Events and Special Features

In this section we report recent and future events and special features. Included are several entries which review the past year of events and several classic feature articles such a Fly Fishing the Everglades and Fly Fishing Transition from Fresh to Salt Water..


Recent and Future Events:

Below is a list of SFF activites for April and May, 2017

Saturday, April 1  Annual Hog roast and silent auction + famous speaker

Thursday, April 20 Club meeting with Walt Durkin as speaker

Saturday, April 22   Club outing on the Hillsborough River,

Fri-Sat April 28-29, Everglades Canal Outing

Thursday, May 18, Club meeting with Capt. Shawn McCole as Speaker

Saturday, May 20, Club Outing at Emerson Point

For a longer range look and more detail, click on the "Calendar" topic, just below "Outings -  Events" in the left column.

(Once on the site, click tabs on the upper right to select the calendar form you want, then click on individual items for more detail.)

For monthly Suncoast outings please go the Newsletter Section and retrieve the most recent issue of our newsletter “On the Fly”

Special Features

Fly Fishing the Everglades

Paul Sequira: Everglades Canal Primer

If you’ve heard about SFF’s annual special club trip to fish the Everglades and never joined in on this event, you probably have a few questions. After all, “The Everglades” covers a lot of acreage in south Florida so just what are we talking about? At previous club meetings, many questions were asked and much excellent information was offered. I’ll review some of those questions and provide information that I think will be helpful to those who have never fished there.

Where do we fish in the Everglades? The canals right along Alligator Alley (I-75) in the general vicinity (about 5 miles west of the tollbooth) of the intersection with Route 27. This is known as the Miami Canal system. As you are traveling east on Alligator Alley you will see pull-offs from the highway with parking lots and boat ramps on both the north and south sides of the roadway. They are located near mile markers 31, 32, 38 and 41. Also, there are three boat ramps along Rt. 27 (north of I-75) giving you access to these north/south-running canals. This is known as the New River Canal system. Somewhat further north on Rt. 27 is another excellent fairly new canal access called Holey Land with plenty of parking and a first class boat ramp.

Go to Google Earth to view these locations. A listing of boat ramp locations along with GPS coordinates can be found at the website “Inshore Boat Ramps in SE Florida, Broward County” The ramps we are interested in are the last three entries in the list.


Everglades Holiday Park has excellent access to a large canal system (the New River Canal - South system) and is located off Rt. 27 (about 5 miles south of I-75) on Griffin Road (the first traffic light you come to on Rt. 27). There are boats with outboard motors available for rent here. Go to for more information and excellent directions and map.

Where do you stay? A convenient and comfortable place to stay is the LaQuinta Inn Sunrise Sawgrass Mills, 13651 N.W. Second St, Sunrise, FL 33325 tel. 954-846-1200. Directions and map at Also, campsites are available at Everglades Holiday Park tel. 954-434-8111, see link in preceding paragraph for directions and map. Both of these locations are a reasonable drive from all of the fishing spots listed above.

Can you wade fish in the Glades? The short answer is no. Although the water depth in the canals varies depending upon rainfall and how much water is being released into them, the average depth is said to be approximately 18’ to 20’. Also, there are many very large alligators that claim residence in the canals and everything swimming there can be of great interest to them.

What kind of boat is needed? Canoes, Gheenoes and boats under 18’ are excellent choices. Because of the large alligators resident in the canals, kayaks may not be a good choice. Due to the condition and size of some of the boat ramps, boats in excess of 18’ may not be the best choice for the canals. An electric trolling motor in addition to your outboard motor is very helpful. Jon boats with outboard motors can be rented at Everglades Holiday Park; however, these boats cannot be removed from this canal system. This is not a handicap, I have hooked my largest bass to date in this canal, and there are also peacock bass in this canal system.

What size fly rod is recommended? Any 4 or 5 weight fly rod in whatever length you are comfortable with will work. Long casts are not necessary when fishing the canals. In most of them, if you run your boat down the middle, you can easily cast to either side of the canal. If you enjoy throwing larger poppers, a 6 weight rod is helpful.

