Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Take It Outside Planner: Paddling Coastal Cleanup, North Florida islands, rain ponchos

NURTURE NATURE: Paddling Coastal Cleanup

Paddle up! After the long holiday weekend, Tampa Bay Watch plans its annual mid-summer Paddling Coastal Cleanup. Volunteers with canoes and kayaks are needed to clean difficult-to-reach shorelines on Saturday at seven sites around Tampa Bay including Weedon Island Preserve, Fort De Soto Park, Cunningham Key, Skyway Fishing Pier, Coffee Pot Bayou, Palonis Park and Coquina Beach. The work of the post-July 4 cleanup goes a long way toward protecting wildlife from entanglement in fishing lines, not to mention it just makes the place look nicer. Go to tampabaywatch.org to get more information and to register for the event, 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.


Strings of little islands dot the East Coast, among them South Carolina's culturally distinct Gullah-speaking islands and Georgia's Golden Isles, including St. Simon's and Jekyll. In northeast Florida, there's the cluster that belong to the Talbot Islands State Parks, including Amelia Island, Little Talbot Island, Big Talbot Island and Fort George Island. The area has several locales for the history buff, boasting forts from several occupiers; the Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, named for an extinct tribe; and even Florida's oldest saloon, the Palace on Amelia Island. Amelia is also known as the Isle of Eight Flags, having been controlled under eight different flags since the French raised a flag on what they called Isle de Mai in 1562.

Once you're done exploring historic areas, get a dose of nature with your history with sites including Amelia Island's Fort Clinch and Fort George Island offering solid opportunities for hiking, fishing from piers or beaches and bicycle trails. Kayaking and paddleboarding tours around the Talbots with Kayak Amelia ( kayakamelia.com) are also a good bet for exploring the marshes and spotting some wildlife. If motorized boats are more your speed, you have your pick of waterways, and river cruises leave from Amelia Island's marina ( ameliarivercruises.com), including ones that glimpse Georgia's nearby Cumberland Island, home to a herd of wild horses.

GEAR: Rain poncho

We are now in the era of afternoon thunderstorms, and once the lightning has passed, the outdoor fun doesn't need to end. A good rain poncho can save the day, and an even better one can save several days. Consider the Charles River Apparel Pacific Poncho, right, ($19-$37 on Amazon), which comes with a storage pouch and features an adjustable hood and snap closures. If you're looking to keep your gear dry as well as yourself, look for a model like the Aircee Poncho Raincoat Cape Cover ($26.99 on Amazon), which has a section on the back to cover your backpack. If you're concerned about looking fashionable rather than like a tent/garbage bag, Ikea's Knalla Poncho is pretty nifty looking and has pockets for a very reasonable $6.99.


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...
Updated: 8 hours ago

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

Captainís Corner: Buckle up, the tarpon are here

Tarpon season is here, and the fish are showing up in numbers along the beaches. While there have been tarpon in the bays and backwaters for awhile, there were very few schools cruising the coast until a few days ago. Then, seemingly overnight, big p...
Published: 05/11/18

Captainís Corner: Here come the tarpon

Itís hot, the water temperatureís right and itís May. That means itís Tarpon Time! Aprilís full moon seemed to have opened the flood gates for tarpon arriving in our area. Weíve observed some at the Sunshine Skyway bridge for a couple weeks. On a few...
Updated one month ago