Saturday, March 24, 2018

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


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.


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.

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.


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.

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.

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.


Captainís Corner: Erratic weather making offshore fishing unpredictable

Continued heavy winds have kept offshore fisheries from settling in to predictable patterns. When things have calmed, nearshore baitfish have bunched up and kingfish and Spanish mackerel settled in around them. Unfortunately, each cold front has chur...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Captainís Corner: Snook bite is best now in afternoon

So what happened to our spring weather in February? The weather has the fish moving back and forth between their winter and summer spots, and with April just a few weeks away, the air temperature is warming up and should be in the upper 70s and low 8...
Published: 03/21/18
Updated: 03/22/18

Captainís Corner: Windy conditions limit fishing options

The weather and water temperature roller coaster continues. Finding consistent action has been difficult with windy conditions keeping us from fishing many open parts of the bay or out into the gulf. Hiding in secluded backwater areas or on leeward s...
Published: 03/20/18
Updated: 03/21/18

Captainís Corner: Grouper moving in as water temperatures rise

Red grouper have made their move inshore this past week as waters closer to shore have warmed up a bit. Concentrate your efforts on hard bottom areas in depths of 100-120 feet for the rest of the month, and remember that all shallow water grouper are...
Published: 03/18/18
Updated: 03/20/18

Captainís Corner: Cold causes spiny lobsters to go into hiding

The cold front that ended Wednesday drove the offshore bottom temperatures back down into the low 60s. On dives Friday, my dive computer read 62 degrees at the bottom in 54 feet of water. On the next dive it read 60 in 62 feet. We were looking for ho...
Published: 03/18/18

Captainís Corner: Snook are the hot bite

Surface water temperatures have dipped into the low 60s, but the fish donít seem to mind. The longer days get the temperature up and helps keep it from getting into the danger zone at night. Snook have been the hot bite this past week and, believe it...
Published: 03/16/18
Updated: 03/17/18

It has been a crazy month regarding all the drastic weather changes. We experienced a record-breaking warming trend in February, followed by an endless amount of cold weather this month. The arrival times for many spring migrations of fish has been i...
Published: 03/16/18

Captainís Corner: Big trout moving out of the shallows

February seemed like March with record-breaking heat, but now March seems like February with below-average temperatures. This is a good thing. Spring fishing has started way too early in the past few years. The cold-water temperature we have now will...
Published: 03/14/18
Updated: 03/15/18

Captainís Corner: Temperature changes affect fly fishing

Having a fantastic river trip one day where we caught a lot of snook in shallow water on a fly and going back to the same location three days later and not finding any cooperative fish can be very puzzling. What happened? Recent warm weather was repl...
Published: 03/11/18
Updated: 03/14/18

Captainís Corner: Warming trend increasing activity over grass flats

Water temperatures have finally started to climb into the low 70s on the flats. The temperatures have been fluctuating with the past few cold fronts moving through. Large schools of reds should start showing up on the flats in the Pinellas Point area...
Published: 03/11/18
Updated: 03/13/18