Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Outdoors

Take it Outside Planner: Build an oyster bar, find the right paddle, run a 5K on a horse track

GIVE BACK: BUILD AN OYSTER BAR

Heads up, oyster lovers. Here's your chance to help Tampa Bay Watch install an oyster shell bar on the shoreline of Fantasy Island, the tiny spoil island near Ruskin. The environmental watchdogs of Tampa Bay Watch are recruiting volunteers to join them Sept. 15 to shovel fossilized shells into mesh bags, transport the bags via boat and place the oyster shell bags on the shoreline to create a series of oyster bars. "This project will restore lost habitat systems to the bay, prevent further erosion of the shoreline and improve water quality through natural biological filtration," said Rachel Arndt, the agency's communications coordinator. It is pretty physical labor, with oyster shell bags weighing around 30 pounds each, so volunteers need to be at least 15 years old. Meet at the Williams Park Boat Ramp, 8749 U.S. 41 in Riverview, at 9 a.m. The boat ramp is on the west side of U.S. 41 at the north side of the Alafia River. (727) 867-8166. Register at tampabaywatch.org.

CANOE TRIP: HILLSBOROUGH ECO TOURS

In its efforts to promote ecotourism, Hillsborough County offers guided paddling tours of the rivers of the Green Swamp, which has some of the prettiest nature scenes of the area. Hillsborough County's Conservation and Environmental Lands Management Department maintains more than 75,000 acres of nature preserves and parks. Andrew Fairbanks, the department's environmental outreach coordinator, conducts many of the eco tours for the department, and his favorite even comes with rapids. It's a trek from Alderman's Ford to Lithia Springs, both of which are regional parks. Another popular canoe trip features mangrove tunnels in Cockroach Bay south of Ruskin, one of the county's most diverse nature preserves. "This site also boasts a wonderful panoramic view atop 'Mount Cockroach,' " Fairbanks said, "which is a relic of shell-mining in the area prior to a major restoration project there." You can rent two-person canoes for $25 and the guide fee is $5 per person for a group of at least 10. Call (813) 672-7876 and ask for Fairbanks. Hillsborough parks with put-ins include Alderman's Ford, E.G. Simmons, Edward Medard, Lettuce Lake, Little Manatee and Upper Tampa Bay. hillsboroughcounty.org/conservation.

HOOFING IT: HORSE TRACK 5K

There are a lot of 5Ks to choose from, but it's not often you can run on an actual race track. The Tampa Bay Downs horse track in Oldsmar is opening its track to two-footed runners for the first time on Sept. 17 for a 5K that lets people trot on the track where a Kentucky Derby winner once ran. The Recstravaganza: Hoofin' It 5K is a fundraiser for the Tampa Bay United Soccer Club's recreational soccer scholarships. Runners will gallop on a loop around the grounds and stable areas with the last 150 yards run on the racetrack to finish at the track's actual finish line. The surface is a combination of asphalt, hard-packed sand and the dirt race track. If the race sells out, you can still find family activities at the horse track that day, including a soccer ball drop from a helicopter, a hole-in-one contest at Tampa Bay Downs driving range and foot golf, which puts soccer skills to use on a golf course. It's $30 for the 5K; $15 for youth fun run registration. The race begins at 7:30 a.m. 11225 Race Track Road near Oldsmar. (813) 792-7757. Register at tbusc.com.

GREAT GEAR: FIND THE RIGHT PADDLE

The waterways around Tampa Bay are ideal for stand-up paddleboarding, which is why you are seeing so many around these days. There's even a regular paddleboarding social meetup Tuesdays at 6 p.m. at North Shore Park Beach in St. Petersburg. If you are thinking about getting a paddleboard, consider first what size paddle you're looking for. Paddle manufacturer Kialoa suggest you consider posture, paddling style, shoulder and arm size, strength, board size and average water conditions as important factors. For touring or paddling for fitness or yoga, add 6 to 10 inches to your height to determine the right length. The gear testers at OutdoorGearLab gave their editors' choice award to the Kialoa Insanity Fiberglass Adjustable, which starts at $130, as a great lightweight adjustable SUP paddle. "The combination of the light blade and easy-on-your body shaft provides a high performance feel that promotes both quick and leisurely cadences," testers wrote. The Bullet Proof Surf Alloy at $80 was rated a best buy because the rugged paddle with a nylon blade had the largest amount of height adjustment, which is great if you have a large family using the same paddle.

 
Comments
Captainís Corner: Swimmer crabs attract big permit

Captainís Corner: Swimmer crabs attract big permit

The outgoing tides of last weekendís new moon washed thousands of small swimmer crabs, known locally as "pass crabs," out of the estuaries and into the gulf. This suddenly abundant food source offshore works as a natural chum line and draws big permi...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Captainís Corner: With full moon, tarpon are on the move

With the full moon this next week tarpon are moving down the beaches and making their way out of the bay and moving out to the bridges and the passes to feed before some of them leave to go out and spawn on the full moon. Early in the morning along t...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18

Captainís Corner: Cloudier water improves the bite

Windy conditions this week have actually slightly improved fishing. The waters of Saint Joseph sound had become so clear that it made finding fish easy, but getting bites very difficult. Snook have been gathering in great numbers all along the beache...
Published: 05/19/18
Updated: 05/21/18

Captainís Corner: Red grouper fishing continues to be good

Red grouper fishing continues to be steady in depths of 100-120 feet. Large bait stacks are holding a fish or two, but larger concentrations are on very small rolls and potholes in those depths. Zooming in on the bottom 10-15 feet of the water column...
Published: 05/19/18
Updated: 05/20/18

Captainís Corner: Catching a giant cobia

Cobia is the topic this week. Capt. Tom Markham, aboard the Simply Hooked, was beginning his daily bait routine. It turned out that one of the markers located near Clearwater Pass, surprisingly, had a giant fish waiting for him. The captain slid up t...
Published: 05/16/18

Captainís Corner: Tarpon showing up on beaches, bridges

This week shouldnít be a total wash out. While there is a chance of rain every day, it should only be sporadic. Hopefully it wonít dirty up the water too much. If you are a tarpon fisherman and look forward to their arrival like I do, then you are in...
Published: 05/14/18
Updated: 05/15/18

Captainís Corner: This is best time of year for bay area fishing

Itís the best time of year for fishing in the area. Tarpon can be targeted off of any of the bridges. The Gandy, Howard Frankland and Skyway are my top choices. While awaiting a tarpon strike, I kill time by dropping smaller baits for Spanish mackere...
Published: 05/13/18

Captainís Corner: Change tactics for fly fishing success

Most fly fishers would prefer minimum wind and cloudless skies to increase chances for a banner day. This has been a problem lately. The wind makes casting more difficult, unless very experienced, and clouds interfere with sight casting opportunities...
Published: 05/11/18
Updated: 05/14/18

Captainís Corner: Tips on handling burgeoning baitfish

Schools of baitfish have arrived and taken up residence in all depths. Birds are diving on them close to the beach, all the way out to the midwater artificial reefs. Farther offshore, bait schools might not be visible on the surface but can be detect...
Published: 05/11/18
Updated: 05/12/18

Captainís Corner: Buckle up, the tarpon are here

Tarpon season is here, and the fish are showing up in numbers along the beaches. While there have been tarpon in the bays and backwaters for awhile, there were very few schools cruising the coast until a few days ago. Then, seemingly overnight, big p...
Published: 05/11/18