BILL SARGENT, FOR FLORIDA TODAY5:02 p.m. EST February 6, 2016
(Photo: Photo courtesy of Capt. Troy Perez)
Zella Helton’s favorite color is pink. It not only compliments her blonde hair and dimpled smile, she says pink also brings her good luck.
So needless to say, Helton wore a lot of pink during countless fishing trips in 2015 with her boyfriend Troy Perez.
While her colors may not have mattered outside of boosting her confidence, Helton had the good fortune to compile more than 30 quality catches that added up to the highest award given each year in the Florida Sport Fishing Association (FSFA), a 48-year-old fishing club of 220 members headquartered at Cape Canaveral.
Helton was named the FSFA Club Champion for 2015 at an awards dinner in Melbourne last Sunday. She scored 500 catch points under the club’s points fishing program, one of the oldest and most respected in Florida. It includes annual competition, recognition and awards for its members.
“Surprised isn’t the word for it,” Helton said. “I knew I was in the running but I didn’t think I had enough points.”
Her points total was one of the highest finishes in recent years.
Club director Chris Pashos of Merritt Island finished second with 440 points coming on 21 different species.
Helton, a 53-year-old single parent from Mims, started dating Perez three years ago. Perez is unquestionably one of the top saltwater fishing guides in the state, and as a veteran member of the FSFA has won the club championship twice and is a double grand master, the highest rating achievable.
One of their first dates was a fishing trip and Helton knew from that moment that she had found the right guy.
“Growing up in Winter Park I loved fishing but never did much of it,” Helton said. “I met Troy and he started coaching me and its been a learning process ever since. It goes without saying I’ve learned a lot and I’m hooked on it.”
Helton insisted that due credit go to Perez.
“It was a 110-percent team effort,” she said. “I’d never accomplished this without all of Troy’s work.”
During the year Helton and Perez made more than 100 trips on Mosquito Lagoon, the Indian, Banana and St. Johns rivers and offshore Port Canaveral, sometimes late in the day after Perez had finished a day of guiding.
“There were times when we’d go six or seven trips without a fish,” explained Helton, a former certified nursing assistant at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville. “We wanted the larger 20-pointers and we were always prepared with rods rigged in each tackle category.”
Under the program, which has minimum weights for each species, catches carry a 10- or 20-point value for the class of tackle used.
Perez ran the boat, helped Helton prepare and rig her tackle, and he located the fish. Still it was Helton who had to properly present the bait and fight each fish single-handedly. All catches must be made unassisted.
Helton joined the FSFA in January 2015 and immediately began amassing points. She also won seven other awards, among them a Species Master for redfish, one of the more difficult achievements because the angler must catch a single species in all six of the tackle categories — fly, untralight, spin, plug, light general and general. Each category has specified line-test maximums, with light general and general tackle allowing the use of natural baits and stronger test line.
Some of her best 20-point catches included an estimated 100-pound tarpon, multiple 20- to 30-pound redfish and one giant red at 40 pounds, black drum to 67 pounds, and a 24½-pound tripletail. In all cases the fish were released.
She landed a 130-pound Goliath grouper unfortunately not recognized as a points species. “It was like trying to pull a car out of the water,” she laughed.
The tarpon took more than an hour to bring to the boat during a blistering day in July.
“I thought I was going to pass out on that one. It was so physical,” she said. “Troy was pouring water over my head.”
Helton was among more than 30 club members receiving awards, most of them custom wood carvings by Chris Costello of Port St. John, owner of FishingTournamentTrophies.com.
William Hawley of Indialantic received the Fish of the Year Award for a 29-pound redfish on 4-pound test ultralight tackle. It was judged the best single catch by a panel of experts.
In addition, Hawley was named the Ultralight Champion and he received an award for releasing a seven-foot sailfish.
Hawley said all of his catches came with Capt. Joseph Smith of Fin Factor Charters.
Ryan Vetsch, a 19-year-old Eastern Florida State College finance and economics student, achieved his Grand Master status, becoming one of the youngest to reach the 1,000-point plateau required.
“I skipped a lot of school to do this,” Vetsch grinned. “I was determined to get it in 2015.”
Vetsch also made Species Master in redfish and he was named the Fly Division Champion.
Other champions were Laurie Thomas, Women’s Champion; Pashos, Saltwater Champion; John Dobbins, Freshwater Champion; Club President John Durkee, Spin Champion; and Mark Wilson, Light General Champion. Championships in plug and general tackle were not awarded for lack of entries.
