Paddle Up: Shark Bite Challenge
If you paddle anything that floats, head to Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin for the Shark Bite Challenge & Paddlefest from Friday to Sunday. Canoes, kayaks, surf skis and paddleboards will compete on courses that range from 4 to 8 miles.
A crowd favorite are the Hawaiian outrigger canoes — 50 feet long and weighing 400 pounds — which race Sunday. New additions to this year's challenge are Friday's performance paddling clinics featuring world-renowned coaches and paddlers. Legendary elite South African paddler Jasper Mocke will host a surf ski (performance kayak) talk, and outrigger canoe coach Johnny Puakea will share his secret to success in a "Train Smarter, Not Harder Clinic." Paddlers can participate in a 1-, 4- or 8-mile distance race in their single crafts, including one or two-man outriggers and surf skis.
The race fees, $50-$180, include a dry-fit T-shirt and a ticket to the awards party. Proceeds benefit the Friends of the Island Parks. On-site registration starts at 8 a.m. both days; races start at 10. Call Karen Mirlenbrink at (727) 510-3493 or go to sharkbitechallenge.com.
Show your appreciation: Coastal Conservation Association
Florida anglers owe a debt of gratitude to the Coastal Conservation Association, which back in the 1980s fought to have the state's premier inshore species, red drum, protected from commercial exploitation. Over the years, the CCA has helped protect fishing rights and prevent habitat destruction. Want to show your support and meet like-minded anglers? Check out the Tampa Chapter of the CCA's annual Fundraising Banquet at 6 p.m. April 14 at the Pepin Hospitality Centre. The event features drinks, dinner, a raffle, and live and silent auctions offering adventure travel from Tampa Bay to Argentina. Celebrity anglers Mike Anderson and C.A. Richardson will be there to share their secret spots. Call (850) 345-6227 or register online at ccaflorida.org.
Beginners welcome: Tampa Bay Sea Kayakers
If you are looking to start sea kayaking and don't know where to begin, there's a club just for you. The Tampa Bay Sea Kayakers, which meets monthly at Bill Jackson's Shop for Adventure in Pinellas Park, organizes monthly paddles and beginners are always welcome. There is no better way to learn the sport than hang out with some veterans. Check out this month's meeting when Lisa Smith, zookeeper in the animal care department at Lowry Park Zoo, will share her adventures at 7 p.m. Monday. Smith has assisted with the recovery of more than 80 West Indian manatees, Florida's state marine mammal. If you miss this meeting, remember that the TBSK regularly offers free skills training. Go to tbsk.club and get out on the water.
Creature feature: golden orb spider
If you hit the trail on foot or by bike early in the morning, you are bound to run into one of my favorite critters, the golden orb spider. Sometimes called the banana spider, the golden orb loves to string its webs between trees, about face level. Terry's tip: Don't be the trail blazer. Let your buddy have that honor or you are bound to get a face full of yellow spider's web. And be forewarned — these spiders do bite and will leave a nasty welt.