Sat, Mar
28 New Articles

TALLAHASSEE – Saturday, Oct. 12, visitors and residents are invited to partake in a saltwater license-free fishing day. On this day, the requirement to have a recreational saltwater fishing license is waived. All other regulations such as seasons, size limits and bag limits still apply on these license free days.

 Florida Governor Scott said, “License free days serve as a great opportunity for families to enjoy the incredible fishing opportunities that Florida has to offer. This Saturday, families will have even more of an opportunity to head to the coast, enjoy time with their loved ones and catch some fish.” 

This is the first of four additional license-free days that were added to the calendar earlier this year by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the Florida Legislature and Gov. Scott. The addition of these four days, including two saltwater and two freshwater days, means a total of eight license-free fishing days a year: four saltwater and four freshwater.

 In 2013, Nov. 30 will be an additional saltwater license-free fishing day and Nov. 29 and Dec. 28 will be additional freshwater license-free days.

The Commission also set dates for license-free fishing days for 2014 and beyond, allowing anglers to plan fishing trips in advance.

For 2014 and beyond, the following dates will be license-free fishing days:

  • Saltwater
  1. First Saturday and Sunday in June
  2. First Saturday in September
  3. Saturday following Thanksgiving
  • Freshwater
  1. First Saturday and Sunday in April
  2. Second Saturday and Sunday in June

 To make these events accessible to as many people as possible, the FWC generally planned these dates around holiday weekends and national events.

The June freshwater and saltwater dates fall during National Fishing and Boating Week. Highlighted by significant national media coverage and public events, this week promotes boating and fishing across the country as fun and healthy outdoor activities. The first Saturday in September is often Labor Day weekend, when many families will be out on the water, enjoying one of the last big fishing weekends of summer.

#     #     #

Add a comment

GAINESVILLE – The Santa Fe Saints were busy this past weekend, hosting baseball and fastpitch games on Saturday and on Sunday, Coach Ahern and the ladies made the trip to the University of Florida to battle the Gators in a double dip.

Fastpitch swept both games on Saturday, pounding out 20 hits while outscoring the Clearwater Bombers 16-1. 

On Sunday against the UF Gators the Saints managed to contain all but one ball hit by their offense to the park. 

"Allowing only one home run against the Gators is a pretty big feat,” said Ahern.

All of the Saints pitchers took a turn in the circle, and all other available players saw time on the field and/or at bat. 

"With a couple of players injured and some rehabbing from surgeries we asked a lot of some of our players,” Ahern said.   “To their credit they went out there every inning working hard, and staying focused.  Although lopsided losses are hard, we have to take away some good things, and build on others,"

The Saints did have several hits, including loading the bases against ace Hannah Rogers, something that isn’t easy to do according to Coach Ahern.

"The Gators have also added a lot of speed to their lineup this year, and between their power and speed, and with the pitching staff they have, they are formidable opponents for anyone,” said Ahern.  “They are a great team, and I am proud that the Saints never quit, never threw in the towel!"

The next game for the Saints is Sunday, Oct. 6 against the University of South Florida in Tampa at 5 p.m.

The baseball team split a double header against the Florida Burn, a team whose first three batters in the lineup are University of Florida commitments and eight are committed to NCAA Division I institutions.  SF dropped game one 2-0 but rallied for a game two victory 4-3.

In the first contest the Saints managed five walks but only two hits, one each by Casey Scoggins and Jared Shouppe.  Game two was tied 3-3 in the seventh and final inning before Andrew Fears doubled and later scored the game winning run on a walk off hit by Evan Barnes.

Pitching was strong in both games as the Saints gave up just one earned in each.  Saints pitchers combined to give up just two earned runs, walk just three, and strikeout 10 on the day.  Jack Charleston, Walker Burgess, Kevin Martin, and Connor Rooney all threw two innings with no earned runs.  Derek Vail, Jose Batatino, and Parker Heckman also threw without giving up any runs.

Santa Fe hosts St. John’s River State College on Wednesday, Oct. 2 at 2 p.m.  Admission is free to all home games.

Add a comment

ALACHUA – Pitt County, from North Carolina, emerged victorious in this year’s Babe Ruth Softball 12U World Series. This makes two in a row for the team, as they also won the World Series last year. Teams from nine states came to participate in the highly competitive tournament, which was held at the Hal Brady Recreation Complex in Alachua.

