Enjoy Your R/V Adventure Along The Mighty Suwannee River

Enjoy Your R/V Adventure Along The Mighty Suwannee River

There are more options than just parking your R/V or setting up camp along the shores of the mighty Suwannee River.  Florida’s longest unobstructed (no dams or locks) river begins its journey in the Okefenokee Swamp in south Georgia and flows over 200 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. For the most part, the river is deep and wide and well suited to cruising, fishing or just watching.  Several of the campgrounds along the river’s banks offer boat rentals, and others have launching facilities for visitors who choose to travel with their own powerboats, kayaks or canoes.

 

Yellow Jacket R/V Campground, between Old Town and the town of Suwannee, offers boat rentals to their guests

As one travels alongside the Suwannee River, starting at White Springs, there are a number of private and public R/V parks with a variety of services.  Some, like public Stephen Foster State Park, at White Springs, offer all sorts of camping options.  Other parks, like Hart Springs and Otter Springs , are county maintained.  And many, like Yellow Jacket and Suwannee River Rendezvous, are family operated and privately maintained.

 

R/V’ers and tent campers are welcome at the Spirit of the Suwannee Park, near Live Oak, in Suwannee County

 

Enjoy Paddling in one of the our campgrounds with spring-fed river runs.

 

Be sure to bring your bike. Many of our parks offer bike trails, or convenient access to some of our Natural North Florida bike trails.

 

Don’t stay inside your R/V when our weather is spectacularly beautiful. Get outside and have a picnic in one of our many public parks. This grove of trees at Manatee Springs State Park is cool, even on hot days!

There’s an excellent tool on the NaturalNorthFlorida.com website that will allow you to search for campgrounds an to learn about their amenities.

 

 

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https://www.naturalnorthflorida.com/blog/enjoy-your-r-v-adventure-along-the-mighty-suwannee-river/


Free* Kayak Eco Tours at Cedar Key

Thanks to the generosity of Dr. Paul King, a Florida Coastal Master Naturalist, Tom Liebert at Kayak Cedar Keys and the folks at the University of Florida’s Nature Coast Biological Station,  visitors can arrange free guided kayak Eco-tours of the area around the Cedar Key archipelago. Paddlers may bring their own boats or rent from Kayak Cedar Keys, located at the downtown beach/marina.  Reservations should be made in advance by calling (352) 543-9447 (Kayak Cedar Keys).

*There is NO CHARGE for the guided tours, but DONATIONS ARE ENCOURAGED.  Donations will benefit the public information center at the Nature Coast Biological Station, where they will be used in the production, care and upkeep of aquarium specimens as well as the printing of educational materials.

 

There are many options when it comes to paddling the Cedar Key area.  If the weather permits, it’s a short paddle from the beach to Atsena Otie Key, the site of a former pencil factory.  Or,if there’s a breeze, there are many options in the backwaters of the many islands and channels in the area.  In addition to the marine species you’ll likely encounter, be prepared to see numerous birds.  If you have a waterproof camera, be sure to bring it along!

 

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World War II Jets Send Sky-High Message: GEICO Skytypers to Debut at NAS Jacksonville Air Show

solo cross, World War II Jets Send a Sky-High Message: GEICO Skytypers to Debut New Flight Demonstration at 2018 NAS Jacksonville Air Show

The World-Famous GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team will roar into Jacksonville later this month to wow crowds with an entirely new flight demonstration at the 2018 NAS Jacksonville Air Show (October 27-28). The squadron of World War II aircraft will participate in a full weekend of jaw-dropping exhibitions showcasing both civilian and military aviators. The US Navy’s famous Blue Angels provide the grand finale, but the entire weekend is jam-packed with talented teams and champion pilots from across the country.  

For Flight Lead Larry Arken, skytyping is the family business and something he’s been doing his entire life. His father, retired Naval Aviator Mort Arken, established Skytypers as an innovative advertising company utilizing a dot-matrix system to style messages across the skies of large metropolitan areas or events. The Skytypers started participating in airshows in the 1980s. Today, the team does far more flight demonstrations than skytyping, though they will showcase some of their skytyping skills before their air show performance if the weather cooperates.  

“Skywriting is done with one aircraft, skytyping is done with five,” Arken explains, “It’s kind of like the world’s largest dot-matrix printer.” While it takes one plane quite some time to skywrite a single letter, skytyping is performed by five planes flying in tight, line-abreast formation. A computer system in the lead aircraft sends commands to the other planes via radio signals, coordinating the release of white smoke puffs to create dot-matrix style letters. In two minutes, the team can “type” 20-25 characters. Each letter stands as tall as the Empire State Building and messages stretch across 2-5 miles. The finished product can be seen from 15 miles away.

World War II Jets Send a Sky-High Message: GEICO Skytypers to Debut New Flight Demonstration at 2018 NAS Jacksonville Air Show, @rjlabellaphotos.com
@rjlabellaphotos.com

What makes the GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team even more unique is the fact they do this while flying World War II aircraft. The North American SNJ-2, or “Pilot Maker,” was the training aircraft for many Allied pilots during WWII. It served as the transition between basic trainers and first-line tactical aircraft. “They were the advanced fighter trainers of the WWII era,” Arken says, “Pilots that went on to fly frontline fighters like the Mustang, the Corsair, the Thunderbolt, and the B-18, the B-29s, they all flew this airplane in flight school as an advanced fighter trainer. They did gunnery in it. They did acrobatics in it. They had to be successful flying this before they moved on to the other fleet types in WWII.” Of the 61 produced SNJ-2 models, only 11 remain in the world and the Skytypers own 6 of them.

