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.