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Float rig saves the day When flawed forecast ruins offshore fishing, Capt. Brian Sanders heads inshore CHOKOLOSKEE ISLAND — Capt. Brian Sanders turned on the VHF radio just to make sure he wasn’t crazy. As his 24-foot Triton bay boat pounded across the whitecaps in the Gulf of Mexico, he listened to the National Weather Service marine forecast — south-southeast winds of 5-10 knots — and shook his head in disgust. “When you have whitecaps out here, it’s blowing at least 13 knots,” said Sanders, of Sunrise, who has fished the waters of Southwest Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands for nearly 40 years. “If it was blowing a true 5-10, it wouldn’t be that bad. If they had said 10-15 southsoutheast, I would have canceled our trip.” The wind, which Sanders said ranged from 13-20 knots that morning, had roughed up and dirtied the nearshore waters of the Gulf, which were only eight feet deep. That makes it next to impossible to find bait, which is too scattered to catch in any great numbers. That, in turn, would make it difficult to catch the cobias, kingfish, Spanish mackerel, bluefish, jacks, sharks, pompano and permits that his customers had been catching the previous four weeks when the Gulf was cleaner and calmer and bait was plentiful. Incorrect weather reports are an occupational hazard for fishing guides. Instead of giving up, Sanders turned around and headed seven miles back to the islands and rivers that offered shelter from the wind and the chance to catch inshore species ranging from tripletail to tarpon. Sanders pulled up by a river mouth and anchored his boat. Then he rigged spinning rods with Cajun Thunder floats. A piece of wire runs through the center of the brightly colored floats. Each end of the wire has two plastic beads and a swivel. One swivel is tied to the main line — Sanders uses 20-pound braided line tied to a short piece of monofilament — and the other swivel is tied to 30 inches of 30- to 40-pound fluorocarbon leader. Sanders attached an eighth-ounce jighead with a Berkley Gulp! 3-inch shrimp or 4-inch swimming mullet. Sanders said to cast the lures to the downed trees killed by Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Then he demonstrated how to fish the Cajun Thunder, which keeps the bait

Fishing report LAKE OKEECHOBEE Bass fishing remains excellent all around the lake, with fish biting topwater plugs, stick worms, jerkbaits, swimbaits and crankbaits fished around the outside grass lines. EVERGLADES/FRESHWATER Capt. Alan Zaremba reported peacock bass up to 6 pounds were biting in Miami-Dade County urban canals. Largemouth bass were biting in Everglades canals. SOUTH FLORIDA INSHORE Capt. Bouncer Smith said fishing for tarpon at Government Cut has been red-hot in the evening drifting with live shrimp. SOUTH FLORIDA OFFSHORE Capt. Skip Dana said kingfish, yellowtail snappers, some nice mutton snappers, small blackfin tunas, big triggerfish and a few dolphin have been caught in 90-110 feet from Hillsboro Inlet to Boca Raton. Big kingfish and some sailfish were biting in 95-150 feet off Key Biscayne. PIERS Fishing has been good, with catches of Spanish mackerel and pompano at most piers. THE KEYS Bud N’ Mary’s Marina in Islamorada reported spotty catches of dolphin on the edge, yellowtail snappers up to 3 pounds and big tarpon biting live mullet around the bridges.

Outdoors notebook


suspended just above the bottom. With a snap of his wrist he pulled the slack out of the fishing line to make the float pop, then relaxed his wrist so the float stayed where it was. “You fish it up against the trees as close as you can for as long as you can,” Sanders said. The pop causes the Cajun Thunder’s beads to click together, which attracts fish because it imitates the sound of a shrimp popping its tail. Repeated pops of the float resulted in the float going under, which meant a fish had the jig. Sanders said that instead of jerking the rod, simply start reeling. We ended up reeling in redfish, a sea trout and ladyfish, which salvaged a day that, thanks to a flawed weather forecast, could have been a washout. or 954-356-4648

Capt. Brian Sanders with a redfish caught with a Cajun Thunder rig in the Ten Thousand Islands.