“A few guys on the team have been around since the 1980s, but the team continues to add in a new talent as people retire or other things come up,” says the GEICO Skytypers’ Chief Public Affairs Officer Brenda Little, “We utilize 11-12 pilots in order to fly a 5 or 6 plane show. Most of the pilots on our team have full-time jobs, families, and personal lives. Most of our pilots are commercial airline pilots. We have a couple that are retired. A lot of the team was trained in the military. We have a lot of Navy pilots, a couple of Air Force guys, and we’ve got a solo Marine. We have a lot of elite aviators on the team.”

2018 Team Photo - Painted Flag Background, World War II Jets Send a Sky-High Message: GEICO Skytypers to Debut New Flight Demonstration at 2018 NAS Jacksonville Air Show,

The NAS Jacksonville Air Show will feature 5 members of the GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team in 5 planes: Larry “Boss” Arken, Chris “CT” Thomas, Chris “SOTO” Orr, Steve “Animal” Salmirs, and Tom Daly.

Larry “Boss” Arken fondly remembers flying over the skies of Long Island and the Northeast coast with his father as a young man. He began piloting his own aircraft at 16 and was flying the SNJ-2 by the time he was 19. He’s been flying ever since and is a professional airline pilot today. About 20 years ago, Mort Arken handed the reigns over to his son and Larry Arken has been Flight Lead and business owner ever since. When not flying for a commercial airline or skytyping, the Long Island-based pilot flies vintage P-47, F4U, and P-51 warbirds for the Air Power Museum in Farmingdale, NY. He has more than 25,000 flight hours and holds certifications for seven large jets.

Chris “CT” Thomas is a captain and check airman for a major commercial airline. He became a performing member of the GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team in 2017 and has over 18,000 hours of flight time on more than 90 different types of planes. He lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and two daughters.  

Chris “Soto” Orr is a retired Navy F-14 Tomcat pilot who has been flying for over 25 years. He’s also flown the A-4 Skyhawk and C-130 Hercules. Today, Orr is a captain for a major airline and lives on Long Island with his wife and two children.

Steve “Animal” Salmirs is a retired Air Force F-16 pilot. Today, he’s a commercial airline pilot and has been a member of the GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team since 1996. Salmirs flies as one of the Lead Solo pilots and is instrumental in designing, writing, and instructing the air show demonstrations each year. He lives in Babylon, NY, and Scottsdale, AZ, with his wife and daughter.

Tom Daly retired from the police department and served as Dean of the College of Aviation and later Dean of Students at Dowling College. He is a member of the advisory councils for the Cradle of Aviation Museum, Western Suffolk BOCES Aviation Program, and the Islip-MacArthur Airport. He lives on Long Island with his wife and four children.

World War II Jets Send a Sky-High Message: GEICO Skytypers to Debut New Flight Demonstration at 2018 NAS Jacksonville Air Show

The Geico Skytypers Air Show Team performs at 15 air shows annually and the NAS Jacksonville Air Show is their season finale. Even after years of performing flight demonstrations, Arken’s passion has not faded. “I love the team camaraderie. I love showing these aircraft off to people. This aircraft has got wonderful nostalgia. It’s just a fun aircraft to fly. People love to hear the roar of these engines. They have a magical sound to them,” Arken says, “To me, it’s personally extremely rewarding.”

The rest of the team shares his enthusiasm. “There’s pilots and there’s aviators,” Arken continues, “Pilots fly airplanes, but aviators love aviation. They just love everything about it. I think my guys are aviators. My guys love to fly airplanes. They fly for the airlines. They fly for me. They have their own airplanes. They’ll fly other people’s airplanes. They have this unique passion for aviation where they just love to fly.”

6 ship echelon square Nick Halseth, 2018 Team Photo - Painted Flag Background, World War II Jets Send a Sky-High Message: GEICO Skytypers to Debut New Flight Demonstration at 2018 NAS Jacksonville Air Show,

Vintage aircraft are near and dear to Arken’s heart and he hopes to keep the memory of the WWII generation alive by showcasing warbirds from the era. “I think that really was the Greatest Generation,” Arken says, “We’ve lost most of this generation because they’re in their 90s and most of them are passing away. So it’s nice to be able to continue that generation’s legacy and to show off some of the things they had back in the day.  We consider it an honor to demonstrate the amazing abilities of these vintage warbirds on behalf of our sponsor, GEICO, while sharing some rarely seen aviation history with air show crowds. Now more than 75 years old, the SNJ-2 is a testament to the engineering genius of the Greatest Generation. These aircraft are a dream to fly.”

The team is excited to be back in Jacksonville again.  There will be plenty of dynamic maneuvers in their new demonstration. Music and narration add to the experience, educating audiences as the team demonstrates military maneuvers from WWII to the present day. Arken encourages NE Floridians to come on out to see the show and appreciates the warm welcome the team receives in the Sunshine State. “We do 3 or 4 shows in Florida and we’ve always found the Floridians who come out to see us are always so wonderful to us and make us feel like we’re home,” he says.  

