Friday, December 15, 2017
Outdoors

Take It Outside Planner: Vintage fishing tackle show, Cayo Costa State Park

REEL DEAL: Antique fishing tackle show

Just about everyone who fishes ends up with more than his or her share of tackle. But for some, collecting the vintage lures, reels and rods becomes a hobby of its own, aside from catching fish. When these collectors say they have gone fishin' they are out trolling garage sales or casting about flea markets for collecting, restoring and swapping tools of the angler's trade. There are centuries of fishing paraphernalia to be uncovered in old tackle boxes, and this weekend's show in St. Pete Beach from the Florida Antique Tackle Collectors will display some prize catches. Club members will have historical displays from collections, some worth $500 to $1,000 each. The public is invited to attend from 9 a. m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday and encouraged to bring old tackle for free appraisals. Admission is $3, children free, at Dolphin Beach Resort, 4900 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach.

SPOTLIGHT: Cayo Costa State Park

Off Boca Grande, not far from Fort Myers, the lovely tree-laden island of Cayo Costa State Park is accessible only by boat. The ferry cost of $32 to $35 for day trippers, $45 for overnight visitors, keeps the crowds away so it's a great spot if you are in search of peace and quiet. Once there, you'll find 9 miles of unspoiled beaches with heaps of seashells. Wooded trails thick with pine forests and oak-palm hammocks are also ideal for a stroll or rented-bike ride, not to mention fishing, kayaking and snorkeling. Cayo Costa day trippers can enjoy the beaches and trails, but campers get the island almost to themselves. No hotels, no restaurants, no noise and no light pollution to compete with the dark starry night.

For overnight stays, the park offers primitive cabins and tent camping that can be booked through ReserveAmerica up to 11 months in advance. Cayo Costa cabins are one-room wooden structures without electricity or running water. Each cabin sleeps six people on three sets of bunk beds. There's a table inside, along with a picnic table and a fire circle with grill top outside. There's a central bathhouse with cold showers and restrooms. If you are still reading this, then you are game for a primitive night in the outdoors. You have to bring your own food and cooking utensils, not to mention flashlights, bug spray and sunscreen, because there are no stores to bail you out.

Ferry operators will also rent out kayaks and the ranger station rents bikes. Ferry services can be found in Punta Gorda at kingfisherfleet.com and in Pineland from tropicstaradventures.com. Captiva Cruises offers ferry service to the park from locations in Punta Gorda, Pine Island, Fort Myers, Sanibel Island and Captiva Island at cayocostaferry.com. See more at floridastateparks.org/cayocosta.

EARLY BIRD: Florida Birding and Nature Festival

Heads up, bird and nature lovers. Hillsborough County is hosting its first Florida Birding and Nature Festival, and registration just opened for the Oct. 13-16 series of talks, field trips and workshops.

It is scheduled during Central Florida's peak migration period, when more than 180 species of birds and wildlife could potentially be found in local nature preserves. Experienced guides will lead field trips to the best wildlife sites in west-central Florida. Workshops will teach identification, nature photography techniques, conservation initiatives and about wildlife corridors. Hillsborough's Conservation and Environmental Lands Management Department worked with five regional chapters of the Audubon Society and local ecological groups like the Sierra Club and Florida Native Plant Society to put the festival together.

You can sign up for a single session or the whole weekend, and tickets range from $10 to $100 at floridabirdingandnaturefestival.org. Early bird savings are on until Sept. 16, and some of the more popular outings are already filling up.

 
Comments

Captainís Corner: Drop in gulf water temperature means itís sea trout time

The gulf temperature has dropped significantly since our first real cold front last week. One day the water was in the mid 70s, then after the front, it fell to the low 60s. That caused speckled sea trout to become a reliable target. Redfish have bee...
Published: 12/14/17

Captainís Corner: Good time for shallow-water flats fishing

Shallow-water flats fishing can be very exciting this time of year. Trout and redfish are available in good numbers, and the opportunities to catch some gator trout have made recent trips very rewarding. Some of the largest trout have been in very sk...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/13/17

Captainís Corner: Seek clear water for bottom fishing as temperatures plummet

The great weather, calm seas and exceptional fishing we experienced at the end of November and beginning of December came to a screeching halt with the cold front that came through. Surface water temperatures plummeted from an unseasonable 71 degrees...
Published: 12/11/17
Updated: 12/12/17

Captainís Corner: Sheepshead action lively in cooler weather

Conditions after the cold front are cool and are going to be for a while. That doesnít mean you canít or shouldnít fish. Many anglers get stuck on snook, reds and trout and forget how fun it is to catch sheepshead. Many reefs are already holding good...
Published: 12/09/17
Updated: 12/10/17

Captainís Corner: Fishing will return to normal, but when?

The severity of this cold front will determine the fishing forecast for the next several days. Bait that had been abundant inshore will scatter. Nearshore gulf waters will muddy, and water temperatures. at least temporarily. will plummet. How cold, h...
Published: 12/08/17
Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

Captainís Corner: Planning around fronts can lead to productive days

I canít believe we are in the last month of the year. And while this is one of my favorite months to fish, it will be controlled by weather. As cold fronts become more frequent and harsh, planning your trips around them will make the biggest differen...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/09/17

Captainís Corner: Strong results for redfish, speckled trout

This is a great time for variety. Combined trips for speckled trout and redfish are achieving excellent results. With the correct approach, great catches of both species are a reality now. The best anglers use the lightest tackle. Light rods and reel...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Captainís Corner: Take advantage of abundant gag grouper before season ends

Gag grouper fishing and spearing is hot. The season for these grouper in the Gulf of Mexico is winding down, with a slated closure at the end of this month. The cooler water has the gags moving closer, and they are happy when the bottom temperatures ...
Published: 12/05/17

Captainís Corner: Bait schools near shore drawing kings, mackerel, bonito

Nearshore fishing is still going strong in north Pinellas. Bait schools are roaming just a couple of miles offshore, attracting kingfish, Spanish mackerel and bonito. The beaches are still holding sardines for cast netting at sunrise. I like to have ...
Published: 12/03/17
Updated: 12/05/17

Captainís Corner: This is the month to target gag grouper

With our current regulations in the Gulf, this is the best month to target gag grouper. Although the gag grouper season opens in June they are hard to come by for most months unless anglers travel to depths of 240 feet or more. With each passing cold...
Published: 12/03/17
Updated: 12/04/17