Steve Waters Commentary

Billfish tournament: The Yamaha Contender Miami Billfish Tournament is Friday-Sunday out of Miami Beach Marina. Final registration for Saturday’s Outboard Only One Day Blast is 4-6 p.m. Friday at the marina. Visit or call 305-598-2525. Bass tournament: The fourth qualifying tournament in the King of the Glades V Open Team Series is Sunday out of Everglades Holiday Park. The entry fee is $75 per boat. Call Mike Lendl at 954-393-5596 or visit Snipe regatta: The U.S. Snipe trials regatta for the Pan American Games, which will be in Mexico, is Friday through Sunday on the Atlantic Ocean south of Port Everglades Inlet out of Lauderdale Yacht Club. Night tournament: A Night Owls bass tournament is 7 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday out of Everglades Holiday Park. Entry fee is $60 per boat. Call 954-707-8303. Free fishing: Anglers can fish in public fresh waters without having to purchase a freshwater fishing license Saturday and Sunday. All other fishing rules apply. Dolphin tournament: The 16th annual South Florida Dolphin Challenge is Friday-June 30. Anglers can register at any time and the 20 anglers with the heaviest fish after three months compete in a one-day fish-off July 9. Entry fee is $100 per angler. Visit Yard sale: The West Palm Beach Fishing Club has its annual Marine Yard Sale from 7 a.m.-noon April 9 at its clubhouse at 201 Fifth St. The free event features used fishing tackle, VHF radios, anchors, dock lines, gaffs, cast nets, electronics, propellers and tackle boxes. Call 561-832-6780. Broad-Blue tournament: The Swordfish Club has the inaugural Broad-Blue Tournament for swordfish and blue marlin from 7 a.m.-6 p.m. April 9. Boats fish for marlin until noon and for swordfish starting at 12:15 p.m. The event is open to the public and the entry fee is $20. Registration and captains meeting are at 6 p.m. April 7 at RJ Boyle Studios (954-420-5001) in Lighthouse Point. More online For an expanded fishing report, notebook and calendar, go to


Florida assistant Shyatt hired at Wyoming STAFF REPORTS

GAINESVILLE — After seven years as an assistant coach at Florida, Larry Shyatt has returned to the head-coaching ranks. Wyoming announced Thursday that Shyatt would return to the school he coached for one season. It’s the first head-coaching job for Shyatt, 59, since leaving Clemson in 2003. Shyatt was hired in 2004, helping Florida to national championships in 2006 and 2007. He has been Billy Donovan’s top assistant for the past four seasons. Wyoming gave Shyatt his first head coaching job in 1997, and he went 19-9 and made the NIT in his only season in Laramie. He left for Clemson, where he had a 70-84 record in five seasons.

Peterson shopped for money? ESPN reported late Wednesday night that reputed street agent Willie Lyles, who is currently under NCAA investigation, told Texas A&M it had to “beat’’ $80,000 if it wanted to sign former Pompano Beach Ely

star Patrick Peterson in 2007. The NCAA is looking into Oregon’s $25,000 payment to Lyles, a Texas-based football trainer, and his firm and his involvement in the recruitment of a running back. “This is my first time hearing this. This is a shocker,” Peterson’s father, Patrick Peterson Sr., told ESPN. “It could have happened. It could have come out of [Lyles’] mouth, that’s what happens. These guys try to make money on their own, they are kind of like escort services.”

UF, FSU, Miami all play this weekend In a slump during the last four games that has resulted in three losses, No. 3 Florida (21-5, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) is averaging 2.25 runs per contest. The Gators were plating just over seven runners per game before the hitting woes began. The Gators will try to fix their recent hitting problems in a weekend series against Tennessee beginning Friday at 7 p.m. in McKethan Stadium. Miami (15-11) has a three game series at Boston College starting today. No. 7 Florida State has a three-game series at Maryland.