What flies are recommended? Everyone has their favorite flies for bream and bass fishing; but if I could have only one fly to fish the Glades, it would be a white foam spider or beetle tied on #8 or #10 hooks. Many flies work, in fact I don’t know of any fly that doesn’t work in the Glades. I like to fish top water and in addition to the foam spiders and beetles, I really enjoy fishing poppers in white or yellow colors, on #6, #8 or #10 hooks. However, the fish don’t seem to have a color preference; I know that chartreuse and fluorescent pink poppers also work very well. The determining factor seems to be whatever color you can see best. I have also found small Clousers to be very productive when you find schools of bass chasing small minnows. You’ll often find this situation around little creek-like runoffs into the canals. I like the Little Brown River Clouser but I’m sure other colors such as gray/white etc. would work just as well. I have had success with weighted nymphs such as Jim’s Bead Head Nymph and Bully’s Bluegill Spider. Most of the flies mentioned here are described in the fly tying section of SFF’s website

What kind of fish can I expect to catch in the Everglades? Bluegills, redear sunfish, spotted sunfish, warmouths etc., large mouth bass, peacock bass, bowfin, Florida gar, Oscars, and Mayan cichlids are the fish most commonly caught. A few years ago, we experienced a couple of record breaking cold winters for Florida and this has had a bad effect on some of the exotics, but the fishing there is normally so good, you will still catch a lot of fish and have a terrific time. For an incredible list of fish commonly found in Everglades waters go to

There you have it, all the information you need to fish the Everglades canals, even if it is your first trip there. Barring any more bad weather, I feel safe in saying that fishing in the Everglades will be an opportunity for you to catch more fish in any one days fishing than you have ever experienced before. Also, you will have a terrific time with your SFF friends with lots of good stories to tell when you return.

Paul Sequira


FFI Introduction to Fly Fishing Class

What is fly fishing?
Where can you fly fish?
What equipment do you need?
Who can help you learn?
And yes, you can fly fish in salt water!
And lots more……

Join Dayle Mazzarella – Fly Fishers International (formerly IFFF) Master Casting Instructor and Fly Fishing Guide

When: April 17 or May 7 2016, 9:30 to 3:00 (includes morning coffee and lunch)
Where: Bill Jackson’s - 9501 US Hwy 19 N

The class is free but limited, and you must reserve a place by calling
Bill Jackson’s at 727-576-4169, or
e-mailing Tom Gadacz at

President's Vision and Value Award

This annual award is given to the SFF member who best embodies the club’s vision and lives the values. Following are past SFF President's Vision and Value Awards winners:

2008: Paul Sequira
2009: Tom Gadacz
2010: Mark Hays and Richard Oldenski for "Meeting Members Needs"
2010: Joe Dail and Pat Damico for "Constant Improvement"
2011: Ken Hofmeister
2012: Tom Hummel
2013: Bill AuCoin
2014: Paul Sequira
2015: Karen Warfel
2016: Tom Trukenbrod
2017: Tom Gadacz

Next year, we’ll also add a president’s award to the SFF member who best embodies the club’s vision and lives the values.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Snook Symposium 2016

The FWC held a snook symposium on January 13, 2016, at the Caribe Royale in Orlando, FL. The purpose of the symposium was to present updated snook research and solicit input from Floridians.  Jessica McCawley, Division Director Marine Fisheries Management, welcomed everyone.  Speakers giving the research update included Philip Stevens, Joy Young, Robert Muller, Alexis Trotter, and Melissa Recks.

Snook are protandric hermaphrodites and hatch as males and transform to females when they are older.  Apparently this process is influenced within a group of snook. Snook can live more than 20 years and reach 50 inches.  Average snook on the east coast weigh 9.4 pounds and on the Gulf coast 7.2 pounds.

They live in estuary and intermediate offshore waters as well as fresh water rivers and canals.  They usually return to the same waters to spawn but may spawn offshore and will usually return to the offshore site.  The usual spawning time ranges from April to October.  The juveniles seek the safety of estuaries.  Males reach sexual maturity in 2 to 3 years and females in 3 to 4 years. Researchers tag snook to follow migration and spawning patterns and various types of tags are used including ones that emit radio waves.

There seems to be a higher natural mortality rate for west coast snook than east coast snook and some of the factors include cold kills and red tide.  West coast snook mature faster than east coast ones and in general are doing better than the east coast snook.

