflatable PFDs are authorized for persons over 16 years of age and are not recommended for use by weak swimmers or non- swimmers. • Personal watercraft operators and all passengers must wear a PFD at all times.
Remember this, 90 % of those who drown while boating were not wearing a life jacket. They work if you wear them. This information is provided as a guideline and not to be used for any other purpose. Some information reprinted from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary’s About Boating Safety.
GIGGIN! Andrea Duenas Frog gigging is something we here at Better Off Wet feel every Florida outdoor lover should try. It is great (inexpensive) fun for the whole family and provides a tasty meal, as well. After your first trip, we know you’ll be hooked! Frog gigging has been an American nighttime sport for many years, especially here in Florida. The concept is simple. We took one of our Better Off Wet girls, Christina Corkern, out on Lake Okeechobee to go gigging. We first went to the local bait & tackle shop and geared up with a gig pole, gig and spot light. Frogs can be found in ponds, lakes, creeks or rivers (just listen and you will hear their high pitched chirping calls). We were lucky enough to be on the largest freshwater lake in Florida and went out on an airboat with one of the locals. An important aspect of frog gigging is the timing; you have to wait until it’s good and dark until you begin to move along the banks either by foot or boat, scanning the shore line and lily pads. It was not minutes until we reached our first location and could see several pairs of glowing white eyes and the occasional white belly within our spotlight’s path. 40 BETTER OFF WET | FALL 2014
We slowly began our pursuit by inching through the waters, after Christina’s first few attempts, she learned quickly and perfected her attack by keeping eyes on the frog, a tight grip on the gig pole and with one swift motion; jab the gig through the frog. Once a frog is gigged, depending on your set up, you can either place the frog in a mesh bag or through an aluminum frog chute with a bag attached underneath. The frog chute makes the process much easier and faster when on the bow of a boat. A simple bag or bucket works perfectly if gigging by foot. Ok, so you’ve gigged a frog... Now you have to put him in your bag or frog chute. It’s easy to think that your catch is dead, but a lot of the time they are waiting to come off the gig... so, they can make a run for it. Be careful taking them off and moving them to your bag… Or, they might just get away. If you can complete these steps and gig 30 or more frogs, you can easily feed a nice size family. But, remember… like most other things in life… Just because a concept is simple; it doesn’t mean it will necessarily be easy. Gigging the frogs can be frustrating at first. But, after the
first few, you will be a pro. Christina missed quite a few frogs in the beginning of our trip, but once she perfected the steps, she closed the night out with over 45 frogs! Frog gigging poles range from 6-14ft long; You’ll probably want a long pole, so that you can get to the frogs easier. But, the longer the pole…the more inaccurate it may be. So, ask the experts at your local bait & tackle shop what they suggest for the right length pole that is best suited for you. The first priority in any sport or activity is always…Safety. Make sure you have on the proper attire for the occasion. Frogs have other predators out there hunting them, as well: be on the lookout for snakes and gators. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, by watching where your feet and hands are located. It’s best to have someone go with you, for increased safety and good company. They are able to provide an extra spot light and set of eyes for spotting frogs, lookout for those snakes and gators mentioned and offer any assistance you may need bagging the catch. Special thanks to Jeff Treece for taking Better Off Wet out!
Headlights can be used for frog gigging, as well alligator hunting and boat navigation at night. www.huntinglight.com
Frog Gig pictured below, Professional frog gigging equipment is available at www.huntinglight.com
BETTEROFFWET.COM â&#x20AC;&#x201A; 41
Florida Regulations: Frogs, except Pine Barrens tree frogs, gopher frogs and Florida bog frogs, maybe taken throughout the year by gigs, clubs, blowguns,hook and line or manually. You can shoot frogs with a .22 caliber or smaller firearms during the daylight hours. A commercial fishing license is required to sell frogs. Frog species classified as threatened or endangered may not be possessed or taken without a Scientific Collection permit. Always check www.myfwc.com for the most current regulations.
3 Pull skin off on lower section (pliers may help).
Cut skin on lower section of frog.
FROG FRYING 1 Make a simple egg wash with buttermilk and eggs, and season to taste.
2 Dip frog legs in flour, with preferred seasonings (bread crumbs optional).
3 Set your fryer to 375Âş, vegetable oil works best and cook until golden brown.
42 â&#x20AC;&#x201A; BETTER OFF WET | FALL 2014
Separate body from legs and rinse.
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To the women who now help us “man” our ships... who should know better than a woman.
Why buy your boat from a woman? A woman is referred to as ‘she’. Boats are also referred to as ‘she’. Both because men love them, but this encompasses far more than just that. Consider that a sailor must fight with, forgive, understand, love, hate, anguish over, and generally give his soul to his ship. In return, she acts as home, protector, comforter, etc. The saying being “married to a ship” is no idle phrase; the divorce rate among sailors is a lot higher than the normal average, and it’s because the sailor is spending more time with his ship than his wife. Man-o’-war or merchantman, there can be a great deal of bustle about her as well as a gang of men on deck, particularly if she is slim-waisted, well-stacked, and has an inviting superstructure. It is not so much her initial cost as it is her upkeep that makes you wonder where you founder. She is greatly admired when freshly painted and all decked out to emphasize her cardinal points. If an aircraft carrier, she will look in a mirror when about to be arrested, and will wave you off if she feels you are sinking too low or a little too high, day or night. She will not hangar around with duds, but will light you off and launch you into the wild blue yonder when you muster a full head of steam. Even a submarine reveals her topsides returning to port, heads straight for the buoys, knows her pier, and gets her breast-lines out promptly. On departure, no ship leaves port asleep, she always leaves a wake. She may not mind her helm or answer to the old man when the going gets rough, and can be expected to kick up her heels on a family squall.
