Category Archives: Know Where To Go

The Perfect Year Outside

All,

Here is a list of events in which I am thinking of participating. Add
some of your own and let’s see if we can get a few people to do some of
them.

January 10, 2009
FLO Orienteering tenative date. They will possibly have an O event on this date in Croom. If so, we should be there. www.floridaorienteering.org

January 25, 2009
6 Hours of El Lagarto in Lakeland where I plan to ride solo corp. and
pray I am able to finish without too much blood being spilled.
www.redtrailracing.com

January 25, 2009
Florida Challenge Half-Marathon at Alafia State Park. For those not doing El Lagarto this is a great trail run as the course covers all the fun single track bike trails including Roller Coaster, Gatorback, and Moonscape. Dianne is planning to run this while I do El Lagarto.

February 14, 2009
Alachua Stomp. 30 hour adventure race at M.K. Rawlings Park in Alachua County. 10 hours each of trekking, paddling, and mountain biking.
www.wecefar.com

February 21, 2009
12 Hours of Santos in Ocala, if I can actually ride those trails without
crashing every lap. www.sportsbaseonline.com

March 15, 2009
Squiggy Classic 6 hour Adventure Race at the Wilderness parks in Tampa
where Dianne and Craig will defeat the solo efforts of both Gazelle and
Ron. www.wecefar.com

March 28-29
Capital City Cyclists Tour de Big Bend. A weekend double century. The routes will send riders through scenic Big Bend Florida. Riders receive breakfast, food stops, and an after ride meal. Only costs $60 for the entire weekend. www.cccyclists.org

March 28-30, 2009
First Annual Florida Coast to Coast XC Mountain Bike Challenge
Three days of riding the bike of your choice through the last remaining fragments of undeveloped land between Flagler Beach and YankeeTown. Traveling through state parks, wildlife management areas, the Carr Greenway, and possibly jumping fences onto private land. Each night will be spent in the best room available at the nearest Super8 motel. In room alcoholic beverages are provided. No support, bring your rain jacket, your sense of humor, and your appetite for adventure.  **CANCELLED**

April 11, 2009
Croom Fool’s Run 50M/50K/15M in Croom of course. I think WeCeFar is going to move the Croom Quest date because of this race.

April 12, 2009
Croom Quest Multisport Challenge
Kayak, Mountain Bike, Run at Croom. An off-road triathlon for those that love the mixture of dirt and sweat. Both a long and short version are provided this year. www.wecefar.com

April 18, 2009
The Urban Mountain Bike Race and 2x Speed Trials.
When: 6:00pm
Where: Downtown Lakeland, FL (East Iowa & Lemon)
www.redtrailracing.com

April 25, 2009
Talon Adventure Race at Alafia State Park. Our old nemesis is back and after beating everyone at Squiggy, I might like to do it again at the Talon.

May 2, 2009
2nd Annual Georgia 12/6 hour mountain bike race – Endurance Point Series. Ft. Yargo State Park, Winder, Georgia.
www.dirtyspokes.com

May 3, 2009
Space Coast Freewheeler’s Cross Florida Bike Ride. Cocoa Beach to
Bayport. That sounds familiar. www.spacecoastfreewheelers.com

May 17, 2009
HammerHead 100  Solo only.  25 mile, 50 mile and 100 Mile options.  Ocala, FL (Santos Trails – Land bridge Trailhead) www.goneriding.com
HammerHead Course Map > trail.motionbased.com

May 22-25, 2009
Florida Coast to Coast Adventure Race
I’m not sure of the date of if this organizer is planning an ’09 event. But since this race usually has 80 mile bike sections it will be good
training.   www.floridac2c.com

August 16, 2009
Fool’s Gold 100/50 Mile Mountain Bike Race & Festival. Wow! I’ll need
to work on endurance and the ability to ride downhill without squealing.
www.55nineperformance.com

November 10-14, 2009
La Ruta de los Conquistadores in San Jose, Costa Rica. Probably can’t
afford it or finish it but working toward a tough goal is great fun.
www.adventurerace.com

Craig

Introduction to Citrus County’s Nature Coast

The coastline of Citrus county Florida is fifty miles of real, alluring, and wildly mysterious Florida that borders the Gulf of Mexico from the Chassahowitzka River in the south to the Withlacoochee River in the north.This is a naturalist’s paradise. A land of vast forest preserves, wetlands with abundant wildlife, close offshore islands (keys) that seemingly float on the clearest waters north of the Florida Keys and a number of world-class sparkling springs. So distinctive are these crystal-clear springs, they have been listed by SCUBA Diving magazine among the top ten international spots.

