Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Outdoors

Take It Outside planner: Fort Zachary Taylor, Myakka airboating and fishing tourney

DESTINATION: FORT ZACHARY TAYLOR

Looking for the best sunset in Florida? Fort Zachary Taylor, Florida's southernmost state park, is as good as it gets. Built in the mid 1800s to defend the nation's southeastern coastline, Fort Zachary Taylor played important roles in the Civil War and Spanish-American War. You can sign up for one of the daily guided tours or just chill out on Key West's favorite beach, at the southern end of the park. There's good fishing and snorkeling too, a pleasant break from the bars and T-shirt shops of Duval Street. Interesting fact: Fort Taylor was originally built 1,200 feet offshore, but in the mid 1960s a U.S. Navy dredging project landlocked the fortress. floridastateparks.org.

Everglades stamp

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, the U.S. Postal Service is issuing some "forever stamps" which pay tribute to the nation's most scenic places. A setting sun photograph of pinelands and grasses in the country's largest subtropical wilderness — Everglades National Park — is the sixth of 16 stamps in the series. The stamp image is a photograph by Paul Marcellini of Miami. The national park, which stretches from Miami to Naples and south to the Florida Keys, covers more than 1.5 million acres of sawgrass prairies, tropical hardwood hammocks and mangrove forests. Bring your binoculars and you'll see alligators, crocodiles, manatees and maybe a Florida panther. nps.gov/ever.

BREEZY: Myakka airboating

It's getting hot out there but that doesn't mean you have to stay off the water. Myakka River State Park, about an hour south of downtown St. Petersburg, has big reptiles and the world's largest airboats, the Myakka Maiden and the Gator Gal, both of which offer scenic cruises on Upper Myakka Lake. Like human-powered canoes, the slow-moving, air-powered watercraft can travel into shallow areas for optimum wildlife viewing. The tour schedule varies during the winter and summer months. You can also enjoy the park from the comfort of your own air-conditioned car when you take a tour on the 7-mile scenic drive that winds along the wetlands of the upper lake. floridastateparks.org.

GREAT GEAR: Danco Pliers

Whether you're fishing for king mackerel offshore or snook in the backcountry, every angler needs a good pair of pliers. With Mother's Day and Father's Day just around the corner, get your favorite folk something they can use but probably wouldn't buy for themselves: Danco Pliers. These aluminum pliers cost $39.99 and will last forever. Find them at Dogfish Tackle, 8750 Park Blvd. N, Seminole.

HAIL THE KING: KINGFISH TOURNAMENT

Check out the Old Salt Spring King of the Beach Kingfish Tournament & Seafood Festival Thursday through Saturday in Madeira Beach. The top teams from Texas to Virginia will be competing for the $50,000 first place prize. The three days of music, food and events are for everybody, not just hard-core kingfish anglers. Registration is $235-$245. oldsaltfishing.org.

     
Comments

Captainís Corner: Warming waters, better visibility are good signs

Scuba and freediving spearfishermen and women have enjoyed great underwater visibility over the past week. Some boaters going offshore can make out the bottom structure from the gunnel of the boat. Best depths for visibility have been in 30 to 40 fee...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/19/18

Captainís Corner: Flats coming to life in north Pinellas County

The flats are really coming to life in north Pinellas County. Our main focus this time of year is spotted sea trout, though redfish are cooperating and schooling a bit. Snook are also responding to the warm weather, occasionally eating on the falling...
Published: 02/18/18

Captainís Corner: Bait a challenge, but effort will pay off

Bait has made its way into the bay and is on nearly every marker. The problem: Bait is moving and showing up at different times daily. The time spent to get bait will pay off. Fish have been blasting pilchards. Snook and large trout have been communi...
Published: 02/16/18
Updated: 02/17/18

Captainís Corner: Springtime fishing patterns moving in

The first half of February has been hit or miss for inshore fishing. The consistent cold fronts and warmups seem to have the fish confused. The week ahead should be pretty good. The best bite has been midmorning into the afternoon. With temperatures ...
Published: 02/14/18
Updated: 02/15/18

Captainís Corner: Get an early start when chasing redfish

Redfish schools have started to invade the flats around Pinellas Point. On low tide in the morning, I look for a school on an outer sandbar. These fish are staged on the edge waiting for the tide to come in. Once the water level rises, the fish will ...
Published: 02/13/18

Captainís Corner: Baitfish in the shallows improves fly fishing

Seeing large groups of pelicans diving and catching baitfish in warmer, shallow water is a sure sign spring conditions are approaching. The appearance of quality baitfish will spark a feeding frenzy that should steadily improve flats fishing for fly ...
Published: 02/14/18
Updated: 02/16/18

Captainís Corner: Action picking up as temperature rises

The wind finally stopped blowing so hard that we couldnít go offshore. Water temperatures were still in the low 50s offshore at the beginning of the week, and this affected fish behavior. Because the water was calm, we ventured out to the 80- to 90-f...
Published: 02/11/18
Updated: 02/12/18

Captainís Corner: Topwater plugs a great option as warming trend continues

Warm weather for the past week has led to an increase in feeding activity for inshore fish species. Speckled trout have been venturing out of deep holes and channels and back into shallow water to feed. This has presented a great opportunity to fish ...
Published: 02/10/18
Updated: 02/11/18

Captainís Corner: Sardines make a great bait

Bait has made its way into the bay and the fish have been eating sardines with violent strikes. Look deep for bait, most of it has been in 20-plus feet of water. A little knowledge of how to read a bottom machine will help you secure the prized sardi...
Published: 02/08/18
Updated: 02/10/18

Captainís Corner: Fishing conditions have started to improve

The waters are still a bit cooler than the kind a bunch of fish like to aggressively chew in. Fishing conditions, however, have slowly but surely begun to improve. On a recon mission Tuesday, I visited both Sunshine Skyway bridge fishing piers and th...
Published: 02/08/18