Saturday, December 16, 2017
Outdoors

Take it Outside Planner: Bahia Honda Key, photography exhibit and Sea to Summit X-Pot

HEAD SOUTH: BAHIA HONDA KEY

Decades before the Overseas Highway connected Key West to the mainland, Henry Flagler's railroad was the only way, other than a boat, to get to the Southernmost City. If you were lucky enough have a seat aboard the train, you would have stopped at Bahia Honda Key, which for many a northern traveler was a true tropical destination. Not much has changed in the hundred years since. There are still balmy breezes, sensational sunsets and most of all, fantastic fishing. You can camp at Bahia Honda State Park or stay in cabins, then snorkel out on one of the local reefs. Flagler's Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railway made it to the island in 1908. The old Bahia Honda Bridge, one of 43 such structures, was the most difficult to build because of the deep, fast water in the channel. The railway ran until Sept. 2, 1935, when a 17-foot storm surge from a Category 5 hurricane destroyed the tracks. The old bridge is still there, one of the most photographed abandoned structures in the Florida Keys. Park visitors can soak up the sunshine and enjoy a bit of history from the state's Golden Age. The park has three camping areas with 80 sites, two boat ramps and a marina. The park concessionaire, the Coral Reef Park Company, offers great snorkel trips to the nearby reefs. floridastateparks.org.

PHOTO STUDY: BACKPACKER TOUR

Most backpackers know to carry a tent, sleeping bag and mat, but maybe you should add a camera to the equipment list. Aidan Lynn-Klimenko and Madison Perrins are traveling to 30 national parks for the 100th anniversary of the national park system. The photographers met in the darkroom at the Montana State University School of Film and have previously traveled extensively through South America. America's national parks have been documented by photographers before, including Ansel Adams, who popularized the Grand Tetons' beauty. Backpacker Magazine has featured the work, which the two will share at Bill Jackson's Shop for Adventure in Pinellas Park at 1 p.m. Saturday. Call (727) 576-4169 for reservations.

ROLLING BOIL: X-POT

Who says one pot can't do it all? The new Sea to Summit X-Pot combines the heat distribution of aluminum with the flexibility of silicone. The aluminum base makes for a fast boil time and the stainless steel ring embedded in the rim lends rigidity to the silicone walls for easy lifting. Top it off with a clear locking lid with an integrated strainer and you have a great backpacking pot that packs down to an inch-tall disk. $49.95. seatosummit.com.

SPOT IT: RED-SHOULDERED HAWK

This bird of prey is smaller than its cousin, the red-tailed hawk. The best way to tell the two hawks apart is the habitat where the bird is spotted. If you are hiking in the woods and see a bird of prey moving through the trees, chances are it is a red-shouldered hawk. These woodland raptors focus on small prey like mice, frogs and snakes. These forest hawks are also found along rivers and swamps.

   
Comments

Captainís Corner: Look for that strong speckled trout bite on grass flats

The speckled trout bite has taken off nicely after the first good cold front last weekend. You will find a consistent bite along the grass flats from Apollo Beach down to Pinellas Point. The sweet spot seems to be 4-6 feet of water. If you can find s...
Published: 12/15/17

Captainís Corner: Drop in gulf water temperature means itís sea trout time

The gulf temperature has dropped significantly since our first real cold front last week. One day the water was in the mid 70s, then after the front, it fell to the low 60s. That caused speckled sea trout to become a reliable target. Redfish have bee...
Published: 12/14/17

Captainís Corner: Good time for shallow-water flats fishing

Shallow-water flats fishing can be very exciting this time of year. Trout and redfish are available in good numbers, and the opportunities to catch some gator trout have made recent trips very rewarding. Some of the largest trout have been in very sk...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/13/17

Captainís Corner: Seek clear water for bottom fishing as temperatures plummet

The great weather, calm seas and exceptional fishing we experienced at the end of November and beginning of December came to a screeching halt with the cold front that came through. Surface water temperatures plummeted from an unseasonable 71 degrees...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17

Captainís Corner: Sheepshead action lively in cooler weather

Conditions after the cold front are cool and are going to be for a while. That doesnít mean you canít or shouldnít fish. Many anglers get stuck on snook, reds and trout and forget how fun it is to catch sheepshead. Many reefs are already holding good...
Published: 12/09/17
Updated: 12/10/17

Captainís Corner: Fishing will return to normal, but when?

The severity of this cold front will determine the fishing forecast for the next several days. Bait that had been abundant inshore will scatter. Nearshore gulf waters will muddy, and water temperatures. at least temporarily. will plummet. How cold, h...
Published: 12/08/17
Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

I canít believe we are in the last month of the year. And while this is one of my favorite months to fish, it will be controlled by weather. As cold fronts become more frequent and harsh, planning your trips around them will make the biggest differen...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/09/17

Captainís Corner: Strong results for redfish, speckled trout

This is a great time for variety. Combined trips for speckled trout and redfish are achieving excellent results. With the correct approach, great catches of both species are a reality now. The best anglers use the lightest tackle. Light rods and reel...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Captainís Corner: Take advantage of abundant gag grouper before season ends

Gag grouper fishing and spearing is hot. The season for these grouper in the Gulf of Mexico is winding down, with a slated closure at the end of this month. The cooler water has the gags moving closer, and they are happy when the bottom temperatures ...
Published: 12/05/17

Captainís Corner: Bait schools near shore drawing kings, mackerel, bonito

Nearshore fishing is still going strong in north Pinellas. Bait schools are roaming just a couple of miles offshore, attracting kingfish, Spanish mackerel and bonito. The beaches are still holding sardines for cast netting at sunrise. I like to have ...
Published: 12/03/17
Updated: 12/05/17