Saturday, May 26, 2018

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


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.


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


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.


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

Captainís Corner: Swimmer crabs attract big permit

Captainís Corner: Swimmer crabs attract big permit

The outgoing tides of last weekendís new moon washed thousands of small swimmer crabs, known locally as "pass crabs," out of the estuaries and into the gulf. This suddenly abundant food source offshore works as a natural chum line and draws big permi...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18

Speckled trout are our most prevalent species around the bay area. They spawn year-round, so their numbers are sustained. They are a flourishing species. For sport, trout are easier to catch than almost everything else we have in the Gulf of Mexico. ...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/25/18

Captainís Corner: With full moon, tarpon are on the move

With the full moon this next week tarpon are moving down the beaches and making their way out of the bay and moving out to the bridges and the passes to feed before some of them leave to go out and spawn on the full moon. Early in the morning along t...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18

Captainís Corner: Cloudier water improves the bite

Windy conditions this week have actually slightly improved fishing. The waters of Saint Joseph sound had become so clear that it made finding fish easy, but getting bites very difficult. Snook have been gathering in great numbers all along the beache...
Published: 05/19/18
Updated: 05/21/18

Captainís Corner: Red grouper fishing continues to be good

Red grouper fishing continues to be steady in depths of 100-120 feet. Large bait stacks are holding a fish or two, but larger concentrations are on very small rolls and potholes in those depths. Zooming in on the bottom 10-15 feet of the water column...
Published: 05/19/18
Updated: 05/20/18

Captainís Corner: Catching a giant cobia

Cobia is the topic this week. Capt. Tom Markham, aboard the Simply Hooked, was beginning his daily bait routine. It turned out that one of the markers located near Clearwater Pass, surprisingly, had a giant fish waiting for him. The captain slid up t...
Published: 05/16/18

Captainís Corner: Tarpon showing up on beaches, bridges

This week shouldnít be a total wash out. While there is a chance of rain every day, it should only be sporadic. Hopefully it wonít dirty up the water too much. If you are a tarpon fisherman and look forward to their arrival like I do, then you are in...
Published: 05/14/18
Updated: 05/15/18

Captainís Corner: This is best time of year for bay area fishing

Itís the best time of year for fishing in the area. Tarpon can be targeted off of any of the bridges. The Gandy, Howard Frankland and Skyway are my top choices. While awaiting a tarpon strike, I kill time by dropping smaller baits for Spanish mackere...
Published: 05/13/18

Captainís Corner: Change tactics for fly fishing success

Most fly fishers would prefer minimum wind and cloudless skies to increase chances for a banner day. This has been a problem lately. The wind makes casting more difficult, unless very experienced, and clouds interfere with sight casting opportunities...
Published: 05/11/18
Updated: 05/14/18

Captainís Corner: Tips on handling burgeoning baitfish

Schools of baitfish have arrived and taken up residence in all depths. Birds are diving on them close to the beach, all the way out to the midwater artificial reefs. Farther offshore, bait schools might not be visible on the surface but can be detect...
Published: 05/11/18
Updated: 05/12/18