Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Outdoors

Take It Outside Planner: Redfish tournament, Hillsborough River clean-up, photography hikes

ONE FISH, TWO FISH: REDFISH TOURNAMENT

The feisty big redfish that prowl the marshes off Crystal River are about to have some company. This weekend brings the second annual Plantation Redfish Classic, a tournament for redfish, grouper and trout at the Plantation on Crystal River golf resort about 80 miles north of Tampa. One of Florida's most popular sport fish, redfish are also called red drum after the "drumming" sound they make during spawning and when taken out of the water. Redfish in Florida live a long time (the oldest recorded is 40 years) and can reach 3 to 4 feet in length and weigh up to 51 pounds. They are also delicious. In fact, they were turning up in such great numbers on dinner plates in the 1980s that the state banned commercial harvests, saving the species from being wiped out. Redfish spawn from August to November, and September is usually the peak month for angling. The $75 tournament entry includes a goodie bucket, T-shirt, captains dinner on Friday night and an awards banquet. Prizes range from $100 to $3,000. Proceeds benefit Wounded Warrior Anglers. 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at 9301 W Fort Island Trail, Crystal River. Toll free 1-800-632-6262. plantationoncrystalriver.com.

DO GOOD: MOTHER NATURE HELPERS NEEDED

Get outdoors and give back at the same time this weekend by answering the call to clean up preserves and estuaries. Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful needs volunteers for the Hillsborough River and Coastal Clean-Up on Saturday. From 8:30-11:30 a.m., Mother Nature helpers will be sent to clean up 70 locations along the Hillsborough River, Alafia River, Little Manatee River, Lake Thonotosassa and tributaries connecting to Tampa Bay. Volunteers will also become a "Scientist for a Day" and engage in research activities involving litter removal. keeptampabaybeautiful.org.

The Brooker Creek Preserve has put out a call for Return the Preserve Day to help rid the Tarpon Springs preserve of exotic, invasive vegetation and nuisance plants. Bring work gloves and yard tools, and be ready for strenuous garden work. Best for strong volunteers 12 and older. Water and snacks provided 8-11 a.m. Saturday at 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs. (727) 453-6800. brookercreekpreserve.org.

PICTURE THIS: PHOTOGRAPHY HIKES

In this Instagram era, part of the fun in discovery of outdoor beauty is snapping a picture and sharing it. But as any good photographer can tell you, natural light is tricky. You can get some tips at a Photography Hike this Saturday at the Weedon Island Preserve in St. Petersburg. Bring your camera and capture the natural beauty as center volunteers highlight seasonal features to make great photos. Free. 8:30-10:30 a.m. Saturday at 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg. Registration required. (727) 453-6500. weedonislandpreserve.org.

Other photography hikes coming up include Brooker Creek Preserve's Seasons of Florida Photography Hike on Sept. 24 and Oct. 29, when photographers join nature lovers Karl and Kathleen Nichter to explore and photograph the Tarpon Springs nature trails. Photography tips and techniques will be discussed. In the event of rain, there will be a classroom session. Free. 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs. Registration required. (727) 453-6800. brookercreekpreserve.eventbrite.com.

A highlight of this year's ButterflyFest at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville is the Picture Perfect Photography Workshop from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Oct. 1-2. It allows participants to photograph inside the museum's "Butterfly Rainforest" before it opens to the public with equipment not generally permitted inside the exhibit. Museum employees will be available to help stage photos with newly emerged butterflies. The cost, which includes exhibit admission, is $25 for museum members and $30 for nonmembers at least 18 years old. Registration is required. (352) 273-2064. flmnh.ufl.edu/butterflyfest.

 
Comments

Captainís Corner: Warming waters, better visibility are good signs

Scuba and freediving spearfishermen and women have enjoyed great underwater visibility over the past week. Some boaters going offshore can make out the bottom structure from the gunnel of the boat. Best depths for visibility have been in 30 to 40 fee...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/19/18

Captainís Corner: Flats coming to life in north Pinellas County

The flats are really coming to life in north Pinellas County. Our main focus this time of year is spotted sea trout, though redfish are cooperating and schooling a bit. Snook are also responding to the warm weather, occasionally eating on the falling...
Published: 02/18/18

Captainís Corner: Bait a challenge, but effort will pay off

Bait has made its way into the bay and is on nearly every marker. The problem: Bait is moving and showing up at different times daily. The time spent to get bait will pay off. Fish have been blasting pilchards. Snook and large trout have been communi...
Published: 02/16/18
Updated: 02/17/18

Captainís Corner: Springtime fishing patterns moving in

The first half of February has been hit or miss for inshore fishing. The consistent cold fronts and warmups seem to have the fish confused. The week ahead should be pretty good. The best bite has been midmorning into the afternoon. With temperatures ...
Published: 02/14/18
Updated: 02/15/18

Captainís Corner: Get an early start when chasing redfish

Redfish schools have started to invade the flats around Pinellas Point. On low tide in the morning, I look for a school on an outer sandbar. These fish are staged on the edge waiting for the tide to come in. Once the water level rises, the fish will ...
Published: 02/13/18

Captainís Corner: Baitfish in the shallows improves fly fishing

Seeing large groups of pelicans diving and catching baitfish in warmer, shallow water is a sure sign spring conditions are approaching. The appearance of quality baitfish will spark a feeding frenzy that should steadily improve flats fishing for fly ...
Published: 02/14/18
Updated: 02/16/18

Captainís Corner: Action picking up as temperature rises

The wind finally stopped blowing so hard that we couldnít go offshore. Water temperatures were still in the low 50s offshore at the beginning of the week, and this affected fish behavior. Because the water was calm, we ventured out to the 80- to 90-f...
Published: 02/11/18
Updated: 02/12/18

Captainís Corner: Topwater plugs a great option as warming trend continues

Warm weather for the past week has led to an increase in feeding activity for inshore fish species. Speckled trout have been venturing out of deep holes and channels and back into shallow water to feed. This has presented a great opportunity to fish ...
Published: 02/10/18
Updated: 02/11/18

Captainís Corner: Sardines make a great bait

Bait has made its way into the bay and the fish have been eating sardines with violent strikes. Look deep for bait, most of it has been in 20-plus feet of water. A little knowledge of how to read a bottom machine will help you secure the prized sardi...
Published: 02/08/18
Updated: 02/10/18

Captainís Corner: Fishing conditions have started to improve

The waters are still a bit cooler than the kind a bunch of fish like to aggressively chew in. Fishing conditions, however, have slowly but surely begun to improve. On a recon mission Tuesday, I visited both Sunshine Skyway bridge fishing piers and th...
Published: 02/08/18