6 ship delta, 6 ship echelon square Nick Halseth, 2018, World War II Jets Send a Sky-High Message: GEICO Skytypers to Debut New Flight Demonstration at 2018 NAS Jacksonville Air Show,

“Come out and see the show,” Arken encourages, “There’s some wonderful performers. I mean, you’ve got the US Navy Blue Angels. You’ve got Patty Wagstaff. You’ve got top aerobatic performers. And you have us. If you’ve seen us before, you’re going to see something very different from what you’ve seen in the past. Some of the maneuvers we do with these planes are very impressive. And if you haven’t seen us before, you’ll really enjoy seeing how we can take a WWII airplane and do some of the maneuvers that we do with it. I think that it’ll be very enjoyable. Come on out and see a wonderful air show.”

With a show-stopping lineup of some of the best aviators in the country, the NAS Jacksonville Air Show promises a weekend to remember. Gates open at 9 am on Saturday and Sunday (October 27-28) and shows begin at 10 am. The GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team generally flies in the afternoon, with the Blue Angels rounding out day at 3 PM. Click here for a full Air Show Schedule. The event is free and open to the public.  

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/10/17/world-war-ii-jets-geico-skytypers-nas-jacksonville-air-show/


Great Southern Biscuit Company Opens New Location in High Springs, Florida

It’s often said that it takes a brave (and sometimes foolish) individual to open a new restaurant.  As a food writer for Florida Sportsman magazine, I sometimes receive invitations to try new restaurants, and on many occasions they’ve closed before I get there.  I’m happy to say that what follows may be a success story!

The “original” Great Southern Biscuit Company is located in “downtown” Mayo at 152 W. Main St., the county seat of rural Lafayette County.  An old bank building next to the courthouse was converted into a small, cozy dining room, attached to a coffee bar and a small kitchen.  Owner Bart Byrd could always be found baking or making delicious sandwiches or entrees for his customers.

Recently, Great Southern Biscuit Company has expanded, with a second, larger location in downtown High Springs on Hwy 27 in a strip shopping center.  High Springs is busier than Mayo, and the restaurant is a welcome addition to the restaurant community there.  Not only is High Springs closer to Gainesville, it’s also a hub for folks visiting local springs (Ginnie Springs, Blue Springs State Park, Poe Springs, Rum Island Spring) or the Santa Fe River.  

 

 

In addition to the original menu, the selections at the High Springs location are expanded.  There are more entrees, breakfast plates, and desserts.  The new location is open from 7AM to 10PM daily.

 

Owner Bart Byrd with a tray of his GREAT southern biscuits. Don’t miss them!

 

 

 

 

 

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Tom Petty Birthday Bash….Great Music in Gainesville, October 19 & 20, 2018

Gainesville, the largest city in our Natural North Florida region, has been known as a music hub.  Names like Bo Diddley, Sister Hazel, Gram Parsons, Bernie Leadon,  the Peyton Brothers, and Stephen Stills all come to mind.  But most famous was likely “outlaw” musician Tom Petty.  Since his death in October of 2017, Gainesville  has celebrated his birthday, on or near the 20th of October. This year, the Birthday Bash will be held at several music and art venues throughout the city.

 

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The second annual Tom Petty Birthday Bash is a free music festival celebrating the life and legacy of Tom Petty through diverse music performances, art and community engagement to share his music for generations to come.  Celebrating on the weekend of Tom Petty’s birthday, this one of a kind music festival showcases top-notch local and national bands. Music and love will flow throughout the weekend and your attendance will benefit the UF Health Shands Arts In Medicine program.

Music

Festival Crowd

Music is probably the only real magic I have encountered in my life. There’s not some trick involved with it. It’s pure and it’s real. It moves, it heals, it communicates and does all these incredible things.    —-Tom Petty

Tom Petty Birthday Bash aims to showcase top-notch local and national performances across genres, curated by HEDGES. Rock out to the catalog of  Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, while getting a taste of band’s original music.  Here’s a taste:

Heavy Petty (Gainesville’s own Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Tribute Band)
Mudpies (Mudcrutch tribute)
Gregg McMillan Songwriter
HEDGES
The High Divers
The Artisanals
Edan Archer
Jake Thistle Music
Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin Stones
Whiskey & Co.
Lots of special guests and more to come!

Art

Gainesville’s thriving art scene is permeated around the town and many artists have chosen to paint murals to pay tribute to Tom Petty.

Tom Petty-inspired art will be featured at the festival.

Community

Tom Petty Birthday Bash is a free music festival where everyone is welcome to celebrate. In addition to the free festival, you can purchase a Petty For The People Package and all profits will benefit a local Gainesville program called UF Health Shands Arts in Medicine.

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Moon Over the Market: Three Jacksonville Food Trucks Going Places

Food trucks have changed the landscape of culinary culture here in Jacksonville in the past decade or so, and today we have a wide selection of tastes. We’ve chosen three food trucks for you to follow on social media (the best way to know where a truck will be). These three will also be at GastroJax’s annual Fall event, Moon Over the Market, on October 11th at the Jacksonville Farmers Market, and tastes will be included in the ticket price. Tickets are only $40 at this tasting event on 904tix.com.

