Saturday, February 24, 2018
Outdoors

Take it Outside Planner: Sebastian Inlet, gator spotting and Bic boards

SURFIN' SAFARI: SEBASTIAN INLET

The Beach Boys may have been thinking about Baja when they penned that 1962 classic, but here in Florida we have our own great place to camp, fish and surf. Sebastian Inlet State Park is one of the best places to catch snook, redfish and Spanish mackerel on the Atlantic Coast. With more than 3 miles of beach and one of the most consistent surf breaks in Florida, Sebastian Inlet's "First Peak" draws its share of wave riders. Monster Hole, which is actually a shoal a little farther out, is another internationally known surf spot. But there is more to do here than just surf and catch fish. The McLarty Treasure Museum tells the story of the ill-fated Spanish treasure fleet of 1715. The Sebastian Fishing Museum is a great place to learn about the area's rich fishing history. Visitors can also canoe and kayak the Indian River Lagoon or stroll down the mile-long Hammock Trail. Bring a picnic lunch and set up at one of the waterfront pavilions. Bring a tent and spend the night along State Road A1A, about 15 miles south of Melbourne Beach.

ANIMAL OF THE WEEK: GATOR GROWL

Play nine holes on any Florida golf course and you're bound to see at least two or three of the state's more than 1 million alligators. Any body of water — pond, lake or river — is a potential home to these large reptiles. But the American alligator, a.k.a. Alligator mississippiensis, doesn't deserve its fearsome reputation. Most run when confronted by humans. Still, there's a certain degree of comfort and safety to be had when viewing alligators from a car or boat. To see big gators, head south to Everglades National Park. Book a seat on the Shark Valley tram tour and you'll come across dozens of gators in the canals along each side of the road. If you're in a rush, swing by the Big Cypress National Preserve's Oasis Visitors Center off the Tamiami Trail in Ochopee. There's usually a few dozen big gators lounging around the pond out front. This unincorporated community in Collier County is also known for its tiny post office and a large population of skunk apes, but good luck getting a glimpse of the latter. Sarasota's Myakka River State Park is another notorious gator hangout. There's a narrow two-lane bridge about a mile from the ranger station that crosses the Myakka River. Swing by around lunch time and you'll see some of the fattest, laziest gators in the Sunshine State. But remember — don't toss last night's marshmallows. Feeding alligators is against the law.

GREAT GEAR: BIC BOARDS

Bic, famous for its pens, also makes great paddle boards. They're nearly indestructible, a good thing when you're paddling around oyster bars, and can be "tricked out" for fishing. Suitable models start at $999. Visit bicsup.com.

Comments

Captainís Corner: Cobia moving into bay ahead of schedule

Rapidly increasing water temperatures have migratory fish moving toward the bay area. Typically, schools of coastal pelagic fish such as cobia and mackerel do not return until late March. This year, they are way ahead of schedule. Cobia are one of th...
Published: 02/23/18

Captainís Corner: Rising temperatures fire up the bite

With no cold fronts rolling into the bay area soon, it also means water temperatures are on the rise to the mid 70s. That has the bite fired up inshore and nearshore. Snook fishing is on fire with these warmer temperatures at night. Weíve been findin...
Published: 02/22/18

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