Wednesday, May 23, 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.

   
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Captainís Corner: Swimmer crabs attract big permit

Captainís Corner: Swimmer crabs attract big permit

The outgoing tides of last weekendís new moon washed thousands of small swimmer crabs, known locally as "pass crabs," out of the estuaries and into the gulf. This suddenly abundant food source offshore works as a natural chum line and draws big permi...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Captainís Corner: With full moon, tarpon are on the move

With the full moon this next week tarpon are moving down the beaches and making their way out of the bay and moving out to the bridges and the passes to feed before some of them leave to go out and spawn on the full moon. Early in the morning along t...
Published: 05/21/18
Updated: 05/22/18

Captainís Corner: Cloudier water improves the bite

Windy conditions this week have actually slightly improved fishing. The waters of Saint Joseph sound had become so clear that it made finding fish easy, but getting bites very difficult. Snook have been gathering in great numbers all along the beache...
Published: 05/19/18
Updated: 05/21/18

Captainís Corner: Red grouper fishing continues to be good

Red grouper fishing continues to be steady in depths of 100-120 feet. Large bait stacks are holding a fish or two, but larger concentrations are on very small rolls and potholes in those depths. Zooming in on the bottom 10-15 feet of the water column...
Published: 05/19/18
Updated: 05/20/18

Captainís Corner: Catching a giant cobia

Cobia is the topic this week. Capt. Tom Markham, aboard the Simply Hooked, was beginning his daily bait routine. It turned out that one of the markers located near Clearwater Pass, surprisingly, had a giant fish waiting for him. The captain slid up t...
Published: 05/16/18

Captainís Corner: Tarpon showing up on beaches, bridges

This week shouldnít be a total wash out. While there is a chance of rain every day, it should only be sporadic. Hopefully it wonít dirty up the water too much. If you are a tarpon fisherman and look forward to their arrival like I do, then you are in...
Published: 05/14/18
Updated: 05/15/18

Captainís Corner: This is best time of year for bay area fishing

Itís the best time of year for fishing in the area. Tarpon can be targeted off of any of the bridges. The Gandy, Howard Frankland and Skyway are my top choices. While awaiting a tarpon strike, I kill time by dropping smaller baits for Spanish mackere...
Published: 05/13/18

Captainís Corner: Change tactics for fly fishing success

Most fly fishers would prefer minimum wind and cloudless skies to increase chances for a banner day. This has been a problem lately. The wind makes casting more difficult, unless very experienced, and clouds interfere with sight casting opportunities...
Published: 05/11/18
Updated: 05/14/18

Captainís Corner: Tips on handling burgeoning baitfish

Schools of baitfish have arrived and taken up residence in all depths. Birds are diving on them close to the beach, all the way out to the midwater artificial reefs. Farther offshore, bait schools might not be visible on the surface but can be detect...
Published: 05/11/18
Updated: 05/12/18

Captainís Corner: Buckle up, the tarpon are here

Tarpon season is here, and the fish are showing up in numbers along the beaches. While there have been tarpon in the bays and backwaters for awhile, there were very few schools cruising the coast until a few days ago. Then, seemingly overnight, big p...
Published: 05/11/18