Jammas Jax, Moon Over the Market, GastroJax
Jammas Jax

The new truck Jammas Jax brings Asian street food flavor wherever they might go with dishes such as pad thai, crab rangoons, lo mein, Hawaiian pineapple fried rice and much more. Owner Julio Gonzalez has quite the storied resume–he’s worked at prestigious local restaurants such as Medure, Pom’s, and El Mariachi, a stellar Mexican truck. His favorite dish on the Jammas Jax menu is the green curry with shrimp, a recipe he picked up from Chef Pom Souvannasoth. Says Gonzalez, “I think having passion for what you do is very important…loving what you do cooking with love.”

Jammas Jax, Moon Over the Market, GastroJax
Jammas Jax, Moon Over the Market, GastroJax
Jammas Jax, Moon Over the Market, GastroJax
Jammas Jax, Moon Over the Market, GastroJax

This truck is just starting out, and if you’d like to try a sample, Moon Over the Market is a great event to do that. You can find the truck every Monday Downtown at the The Court Urban Food Park on Hogan Street from 11-2pm on the regular, and you can also follow them on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram @jammasjax.



Pie95 has now been part of our food scene for about three years, and if you haven’t tried them, we highly recommend their wood-fired pizza deliciousness! They’ve been at the fall tasting event Moon Over the Market event all three years, and will be a part of it again–with expanded space this year!

Chef Evan Eriksen’s passion for a pie is apparent in every slice. His customers rave about the Neapolitan-inspired pizza, with some even saying that it’s a veritable taste of Italy. Says Chef Eriksen, “Our philosophy behind our pizza is inspired from working from Chef Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin in NYC. Simple is best. After working for Chef Ripert you learn to look at the beauty in the product and not overloading your dishes with too many flavors and techniques.”

They are currently researching where they might open a brick-and-mortar place, but in the meantime, Pie95 Pizza posts their weekly schedule on Facebook and Instagram to help the customers find their location. They also can be found every Saturday at the Riverside Art Market from 10-3pm.



Rite on Que’s barbeque is influenced by Alabama and Florida smoking techniques, using a blend of hickory and pecan wood exclusively. They do it the old-fashioned way, using no gas or electricity in the process. Standout items include their MacDaddy Brisket, which is brisket topped with mac and cheese, and their Dutch caramel glazed baby back ribs, called Candied Ribs. You might also want to try their pork belly burnt ends and beef short ribs, which are often on special.

Pit Master Larry Lawson says that their food philosophy is simple because they keep it simple, by cooking with fire, using “quality proteins…made from scratch sides” and providing great service. Lawson says that some guests are so pleased at the quality that during events, customers have been known to “come back twice at the same event to take some home.” They plan to start selling sauces and rubs in the future, and hope to have a brick-and-mortar restaurant sometime in the next three years. You can find Rite On Que by following them on Facebook and Instagram (@riteonque), and you will also find them as one of the tastes at Moon Over the Market on October 11th, 904tix.com

http://eujacksonville.com/2018/10/05/moon-over-the-market-jacksonville-food-trucks/


St. Marks Stone Crab Festival, October 27, 2018–Great Things To Eat in Wakulla County

The annual St. Marks Stone Crab Festival is planned for October 27, 2018.  St. Marks is the southernmost town in Wakulla County, just a few miles south of Florida’s capital, Tallahassee.  St. Marks, and neighboring Panacea, have long been vibrant commercial fishing hubs, specializing in both crabs and fin fish.

Here are a few words about the festival from VisitWakulla:

Enjoy fresh crab claws prepared by local culinary experts

There is plenty to see and do at the festival, but it is a stone crab festival after all. You’ll have the opportunity to taste many different stone crab preparations using fresh crab claws prepared by talented local chefs who know their crab. The flavor of the meat in the crab claws is mild and slightly sweet, and it pairs perfectly with a variety of different flavor profiles. These crabs have been caught fresh from the Gulf of Mexico, so there’s no better way to experience them than this!

Participate in a full day of family fall fun outdoors

Now you know all about the crabs, but there’s so much more going on at the St. Marks Stone Crab Festival that makes it a must-see event. There will be live music and entertainment taking place all day long, and many different local vendors will be selling arts and crafts to commemorate the arrival of stone crab season. There are a variety of activities, games, and educational opportunities for kids, and because the festival is so close to Halloween there will likely be plenty of people donning their costumes as well.”

Image result for stone crab festival photos st marks

Florida’s stone crab season begins on October 15, and this year’s crop will likely be a blockbuster.  That might mean that normally very expensive stone crab claws are a bit cheaper, but to many Floridians, they’re worth any price.  Stone crabs are harvested all along Florida’s coastline.  There’s a significant amount of effort to get the claws to market and to your table.  First, only one claw can be taken from crabs, mostly caught in baited crab traps.  Then, claws are sorted by size and steamed within just a few hours of arriving at port.  Claws are always sold cooked, and can be eaten immediately or heated by a quick trip into boiling water.  Stone crab claws also freeze well for a few months.  While large, jumbo and colossal size claws look great, I recommend medium claws as the best value.

There’s no finer meal in Natural North Florida than a plate of steamed stone crab claws — served simply, with drawn butter.

With 12,000 visitors, last year was a banner year for this signature event. The weather was perfect, as it usually is towards the end of October. There were plenty of fresh-from-the-Gulf Stone Crabs, all kinds of local delicacies, and vendors selling everything from custom jewelry to handcrafted furniture. Come and enjoy the live music and fun for the whole family! Sorry, no pets allowed on festival grounds.