Determination of the size of the fish that can be kept has varied and is influenced by the estimate of breeding females and the upcoming male population that will transform into females.

The spawning potential ratio (SPR) is defined as the ratio of mature fish in the population compared to an unfished state and the management goal of 40% is used to provide buffer against episodic environmental events such as a cold weather kill or red tide.  In 2006, the SPR for both east and west coast was around 25%.  Regulatory changes put in place in 2007 are helping achieve an SPR of 40%.  Because of the cold kill in 2010, the season was closed.  Snook harvest reopened on the east coast in September 2011. It did not open on the Gulf coast at all until Sept. 2013.

Stocks are now rebuilding and snook stamp funds have generated money for more robust stock assessment.

A stakeholder survey was conducted and additional discussions are scheduled for the rest of 2016.  More information can be found at

Tom Gadacz

President, IFFF Florida Council

FFI Florida Council Education

The Florida Council of Fly Fishers International (Formerly IFFF,the International Federation of Fly Fishers) is dedicated to conservation, education and restoration of the environment for all fish in all waters.

Special events such as casting clinics and fly tying workshops are held for the education and enjoyment of fly fishers. Local club meetings often offer access to great speakers and programs.

Many thanks to Temple Fork Outfitters for providing rods and reels for the casting clinics, the Renzetti Corp. for providing all the vices and tools for fly tying sessions and Jim Teeny for providing his excellent fly lines.

The following sponsors have committed to supplying equipment for council programs:
Temple Fork Outfitters
Jim Teeny
Renzetti Corp.

FFI Florida Council Education:
March 5th was warm, sunny and a mildly breezy day that welcomed the 41 enthusiastic casters to our SFF Casting Clinic at Maximo Park. This was a biannual event started in 2007 by Pat Damico, IFFF Master Instructor (MCI). In 2013, Pat was joined by Dayle Mazzarella, MCI, who has since taken an active role in leading these events. In addition to Dayle and Pat, participants were coached by instructors Steve Smith, MCI, Chris O’Byrne, CI, Jim Dowd, CI, and Steve Parker and Leigh West from TBFFC.

The class consisted of a course of 20 stations, one for each pair of attendees. After a brief orientation, basic steps and essentials of casting were demonstrated and explained. After choosing your partner, you went to your station to practice each task. The partners critiqued each other and the instructors rotated to each pair praising, prompting and improving each task and then moving on to the next pair. After a brief practice we returned for demonstration and explanation of the next basic task and drill.

BASICS - The basic terminology of casting arc, or angle, and casting stroke, formation and types of loops, and the 5 casting essentials (gradual acceleration to an abrupt stop, no slack, the rod tip path determines the shape of the loop, an increase in the pause as the length of the line increased and an increase in the casting arc with an increase in the length of the line) were presented.
DRILLS - Grass drills of pick-up and lay-down (PULD), false casting, feeding line, double-haul and the constant tension cast were demonstrated, explained and then practiced. Each drill had an advanced challenge for those pushing their limits.

We took a break between sessions and ended about noon for a lunch. The casting instructors were available for questions and discussions. Tom Trukenbrod and his committee insured that we all were fed well. After lunch optional sessions included casting drills which most attended. They included 4 stations: 1. one-legged casting - (keep the boat from rocking); 2. accuracy (under mangroves, docks, and trout fishing); 3. distance (get that redfish!); and 4. quick casting (get that bonefish!).

Several members commented about the high quality of the session and stated they learned more in our program than they did in big name casting clinics costing $250! The purpose of the casting clinics is to give back to IFFF members by offering free casting instructions by certified IFFF instructors.

Suncoast Fly Fishers (SFF) is an FFI Charter Club and all members are required to be IFFF members. The casting clinics are free to all FFI members and $35 to non-members. These clinics have helped to maintain existing memberships and attract new members to both SFF and IFFF, making SFF the largest FFI Charter fly fishing club in FL. During the clinic we signed up 4 new SFF members, including a family, and six new IFFF members. A total of 41 members attended the clinic.

Thanks to all the members who helped set up the casting course, registered members, greeted new members and procured an excellent breakfast and lunch. Everyone did a great job and special thanks to our instructors – you guys were great!