Pashos also set four club records for striped bass during a trip to Massachusetts in June and he received a Heavyweight Award for a 38-pound, 10-ounce gag grouper he caught on Dec. 31, the final day for 2015 catches.
Another impressive heavyweight was a 44¼-pound king mackerel by Alex Gorichky, Jr. of Merritt Island.
Four youth took awards in the Junior Division led by Junior Champion Hunter Delaney, a 10-year-old Roy Allen Elementary 5th-grader who took home seven awards. Seven-year-old Greg Bernard of Satellite Beach received a Junior Heavyweight award for a 21-inch seatrout.
Junior Liam Hawley of Indialantic landed a 23-inch snook, and young Dylen Pullias of Satellite Beach took a 3-pound 11-ounce bass.
Leading the list of new club records was a 600-pound blue marlin released on 30-pound tackle by Chloe Corbitt while fishing in the Bahamas.
For more on the FSFA go to the club website at www.fsfaclub.org.
Contact Bill Sargent at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Snook reopens in Atlantic state waters
The recreational harvest season for snook reopens on Feb. 1 in Florida’s Atlantic coastal and inland waters (from the Miami-Dade/Monroe county line north), including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River. The season will remain open through May 31.
In the Atlantic, anglers may keep one snook per day that is not less than 28 or more than 32 inches total length, which is measured from the most forward point of the head with the mouth closed to the farthest tip of the tail with the tail compressed or squeezed while the fish is lying on its side. A snook permit is required to keep snook, along with a saltwater fishing license, unless the angler is exempt from the license requirements. Only hook-and-line gear is allowed when targeting or harvesting snook.
It is illegal to buy or sell snook.
Snook are one of the many reasons Florida is the Fishing Capital of the World. As a result, the FWC encourages anglers to use moderation when determining whether or not to take a snook home, even during the open season.
Researchers ask anglers who harvest the fish to save their filleted carcasses and provide them to the FWC by dropping them off at a participating bait and tackle store. This program allows anglers to participate in the collection of data such as the size, age, maturity and sex of Florida's premier inshore game fish, snook. For a county-by-county list, go to MyFWC.com/Research and click on “Saltwater,” “Snook,” and “Snook Anglers Asked to Help with Research.”
The harvest of snook in all of Florida’s Gulf of Mexico state waters, including Everglades National Park and all of Monroe County, remains closed until March 1. Snook harvested from the open waters of the Atlantic may not be transported through closed water or landed in the closed area. Anglers may catch and release snook during the closed season, but the FWC encourages anglers to handle and release these fish carefully to help ensure their survival upon release. Proper handling methods can help ensure the species’ abundance for anglers today and generations to come. To learn more about fish handling, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Fish Handling.”
For more information, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Snook.”
The Guest Speaker for the Feb (north) Meeting of the FSFA will be Jim Folks and his subject Bass Fishing in Florida. He is also coordinating the Strike Zone Bass Trail event.
Here are the details: Bass tournament styled for everyday Joe
There are very few bass tournament circuits suited for the everyday Joe Fisherman who doesn’t have the money for a bass boat, pricey entry fees and overnight travel.
But there is one in Brevard County — the Strike Zone Bass Trail.
You can’t go wrong with this local team series, now in its fourth year, because it offers a 100-percent cash payback — meaning that all entry fees go into the prize purse — and each tournament is limited to 40 boats, which increases the chances of being among the winners. And because it’s a two-angler team event, you fish with the partner of your choice.
Jim Folks is the tournament coordinator for the sponsor, Strike Zone Fishing in West Melbourne.
“This has become a real popular local trail, especially for those with smaller boats where we fish four tournaments on local lakes always on Saturdays,” Folks explained. “Everyone likes the idea of all the money coming back to the winners. It’s our way of thanking our customers for their patronage.”
Unlike the big-money professional tournaments where the craft are highend bass boats, many of the anglers use jon boats and Gheenoes. The only requirement is that anglers use an onboard aerated live well for keeping their bass alive. All the fish are released following the weigh-in.
The trail requires a $100 per team membership, and that money is put into an account and paid out in full when the championship is held in May. Kyle Walters and his 14-year-old son, Andrew, from Grant-Valkaria won last year’s championship, taking home more than $2,000.
For each of the first three tournaments, teams also pay a $50 entry fee, with that purse going to the top three teams and the team with the heaviest bass. There’s also an optional $25 Calcutta for the winning team as an added bonus.