 

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Birding and Bird Photography in Natural North Florida

A guest blog from local bird photographer, Dr. Richard Davidson

Snowy Egret in Flight

Fifty million people in the U.S. plan birding outings each year. Our area is blessed with amazing opportunities for those who observe or photograph birds. The Great Florida Birding Trail (http://floridabirdingtrail.com/) includes over 500 locations for birding in Florida, with dozens in the Natural North Florida area. Two of our best-known areas are the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Wakulla County and the Sweetwater Wetlands Park in Gainesville.

Sweetwater Wetlands Park

Birding is increasing in popularity for many reasons. It’s a relaxing way to enjoy the outdoors and less physically challenging than many outdoor activities. And it can be done in your own backyard. You’ll need a good pair of binoculars (search the internet for good beginner’s models), and a field guide such as Peterson’s (http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/peterson/birds.cfm) or Sibley’s (http://www.sibleyguides.com/about/the-sibley-field-guide-to-birds-of-eastern-north-america). However, more and more birders are using phone apps that can include photos, descriptions and even songs. Among the best are iBird (http://ibird.com/app/iphone/ibird-pro-guide-to-birds/) and the free Audubon app (https://www.audubon.org/app).

Tricolored Heron

Bird photography requires more equipment, but it’s easy to start with reasonably priced cameras. Many beginners start with a special group of point-and-shoot cameras called “superzooms” that have very long zoom lenses built in. While some high-end models will cost over $1000, there are many lower cost excellent choices, including the Nikon P900, the Canon SX-60 or the Sony HX400V. Consumer model DSLR cameras will work fine; lenses should be a minimum of 300-400mm so you can keep your distance and still get great shots. Your camera should be capable of a shutter speed of at least 1/1000th of a second and it should have a “burst mode” option to take multiple pictures with one push of the shutter button.

Black-Crowned Night Heron

You can find many references to help you get started, but among the best is the Audubon Society photography page (https://www.audubon.org/photography).

Like any other activity, there is no substitute for just going out, even in your back yard, and shooting a lot of pictures. If you are patient and know your equipment well, you can be shooting excellent bird photographs in a few weeks.

Cattle Egret

Here’s a gallery with a few more of my favorite bird photos, all made in 2018:









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Get Hooked At The Gulf Coast Kayak Fishing Fall Tournament, October 13, 2018

You don’t want to miss this event!  If you’re a “yakker”, you need to paddle the backwaters of Taylor County and fish this tournament.  It’s a “catch, photo and release” format, hoping to conserve our inshore fish stocks.  The Gulf Coast Kayaking Club Catch and Release Kayak Fishing Tournament will be held October 13th, sign ups are taking place now. Go to our website TaylorFlorida.com, stop by Big Bend Outfitters or Walter B’s Store for an application or call us at 850-584-5366.

 

Here are a few helpful hints for kayak anglers, taken from The Saltwater Angler’s Guide To Florida’s Big Bend and Emerald Coast

 

Inshore and nearshore fishing along Florida’s Gulf Coast has as much to do with economics as it does with species. Of course, many inshore anglers long to be aboard a big sport fishing boat trolling the depths of the Gulf for fish of mammoth proportions. The reality, however, of a round trip that has fuel costs approaching that of the purchase price of a small outboard motor is staggering to many anglers. Inshore fishing, which includes small-boat, bridge, bank, beach and pier fishing, is much more accessible to the general public. So many game fish species come close enough to Florida’s Gulf shoreline that most anglers need only expend a minimum effort in catching dinner on a low-impact, low-cost outing.

 

Likely Catches, Taylor County

Redfish

Red drum, puppy drum, channel bass, and redfish—they’re all the same—it just depends on where you fish. In Florida, we call them redfish. They are prized by all inshore anglers, not only for their table appeal, but also for their great fighting ability. The redfish population was almost decimated by the culinary craze for blackened redfish in the 1990s, but has rebounded since then. A statewide one-fish-per-angler-per-day bag limit is currently in effect. Many professional guides and conservation-minded anglers practice catch-and-release when fishing for reds in hopes of increasing fish stocks for future generations of anglers.

More finicky eaters than spotted seatrout, legal-size redfish cruise the shallow waters all along Florida’s Gulf Coast, devouring everything from crustaceans to small baitfish. Their downward-facing mouths give the impression that they feed only on the bottom—on oyster bars, rock piles and grassy flats. Crabs and shrimp are certainly part of their everyday diet, but make to mistake; small baitfish and commercial imitations attract quick and upward-oriented strikes.   There’s nothing like the sight and sound of a big red turning upside down in two feet of water to inhale a noisy topwater plug.

With the exception of wintertime fish found in deep channels or residential canals and big spawning fish found well offshore, reds, sometimes in schools, generally cruise the edges of flats, grassy shorelines, and shell bars in search of food. On lower tides, they can be found on sun-drenched shallow flats with their tails or backs out of the water, nudging dinner from grass patches or rocks. These fish are prime targets for sight-fishing anglers using light tackle or fishing with fly rods.

