Monday, November 20, 2017
Outdoors

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

RECOMMENDED READING


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: As visibility improves, so does spearfishing

Spearing in the Gulf of Mexico is improving day by day. First, the underwater visibility is getting much better. For more than a month, after Hurricane Irma, the offshore water clarity was so poor that most divers stayed home. The water is now much c...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/18/17

Captainís Corner: Snook bite remains aggressive

We are in the midst of prefrontal conditions, so there should be good fishing today. Bait seems to have moved on the last full moon and judging by the amount of bait fry that has filtered onto the flats, it spawned also. Load up the wells with the sm...
Published: 11/17/17

Captainís Corner: Calm seas closer to beaches rewards with kingfish

Strong east winds have made it challenging for offshore anglers. The first few miles are quite tolerable since the land buffers the shoreline. After that, sea conditions have been tougher. Anglers searching for kingfish have been rewarded with calm s...
Published: 11/16/17

Captainís Corner: A little wind doesnít stop hot fishing in November

Despite many windy days, November fishing has been amazing. The water is cooling off, and the fish are becoming more aggressive. Itís getting to be the time of year when the cold fronts start to make their way out of the north. When this happens, win...
Published: 11/15/17

Captainís Corner: Fly fishing success possible, even in wind

When your day to fly fish arrives, do you hope for a day without wind? Knowledgeable fly fishers know there are many ways to deal with different wind situations. Avoid open water, and select an area that offers protection. Stay close to shore and use...
Published: 11/12/17
Updated: 11/14/17

Captainís Corner: Low tides and cold fronts make for rewarding fishing

Fall and winter low tides combined with cold fronts passing through can lead to highly rewarding fishing. It takes winds blowing 20-plus miles an hour out of the northeast combined with an astronomical low tide around the new moon and full moon phase...
Published: 11/12/17
Updated: 11/13/17

Captainís Corner: Reef fish abundant offshore; mackerel, kings better near shore

Before this recent cold front, we were able to travel where we wanted, and the calm seas allowed us to make the mistake of running past the best depths for our type of fishing. The 40- to 50-foot depths produced almost nonstop action from reef fish, ...
Published: 11/12/17
Captainís Corner: Mackerel still going strong in bay area

Captainís Corner: Mackerel still going strong in bay area

The fall king mackerel run is still going strong. The fish have seemed to come in waves; one week there are numerous fish more than 30 pounds, and a week or two later no one can find any more than 20. It also seems the fish are not moving south all t...
Published: 11/11/17

Captainís Corner: Cold front should push fish into backcountry waters

The approaching front is forecast to drop temperatures for a couple of days. This should push more fish into the backcountry rivers and creeks that feed the bay. Once the front passes and the weather stabilizes, fishing should return to normal. This ...
Published: 11/10/17

Captainís Corner: Kingfish domination

With calm seas and water temperature just the way they like it, kingfish will dominate much of the nearshore and offshore activity. Light wind and strong tides from the weekendís full moon have allowed nearshore waters to cleanse, so baits are being ...
Published: 11/08/17