FAU baseball leaves South Florida for first time After playing 23 of its first 25 games at home in Boca Raton and the other two in Jupiter and Miami, the Owls left the state for the first time this season for a three-game series against Louisiana-

Lafayette that begins Friday. FAU (17-8, 5-1 Sun Belt) has won six straight games, the latest a 12-7 win over Bethune-Cookman on Wednesday. Alex Hudak went 5-for-5 in that game and is now hitting .437 for FAU. The Ragin’ Cajuns (13-11, 3-3) have won five of their last six and feature Jordan Poirrier, whose .615 slugging percentage leads the Sun Belt and he is second in RBI with 27. Game times are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 12:30 p.m. Sunday. All games are webcast at

Nova hires Freeland as new women’s coach Nova Southeastern has hired LeAnn Freeland as its new women’s basketball coach. Freeland comes to Nova Southeastern after coaching the past four seasons at Division II University of Indianapolis. While there, she led the Greyhounds to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 2008-10, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2009. In four years, she was 89-35. “We were looking for specific qualities and characteristics in a new leader for our women’s basketball program and Coach Freeland fit that mold from A to Z,” Nova Southeastern Athletic Director Michael Mominey said. “Her passion to be successful was evident from the very first time I spoke with her.’’

Finnie makes early impression By Steve Gorten STAFF WRITER

CORAL GABLES — Thomas Finnie’s girlfriend is mad at him. Finnie hasn’t been calling her as often as he used to just a couple of months ago when he was her classmate at Miami Central High. Now a college freshman, the Miami Hurricanes cornerback doesn’t feel like he has time for much. The “fun and parties” he says he expected to possible await him: not here. “Really, it’s just books and ball, that’s it,” Finnie said. When it comes to the two, a football meeting is usually easier to sit through. “I can deal with a meeting because I basically know what’s going on,” Finnie said. “Class, I’m kind of lost sometimes, but I catch on.” The past couple of months have been an adjustment for Finnie, who enrolled early at UM in January along with defensive end Olsen Pierre — who’s now his suitemate. But Finnie has hardly been timid in his new surroundings. He already knows his way around campus well. And he hasn’t just fit in on the football team. He has stood out. When the first depth chart was released two days before the start of spring practice, the three-year starter at Central was listed as a No. 1 corner based on his performance

in the off-season conditioning program. While some were surprised, Finnie wasn’t. “That’s what I came out here for — to start and play,” Finnie said. When the second depth chart came out, Finnie was still wearing a black jersey, given to those on first-team defense. “It’s a credit to him. He came in here with the intention of really making an impact, and it all started in the offseason program,” Coach Al Golden said. “Now they’ve got their hands full because the kid is performing in spring ball.” On the latest depth chart that came out Thursday, Finnie had fallen to No. 2 behind Brandon McGee. “It’s competitive. No one’s just going to let him walk away with it,” defensive backs coach Paul Williams said, but added of Finnie, “He doesn’t back down. When you get a really competitive kid that hates to lose, those are the kind you want.” Finnie, rated the nation’s 39th best cornerback by, was the first local recruit that Golden was able to persuade to change his oral commitment. Finnie said he was set on attending South Carolina, but after Steve Spurrier skipped an in-home visit the first week of January – “Don’t tell me one thing and do another thing,” Finnie noted — Golden and UM gained his favor. Finnie had already planned on enrolling early. “I knew I’d have a step ahead on people,” Finnie said. “And I knew I had a weight problem. So I told myself, ‘I’m going to enroll early, get on the weight program and learn my playbook.” Finnie, who’s listed as 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, said he has gained 15 pounds since helping Central win the 6A state championship last season and hopes to add 10 more pounds. “I knew I could come in and play as a freshman if I came in to work,” he said. He just might. “He’s raw in a lot of aspects. He’s not polished,” Williams said. “But he competes his tail off.” Follow him on Twitter @sgorten


Cornerback Thomas Finnie was in high school at Miami Central at this time last year. But he enrolled at the University of Miami in January to get a head start on college life.


UF, FSU, Miami all play this weekend FAU baseball leaves South Florida for first time Capt. Brian Sanders with a redfish caught with a Cajun...