Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Outdoors

Take it Outside Planner: Rainbow Springs State Park, mini lobster season, headlamps

SPOTLIGHT: Rainbow Springs State Park

With the kids out of school, now is a good time to explore Florida's original water parks, the more than 700 springs that beckon with cool, clear water. One of the best is the Rainbow River, a stunningly beautiful system of springs about two hours north of Tampa. It's popular with snorkelers for its remarkably clear water but also for inner tube trips, canoeing, kayaking, camping and walking some of the most scenic nature trails in Florida. Archaeological evidence indicates that people have been using Florida's fourth-largest spring for nearly 10,000 years. Canoes and kayaks can be rented at the headsprings, where tubing is not allowed. Tubers launch at a special entrance on SW 180th Avenue Road about 2 miles north of County Road 484 in Dunnellon. For state park information, call (352) 465-8555. For inner tube rental see rainbowspringspark.com.

BRIGHT IDEA: Head lamps

With the days getting hotter, maybe it's time to switch on a light and try night hiking. Some nighttime runs, like this Saturday's Moon Over Croom trek on the Croom Trails at Withlacoochee State Forest north of Brooksville, require head lamps, for good reason. The primary advantage of a head lamp over flashlights or a lantern is that it leaves your hands free. You can pick up a Petzl Tikkina for less than $20 at outdoor stores or online, and it earns raves for long battery life at a bargain price. But if you spend $20-$25 more, you can get a durable tool with a dramatic beam distance. The Black Diamond Spot, about $40, is waterproof, which comes in handy with our unpredictable storms, and has a feature called Power Tap to adjust brightness with a tap of the finger. If you are headed to the Croom Trails, you'll find a well-marked 7-mile loop and glow sticks marking the course. Registration is $40-$70 at tamparaces.com for the 6 p.m. Saturday run starting at Tucker Hill Fire Tower, 26416 Croom Road, Brooksville. (813) 232-5200.

BUG HUNT: Mini lobster season ahead

Every July the coastal areas of Florida are flooded with lobster hunters trying to get their share of this year's bounty when the official mini lobster season kicks off. The next two-day mini season is July 27-28. Why are we telling you about this now? If you plan to head anywhere between Key Largo and Key West for the lobster mini season, hotels book up in advance, so start dialing now. The Caribbean spiny lobsters are masters of camouflage and can be hard to find. In Tampa Bay, lobster hunters have to work at greater depths, usually 80 feet or more, so divers and snorkelers head to the Keys where the lobsters can sometimes be found in 10 feet or less. The regular eight-month lobster season is Aug. 6 through March 31. If you can't get Keys reservations, try Jupiter, Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami for lobstering grounds that aren't as crowded. Check myfwc.com for regulations and bag limits.

Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at [email protected] Follow @SharonKWn.

 
Comments

Captainís Corner: Good time for shallow-water flats fishing

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Updated: 6 hours ago

Captainís Corner: Seek clear water for bottom fishing as temperatures plummet

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Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17

Captainís Corner: Sheepshead action lively in cooler weather

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Published: 12/09/17
Updated: 12/10/17

Captainís Corner: Fishing will return to normal, but when?

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Published: 12/08/17
Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

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Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/09/17

Captainís Corner: Strong results for redfish, speckled trout

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Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Captainís Corner: Take advantage of abundant gag grouper before season ends

Gag grouper fishing and spearing is hot. The season for these grouper in the Gulf of Mexico is winding down, with a slated closure at the end of this month. The cooler water has the gags moving closer, and they are happy when the bottom temperatures ...
Published: 12/05/17

Captainís Corner: Bait schools near shore drawing kings, mackerel, bonito

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Published: 12/03/17
Updated: 12/05/17

Captainís Corner: This is the month to target gag grouper

With our current regulations in the Gulf, this is the best month to target gag grouper. Although the gag grouper season opens in June they are hard to come by for most months unless anglers travel to depths of 240 feet or more. With each passing cold...
Published: 12/03/17
Updated: 12/04/17

Captainís Corner: Speckled sea trout can be easily caught on artificial lures

Speckled sea trout are one of the most reliable targets this time of year. Grass flats are usually empty because of extreme low tides. That causes higher concentrations of fish on the edges and in the deeper grass flats. No live bait is needed. A red...
Published: 12/01/17