GO FISH: License-Free Saltwater Fishing Day
There's no excuse not to dig out that rod and reel. Saturday is License-Free Saltwater Fishing Day in Florida. A saltwater fishing license normally costs $17 a year for Florida residents and $47 for nonresidents. Children younger than 16 and Florida residents 65 or older are not required to have a fishing license. Some fishing piers, such as the Skyway Pier, have blanket licenses for all fishermen. If you end up having a great day on the water, you can obtain a license at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website at myfwc.com, or you can buy one at most tackle shops.
MOON RUNNER: Things to do at night
By now we are all pretty much over the oppressive heat and humidity, not to mention the violent thunderstorms that can spoil an afternoon outside. You can leave the sunscreen at home by venturing out at night when it still might be humid, but not nearly as hot. Just don't forget the bug spray.
Preplanned night excursions include the Family Night Hike this Saturday at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. For ages 4 and older, the ranger-led hike includes a lesson in how animals transition from daytime to nighttime. It's $5 for the 7:30 p.m. hike. Also at Boyd Hill, on Sept. 10 there's a Paddle at Twilight, where you can paddle out at sunset and watch twilight settle over the water. It's $16 for ages 8 and older. Call (727) 893-7326 to reserve a spot. The preserve is at 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg.
Hillsborough County is hosting a Full Moon Hike on Sept. 17 at Lake Frances Preserve in Odessa. A Lettuce Lake After Dark hike on Sept. 28 is also planned. Each is $5 a person. Call (813) 672-7876 to sign up.
Now is also the peak time to check out nighttime bioluminescent kayak tours elsewhere in the state, where billions of plankton — dinoflagellates — emit a blueish-white glow in the water. There are tours in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge near Titusville ( adayawaykayaktours.com) and also off Marco Island in southwest Florida ( kayakmarco.com/moon.htm). Tours run $35-$50 and take at least two hours. The plankton emit the eerie light when they are disturbed, so paddling leaves a glowing trail. Late August is considered the peak season, but tours continue through October. Just be mindful of the phases of the moon.
ROLLING ALONG: Bike the Upper Tampa Bay Trail
Get out your bike and go explore the Upper Tampa Bay Trail's new trailhead and extension in a group bicycle ride this Sunday. More than 17 years in the making, the trail follows Lutz Lake Fern Road, connecting to more than 50 miles of regional trails at the Suncoast Trail. The trail is, for the most part, a 12-foot-wide asphalt lane at grade level, but there are portions in which the trail is an elevated boardwalk through wetlands. The Sunday Bicycle Rides organization will meet at the new trailhead at 7020 Lutz Lake Fern Road, Odessa, at 7:30 a.m. Sunday for a 34-mile ride to Pasco County's Starkey Park and back. Helmets are required and riders must maintain a speed of 12-16 mph. (813) 613-6047.
GET YOUR SPEAR: Lionfish Safari
Guy Harvey Outpost just opened registration for a spear and fishing tournament called Lionfish Safari to help rid the Tampa Bay area of as many of the invasive fish species as possible. The fish will be used for research, but this event, organized with Reef Monitoring Inc. and the Fishing Rights Alliance, also aims to educate the public on the threat the species poses to reef environments. The all-day fishing tournament is Sept. 10, and Sept. 11 features a family fun day along with the tournament weigh-in. There will be cash prizes of up to $1,000 and giveaways. Go to guyslionfishsafari.com to register by Sept. 9. $35 per person. All fish will be weighed and measured by Reef Monitoring, passed along to students for dissection and then given to the chef station to be cooked and prepared for tasting at the beachside cookout.