The series for girls ages 11 and 12 attracted teams from Washington, California, Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Texas, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Florida.

Doug Robinson, president of Florida Babe Ruth Softball, received the National Babe Ruth Softball Volunteer of the Year award, out of a field of volunteers nationwide. “Babe Ruth is happy with what we’ve done here,” said Robinson.

The City of Alachua hosted the series in 2010 and 2012, and Robinson believes local businesses saw more traffic this year because eliminated teams played each other in a second tournament, the Commissioner’s Cup.

The 300 players and coaches participating in the World Series Championship and Commissioner’s Cup were in town for at least six days.

“The whole community was opening up their arms to bring the World Series back,” Robinson said.

Out of the 22 teams who participated this year, 12 advanced into the tournament bracket and the remaining 10 went into the Cup.

The local Santa Fe team, coached by Jason Mallard, was championship runner up to Pitt County, N.C. after two come-from-behind wins, one of which was a 6-5 win against Mount Olive, N.J.

In the game that got them into the championship, Santa Fe was down 5-3 at their last at bat after two outs, and Olivia Hanson hit a three-run triple to end it.

Robinson’s daughter, Courtney, played her best tournament yet and was named to the All World Series Team and received a golden glove for the defensive team.

“When I walked into the opening ceremony I saw the awards and thought, ‘I am going to get one of those.’ I was really happy when I did,” Courtney said.

#     #     #

Email cgrinstead@


Add a comment

GAINESVILLE – The Santa Fe Saints make their first trip of the fall to the University of Florida to battle the Gators on Sunday, Sept. 29 at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. in double header action at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. 

Santa Fe will visit UF two more times during the fall for single games Oct. 30 and Nov. 6, both starting at 7 p.m.

Before taking on the Gators on Sunday, the Saints will play a double header against the Clearwater Bombers starting at 10 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 28.

Add a comment

W - sturgeonFLORIDA – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is urging boaters to go slow and be vigilant on the Choctawhatchee River.

The request to go slow comes after a Bay County child was severely injured June 22 on a fishing trip with his family when a large Gulf sturgeon leapt into their boat, hitting three children.

One of them, Nathaniel Smith, who turned 8 last week, was hospitalized with skull fractures but is now recuperating at his Youngstown home. He is the son of Angela and Wilson Scott Smith.

“We were bream fishing and it started to rain, so we cranked up and the kids huddled under a tarp in the front of the boat,” Smith said. “The sturgeon just came out of nowhere, and I yelled and tried to cut the motor but it was too late.”

The sturgeon, which Smith believes was 3-4 feet long, grazed the back of the head of his nephew Austin and then hit his 16-year-old daughter, Amber, with enough force to knock her out of the boat.

Smith wheeled the boat around, pulled Amber aboard and then realized Nathaniel had taken the brunt of the collision with a blow to the head. The impact left Nathaniel unconscious. Doctors later determined he had two skull fractures.

Nathaniel was flown to Bay Medical Center Sacred Heart Health System in Panama City, then on to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola and was released on July 2.

Scott said his son still has headaches but is recovering.

“I’ve fished the river before but I never even thought that a sturgeon might jump and hurt you. That’s just something you don’t ever expect to experience,” he said.

While sturgeon strikes are rare on the Choctawhatchee, they have happened before. On Aug. 4, 2002, Brian Clements, who lived near Bozeman School at the time, was motoring down the river by himself when he caught the full impact of a leaping sturgeon in the middle of his chest. Clement spent a week in Gulf Coast Hospital with a cracked sternum and bruised internal organs.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) does extensive work on northwest Florida rivers with Gulf sturgeon. In 2012, the FWS estimated the population at 3,400 in the Choctawhatchee River and 500-1,000 in the Apalachicola River. The Suwannee River, in northeast Florida, has the most, with a population estimated at 10,000 to 14,000 fish. There have been numerous injuries to humans on the Suwannee from sturgeon strikes over the past several decades.

Scientists don’t know why sturgeon jump or leap from the water.

Meanwhile, fisheries biologists say by the end of summer Gulf sturgeon will leave all northwest Florida rivers and head to the Gulf, where they will spend the winter. They say the best thing boaters can do is slow down, wear a life jacket and be observant.

#     #     #

Add a comment