Saturday, June 23, 2018
Outdoors

Take it Outside Planner: Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Gulf Islands National Seashore, red snapper season

EXPLORE MORE: JONATHAN DICKINSON STATE PARK

Next time you head to Florida's east coast, make sure you swing by Jonathan Dickinson State Park. Located just south of Stuart, this state park has pine flatwoods, mangroves and river swamps. Bring your canoe, kayak or paddleboard, or rent one there and explore the Loxahatchee, Florida's first federally designated Wild and Scenic River. For a more structured adventure, take one of the ranger-guided tours of the 1930s pioneer homestead of Trapper Nelson, the "Wildman of the Loxahatchee." The 25-passenger Loxahatchee Queen II offers a two-hour tour of the river. Nelson eventually opened up one of the area's first tourist attractions, "Trapper's Zoo and Jungle Gardens." Nelson died in 1968 from a gunshot wound. Officials ruled it a suicide, but speculation swirled. Many a Trapper Nelson story has been told around a campfire. You can camp in an organized camp or head into the backcountry, where some say the old trapper's ghost wanders on moonlit nights. If you go, don't forget your fishing pole. The Loxahatchee has freshwater species such as largemouth bass upriver and snook and snapper as you approach the picnic area and boat ramp. floridastateparks.org.

SWEET SPLENDOR: GULF ISLANDS NATIONAL SEASHORE

This summer marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and the U.S. Postal Service has issued a series of collector stamps to celebrate. But why not see the real thing? Head north to Gulf Islands National Seashore near Pensacola. The protected barrier islands, which stretch into Mississippi, have miles of deserted, undeveloped beaches as well as historic fortifications and nature trails. nps.gov.

WHEN TO CATCH: RED SNAPPER

Red snapper season in the state waters of the Gulf of Mexico opened for Saturdays and Sundays as of last week. That is great news for anglers in northwest Florida, but if you live here in Tampa Bay, you're out of luck. Red snapper are usually found far offshore in federal waters. The season opens to include weekdays May 28 through July 10. Then the season will goes to Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in September and October, also including Labor Day. All together, that's a 78-day season in gulf state waters. Red snapper season in federal waters, which begins 9 miles offshore, will run June 1 to 9. The federally permitted charter boat and headboat season for federal waters will run June 1 through July 16, closing July 17.

GREAT GIFT: ULTIMATE WATER SHOES

OluKai's new Eleu Trainers are the official footwear of the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association. Great for standup paddleboarding, sea kayaking or busting out a 3-mile run on the beach, these are not your average water shoes. $110. OluKai.com.

   
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Captainís Corner: Cool off, bring home a tasty dinner with scalloping

Whatís the best way to cool off in July and August? Go scalloping. Itís like going on an underwater Easter egg hunt that results in a bag of tasty scallops to cook up. The most popular places to scallop are in Homosassa and Steinhatchee in 2 feet of ...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Captainís Corner: Size of sea trout a welcome surprise in Pinellas grass beds

A nice surprise has been the quality size of the spotted sea trout on deeper grass beds in southern Pinellas. Typically, summertime trout tend to run smaller than the 16- to 20-inch trout weíve been finding. Fishing the deep grass with scattered sand...
Published: 06/21/18

Captainís Corner: Offshore fishing will be strong for awhile

June and July offer some of the yearís best offshore fishing. Targets such as red snapper, blackfin tuna, mahi≠mahi, wahoo and sailfish make their way through our area and make appearances on many trips to depths of 120 feet or more. Red snapper are ...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18

Captainís Corner: Itís a good time to focus on snook

Snook have been a main focus on my most recent trips. This time of year, snook inhabit the beaches, gathering in the ditches and swashes along shore. Jetties or rock structures are also a favorite habitat for snook to lurk, looking to ambush bait fis...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Captainís Corner: Tips on targeting American Red Snapper

American Red Snapper (ARS) season opened a few days ago and some types of bottom are holding bigger schools of ARS then other bottom types. The hard bottom areas that most fishermen prefer are holding large schools of ARS, but the fish have yet to m...
Published: 06/18/18

Captainís Corner: Trout bite at its best

The trout bite has been the best Iíve seen all year. Fish up to 26 inches have been common recently. Fish are sitting on the flatsí deeper edges, where the water is deeper and cooler, and moves a little more swiftly. Live sardines and hard plastic ba...
Published: 06/16/18
Updated: 06/17/18

Captainís Corner: Fishing this month is all about diversity

This is the month of diverse opportunity. The choice of species is unlimited, as long as you have the bait. You can target snook and tarpon in the morning, then fish for Spanish mackerel, bluefish, snapper, sharks and cobia in the afternoon. The tarp...
Published: 06/15/18

Captainís Corner: When itís tarpon time, itís also shark time

Tarpon get most of the attention when talking about exciting fly action for large fish in our area. Baitfish are more prolific, and large tarpon follow their forage and populate most of our local waters. Following them are fish that consider tarpon t...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/14/18

Captainís Corner: This is your best time for tarpon fishing

Now is the best time to target tarpon. Silver kings are cruising the beaches on their yearly migration up and down the stateís west coast. This weekís strong new moon tides and the strong full moon tides in two weeks provide some of the best action f...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/13/18

Captainís Corner: Turn attention to gag grouper and red snapper

Attention has turned to gag grouper and red snapper for many offshore fishermen. Red snapper can be best targeted in waters 105 feet and deeper, with some available in water as shallow as 60 feet. Although the snapper will be found on high profile st...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18