Thursday, August 16, 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: Fishing is still hot even as Red Tide looms

As of now, Pinellas and all of Tampa Bay are still being spared of Red Tide. It has been sitting in Manatee County for a while and has yet to push further north. I am on the water almost every day. Bait has been easy to get, and fishing continues to ...
Published: 08/15/18

Captainís Corner: Mangrove snapper on fly

Mangrove (gray) snapper are often encountered while drifting the flats this time of year as they school in preparation for spawning later. When using a typical 8 or 9 weight fly rod with size 1 or 1/0 baitfish type flies while targeting redfish and t...
Published: 08/13/18
Updated: 08/14/18

Captainís Corner: Cast net skills come in handy

Threadfin herring and scaled sardines can be found up and down our Suncoast with ease. Most bait is on the smaller side, so have a quarter-inch mess cast net to prevent the smaller baits from getting stuck in the net. Spanish mackerel, kingfish, cobi...
Published: 08/11/18
Updated: 08/13/18

Captainís Corner: Head offshore to target mangrove snapper

Inshore fishing can slow in the late summer as afternoon water temperatures climb near 90. Many shallow-water fish are lethargic and reluctant to bite, so we run all of our trips offshore. Clean, blue water and a wider variety of fishing options are ...
Published: 08/10/18
Updated: 08/11/18
Captainís Corner: Summertime is running out, but tarpon are still strong

Captainís Corner: Summertime is running out, but tarpon are still strong

As we wind down into the last part of summer, most of us get focused on getting the kids back to school. While it can be a bit overwhelming as life just seems to be too busy, keep in mind that downtime on the water is important, and fishing this mont...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/09/18

Captainís Corner: Itís a good time for snook and trout

Snook and trout have been at the top of the list this past week. Early starts have been the key for fooling the better snook, while the trout seem willing to bite for a few hours after sun-up. The pre-dawn snook bite has been solid lately. Target are...
Published: 08/06/18

Captainís Corner: Hot weather make it pompano time

The trend has been pretty easy: Pompano remain a best choice with the weather so hot going on two complete months. Deeper water means more cooperative fish. The pompano have increased in numbers and size as the summer has moved on. Routinely, our pom...
Published: 08/05/18
Updated: 08/07/18

Captainís Corner: Plenty of tarpon fishing remains

The tournaments are over and sight casting to large schools of migrating tarpon along our gulf beaches will likely have to wait until next season. For those still interested, thereís plenty of good tarpon fishing to be done. The return of a normal we...
Published: 08/03/18
Updated: 08/08/18
Captainís Corner: Trout fishing still good on beaches

Captainís Corner: Trout fishing still good on beaches

Fishing duration this time of year is determined by thunderstorms. Usually we see storms building throughout the day and unleashing in the afternoon. Lately theyíve been starting in the morning, moving in from the gulf. This week Iíve been fishing wi...
Published: 08/03/18

Captainís Corner: Mangrove snapper bite picks up after full moon

Hopefully there will be relief in sight from the morning storms. It looks like rain chances go down the rest of the week, so we should be back to a more normal pattern of afternoon storms. Some nice speckled trout have been caught in depths of 5-8 fe...
Published: 08/02/18