Don't Be a Perfectionist, Fish for Fun

By Jonie Maschek

Many fish just for the fun of it. These anglers are not trying to master the art of fishing as they are not perfectionists.

Some anglers tell me that some of their fondest memories were when a loved one took them fishing when they were a child. Those first days of fishing and the first time they caught a fish are memories that last a lifetime.

One can move away from nature into a big city where seldom, if every they fish again, but they are rich with love and memories of their childhood days. In these memories moms made their lunch; the sister and brothers helped them bait the hook. Maybe a grandpa or grandma who took you fishing while their parents worked. Or a neighbors who would gather up the kids around town and take them fishing.
Memories are for ever and I hope that each of you will try to take a child or your children fishing this summer.

There are many local parks close by if you want to camp out.

One that is just 10 miles southeast of Tampa and a short distance from Ruskin is the Alafia River State Park in Lithia. This park has 6,000 acres. It was made up of reclaimed land from phosphate mining and has numerous lakes and the south prong of the Alafia River. It is a great place to fish, has picnic shelters, playground, equestrian trails and some of the best off-road bicycling trails around. The camping area is primitive but you can bring your dog or horses. It is located at 14502 C.R. 39 at Lithia. Phone 672-5132.

Hillsborough River State Park in Thonotosassa has been a favorite for years for families. There are 3,413 acres but it is not as close as Alafia nor as large. It was opened to the public in 1938. It is 12 miles north of Tampa and six miles sough of Zephyrhills on U.S. 301. This is the only park some people know as it has been there for so long. It has nature study, swimming, camping, picnicking, concession stands with gifts and snack bar.

The Little Manatee river State Park is close by located off U.S. 301 in Wimauma. Go 5 miles south of Sun City Center to Lightfoot Road and turn left, the park if located on the left. This is a 2,416 acre park. You can bring your horses and may rent covered stalls for them. Canoe rentals are available. It is a great place to fish. This part of the river is part of the Cockroach Bay Aquatic Preserve. It flows for 4-1/2 miles through the park.

Sheepshead have been a favorite catch this week especially around the piers. Some I have seen are large and would be great baked. The sheepshead is an ugly fish with lots of sharp fins. Because of its black and white stripes, it is often called the prison fish. It is a great table fare with lean white meat and very little fat content.

Some anglers put this in a class next to flounder.

Tarpon are in the area with many being seen around the Skyway Bridge. Some have been seen around the Bay channels. They are a slow growing fish, which takes bout 7 to 13 yeas to mature. They have no food value and are a sport fish. Anglers must gave a sticker on their license to fish for tarpon. The largest tarpon caught in Florida waters was recorded at 243 pounds.

Redfish are swimming north, south, east and west and are being caught by anglers in all bodies of water. They, at one time, were very popular on Florida’s best seafood restaurants but no longer appear on the menu as of the catch restrictions.

Gag grouper are a favorite for many.

Did you know that Florida has 22 different grouper in its waterways?

Watch the weather closely and always fish with a buddy.

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