Fishermen love tackle. They know what works and what doesn't. You can never have too many of the basics such as jig heads and live-bait hooks. Other supplies, such as needle-nose pliers, seem to have a way of falling overboard or winding up in your buddy's tackle box. So do your favorite angler a favor this Christmas. Buy him or her a present or a stocking stuffer that's actually useful. Here are a few suggestions....
Bucs corner Darrelle Revis is, by all indications, physically ready for today's season opener against the Jets.
But will the emotional scars of a torn ACL in his left knee, sustained during the third quarter of the Jets' 23-20 overtime victory against the Dolphins on Sept. 23, impact his performance?
"How somebody will play post-injury is hard to predict," said John Murray, a Palm Beach-based clinical sports psychologist. "But it is only natural for an athlete to be cautious, to fear reinjuring the knee, because they just don't think that they are as physically strong as they once were."...
Editor's note: This story originally appeared online in 2009. We've updated it slightly, but took out references to rates as they can fluctuate. Most fall under $30 for a tent site, but rise for RVs and cabin rentals. Call each individual park for those.
My friends usually decline my invitations to go camping during the summer. It's too hot, too buggy, too this, too that, they say. Nonsense, I reply....
People often say, "I'd love to go on an adventure, but I don't know where to start."
They think to be a consummate outdoorsman you need some kind of special training. I wish I could say that I spent a year roasting scorpions over an open fire with the French Foreign Legion, but that was not the case.
Truth be told, I am not much different from many of you, just a middle-class kid from the suburbs who spent too much time watching Tarzan movies on a black-and-white TV....
TIERRA VERDE — Rob Gorta had his work cut out for him. He had to catch a trout, redfish and snook before 3 p.m. to score a coveted inshore slam.
"Anybody can find trout and redfish," he said. "But a nice-sized snook is hard to come by these days."
The legendary linesider, an elusive prey even in the best of times, has been hard to hook since a series of hard freezes decimated the local population. But Gorta, one of the Tampa Bay area's most successful tournament guides, had a plan....
Barger eyes Olympic spot
Coming off a disappointing start to the 2011 season, Ben Barger, the top-ranked American windsurfer, made winning look easy last month when he placed first in six out of eight races at the Italian Championships. Barger, a Tampa Bay native, hopes to secure his spot in the 2012 Olympics by winning the U.S. Olympic trials in Australia in December. ...
FORT DESOTO — Jon Willis was skeptical. "Paddle to Key Largo?" he asked. "Why?"
"Why not?" I responded.
Willis, an old surfing buddy, had been on one of my adventures before.
"Twenty degrees and we're stuck in the middle of the Okeefeenokee Swamp," he recalled. "You call that fun?"
Great fun. Plenty of fresh air, good food and lots of exercise. My proposed 250-mile jaunt along the west coast of Florida to the Keys would be even more entertaining, I promised. "Come on," I pleaded. "I promise you won't get killed. And I'll buy the cigars." ...
When asked if ancient Floridians paddled dugout canoes to the Bahamas, anthropologist Bill Keegan didn't have to stop and think.
"No. It can't be done," the University of Florida professor said. "The currents are just too strong."
But this reporter and some adventurous friends set out to prove Keegan wrong by paddling a 45-foot Hawaiian outrigger canoe from Key Largo to Bimini, settling once and for all a question Florida historians have been debating for more than a century. ...
EVERGLADES CITY – The woman in the canoe looked confused.
"What is that thing?" she asked.
"A stand-up paddleboard," I replied as I strapped camping gear to the deck.
"A what?" she asked again. "A stand-up paddleboard," I repeated.
For a moment, I considered leaving it at that because I had grown weary of explaining the true function of my surfboard on steroids. But then I stopped and decided to act as an ambassador for this fledgling water sport. ...
Keep a-movin', move along ...
Elvis paddled here. Or at least that's what I'll tell people if I ever find my way off this river the Indians called Withlacoochee. It's no secret that Presley loved white jumpsuits, pink Cadillacs, and peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
But few know the legendary singer was also an avid sea kayaker. Some even suspect the King actually still may be roaming these parts, paddle in hand, humming a tune from that 1962 hit movie Follow That Dream that he filmed over by that bridge that spans Bird Creek. ...
Sarasota Bay — In the old days, powerboat racers ran across blue water in open-cockpit boats. There were no helmets. No radios. You would be lucky to get a hard-core racer in a life jacket.
However, with technology and innovation came increases in speed. Racers put on flak jackets and hunkered down behind windshields borrowed from jet fighters. Anything seemed possible … 100, 150, even 200 mph....
Johnny Cash might have been thinking about the muddy Mississippi when he wrote Big River, but that's because the Man in Black never got a chance to paddle the mighty Apalachicola.
The river, Florida's largest in terms of water volume, flows south 106 miles from the Georgia border through some of the wildest country the state has to offer before emptying into Apalachicola Bay at Oystertown. ...
Briana Whaley thought her running career was over just when it was starting. Fresh off a victory at the 2011 Gasparilla Distance Classic, the 33-year-old Clearwater resident hoped to qualify as an Olympic marathoner. But she could barely walk.
"My foot had all kinds of problems," she said. "I could barely put any weight on it."
Whaley, who ran track at Virginia Commonwealth University, was born with an extra bone in her left foot. It didn't cause her any trouble until she began to increase her mileage, setting her sights on the Olympic marathon....
Fishermen love to debate live vs. artificial bait.
Purists, such as Richard Seward, will cast all day with their plugs and jigs, even when the fish aren't biting and the livewell is brimming with succulent scaled sardines.
"The fish are here … the trick is getting them to bite," Seward said as he tossed a jig off the stern.
"That's what you said last time …" Mike Mahoney quipped. But before Mahoney could finish his sentence, a trout that was not much bigger than the minnows in the bait well grabbed the soft-plastic jig and started pulling line....
When Amanda Hus was a little girl growing up in Fort Myers, she dreamed about hiking the Appalachian Trail. "I used to read about it in magazines," said the 53-year-old former stay-at-home mom. "I said to myself, 'Some day.' "
The Tampa resident had done a few day hikes in parks and nature reserves, but nothing serious. Then last fall she heard a talk by hardcore backpackers about "thru hiking" the Florida Trail....