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If you're willing to wade or walk

A flash of red streaked across the patch of white sand.

The angler, wading waist deep in the warm gulf water, cast the gold spoon out across the grass flat.

Several times the lure splashed near moving shadows. Several times it came back unscathed.

Persistence, however, paid off.

A redfish grabbed the spoon and the rod bent as the red tried to run. Eventually, the warm water proved too much, and the 24-inch red tired.

From Honeymoon Island State Recreation Area to the Courtney Campbell Parkway, spotted sea trout and redfish can be caught anywhere you find healthy beds of sea grass.

Boat propellers, besides tearing up fragile grass beds that provide a home and refuge for sea life, frighten fish. So, often the angler willing to wade will have the advantage.

And it is easy to do. Just grab a pair of old sneakers or boat shoes. You'll need a hat and a pair of polarized sunglasses. They'll make it easier to see the fish in the water.

Live bait, such as shrimp or minnows, work great. Just trail the bait bucket behind you in the water. Or use artificial lures _ try a gold weedless spoon or a red-and-white top-water plug.

It's always a good idea to check in with your local bait shop and see what is working in your area.

If fishing isn't your bag, try an overnight canoe trip down the Withlacoochee River. It starts off narrow and shallow, but 30 miles downstream, it's wide open.

The steady, 2-mph current will pull you along effortlessly. Each twist and turn holds surprises. From its origin in the Green Swamp of eastern Polk County, the Withlacoochee meanders 156 miles to its outfall at the Gulf of Mexico near Yankeetown. About 83 miles are navigable, and it is suitable for the beginner. It is one of only a few rivers in the Northern Hemisphere that flow north.

There are several put-in and take-out points from Lacoochee to State Road 48. For information, write the Florida Department of Natural Resources, Division of Recreation and Parks, Marjory Stoneman Douglas Building, 3900 Commonwealth Blvd., Tallahassee, FL 32399. Ask for the Withlacoochee River (South) Canoe Trail map and the canoe trails listing.

Another source is the Canoe Outpost in Nobleton, (904) 796-4343. The Outpost rents canoes and will arrange for drop-off and pick-up.

As you float along, you'll pass through the Withlacoochee State Forest, with dozens of hiking trails, many of which can be completed easily in a day.

But if you are looking for a more ambitious walk, try the 65-mile segment of the Florida Trail, which winds through the Ocala National Forest.

For information, contact the Ocala National Forest Visitor Center at (904) 625-7470.

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