Tom Gadacz
Member, BOD SFF
President, FFI Florida Council

Teaching Veterans to Shoot Line

October 29, 2014 was a sunny and pleasant day and to be with 14 veterans was a special day not only for them but for those of us who helped. Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) is a national program between veterans and local fly fishing clubs to introduce veterans to fly fishing.

John Craig, Tom Gadacz, Ken Hofmeister, Terry Kirkpatrick, Richard Oldenski, Ted Rich, and Alan Sewell of Suncoast Fly Fishers, a Charter club of the Fly Fishers International, assisted veterans at Bay Pines Veterans Administration Heath Care System at an outing at Ft. DeSoto, a Pinellas County Park. These and many other veterans have spent many hours with fly tying and rod building.

The trip to St. DeSoto gave the veterans on the water experience with fly fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. There was plenty of fly fishing, kayaking, and fly casting along with a great lunch. VA staff member and Recreation Specialist, Peter Jonsson arranged for these veterans and members of their family to have a great time in the sun and waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

Florida Council Establishes Youth Award

At the March 8, 2014 FL Council IFFF Board meeting, the Council established the Florida Council IFFF "Skip Mackey" Youth Award for a Florida youth interested in fly fishing. Mackey, who passed away in November 2013, was "The Voice of NASA". He was an avid fisherman and championed teaching kids to fish.

The youth must be accepted into the Bighorn Youth Fly Fishing Camp in Fort Smith, Montana. Youths 14 to 18 years of age are eligible. Twelve youths are selected to attend. The Florida Council Award will help fund transportation costs to the Camp. The Bighorn River Alliance provides funding for the camp experience. Information is available at and applications are obtained through Frank Johnson at

Application deadline is usually March 31.

IFFF Florida Council Expo

The IFFF Florida Council Expo took place at the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) museum in Dania Beach (Fort Lauderdale), Florida October 23-24, 2015.

Tom Logan and David Olson are putting together a great program and already have commitments from Chico Fernandez, Flip Pallot, Jon Cave, Pat Ford, and Sam Root. 

Additional information is available at:

2015 Big Shoot-Out at Picnic Island

The Tampa Bay Fly Fishing Club sponsored its Annual Big Gun Shoot-Out on November 28 at Picnic Island.  Several SFF members participated in the casting tournament – John Craig, Rick Warfel and I were the SFF team.

There were 6 stations and variable points for distance, V-fish, accuracy, hoop, mangrove and the Carl Hanson cup.  There were 43 competitors and most teams had 3 members.  There was an individual award which was won by Nick Angelo and the team winners were Nick Angelo, Bryon Chamberlin and Pat Damico.  The best distance cast was Cas Summers at 111 feet.  Ten casters put the fly in the Carl Hanson cup and one placed it in twice.  John, Rick and I were team mates and had fun competing.  We picked up some good lessons especially when casting through the hoop and the mangrove stations.  Great fun and met some great casters.

Tom Gadacz

Rick Warfel at the Hoop Station

 Rick Warfel casting at the Hoop station

    The Infamous Hanson Cup SFF Particpants

      The Infamous Hanson Cup                         Some SFF Participants at the Big Gun Shootout


Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) 2015 at Bradenton Yacht Club

The Bradenton Yacht Club hosted the third annual PHWFF event on May 16, 2015 which provided some 30 veterans a day of fly fishing on the water.  Florida captains, guides and boat owners provided boats for the.  Area wide chapters of PHWFF and members of the near IFFF clubs (Mangrove Coast Fly Fishers, Suncoast Fly Fishers, and the Tampa Bay Fly Fishing Club) provided volunteers in each boat.

Ted Haas, Gulf Coast Regional PHWFF Coordinator, organized the day’s event.  Tom “TJ” Brinegar from the PHWFF Tampa Chapter brought in a third of the participating disabled vets and half of which are just being introduced to fly fishing for the first time.  After a brief orientation the captains, volunteers and veterans headed out to fish the Manatee River and Terra Ceia Bay for 4 to 5 hours.  We had great weather with some wind out of the east and water temperature of 83 degrees.  We had four women veterans who were out on the water.  It’s good to see more women becoming interested in fly fishing.