While many anglers insist that live bait is essential to catching large redfish, others believe that the smell of cut mullet or pinfish attracts them better. Smell seems to be important, but slashing lures do well, too. Shrimp, stinky in its natural, live condition, is a statewide favorite. Before hooking a whole shrimp, tear off the tail and push the hook up through the body toward the head. This will enhance the scent and attract more fish. Plastic jigs, sometimes ‘sweetened’ with a small piece of fresh or frozen shrimp or synthetic bait, bounced slowly across the bottom near shell or oyster bars, are also a sure way to catch reds. The use of a super-strong invisible leader, such as those made of fluorocarbon, is important, particularly in clear waters. Redfish have a second sense when it comes to recognizing solid fishing line and for rubbing leaders ragged on oysters, sharp rocks or barnacle-encrusted pilings.

Redfish can be wary prey if found on the flats in very clear water. Any loud noises aboard a boat or from wading anglers can signal reds that predators are nearby. Many professional guides argue that undue rocking of a boat by casters, particularly fly anglers, pushes a wave of water out toward redfish, making them move away. Movement by boats, splashing wade anglers, or hungry dolphins, the reds don’t know the difference.

 

Spotted Seatrout

Spotted seatrout are the mainstay of inshore fishing on Florida’s Gulf coast. Relatively easy to catch, plentiful, and mild tasting, these fish are found in shallow coastal waters from spring until fall. On colder winter days, they can be found in river and creek channels, and in residential canals, where they seek warmth in the deeper water.

Most spotted seatrout caught are within the regulatory slot. ‘Gator’ or trophy trout over 20-inches are most often caught in shallow, close-to-shore waters and don’t school up like the smaller fish. Catches of spotted seatrout in the 7-pound range have become more common since Florida’s gill-net ban went into force in the 1990s. Many experts reason that smaller trout are prey for larger ones. Checking the stomach contents of big trout at the cleaning table will sometimes reveal smaller versions of the same species there. In fact, a favorite wintertime deep-water trout lure is the MirrOlure TT Series—TT stands for tiny trout.

Trout are voracious eaters, and bigger cold-water fish sometimes eat out of sheer instinct even when they’re probably not hungry. The species can resist few types of bait. Natural forage includes pinfish, pigfish, shrimp, crabs, mullet and all varieties of minnows, generically known as white bait. Based on this fish’s eating habits, there are hundreds, probably thousands, of lures manufactured to attract spotted seatrout. Weighted jig heads with soft plastic tails, synthetic shrimp look-alikes, hard and soft-bodied plugs made to swim at various depths, and a variety of topwater lures crowd the shelves at marinas, tackle stores and bait shops all along the coast. Most lures and techniques work on trout, and I suggest finding a few you like and learn to fish them in different situations. Your tackle box will thank you.

Depending on air and water temperature, sunlight or clouds, and time of year, trout will hold at specific depths. Moving water, whether rising or falling, is best. Slack or slow-moving neap tides, usually occurring between the full and the new moon phases, make trout less eager to eat. Ambush-feeders, they prefer to attack baits that wash past them in sandy holes on grass flats, or along the edges of channels or bars.

Wintertime trout in deeper water are the exception. I think many of them bite because they’re simply bothered by baits hitting them in the head and attack out of sheer frustration at the attempts to hook them by the dozens of anglers above.

In general, big trout are spookier than smaller ones. Stealth becomes more important the shallower and clearer the water. No slamming cooler lids or loud high-fiving necessary!

Many anglers assume that tactics for seatrout are the same in cold as well as warm weather. Warmer months find trout moving from the shallows during the day to cooler deeper waters. If you plan to target trout early on a warm spring, summer or fall day, start early and fish close to shore. As the day warms, you’ll notice schools of mullet and white bait moving out toward deeper water. Many trout will move with them. Big summertime high tides hold trout closer to shore in the mornings. Conversely, trout don’t get to close to shore on a low tide, no matter the air or water temperature. However, sometimes rather than moving offshore, they move inside creeks or backwater holes and wait for the rising tide, becoming easy targets for anglers able to reach them with shallow-draft boats, canoes or kayaks.

 

 

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Fehrenbacher’s Artisan Sausages and Butcher Shop–A Taste of Europe in Downtown Gainesville, FL

The “food scene” in Gainesville has always been pretty good and varied. However, with Adam and Tatiana Fehrenbacher’s Artison Sausages and Butcher Shop now open, your choices now include a shop with a true European flair.  Located just west of downtown Gainesville at 411 SW 4th Avenue, the shop is part of the developing strip shopping center known as the 4th Avenue Food Park.  Other tenants will soon include Opus Coffee, Amanda’s Traditional Bakeshop, Humble Wood Fire Pizza, and Cilantro Tacos.

 

Fehrenbacher’s offers a selection of butcher cuts of prime meats, as well as sausages.  With about 60 types of sausages, many are fresh, but others are available frozen.

 

Adam Fehrenbacher with a Hot Capicola Sub and a Bacon + Egg BLT

 

 

The list of delicious sandwiches at Fehrenbacher’s, available for dining inside, on the back patio, or to take away.

 

If you’re looking for a quick recipe, brown a few (they weigh about 1/3 pound each) of Fehrenbacher’s Italian sausage in  a large skillet.  Then add a chopped onion, a handful of sliced Roma tomatoes and a sliced bell pepper.  Season with salt, pepper, oregano and tarragon.  Add some chicken stock or wine to cover sausages and  cook until veggies are soft.  Serve with grated Parmesan cheese over fettucine or linguine pasta.  Yum!