She costs a lot to dress, sometimes blows a bit of smoke, and requires periodic overhauls to extend her useful life. Some have a cute fantail, others are heavy in the stern, but all have double-bottoms which demand attention. When meeting head-on, sound a recognition signal; whistle. If she does not answer up, come about and start laying alongside, but watch to see if she is slowing . . . perhaps her slip is showing? Then proceed with caution until danger of collision is over and you can fathom how much latitude she will allow. If she does not remain on an even keel, let things ride, feel your way, and do not cross the line until you determine ‘weather’ the “do” point is right for a prolonged blast. Get the feel of the helm, stay on the right “tact”, keep her so, and she will pay off handsomely. If she is in the roaring forties, however, you may be in the dangerous semi-circle, so do not expect much “luff,” especially under bare poles. She may think you are not under command or control and shove off. If she edges aweigh, keep her steady as she goes, but do not sink into the doldrums. Just remember that to buy her requires much trouble, but to keep both her happy is double! You do not want double trouble! To the women who now help us “man” our ships...who should know better than a woman. Most boaters put far more time and energy into buying a boat than they do selling it. While they price shop carefully before buying, they tend to simply slap a price on the windshield and damn the consequences when selling. The result is that some boats are seriously undervalued when it comes to resale, while others are so overpriced that they remain on the market endlessly, eating up dollars and driving their owners crazy. We approach selling your boat methodically, and you’ll not only get the very best price, but you’ll minimize the effort and grief involved as well. There are four crucial areas involved in selling your boat: setting a price, deciding on how to sell it, prepping it, and the final paperwork. If a buyer wants a sea trial, we will be sure that you have a firm and non-refundable deposit in hand and that the buyer agrees to pay for any costs, such as launching the boat or refueling it. You don’t want to go into the boat-ride business. If a buyer wants to make the sale contingent on getting good financing, we set a deadline to avoid other potential buyers getting away. Buyers want to keep all on an even keel. Who should know better than a woman? It’s buying season. Shirley Nelle 727.397.7070 email@example.com & niogroupinc.com. This article edited and reprinted courtesy tampabaysky.com, Leonard Smith.
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GETTING STUNG by a Lionfish
A lionfish can cause serious symptoms such as excruciating pain, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fever & difficult breathing. When stung during a dive, REMAIN CALM. • Notify your buddy and call the dive. • Ascend slowly and in a controlled manner. • Perform a Safety Stop. (Decompression Illness is far worse than a lionfish sting.) • Once on the boat or at shore, follow the treatment (what to do). • Always seek professional medical attention in any case of lion fish envenomation! Lionfish venom is a proteinaceous neurotoxin, and heat will denature the venom quickly. The key to suppressing the sting is to find safe sources of heat, such as those listed here. Remember not to scald! A burn may be worse than the sting itself. Since numbness can be a sting symptom, be sure to test water temperature with an unaffected part of the body to prevent scalding. • Bring a thermos of hot water when collecting lionfish.
• Nearby restaurants, marinas, or residences can usually heat water in an emergency. • Vessel exhaust water or engine coolant system may be a source of heat. • Lay a wet shirt or towel over an engine block for heating, then wrap. • Heat packs do not normally reach high enough temperatures to be effective, however, the reusable packs may provide relief for short periods (5–10 min). Urine is body temperature & is not effective. Source: Invasive Lionfish: A Guide to Control and Management; James A. Morris, Jr.
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at River Safaris & Gulf Charters in Homosassa, FL. Located along the Gulf Coast in the center of the state makes us easy to reach. Repeat customers from our 15 plus years in business can vouch for our reputation for a exciting & safe ride. There’s a freedom associated with riding an airboat especially in such a beautiful waterway of saltwater marsh, estuaries, coastal channels and islands. We love to glide on the water with the birds keeping pace. Winding and twisting around the many islands (approximately 30,000) along Florida’s Nature Coast to arrive at the Gulf of Mexico. Our Captains have logged many hours exploring these waters and have discovered many hidden treasures. Reef beds that hold “ There’s a freedom associated with riding an airboat ....” sponges, corals, sea fans and a multitude of fish”. Indian mounds, civil war and sugarcane plantation history to share. The change of seasons is noticeable with sea turtles, rays, tarpon and other large species of sea life arriving in the summer and magnificant Frigetbirds migrating from Argentina. Fall shifts the creatures to smaller varities like red drum (redfish), spotted sea trout and large schools of black and silver mullet. Winter chills brings manatees into the river system and American White Pelicans from Canada to the barrier islands. Spring comes alive with schools of small fish from recent spawns and large flocks of Herons, Egrets, Eagles and Osprey to name a few to nest and rest on the many islands both inshore and at the St. Martins Keys also known as the barrier islands. Pods of dolphins can be seen year round. The Homosassa River is the place to see all of this and more. Schedule your airboat ride, fishing trip or pontoon boat tour at River Safaris. We are open 7 days a week except Thanksgiving & Christmas from 8am until 5pm. 352-628-5222 - 800-758-3474 (FISH) www.riversafaris.com.
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52 BETTER OFF WET | FALL 2014