Saturday, February 17, 2018
Outdoors

Take it Outside Planner: Paddle the state, don't feed the raccoons and get Kuhl

BRAVE IT: PADDLE 'ROUND FLORIDA

The Florida Circumnavigation Saltwater Paddling Trail, a 1,500-mile aquatic version of the Appalachian Trail, begins at Big Lagoon State Park near Pensacola, runs south along the gulf coast beaches, around the Florida Keys, then up the east coast to Fort Clinch State Park near the Georgia border. Diehard paddlers call it the "CT" for short and only a few dedicated kayakers have actually made it all the way around the Florida peninsula. But if you try, you will encounter every type of ecosystem in Florida, from the towering sand dunes of the Panhandle to the mangrove jungles of the Ten Thousand Islands. The trail is divided into 26 segments, some longer and more difficult, some short and ideal for beginners. In areas such as St. Petersburg or Miami, you'll never be too far from civilization. But down near the Everglades or up in the wilds of Big Bend, you will be on your own. You can paddle for a few hours, spend the night in one of the trail's designated campsites, or spend a week or even a month living out of the seat of a kayak. The camps are spread within easy paddling distance of each other, so there is no need to worry about where to make landfall. Paddling around the state does sound nearly impossible, at least for those of us with jobs and families. But many paddlers approach the challenge of the CT the same way hikers think of completing the Appalachian Trail, one segment at a time.

HISTORY LESSON: SAN MARCOS

Four flags — Spanish, English, American and Confederate — have flown over San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park at St. Marks on the Florida Panhandle. The site traces its history to 1528 when the conquistador Panfilo de Narvaez traveled through the area with 300 men. In 1679, the Spanish built a fort at the confluence of the St. Marks and Wakulla rivers but it was later destroyed by a hurricane and the garrison drowned. The U.S. general and later president Andrew Jackson passed through the area in the early 1800s and years later, the Navy began construction of a hospital to treat sailors with yellow fever. Confederate troops renamed the structure Fort Ward during the Civil War. Thursday, visitors can watch a video that explains the park's colorful history. The picnic area, overlooking the two rivers, is a great place for lunch. Bring your fishing rod because you'll catch redfish, trout and even the occasional largemouth bass. To learn more, go to floridastateparks.org.

RACCOONS: THE MASKED BANDIT

In the wild, raccoons are skilled hunters that can catch most of their meals at the water's edge with their quick, nimble hands. Unfortunately, these opportunistic omnivores are also lazy and will take a free handout from humans whenever they can get it. Raccoons are most active in the later afternoon or at night. Problem animals, those that have been fed by humans lose their natural fear and invade a campsite. But remember, it is illegal to place or offer food or garbage in a way that it attracts raccoons and creates a public nuisance. When camping, make sure you secure your trash and keep food stored in hard, lockable containers.

FLORIDA FIND: COOL PANTS

Kuhl started off making clothing for skiers. The same materials that work well on the slopes — light, durable and quick drying — are also ideal for Florida's hot, humid climate. If you can only carry one pair of pants, make it the Revolver. Ideal for camping, kayaking, canoeing, backpacking and all other outdoor activities, you'll find Kuhl products and excellent addition to any kit. To learn more, go to kuhl.com.

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

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Updated: 3 hours ago

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Published: 02/14/18
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Captainís Corner: Get an early start when chasing redfish

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Published: 02/13/18

Captainís Corner: Baitfish in the shallows improves fly fishing

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Published: 02/14/18
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Captainís Corner: Action picking up as temperature rises

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Published: 02/11/18
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Published: 02/10/18
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Captainís Corner: Sardines make a great bait

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Published: 02/08/18
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Captainís Corner: Fishing conditions have started to improve

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Published: 02/08/18
Captainís Corner: Snook among species starting to flourish as water warms

Captainís Corner: Snook among species starting to flourish as water warms

This has been a cold year thus far as fronts have blasted the Tampa Bay area. Now things are beginning to warm up, and the transition from winter to spring begins. Every warm day takes us one step closer to some awesome fishing. As water temperatures...
Published: 02/06/18
Updated: 02/09/18

Captainís Corner: Great time to target redfish, trout

Redfish action has increased all over the region, while big wintertime trout is also a great option, if you know where to go. It is a prime time to catch both species on lures. Patterns have been somewhat inconsistent for redfish but exactly what you...
Published: 02/04/18
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