Entry fees must be paid for each tournament no later than the Wednesday before the tournament when a pre-tournament meeting is held at Strike Zone. Starting positions also are drawn at the meeting.
This year’s schedule begins Feb. 6 at the Miami Garcia Impoundment west of Fellsmere, followed by a Feb. 27 tournament at West Lake Toho, with launching at the City of Kissimmee ramp.
Lake Poinsett on the St. Johns River west of Cocoa will be the third site on April 2, followed by the championship on Lake Washington west of Melbourne on May 7.
To qualify for the no-entry championship, teams must enter all three of the qualifying events.
The team memberships are being accepted at Strike Zone at 2771 West New Haven Ave., and the field will fill quickly, Folks said.
“We always get our 40 teams,” Folks said last week. “Right now, we’ve got about 25 teams registered.”
For more information, call Folks at Strike Zone at 321-956-3474.
Please join us in celebrating the life of a great man.
Services and Viewings for my beloved grandfather are as fallows.
please "Share" if your (not tagged) fami...ly or friends.
VISITATION/VIEWING..WED 12/23 6-8PM..
Wylie Baxley Merritt Island
FUNERAL MASS THUR 12/24 10:30AM..
Our Saviors Catholic Church, Cocoa Beach.
Burial to fallow at Florida Memorial, Frontenac .
In lieu of flowers we ask that you make a donation to http://www.anglersforconservation.org/donations-memberships/
or any other charitable organization.
Beth Myers Gorichky, Michael P Gorichky, Tammy Duggan Gorichky, Alex Gorichky Jr., Colleen Henderson-Gorichky, Lisa Gorichky, Robin Kruse Gorichky, Jennifer Hill, Ty Hill, Karrson Hill, Cathy Hill, Mary Duggan Osteen, Jennifer Myers Ward, Tom Myers
Snook Symposium Jan. 13; sign up today
Interested in snook research and management? Attend the 2016 Snook Symposium Jan. 13 in Orlando. Register online and learn more at MyFWC.com/Snook2016.
The day-long discussion is open to the public and will focus on snook management and research in Florida, including the results of the soon-to-be released 2015 stock assessment, population recovery following the 2010 cold kill, and opportunities for improving snook management.
The symposium will be held at the Caribe Royale, 8101 World Center Drive in Orlando.
Email Marine@MyFWC.com or call 850-487-0554 for questions.
Snook harvest seasonal closure in Atlantic starts Dec. 15
The recreational harvest season for snook closes Dec. 15 in Atlantic state and federal waters, including Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River, and will remain closed through Jan. 31, 2016, reopening to harvest Feb. 1. Snook can be caught and released during the closed season.
Gulf state and federal waters, including Monroe County and Everglades National Park, closed Dec. 1 and will reopen to harvest March 1, 2016.
This and other regular season closures are designed to help protect the species during vulnerable times such as cold weather.
For more information on snook, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater Fishing” and “Recreational Regulations.”
Interested in snook research and management? Attend the 2016 Snook Symposium Jan. 13 in Orlando. Learn more about how to register at MyFWC.com/Snook2016.
Keep up-to-date on Snook Symposium news and changes by signing up for email updates at MyFWC.com/News and clicking on “Get FWC News Automatically.”
The FSFA and Strike Zone Fishing in Melbourne are organizing a relief effort for our friend in the South East Bahamas who have been devastated by the recent storm. Communications are still spotty and we are trying to determine the greatest need.
What we need, to get started, is a box truck, for about a week, that we can stage the items in and then drive to Ft. Lauderdale or Miami to offload the goods for transport to the Bahamas.
If you have a truck available or you want to donate items (water, clothes, soap, flashlights, batteries, etc.), please email the FSFA at email@example.com.
We need to get this going quickly.
Fishing/Beach Access Rules for Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) & Kennedy Space Center (KSC) http://centerops.ksc.nasa.gov/resource/fish.htm
View KSC Fishing Spots
. Only non-motorized boats are allowed, launch boats only from the designated area on the NASA Causeway and from behind Hangar AF
. Authorized fishing/beach areas: Fishing and beach walking are limited to 1/4 mile either side of the applicable Dune Crossover
. If going thru CCAFS’s Pass and ID Office on NASA Causeway thru Gate 1, Fishermen may bring up to seven guests (4adults and 3 children) and obtain a permit from the Pass and ID Office during on-duty hours, register their guest(s) and receive a one day Fishing Pass for each guest, this pass allows access to-and-from the fishing areas only (by the most direct route) and is not valid anywhere else. CCAFS’s Pass and ID Office hours are 6:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday thru Friday, except federal holidays.
