Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Outdoors

Take It Outside planner: Cayo Coasta, sea turtle safety, grouper regulations

DESTINATION: CAYO COSTA

If you are looking for a good weekend getaway, Cayo Costa State Park, just across the pass from Boca Grande, has 9 miles of beautiful beach just waiting to be explored. This barrier island hasn't changed much since the Spanish explorers first sailed by its shores nearly 500 years ago. This island is heavily wooded — pine, oak and palm — and accessible only by private boat or ferry. With more than 2,000 acres of wilderness to explore, spend the day or stay in the night in a rustic cabin or your own tent. The sunsets are fabulous. Bring your snorkel gear and fishing rod for the beach and your hiking boots and mountain bike for the trails that crisscross the island. Captiva Cruises offers ferry service to the park from locations in Punta Gorda, Pine Island, Fort Myers, Sanibel Island and Captiva Island. Reservations are recommended. (239) 472-5100. cayocostaferry.com.

CREATURE FEATURE: Sea Turtles

May signals the start of sea turtle nesting in Florida. While most of the state's sea turtle nests are found on the east coast, Pinellas County's beaches, particularly Fort De Soto, also get their fair share of nesting sea turtles through the summer. While loggerheads do nest on local beaches, the odds of catching one in the act are slim.

Sea turtles spend the majority of their lives underwater but breathe air and must come up on dry land to lay their eggs. About 60 days after the turtles lay their eggs, the hatchlings will scramble from the nest and instinctively head toward the water. On their sprint to the sea, the young loggerheads are easy pickings for birds. Then they must contend with hungry fish. Even a full-grown loggerhead can become shark food.

Another enemy is man. Turtles are a traditional food source throughout the Caribbean. The eggs are prized in many cultures as an aphrodisiac. Thousands of the reptiles also are killed each year in commercial fishing nets. Some turtles die when they eat plastic bags they mistake for a favorite food, jellyfish. Human interference on nesting beaches also creates problems. Some turtles may be scared away if humans appear. And hatchlings have been known to become disoriented by the artificial lights of beachside developments and walk into roads. That is why it is important that beach residents keep lights out during the nesting season, May through October. myfwc.com.

CATCH THIS: Gag Grouper

Anglers fishing for gag grouper in the Gulf of Mexico will have to contend with a change in regulations when the season reopens. The minimum size limit will increase from 22 inches total length to 24 inches total length. But the season will open a month earlier (June 1) and close a month later (Dec. 31).

GREAT GEAR: Costas

Costa's new Rafael glasses with the 580 lenses provide a sleeker, tighter frame that helps keep the light so you can focus on fish. A great glass for water sports, they retail for $249.

   
Comments

Captainís Corner: Devise a strategy before heading out into the cold

The quality of fishing this month depends on how many cold fronts are in our future. When the water creeps down below 60 degrees, many fish will slow their metabolism in order to survive. They require less food than in the warmer months, making some ...
Published: 01/16/18

Captainís Corner: Make sure the fly gets in front of a hungry fish

Back-to-back winter cold fronts not only confuse inshore fish but the fly fishers who pursue them. The most perfectly tied fly is not effective unless it is in front of a fish that is anxious to eat it. The best daytime tides, very low early and inco...
Published: 01/12/18
Updated: 01/14/18

Captainís Corner: Cold, windy days just fine for trout fishing

Trout have been my most productive target during the start of this new year. Winter cold fronts and cold water are making conditions difficult to target snook and reds. Strong winds from passing fronts make it hard to work the shallow-water flats. Th...
Published: 01/12/18
Updated: 01/13/18

Captainís Corner: Cold driving out kings, but there are alternatives

Mother Nature gives and she takes away. Nature gave us warm water and great king fishing until Dec. 31. She ushered in the new year with a severe cold front with high winds and rough seas that kept us in port every day. The cold air and overcast skie...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Captainís Corner: Techniques for catching (and cooking) tasty sheepshead

Cold water has fishing in sort of slow motion. Middle bay temperatures (Gandy area) are holding in the 54-56 degree range. During this time of year the stalking of large snook and redfish take a back seat to finesse fishing and trying to figure out w...
Published: 01/10/18
Captainís Corner: Colder weather calls for different approaches

Captainís Corner: Colder weather calls for different approaches

With colder weather the first big change is what bait to use. Before the cold fronts in the first week we were using greenbacks and catching a bunch of snook. With the cold weather that has hit us we are now shifting gears and using shrimp and throwi...
Published: 01/08/18
Updated: 01/09/18

Captainís Corner: Winter need not interrupt fishing

The inevitable effects of wintertime fishing have finally arrived, but there are plenty of opportunities for the determined angler. Trout, both silver and specs, are cold water tolerant and among the best bets inshore. Now too is when schools of shee...
Published: 01/07/18
Updated: 01/08/18

Captainís Corner: With this cold, itís time for sheepshead

With cold air and water temperatures, nothing is hot when it comes it fishing. An eight-year recovery on snook erased by water temperatures in the 50s. January has not been kind so far. Thereís basically one solid option in times like these: sheepshe...
Published: 01/06/18
Updated: 01/07/18

Captainís Corner: Cold weather shouldnít stop you from targeting trout

Dealing with cold water is nothing new for trout anglers. Most often, fish head to deeper water as they seek more stable temperatures; consequently, deep water near your favorite grass flat will often hold schools of trout until the water temperature...
Published: 01/06/18

Captainís Corner: When weather calms, spearfishermen should target amberjack

Amberjack season opened Jan. 1 and as soon as the seas calm, many anglers and spearfishermen will be heading west into the Gulf of Mexico in search of these fish. The 2017 season was dramatically short, only left open by the Marine Fisheries Council ...
Published: 01/04/18
Updated: 01/05/18