 

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Natural North Florida–Music and Fun–There’s Country, Western and More!

There’s a great line in the movie, “The Blues Brothers”, where the owner of Bob’s Country Bunker explains to the band that they play all kinds of music—“Country…AND Western”!  Well, despite the fact that our region made up of 14 mostly-rural north Florida counties furnish America lots of cattle, soybeans, peanuts and seafood, we enjoy all kinds of music, even some new wave, classical and rock ‘n roll.  On any busy weekend, there’s always an event or two that involve musical talent.  Here are a few coming up in the near future:

Into the Springs: Music Festival

Sponsored in part by Visit Gainesville/Alachua County, the 2nd Annual Into the Springs: Music Festival, October 20th & October 21st at Deep Spring FarmEnjoy a weekend full of live music, camping, organic farming workshops, yoga, and community in support of Florida springs!
Into the Springs will once again be held in the serene setting of Deep Spring Farm, a twenty-two acre organic farm featuring two beautiful spring fed ponds. Early bird ticket sales begin August 10th and run until September 10th, 2018. Lineup will be announced soon!

FEST 17–Alternative Music From Over 300 Bands!

Fest 17

THE FEST is an independent multiple-day, multiple-venue underground music festival held annually in Gainesville, FL with support from the fine folks in THE CITY OF GAINESVILLE, FL. Established in 2002 with only 60 bands, four stages, and two days, THE FEST has experienced a massive growth rate, now finding the festival outgrowing the amazing city it was birthed in. In 2013, THE FEST celebrated 12 years and expanded to four days in Gainesville, FL and added two days for the first annual BIG PRE-FEST IN LITTLE YBOR in the historic Ybor City, FL (TAMPA). FEST 12 hosted 400 bands in four days while BIG PRE-FEST gave 100 of those bands and close to 1,000 attendees another two days to enjoy the party in a new city.

Smokin’ In The Pines BBQ and Music Festival

Southern Rock & Country Music, featuring Andy Pursell, the Micheal Miller Band, Band of Brothers, Frayed Knot and much more. Craft vendors, BBQ tasting, sampling and People’s Choice. Competitions with over $10,000.00 in cash prizes, FREE KIDS FUN ZONE. Free Admission for all!   Click HERE for more information.

Suwannee Roots Revival, Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park

https://www.naturalnorthflorida.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/roots_revival-2.jpg

This year’s Suwannee Roots Revival at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park near Live Oak, in Suwannee County, looks to be one of the best “revivals” ever!  With plenty of RV or tent camping,  several music venues, as well as an all-star lineup of musicians, there’s not a slow moment during this great festival.  Enjoy country music, bluegrass and even some rockabilly music outdoors and indoors.

Tickets for the event are available online or at the gate.  Click HERE to learn more!

 

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Steinhatchee Fishing Forecast For September and October, 2018

If you’re interested in fishing Natural North Florida’s Big Bend Gulf coast, there’s no better place to go than Steinhatchee.   Located south of Perry in Taylor County, just off US19/98 (via CR361 or CR358), Steinhatchee has great facilities, including three excellent marinas, two first-rate boat ramps, and plenty of lodging and dining opportunities.

Capt. Rick Davidson  (grassflats2@yahoo.com)

There’s no better resource for up-to-date fishing information than Capt. Rick Davidson’s monthly fishing reports on the Sea Hag Marina’s website.  Rick’s reports are thorough and based on the many reports he regularly eceives from local guides and anglers.  You’ll find archived reports there, arranged by month and year, for the past ten years.  Take a look!

Here’s a sample, for September and October 2018:

September

This will be a month of change as scallop season ends on the 10th and water temperatures begin to lower. So far we’ve had enough rain to cause some darkening, but many areas within a mile or so from the river are very clear. That’s a great sign for September. In the last few weeks, lots of mullet of every size and smaller whitebait have appeared close to shore and around offshore bars a few schools of larger whitebait (pogies). This should continue and as temperatures drop, redfish and trout will move back into shallower water. Hopefully the floating grass will dissipate. Early in the month fish jigs with Gulp! or live shrimp, or slow moving suspending plugs in 4 to 8 feet of water over mixed sand and grass for trout. As the waters cool, you should be able to move closer into 2 to 5 feet, and the topwater bite will improve. Redfish schools may begin to break up, except for the overslot fish, which will generally school before they move out to deep water. Suspending lures or jigs will work well, but plan on covering a lot of water; if you don’t find fish in a spot, move along to another area with structure. The limestone rockpiles scattered around our area and oyster bars in and near creeks are the first places to try. Offshore, red and gag grouper are in season. This time of year, live or cut bait will be the choice for grouper, but if the bite is slow, troll with lipped plugs to cover more areas of hard bottom.

 

 

We’re having more and more kayak traffic in our area, and it’s a natural place to fish from a kayak. There are multiple small primitive ramps that are perfect for kayak launching, from Cow Creek behind the Pepperfish Keys at the end of the Road to Nowhere; a primitive ramp at Sink Creek; a more accessible ramp at Rocky Creek; a great kayak ramp on Sandhill Road in the Jena Management area, all to the south. To the north, Dallus Creek and Hagen’s Cove are popular launch sites. Every one of these locations have good numbers of fish available with just a short paddle, and Dallus Creek is the standard winter hot spot for boats of all kinds. If you’re a kayak fisherman, Steinhatchee is an up-and-coming place to come visit.

