Sunday, December 17, 2017
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: Bottom fishing is good with dropping gulf water temperatures

The past few weeks have delivered lots of cold air, dropping water temperatures in the gulf. Thermometers are reading in the low 60s. This is going to change a few things closer to shore. Anglers will find an absence of kingfish on many of the spots ...
Published: 12/16/17

Captainís Corner: Look for that strong speckled trout bite on grass flats

The speckled trout bite has taken off nicely after the first good cold front last weekend. You will find a consistent bite along the grass flats from Apollo Beach down to Pinellas Point. The sweet spot seems to be 4-6 feet of water. If you can find s...
Published: 12/15/17

Captainís Corner: Drop in gulf water temperature means itís sea trout time

The gulf temperature has dropped significantly since our first real cold front last week. One day the water was in the mid 70s, then after the front, it fell to the low 60s. That caused speckled sea trout to become a reliable target. Redfish have bee...
Published: 12/14/17

Captainís Corner: Good time for shallow-water flats fishing

Shallow-water flats fishing can be very exciting this time of year. Trout and redfish are available in good numbers, and the opportunities to catch some gator trout have made recent trips very rewarding. Some of the largest trout have been in very sk...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/13/17

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

The great weather, calm seas and exceptional fishing we experienced at the end of November and beginning of December came to a screeching halt with the cold front that came through. Surface water temperatures plummeted from an unseasonable 71 degrees...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17

Captainís Corner: Sheepshead action lively in cooler weather

Conditions after the cold front are cool and are going to be for a while. That doesnít mean you canít or shouldnít fish. Many anglers get stuck on snook, reds and trout and forget how fun it is to catch sheepshead. Many reefs are already holding good...
Published: 12/09/17
Updated: 12/10/17

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

The severity of this cold front will determine the fishing forecast for the next several days. Bait that had been abundant inshore will scatter. Nearshore gulf waters will muddy, and water temperatures. at least temporarily. will plummet. How cold, h...
Published: 12/08/17
Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

I canít believe we are in the last month of the year. And while this is one of my favorite months to fish, it will be controlled by weather. As cold fronts become more frequent and harsh, planning your trips around them will make the biggest differen...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/09/17

Captainís Corner: Strong results for redfish, speckled trout

This is a great time for variety. Combined trips for speckled trout and redfish are achieving excellent results. With the correct approach, great catches of both species are a reality now. The best anglers use the lightest tackle. Light rods and reel...
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