Thursday, September 20, 2018
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: Look north toward Tarpon Springs for fishing to avoid Red Tide, for now

Red Tide has been creeping toward North Pinellas. Although bait is flourishing along the beaches and predator fish are feeding on them, hordes of dead fish are washing up on shore, most likely from Red Tide blooms well offshore. Lately, Iíve focused ...
Published: 09/19/18
Letís Take it Outside: A trip to the historic Florida Middle Grounds

Letís Take it Outside: A trip to the historic Florida Middle Grounds

The historic Florida Middle Grounds offer some of the Gulf Coastís most premier fishing. The reefs start about 85 miles northwest off the coast of Clearwater and extend another 30 miles beyond. The Middle Grounds have miles and miles of underwater mo...
Published: 09/19/18

Captainís Corner: Dealing with Red Tide from spearfishing standpoint

Finding fish to spear offshore is tricky. Unlike hook-and-line anglers, spearfishermen need reasonable underwater visibility to see their prey, judge itís the correct type of fish, determine if itís legal size, then before the fish flees, take the sh...
Published: 09/18/18

Captainís Corner: When Red Tide bloom breaks, fish can arrive quickly

Here is some good news attributed to Red Tide. Things do rebound quickly, once the bloom breaks. New populations of fish can arrive quickly in its aftermath. Anglers who have been successful lately are looking for untainted areas to fish. At least a ...
Published: 09/16/18
Updated: 09/17/18

Captainís Corner: Bite can turn on and off quickly this time of year

Typical deep-summer conditions continue across the bay. During this time of year the bite can be erratic and maybe even a little bi≠polar. The bite can turn on and off in an instant. Several species in one spot can be normal. On recent trips clients ...
Published: 09/16/18

Captainís Corner: Fishing strong in Fort De Soto area

Red Tide started showing up substantially on Saturday in Pinellas with the strong west wind we had. I lost some bait but was still able to fish. Snook are taking their time transitioning back into the bay from the beaches. Every shoreline and pass ar...
Published: 09/14/18
Updated: 09/15/18

Captainís Corner: Massive baitfish schools present plenty of opportunities

The shipping channel and most area passes are filled with massive schools of baitfish. Little tunny (bonito or false albacore) follow these smaller fish and present great opportunities for fly fisherís. A moving tide, either incoming or outgoing, get...
Published: 09/12/18
Updated: 09/14/18

Captainís Corner: Fishing in the bay with Red Tide in the gulf

Red Tide has started to affect our beaches, so Iíve stayed away from fishing the gulf. Threadfin herring and scaled sardines can be found in the bay, which is free of Red Tide. Spanish mackerel, cobia, sharks, mangrove snapper and jack crevalle can e...
Published: 09/12/18
Updated: 09/13/18

Captainís Corner: Offshore redfish are a great find

Fall brings many changes to our coastal fisheries. Many inshore species like snook, trout, and redfish make moves from one preferred habitat to others. One of the most notable, but least understood changes is the arrival of giant redfish to the water...
Published: 09/11/18

Captainís Corner: Bait available close to shore

Consecutive days of easterly winds have calmed the nearshore gulf waters and have drawn bait schools practically to the beach. A mix of whitebait, greenbacks and even a few juvenile Spanish sardines can be cast-netted with relative ease inside the sw...
Published: 09/07/18
Updated: 09/08/18