Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Outdoors

Take it Outside Planner: Racing at Bradenton Area River Regatta, hiking Big Cypress

River rockets: Bradenton Area River Regatta

The fastest inland boats on water, the Powerboat Superleague racing boats, will light up the Manatee River alongside the quickest personal watercraft in the world, HydroCross, at the Second Annual Bradenton Area River Regatta on Saturday. The action literally runs from dawn to dusk. You'll find the best viewing Bradenton Riverwalk, but this year's event will also feature activities on Palmetto's Riverside Drive, where you will find racing pits and the kids zone. A field of 12 professional "pilots" in the F-2 powerboat race will climb from 0 to 100 mph in less than four seconds and reach four G's or more on the course, negotiating turns at nearly full speed. Race fans can look forward to a series of qualifying runs and time trials before the division and championship racing from 2 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. The stand-up HydroCross racers will also be on the water competing for the Florida Winter Cup/Mayor's Cup title. In between races, the top riders will do stunts along a river course in front of Palmetto Pier.

Destination: Big Cypress

The "Big" in Big Cypress Swamp describes the vastness of this 2,400-acre national preserve, not the size of the dwarf cypress trees that dot the South Florida landscape. The name "swamp" is actually a misnomer since the area has a variety of habitats, including forests of slash pine, hardwood hammocks, cypress domes and wet prairies. Most backpackers who travel this section of the Florida Trail, which runs from the Tamiami Trail to Alligator Alley, do so in the dry, cooler months when most of the surface water has either evaporated or been soaked up by the limestone just beneath the soil. Big Cypress is known as one of the last refuges of the endangered Florida panther. This is also bear country, and backcountry travelers must take care to hang or hide their food so these opportunistic omnivores don't rummage through their camps in the middle of night. Jeep trails snake their way through the preserve, and if you are not careful, it is easy to find yourself wandering around in circles. At times, the Florida Trail follows the old "roads," but hikers must keep a keen eye out for the orange blazes that signal a turn. Winter is the best time to visit, so if you are looking for adventure, park at the Oasis Ranger Station and head north. You can leave your car there overnight, but be sure to check in with the rangers. They'll update you on trail conditions. Let them know when you finish. It is possible to walk all the way to the Alley, but you'll need to arrange transportation back to your car. It's much easier to do the loop trail.

Wildlife spotting: River otter

You will find the river otter throughout most of the state except for the Florida Keys. Hillsborough River State Park is a good place to see these fun-loving animals. Neat water cooler fact: Otters have five toes but sometimes only four show in their tracks. River otters prefer freshwater and will move from rivers to creeks to lakes to ponds to swamps. They live in burrows on the bank sometimes under the roots of a tree.

Essential gear: Life Gear Spotlight

If you are looking for a great light for your boat, kayak or car, check out Life Gear's AR-TECH Spotlight and Lantern, an inexpensive, yet durable, battery-operated lifesaver that will go the distance. $23.99. lifegear.com.

   
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Captainís Corner: Warming weather brings permit to wrecks, ledges

Captainís Corner: Warming weather brings permit to wrecks, ledges

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Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18

Captainís Corner: Time nears for snook, tarpon out at the beaches

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Published: 04/21/18
Updated: 04/22/18

Captainís Corner: Variables are all that is constant when it comes to art of fishing

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Published: 04/21/18

Captainís Corner: King mackerel the hot topic as gulf waters warm

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Published: 04/18/18
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Captainís Corner: Trout moving toward the beaches

Captainís Corner: Trout moving toward the beaches

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Published: 04/18/18
Updated: 04/19/18

Captainís Corner: Rush of warmer water in gulf heats up fishing on offshore reefs, wrecks

The rush of warmer water on our offshore reefs and wrecks in the Gulf of Mexico has brought with it a cadre of pelagic fish. Divers and anglers have enjoyed the influx of cobia, kingfish and more. The benthic (bottom) fish are splurging on the balls ...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18

Captainís Corner: Spring bite is solid despite wacky weather

Bipolar weather continues to confuse both fish and anglers. Fortunately the water temperature has gotten high enough that the effects donít last long and the spring bite continues to be solid. Snook are still the hot bite in many areas around the bay...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18

Captainís Corner: Kingfish, sharks provide aerial displays

Fishing was good this past Saturday, ahead of the cold front. We fished close to shore about 2 miles. Our approach was simple. We anchored the boat, fished with live baits and chummed heavily. Kingfish action was nonstop for the entire morning. We ca...
Published: 04/16/18

Captainís Corner: Trolling or anchoring up, kingfish bite is hot

Are you looking for line-screaming action? Head offshore. The kingfish bite has been good, though high winds may require a wait for the water to clear. The best numbers have been about 5 miles out on the hard bottom. Trolling for kingfish works well;...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/15/18

Captainís Corner: Spring run is the most wonderful time of the year

The full spring run of all species in our area is in full swing. Whatever species you would like to target, inshore or offshore, is as good as it gets this time of year. Redfish schools have shown up in the flats around Pinellas Point, but they are i...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18