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The Gulf of Mexico bounds the western edge and the northern and eastern boundaries comprise the Withlachoochee River. Many of its seven rivers are designated as “Outstanding Florida Water Bodies” and include the Crystal River, St. Martin’s River, Salt River, Homosassa River, Hall’s River, Withlacoochee, and the Chassahowitzka.

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Fishing opportunities in Citrus County are varied and extensive. The coastline of Citrus County and the Tsala Apopka chain of lakes cover more square miles of fishable water than one person could effectively fish in a single lifetime. This guidebook is designed to present an account of fishing opportunities and to help plan boat travel to those opportunities in Citrus County’s Gulf Coast. Some visitors will be drawn to the wilderness aspects of the vast salt marsh and the fish that populate the inshore grass flats and creeks: Redfish, Tarpon, and Snook, others the world famous and record setting Tarpon fishery found off the Homosassa and Chassahowitzka Rivers, and still others to the fertile and vast offshore action that produces more Cobia, Grouper, and spotted sea trout than any other area of Florida.

Heed a word of caution. In rapidly growing Florida, an area as vast as Citrus County’s Gulf coast does not stay relatively untouched by man without a good reason. Boating in the rivers and inshore waters of the Citrus county Gulf coast is dangerous for you and for your boat because the shallow estuaries and grass flats that are so productive for fish are built on a bedrock of limestone. Limestone outcroppings, sand bars, and oyster bars are too numerous to count and even local fishing guides tell stories of rocks appearing overnight in areas that had no such rocks before. Of course, rocks are not appearing out of nowhere but this illustrates the certainty that a fisherman, even a local guide with years of experience, will occasionally strike a rock.

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Citrus County is manatee country. No visit to Florida is complete without a manatee encounter, and the coastal area of Citrus County boasts the largest concentration of manatees in the state. These giant, lovable creatures grow to 15 feet and can weigh 3,000 pounds. Although several dozen West Indian manatees make Kings Bay at Crystal River their year-round home, from October through March the population swells to more than 300.

An easy and guaranteed way to observe manatees up close 365 days a year is located seven miles south of Crystal River at the Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park’s Fishbowl Underwater Observatory. In this floating fishbowl, you go below the water’s surface, deep in the springs and on the opposite side of the glass, manatees, with their huge whiskers sprouting from their wrinkled faces, swim lazily by. Schools of jacks, shellcrackers, snook, mullet and sheepshead join the parade as if passing in review.

Chassahowitska National Wildlife Refuge and St. Martin’s Marsh Aquatic Preserve are important areas for waterfowl and for the survival of the endangered manatees. In fact, Chassahowitska is now home to a migrating flock of Whooping Cranes. Only about 400 of this endangered species exists in the entire world. The winter months bring many migrating bird species to Citrus County’s Gulf Coast.

In recent years fishing for Bay scallops has become popular off the coast of Citrus County. Bay scallops were once common along certain areas of Florida’s west coast, their populations began declining after the 1960s. Scallop numbers fell so low in the early 1990s that Florida banned all commercial harvesting after 1994 and restricted recreational harvesting to coastal areas north and west of the Suwannee River between July 1st and September 10th. Between the reduction in harvesting and various restoration programs carried out by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Florida Marine Research Institute, and the University of South Florida, scallop populations increased in some of the closed areas. As a result, in 2002, the coastal area between the Suwannee River and the Weeki Wachee River was reopened for recreational harvesting between July 1st and September 10th. Citrus County falls completely within this newly opened area.

Regardless of the fishery you choose to enjoy or even if you are a bird watcher or a botanist or a marine biologist this guide offers you the knowledge you need to boat safely and boat softly and respect the fish, birds, and other wild animals that make their homes in this bastion of wild country.

Planning Your Trip

It is important to gather as much current information as possible before starting out on a Nature Coast fishing trip. Fishing licenses are required for both Florida residents and non-residents unless traveling with a properly licensed professional fishing guide. Before starting your trip, make sure you stop at a local bait shop, department store, internet fishing site, or call the Florida department of wildlife to purchase your saltwater fishing license.

The key to a quality fishing trip in this wild part of Florida is good planning. Fishermen and boaters who underestimate the distance and time required to complete a trip may find themselves stranded on a sand bar at low tide as the sun is setting without any cell phone coverage or mosquito repellent.

Local tide predictions are of utmost importance for both catching fish and navigating your boat. Just as some fish most often feed on the outgoing tide on certain island points, your boat will not float on certain grass flats at low tide. Study the tide chart to find the best tide and time of year to fish your chosen area.