Thursday, June 21, 2018
Outdoors

Take It Outside Planner: Tubing on the Ichetucknee (w/video), camping and snorkeling in the state parks

COOL OFF: TUBING THE ICHETUCKNEE

When the temperature is heading for triple digits and the humidity is on the rise, there's no better way to cool off than going north to the chilly waters of the Ichetucknee River and springs in north-central Florida. Just walk down the path to this waterway and the air suddenly feels 10 degrees cooler. Nine springs pump 233-million gallons of crystal clear water into the Ichetucknee River, which then flows south into the Sante Fe and Suwannee rivers. Right off the main parking lot at the north entrance to the state park, you'll find Ichetucknee Spring, also called the Head Spring. The spring has a bluish hue that makes it particularly appealing, especially on a warm summer day. During peak season (Memorial Day through Labor Day), tubers who want to complete the entire trip of three-and-a-half hours must arrive early. Rangers limit the number of people on the river. A tram is available at the south end to bring you back to your car. After Labor Day, things quiet down a bit. To keep the Ichetucknee wild and clean, tubers may not bring food, drink, tobacco or any other disposable items on the river.

GONE FISHING: HOT SPOTS FOR SNOOK

With more than 7,700 lakes, 10,550 miles of rivers and 2,276 miles of tidal shoreline, Florida has no shortage of places to fish. So, it is no wonder that the state has produced more than 900 world records, more than any other state or country for that matter. What are you waiting for? Get your rod, reel and hit the water. Species of the month: snook. These fish are highly sensitive to changes in water temperature and typically found in the state's warmer waters. A strong, voracious predator, the species will rip a fishing line to shreds. Great sport on light tackle, snook are a cagey prey, but well worth the time it takes to catch them. Hot Spots: Tampa Bay, 10,000 Islands, Charlotte Harbor, Jupiter Inlet. To learn more, go to myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/snook.

STATE PARK DESTINATIONS: CAMP AT ANASTASIA

Summer is the time to camp on or near the beach. St. Augustine's Anastasia State Park, with its 4 miles of unspoiled beach, is one of the state's best. Anastasia hasn't changed much since Spanish explorers made landfall here nearly 500 years ago. Besides great surfing, fishing, canoeing and kayaking, the park offers visitors a bit of history through an archaeological site where builders of the nearby Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, the oldest Spanish fortress in America, mined coquina rock from a quarry. Explore the dunes and stunted oak hammocks via the nature trail or paddle Salt Run, a tidal salt marsh, in a canoe or kayak. The well-shaded campground is one of the best in the state system. Go to floridastateparks.org/anastasia.

Underwater: SNORKEL AT PENNEKAMP

People thought Floridians were a little crazy back in 1960 when the state opened its first underwater preserve. But John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the only park in the country to showcase a living coral reef, is still bringing in the crowds. If you have never snorkeled a coral reef, this is the place to do it. Just stop by mile marker 102.5 on the Florida Keys Overseas Highway in Key Largo and sign up for a glass-bottom-boat tours, or rent a canoe or kayak. Be sure to check out the visitor center with a refurbished 30,000-gallon aquarium, as well as the nature trails, picnic pavilions and two pristine beaches. And, of course, don't forget the diving and snorkeling, some of the best in the Florida Keys. pennekamppark.com.

 
Comments

Captainís Corner: Offshore fishing will be strong for awhile

June and July offer some of the yearís best offshore fishing. Targets such as red snapper, blackfin tuna, mahi≠mahi, wahoo and sailfish make their way through our area and make appearances on many trips to depths of 120 feet or more. Red snapper are ...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Captainís Corner: Itís a good time to focus on snook

Snook have been a main focus on my most recent trips. This time of year, snook inhabit the beaches, gathering in the ditches and swashes along shore. Jetties or rock structures are also a favorite habitat for snook to lurk, looking to ambush bait fis...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Captainís Corner: Tips on targeting American Red Snapper

American Red Snapper (ARS) season opened a few days ago and some types of bottom are holding bigger schools of ARS then other bottom types. The hard bottom areas that most fishermen prefer are holding large schools of ARS, but the fish have yet to m...
Published: 06/18/18

Captainís Corner: Trout bite at its best

The trout bite has been the best Iíve seen all year. Fish up to 26 inches have been common recently. Fish are sitting on the flatsí deeper edges, where the water is deeper and cooler, and moves a little more swiftly. Live sardines and hard plastic ba...
Published: 06/16/18
Updated: 06/17/18

Captainís Corner: Fishing this month is all about diversity

This is the month of diverse opportunity. The choice of species is unlimited, as long as you have the bait. You can target snook and tarpon in the morning, then fish for Spanish mackerel, bluefish, snapper, sharks and cobia in the afternoon. The tarp...
Published: 06/15/18

Captainís Corner: When itís tarpon time, itís also shark time

Tarpon get most of the attention when talking about exciting fly action for large fish in our area. Baitfish are more prolific, and large tarpon follow their forage and populate most of our local waters. Following them are fish that consider tarpon t...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/14/18

Captainís Corner: This is your best time for tarpon fishing

Now is the best time to target tarpon. Silver kings are cruising the beaches on their yearly migration up and down the stateís west coast. This weekís strong new moon tides and the strong full moon tides in two weeks provide some of the best action f...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/13/18

Captainís Corner: Turn attention to gag grouper and red snapper

Attention has turned to gag grouper and red snapper for many offshore fishermen. Red snapper can be best targeted in waters 105 feet and deeper, with some available in water as shallow as 60 feet. Although the snapper will be found on high profile st...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/12/18

Captainís Corner: Pompano popping up at passes, along beach

Over the past few weeks, pompano have started to appear around the passes and along the beach. These tasty members of the jack family are one of the most difficult fish to find and keep track of. Just when you think youíve figured out a reliable time...
Published: 06/10/18
Updated: 06/11/18

Captainís Corner: Many fish now in their deep summer areas

Many fish have moved into their deep summer areas. This has been the pattern the past week. Snook are in their spawning areas waiting for the tide and moon to align. Iíve been leaving them alone and opting for the more steady action trout have been p...
Published: 06/08/18
Updated: 06/10/18