October

The water will be cooling into the 70’s, the days are comfortable to fish, large redfish are staging for offshore migration never to return, and trout move into shallower water. Grouper are more active and are starting to be taken in shallower areas of hard bottom. Given the way fishing has bounced back quickly after Irma it will be an excellent offshore and inshore month. Live pinfish and dead squid and Spanish sardines will be the baits of choice for grouper this month, and kingfish will be migrating as well. If you find schools of offshore baitfish, try trolling around them or throw out a live bait on a float when bottom fishing. Inshore, everything is around. Migrating cobia and Spanish mackerel are moving south for the winter. But for our favorite inshore fish, reds and trout, this is a month to get out and fish. Redfish have been up in the weeds and kind of lethargic but they are now beginning to herd up and as you can tell from some of the pictures, when anglers find a school they are bringing lots of fish to the boat. While schools of redfish might be close to shore on flood tides (and hard to see), on lower tides they hang offshore and when in feeding mode can be seen as “nervous water” in 2 to 3 foot depths up to 300 yards or more offshore. Always keep an eye out for moving water and the occasional tail. Trout have been out in 8 to 10 feet of water but have now moved into the shallower flats, both nearshore and around the offshore humps like 9 Mile Bank, Little Bank and the area known as Doghead, north of the Bird Rack toward Keaton Beach. Nice limits are being taken using Gulp baits on popping corks, but for covering more water consider using just a jig and regular soft bait. Most recently our better fishermen have been using Hookup, Slayer and Bass Assassin jigheads, and in addition to Gulp baits, Bass Assassin shads and curly tail shads in the Green Moon, Chartreuse and the new Fried Chicken color. Jigs and soft tails work perfectly for reds, trout, Spanish, flounder, bluefish….just about anything you can catch in our area

The post Steinhatchee Fishing Forecast For September and October, 2018 appeared first on Visit Natural North Florida.

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Upcoming Events

  1. 2018 Fall Family Festival

    October 12 @ 3:00 pm - November 14 @ 1:00 pm UTC+0
  2. Miami/Brickell Festival of the Arts

    October 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - January 15, 2019 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  3. NOVEMBERFEST 2018

    November 14 @ 4:00 pm - November 18 @ 8:00 pm UTC+0
  4. SpaKitty Dinner

    November 14 @ 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm UTC+0
  5. The Festival of Trees

    November 15 @ 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm UTC+0
  6. FIU’s 32nd Festival of the Trees

    November 15 @ 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm UTC+0
  7. School Day at the 2018 Florida Tiny House MUSIC Festival

    November 16 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm UTC+0
  8. 10th Annual OrlandoJobs.com Job Fair and Career Expo

    November 16 @ 11:00 am - 3:00 pm UTC+0
  9. Florida Tiny House Music Festival (3rd Annual)

    November 16 @ 12:00 pm - November 18 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  10. Orlando Balloon Glow

    November 16 @ 5:00 pm - November 18 @ 10:00 pm UTC+0

Upcoming Events

  1. 2018 Fall Family Festival

    October 12 @ 3:00 pm - November 14 @ 1:00 pm UTC+0
  2. Miami/Brickell Festival of the Arts

    October 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - January 15, 2019 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  3. NOVEMBERFEST 2018

    November 14 @ 4:00 pm - November 18 @ 8:00 pm UTC+0
  4. SpaKitty Dinner

    November 14 @ 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm UTC+0
  5. The Festival of Trees

    November 15 @ 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm UTC+0
  6. FIU’s 32nd Festival of the Trees

    November 15 @ 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm UTC+0
  7. School Day at the 2018 Florida Tiny House MUSIC Festival

    November 16 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm UTC+0
  8. 10th Annual OrlandoJobs.com Job Fair and Career Expo

    November 16 @ 11:00 am - 3:00 pm UTC+0
  9. Florida Tiny House Music Festival (3rd Annual)

    November 16 @ 12:00 pm - November 18 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  10. Orlando Balloon Glow

    November 16 @ 5:00 pm - November 18 @ 10:00 pm UTC+0

Join our Fun Network

  1. 2018 Fall Family Festival

    October 12 @ 3:00 pm - November 14 @ 1:00 pm UTC+0
  2. Miami/Brickell Festival of the Arts

    October 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - January 15, 2019 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  3. NOVEMBERFEST 2018

    November 14 @ 4:00 pm - November 18 @ 8:00 pm UTC+0
  4. SpaKitty Dinner

    November 14 @ 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm UTC+0
  5. The Festival of Trees

    November 15 @ 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm UTC+0
  6. FIU’s 32nd Festival of the Trees

    November 15 @ 6:30 pm - 9:30 pm UTC+0
  7. School Day at the 2018 Florida Tiny House MUSIC Festival

    November 16 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm UTC+0
  8. 10th Annual OrlandoJobs.com Job Fair and Career Expo

    November 16 @ 11:00 am - 3:00 pm UTC+0
  9. Florida Tiny House Music Festival (3rd Annual)

    November 16 @ 12:00 pm - November 18 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  10. Orlando Balloon Glow

    November 16 @ 5:00 pm - November 18 @ 10:00 pm UTC+0