Sunday, February 18, 2018
Outdoors

Take it Outside Planner: Swim across America, Tampa Bay boat show, great gifts for outdoor lovers

 

JUMP IN: SWIM ACROSS AMERICA

 

If you are out on Clearwater Beach on Saturday, join three-time Olympic champion Brooke Bennett for Swim Across America at Pier 60. The event has raised more than $600,000 in the past four years for cancer research. Swimmers of all ages and skill levels are welcome to participate as fundraisers in the half-mile, 1-mile or the "Iron Man Distance" 2.4-mile course. They can swim as individuals or as part of a team in honor of friends and loved ones who have fought, or are fighting cancer. Participants 18 and older are asked to raise a minimum of $500, and those younger than 18 pledge to raise $200. Swimmers participating in the "Iron Man Distance" 2.4-mile course are asked to raise $1,000. To register for the swim, visit swimacrossamerica.org.

Open-water swimming is one of America's fastest growing sports. You don't need any specialized equipment — just water! But play it safe and swim near a lifeguard. Clearwater Beach and Fort De Soto Park both have professional staffs and well-patrolled waterfronts ideal for those new to the sport. Most local beaches have a clearly marked Safe Bathing Limit, or SBL. Stay inside the buoys. Lifeguards do a good job of keeping personal watercraft away from swimmers. But on beaches not patrolled by lifeguards, swimmers should exercise caution. A brightly colored swim cap will make you more visible to boaters and rescue personnel. If possible, swim with a partner. There is safety in numbers. Never swim alone.

 

SHOWBOATING: TAMPA BAY BOAT SHOW

 

Florida is the No. 1 boating state in the nation. With thousands of miles of coastline, hundreds of lakes and year-round good weather, there is ample reason. If you're thinking about getting in on the action, head over to the Florida State Fairgrounds Friday through Sunday for the Tampa Bay Boat Show, presented by the Tampa Bay Times. Check out the latest assortment of pontoons, cruisers, center consoles, inflatables, personal watercraft or catch a fishing seminar with one of the Times' Captain's Corner columnists. Local lenders will offer special rates during the show, just in case you find the perfect vessel. Learn about beginner fishing, inshore fishing, dock fishing, kayak fishing, fly fishing, spear fishing, shallow-water fishing and more. Plus learn how to use proper tackle and find out where to scuba and snorkel on the Gulf Coast from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at 4800 U.S. 301, Tampa. Free, $6 parking. (727) 893-8523. tampabay.com/expos/boat-show.

 

CREATURE FEATURE: HOGFISH

 

The species Lachnolaimus maximus, sometimes erroneously called hognose or hog snapper, is one of the finest tasting fish in the Gulf of Mexico. With an elongated snout resembling that of a pig, the hogfish is also one of the most peculiar sport fish in the Gulf of Mexico. A member of the wrasse family, a big hogfish can reach 3 feet in length. They have strong jaws and root around to feed primarily on clams, crabs and snails. Perhaps one of the most interesting things about hogfish is that the males form harems. A single male typically patrols a group of two to 15 females. He will check on his females repeatedly and engage in courtship behavior (involving a quiver dance) throughout the day, but spawning typically occurs near dusk. Peak spawning season runs from December through May. Hogfish begin life as females and switch to male if they become big enough and their social cues (i.e., lack of a male) warrant the transition. But once a male, always a male. They cannot switch back and return to being female. The transition process can take weeks, even months.

 

GREAT GIFT: YETI GROWLER

 

This company's world-class coolers can keep a six-pack of root beer cold for days, but what about those outdoor lovers who like their sarsaparilla straight from the tap? Yeti's new 64-ounce Rambler is the perfect Father's Day gift for any brew lover. Made from 18/8 stainless steel, this growler can really take a beating. The double-walled insulation with a patented design means it won't sweat in your backpack. Fill it with 3 Daughters Rodbender Red and toss it in your tackle box for your next fishing tournament. $89.99. yeticoolers.com.

   
Comments

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...
Updated: 2 hours ago

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
Captainís Corner: Snook among species starting to flourish as water warms

Captainís Corner: Snook among species starting to flourish as water warms

This has been a cold year thus far as fronts have blasted the Tampa Bay area. Now things are beginning to warm up, and the transition from winter to spring begins. Every warm day takes us one step closer to some awesome fishing. As water temperatures...
Published: 02/06/18
Updated: 02/09/18