I think we’re in Florida again.
It has felt more like the Windy City than the Friendly City lately, but we’re apparently on the verge of some gorgeous weather. We’re talking mid-80s, clear skies and hopefully less winds than the gales that have kept most boaters from even considering anything offshore.
I hope your rigged and ready, because the big boys are about to be swarming into our area. Kingfish and tarpon are around for the bold, and all the inshore fish should be hammering bait on the flats and basking in the rising water temperatures.
Parks such as Robinson Preserve, Emerson Point Preserve, Lake Manatee State Park and Myakka River State Park will be prime territory for a good romp, and the best part is that they are cheap.
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Unless the weather forecasters are gravely wrong, this will be the weekend that reminds us why we live in Florida. Why residents smile when they step outside and feel a burst of warmth as though they stepped into a sauna. Why we can stroll to the boat ramp in flip-flops and 15 minutes later latch onto some fish in the water that strips a refreshing football-field-length of line from our reels.
We won’t have to worry about ducking for cover because of pesky thunderstorms. And although we could use some more rain to bring up dangerously low freshwater lakes, the drought also serves to congregate fish.
Head out to Lake Evers, for example, and you’ll see that in a couple weeks you might be able to wade the entire lake. And if you’re not gator-shy, why not? Some big bluegill are there for the filleting and are probably sitting over their neatly-formed spawning beds as I write this column.
Wouldn’t mind getting a small purple-and-green fly that imitates a baby bluegill and skirting it around the bed to entice a bass.
This is probably a good option up the Braden River, where an angler can pull in some panfish, spot a gator that’s as long as their Jon boat, then stop off at Linger Lodge for, what else, some gator bites and a beer.
But I must say, don’t operate your boat under the influence of beer. You’ll probably get enough of a Vitamin D buzz from the sun anyhow.
This weekend, I invite outdoors enthusiasts to not limit themselves to the usual. If you’re an angler, rent a jet ski. If you like boat rides, try parasailing. Or make some friends at a local sailing club and join them in a sailing adventure around Anna Maria Island.
Don’t forget Tampa Bay is one of the best kayaking areas in the world. With our expanses of gin-clear waters and endless mangrove tunnels, the options are limitless. Try paddling from Lake Evers to Linger Lodge for those gator bites. Or row your boat from Seven Pines to Bishop Harbor.
And don’t forget about that majestic river that runs parallel to the north end of Bradenton and shrinks as it curls out east into a jungle.
The outdoors is yours, and finally, at least for this weekend, we don’t have to worry about cold fronts that slice a day-long adventure into a morning or afternoon of sky watching.
Finally, it feels like Florida.
Time to celebrate.