See map in Photos Section
This story, written by Ted Lund, appeared in Florida Today, August 30, 2015
Since learning that NASA intended to pull funding for two oceanic data buoys operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration east of Port Canaveral next spring, Melbourne-based oceanographer Mitchell Roffer has been seeking out possible ways to keep the weather stations afloat and operating.
In addition to operating his ocean forecasting service for recreational and commercial fishermen, shipping lines and oil exploration companies, Roffer is a member of SECOORA, the South East Coastal Ocean Observing Association. The group provides technical advice and observations to informed decision makers and the public from North Carolina to the west coast of Florida.
“NASA originally funded the buoys to aid in the recovery of items for the shuttle program,” Roffer says. “But since then, boaters, fishermen and even cruise and cargo ships have come to depend on them for real-time wave and wind data that can’t be accurately predicted by models.”
And anglers with smaller boats depend on the buoys for safety.
“For many with small boats in Central Florida (including the greater Orlando area), checking the current data provided by the buoy is the “go-don’t go” decision, says John Durkee with the Florida Sport Fishing Association. “It’s not about if fish are biting, it’s all about safety. There is no other single source that provides real time data of the sea conditions.”
The two buoys in question are formally known as Station 41009 and Station 41010, and are 20 miles and 120 miles, respectively, east of Port Canaveral. They provide a wide range of real-time data, including wind direction, speed, gusts, wave height, dominant wave period and the average period between waves and their prevailing direction. Other data recorded and broadcast includes atmospheric pressure and tendency, air and water temperature and dew point.
“This is all critical information that recreational and commercial interests need to plan safe passage in and out of Port Canaveral as well as traversing the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas and back,” Roffer says. “Without them, it would be like fishing or boating blind — never knowing what types of conditions exist and would really be putting people in harm’s way unnecessarily.“
Since learning of NASA’s defunding and NOAA’s intent to take the stations offline, Roffer has been exploring a number of options to try to keep the weather buoys operational, including replacing them with public and private sources. He estimates the annual operating cost of the two stations would be about $120,000 per year.
Roffer reached out to Canaveral Port Authority Executive Director John Walsh, who responded Tuesday via an email obtained by FLORIDA TODAY that: “Weather is not the ports (sic) responsibility. Staff is not recommending Port Canaveral take this on as our issue.”
Port Commissioners disagreed with Walsh, however, during their monthly public meeting Wednesday after Roffer made an impassioned plea during the public comment period. Commissioners passed a motion to draft a letter to NOAA asking for continued funding for both buoys.
“This is a very positive gesture that the commissioners appreciate the critical health and safety nature of having the NOAA buoys in operation,” Roffer says.
Throughout the search, Roffer may have found another possible partner in keeping the buoys alive in District 2 Brevard County Commissioner Jim Barfield, who believes that the county and possibly state might make sense as partners to keep the buoys afloat.
“This is a safety issue not only for Brevard County residents, but the thousands of Central Floridians that use Port Canaveral to access the Atlantic Ocean for a variety of waterborne activities,” says Barfield, whose district encompasses Port Canaveral.
Barfield has set up a meeting with Roffer to discuss possible options for partially or fully funding the stations next week, saying, “I believe this should be a priority and I think that it is something that our governor would support.”
The spring and early summer dolphin fishery along the U.S. Atlantic coast is normally erratic in the abundance of fish off any given port. Movement patterns in 2015 were even more erratic than usual. In the Florida Keys it seemed that there were very few dolphin present between the periodic large surges of school dolphin coming through. Normally charter boats can make decent catches between the periods of high abundance. Boats off the Outer Banks of North Carolina also reported these periods of extremely low abundance. But no one else saw as big a change as South Carolina recreational anglers. A majority of the anglers whom I have spoken with believe this is one of the worst dolphin seasons they have experienced in recent times. But is it really that bad and, if so, what is the underlying problem that caused it?
This issue of the newsletter reports on the results of the recreational fishery study conducted by the DRP at one specific marina in Charleston, South Carolina. Information from this study showed that the fishing may not have been as bad as believed by the anglers, at least during the month of May. Information from the tagging activity in the Florida Keys is combined with the commercial longline fishery landings data to explore what may have happened with dolphin off South Carolina in 2015.
July 2015 Newsletter
The "Florida Sport Fishing Association" is a 501(c)7 non-profit organization. PO Box 1216 Cape Canaveral, FL 32920