Several varieties of fish were caught with spotted seatrout leading the list.  Jack crevelle, mackerel, black drum, flounder and snook were among the other fish.  One of the veterans in our boat built his rod as part of the PHWFF program and had a chance to try it out and practice casting.  We returned for a great lunch and exchanged our experiences.  It was amazing on how the size of the fish grew with each telling.  It was a very rewarding experience for all and an opportunity to give back to the men and women who served to protect our country.

Tom Gadacz

Member Suncoast Fly Fishers

President, FFI Florida Council

PHWFF at Bredenton Yacht Club

PHWFF at Bradenton Yacht Club

Everybody caught fish Everybody Caught Fish

Everybody Caught Fish

Bonefish& Tarpon Trust (BTT) Symposium

IGFA Headquarters

Every 3 years the BTT has a symposium at the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) Hall of Fame & Museum in Dania Beach, Florida.  Since joining the BTT I’ve learned much about the science of fisheries and its importance in conservation and preservation of all fish for our and future generations. Aaron Adams, who has presented several programs at SFF, is director of operations at BTT.  He and his staff have made many scientific contributions to Florida fisheries.

The Symposium was November 7-8, 2014.  Thirty four scientific papers were presented plus many panel discussions.  The Symposium brought together world-class experts to discuss issues in fisheries management.  Topics included energy expenditure of bonefish (What can ice baths and treadmills tell us about bonefish) and tracking of tarpon (Ocean habitat utilization by highly migratory tarpon from satellite telemetry data).  In addition there were fly tiers (Enrico Puglisi, Joe Mahler, and many others) in the lobby and several fly casting sessions (Joe Gonzalez, Todd Fuller, Steve Huff, and C. A. Richardson) on the lawn.  Pat Ford had a photography session on Saturday.

The Friday evening reception was held in conjunction with the art and film festival.  The film festival was really neat and consisted of some very professional fishing trips and some less polished but incredibly funny fishing exploits.  This was a great hit at the Symposium.  Saturday evening was the banquet and auction in the Fishing Hall of Fame.  What an impressive room with huge fish overhead and names and records on a floor plate beneath each fish.

Mark your calendar for October 2-3, 2015 because the IFFF Florida Council is planning to have its Expo at the IGFA next year.

Thomas Gadacz

President, FFI Florida Council

Fly Fishing Transition from Fresh to Saltwater


How does one become a saltwater fly fisher? Usually, most are freshwater converts. But these days there are many that have actually started in saltwater. Northern visitors that come to Florida to enjoy our weather can be frequently seen in our airports carrying rod cases.

All fly rod companies make 2, 3, 4 and even 5 and 6 piece outfits that easily conform to on-board baggage requirements. However, I have one word of caution: Checking fly rods in with luggage could be a disaster. Your "hard" case can end up like a pretzel!

Most of my northern clients have spent their fly fishing past with nothing heavier than a 5 wt. rod fishing freshwater trout streams. The most frequently asked question I'm asked is, "How far must I cast to fish saltwater?" Saturday morning TV fishing programs have intimidated them because of the frequent emphasis on distance. If their best previous cast has been 30 feet, they are not going to cast 60 feet with a 10 wt. rod no matter how well balanced the outfit is.

When fishing for freshwater trout on a stream, you have current, structure, feeding stations, wind, water clarity, air and water temperature variations, casting obstacles, drag, and the sun causing shadows, but increasing visibility. Depending on the species, you can have most or all of the same in the salt.

Variations in current that create drag are the most significant problems when trying to tempt a freshwater trout to take your tiny dry fly. Tide can be substituted for current, a dock, piling, or oyster bar would be structure.

On small freshwater streams casting obstacles can be a real problem, but I fished small creeks entering Tampa Bay either wading or in my canoe that were just as challenging. Overhanging mangroves, boats on lifts, docks, and bridges are certainly obstacles to casting.

I’ve caught a lot of saltwater species on small flies and many freshwater fish on bigger offerings. Are there more similarities than you thought? When the wind is flat, I’ve used 6 wt. rods for bonefish and reds in shallow water to allow a stealthy presentation. Other circumstances may require a 9 wt.

Most saltwater species roam looking for forage. If you’ve ever fished a big brown trout river at night you know that they do the same. During the day, these lunkers are under a bank or behind a rock in a deep hole and not actively feeding.

