Saturday, November 18, 2017
Outdoors

Take It Outside Planner: Paddle the Ocklawaha River, lobster season gear, birdwatching

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GREAT GEAR: LOBSTER TICKLE STICK

Get some butter melting. The regular lobster season in Florida opens Saturday and runs through March 31. To get your fill of Caribbean spiny lobsters found on Florida's coast, you'll need handheld dip nets and handy gadgets sometimes called a tickle stick. It lets you explore hidey holes and its loop let you grab — but not puncture or crush — the exoskeleton of the lobster. It's basically an extension of your arm.

You don't want go poking around ledges and holes with your bare hand — just ask Warren Sapp. The retired Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle was bitten in the left arm by a nurse shark in Marathon recently after he grabbed a lobster in a hole, not seeing the shark that also wanted the lobster. Sapp posted an Instagram picture of a gash in his left arm that needed four stitches.

The ledges and holes lobsters like to hide in can also have nasty neighbors like moray eels and lionfish that will sting intruders. Tickle sticks range from yardlong plastic sticks that cost a few dollars to $50 retractable loop snares. Keep a few basic $2 tickle sticks so you have an extra if needed. Check out the Pro Teaser extended arm with a bright yellow handle that floats if you should drop it and includes a built-in gauge for measuring lobsters. It's $15 for the Pro Teaser basic, $30 for extendable.

If you want to get a little fancier, try the lasso of the Marine Sports Green Lobster Loop Snare. It has a stainless steel loop with a locking pull to secure the catch ($39.97 at Dick's Sporting Goods). Or you can get a complete lobstering kit at diversdirect.com, where $18-$25 gets you a net, tickle stick, a bag for your catch and ribbed lobster gloves to protect your hands. Before you go out on a lobster search, you need a recreational saltwater fishing license and a $5 lobster permit, found at MyFWC.com or any county tax collector office and most marinas and bait shops.

SPOTLIGHT: OCKLAWAHA ODYSSEY

The Ocklawaha River, which flows along the edge of the Ocala National Forest, is one of the rivers popular with paddlers who like to float by one of Florida's most famed first magnitude springs. You can sometimes find monkeys dangling from cypress branches, a fantastic diversity of birds and a scenic Old Florida landscape. Stretching some 110 miles long, the river was once a major thoroughfare for paddle-wheeled steamboats traveling up the nearby St. Johns. The Ocklawaha Canoe Outpost and Resort in Fort McCoy has day trips of four and eight hours long and also overnight trips. The most popular overnight trip takes you and your camping gear 20 miles to the park on the Silver River. From there, you can paddle to Silver Springs, the translucent blue springs that were Florida's first tourist attraction, a trip that takes about three hours. To plan your trip on the Ocklawaha or the nearby Silver and Dead rivers or Cedar Creek, contact the outpost at (866) 236-4606 or go to outpostresort.com. Or check out Paddle Florida, the nonprofit organization that supports canoeing and kayaking in Florida. It is planning a 48-mile Ocklawaha trip Dec. 2-6 that includes camping, meals and shuttle. Register by Nov. 18 at paddleflorida.org.

FEATHERED FRIENDS: Bird Walk

With more than 780 species of birds found in North America, taking up bird-watching can seem daunting to. It mainly takes practice and is surprisingly easy to learn. Like all things these days, there's an app for that. You'll soon be able to tell your coot from your kingfisher with Birdseye, a free app with add-ons you can purchase. It uses real-time citizen science data with maps to find birds that are near you. Birding in North America is a free guide with pictures of every bird in North America. And Merlin Bird ID is a free app that helps you figure out what bird it is you see or hear. It will ask you a few questions and show a list of birds that best match your description. Or you can pick the brain of an experienced birder on a guided Bird Walk at 8 a.m. Saturday, led by a field guide at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve in St. Petersburg. It has a limited number of binoculars available for loan, so bring your own if you have them. Free. 1101 Country Club Way S, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-7326.

 
Comments

Captainís Corner: Snook bite remains aggressive

We are in the midst of prefrontal conditions, so there should be good fishing today. Bait seems to have moved on the last full moon and judging by the amount of bait fry that has filtered onto the flats, it spawned also. Load up the wells with the sm...
Published: 11/17/17

Captainís Corner: Calm seas closer to beaches rewards with kingfish

Strong east winds have made it challenging for offshore anglers. The first few miles are quite tolerable since the land buffers the shoreline. After that, sea conditions have been tougher. Anglers searching for kingfish have been rewarded with calm s...
Published: 11/16/17

Captainís Corner: A little wind doesnít stop hot fishing in November

Despite many windy days, November fishing has been amazing. The water is cooling off, and the fish are becoming more aggressive. Itís getting to be the time of year when the cold fronts start to make their way out of the north. When this happens, win...
Published: 11/15/17

Captainís Corner: Fly fishing success possible, even in wind

When your day to fly fish arrives, do you hope for a day without wind? Knowledgeable fly fishers know there are many ways to deal with different wind situations. Avoid open water, and select an area that offers protection. Stay close to shore and use...
Published: 11/12/17
Updated: 11/14/17

Captainís Corner: Low tides and cold fronts make for rewarding fishing

Fall and winter low tides combined with cold fronts passing through can lead to highly rewarding fishing. It takes winds blowing 20-plus miles an hour out of the northeast combined with an astronomical low tide around the new moon and full moon phase...
Published: 11/12/17
Updated: 11/13/17

Captainís Corner: Reef fish abundant offshore; mackerel, kings better near shore

Before this recent cold front, we were able to travel where we wanted, and the calm seas allowed us to make the mistake of running past the best depths for our type of fishing. The 40- to 50-foot depths produced almost nonstop action from reef fish, ...
Published: 11/12/17
Captainís Corner: Mackerel still going strong in bay area

Captainís Corner: Mackerel still going strong in bay area

The fall king mackerel run is still going strong. The fish have seemed to come in waves; one week there are numerous fish more than 30 pounds, and a week or two later no one can find any more than 20. It also seems the fish are not moving south all t...
Published: 11/11/17

Captainís Corner: Cold front should push fish into backcountry waters

The approaching front is forecast to drop temperatures for a couple of days. This should push more fish into the backcountry rivers and creeks that feed the bay. Once the front passes and the weather stabilizes, fishing should return to normal. This ...
Published: 11/10/17

Captainís Corner: Kingfish domination

With calm seas and water temperature just the way they like it, kingfish will dominate much of the nearshore and offshore activity. Light wind and strong tides from the weekendís full moon have allowed nearshore waters to cleanse, so baits are being ...
Published: 11/08/17
Captainís Corner: November means strong snook fishing

Captainís Corner: November means strong snook fishing

November is the month that moves most inshore fish from the flats to the backcountry creeks, docks and rivers. Itís a month when you can enjoy great weather and great fishing without waking up at the crack of dawn. The South Shore in particular has s...
Published: 11/07/17
Updated: 11/09/17