Watch snook under a lighted dock face into the tide waiting for supper. As the tide changes they will reverse position. I fish a lot at night, and the position of a light on a dock will have fish under the dock with an incoming tide and out in open water away from the dock on the outgoing tide. Is this the reason some docks produce better on certain tides, or is the accessibility to the fish the problem?

Trout will generally hold in a "feeding lane" and rise as the fly drifts into their vision. I’ve fished over stubborn brown trout for hours as I tried to imitate the specific mayfly they were engulfing and the horizontal position of the fish never changed. Herein may lie one of the major differences for the aspiring saltwater fly fisher.

Time to cast is a bigger factor in most saltwater applications. Most notable is when a guide is poling you across a shallow flat and seeing a redfish, he calls out the position. Provided you see the fish, and know his direction, you have a set of unique circumstances to overcome. Get the fly in his zone of vision quickly, quietly, naturally and accurately at his depth, with a minimum of false casting...preferably using only one, from a moving boat, at a moving fish, in the wind, without hooking the guide. This will be the defining moment and where failure is most frequently assured.

After attempting this drill a number of times, frustration will set in and trying harder will only make matters worse. The guide isn’t doing too well either! He has worked very hard to position you properly only to have his efforts wasted.

If I’m taking someone out for the first time, we meet at least an hour before I expect the fish to be active. We then go to a quiet area and I show them how to cast, retrieve, clear line, strip strike, and get line on the reel with the outfit they will be using.

I realize books have been written on each of these topics. However, in a short period of time an experienced fly fisher will get it together enough to be able to up the odds for success considerably. On my charters, we usually use my equipment because it is better balanced and will work for the specific task. I will hand the rod to my client and ask them to show me how well they can cast.

With this simple evaluation, I’ve seen everything from a cast of 10 feet with a loop the size of the moon to someone who was very proficient. In either case , these clients had told me during our pre trip phone conversations stories about catching salmon in Alaska, giant rainbows in Colorado, and sailfish in Mexico -- on flies, naturally. The ten foot caster could be much more descriptive and vocal. Now he is in trouble! And yes, I’ve had trips where I had to make every cast for clients, they did the retrieve, and we caught fish! Who thinks guiding is easy?

Frequently, a good portion of our trip has been devoted to casting instructions. Some inexperienced anglers have actually doubled the distance from their first attempt. Certainly, this could very well have been done in a back yard on the grass, or in a snow covered parking lot up north. When you do practice, use the heaviest outfit you have. Get some good instruction. Most good fly shops, even 200 miles from saltwater have heavier outfits than you can use. Become familiar with 8 and 9 wt. rods and you will have an enjoyable trip.

Saltwater fly fishing is a blast! This article is really intended to help you put your expectations in perspective and encourage you to join the ranks of many who are discovering this new dimension to our sport.

Information is available by contacting me at: 

Capt. Pat Damico
IFFF Master Certified Fly Casting Instructor
St. Pete Beach, FL

NOAA Fisheries Banner

June 24th

Seeking National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy Input

Good morning,

I'm writing to let you know about an opportunity to help shape the long-term direction for our Nation's saltwater recreational fisheries. As someone with a passion for recreational fishing, we'd like to hear your thoughts as we develop a new National Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Policy for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.

We agree with the roughly 11 million Americans who think wetting a line is a great way to spend time. That's why we launched an initiative to improve our science and stewardship for saltwater fishermen everywhere. We think a national policy on saltwater recreational fisheries, one that will help guide NOAA's long-term planning, is another positive step forward.

We also know anglers have a lot of great ideas to contribute. We've begun a series of face-to-face town hall discussions and online webinars to gather those ideas.  You can find meeting summaries and the full-schedule on our website. You will also find helpful materials that explain more about developing the policy and NOAA's role in recreational fishing. We'll be accepting comments on our website through September 12, 2014. We would love to hear your thoughts.

To find out more, please visit our website and feel free to contact with any questions.  If you would prefer not to hear from us again, that's fine too.  Simply reply to this email and we'll remove you from future mailings. Thanks for taking the time.


Tight lines,



Russell Dunn

National Policy Advisor for Recreational Fisheries

NOAA Fisheries

(727) 551-5740

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