Historical Vacation Destinations Part 2: Matlacha, Florida

Historical Vacation Destinations Part 2: Matlacha, Florida

Historical Vacation Destinations Part 2: Matlacha, Florida

By Hannah M.

Island Living in Historic Matlacha, Florida

A historic gem with an abundance of Seminole culture, Matlacha (Mat-la-SHAY) is a prismatic and peaceful paradise. The legacy left by the Seminole tribe is scattered throughout the tiny town, making Matlacha a historical hotspot full of fun adventures. This matured fishing village, nestled on a small island between Cape Coral and Pine Island, brings a charismatic charm unlike anywhere in the world and promises a serene stay.

What to do in Matlacha

  • Bridge at Matlacha Pass

Not only is this historic utopia full of fascinating culture, it is a fisherman’s dream! The bridge over Matlacha Pass (nicknamed the “World’s Fishing-est Bridge”) is famed for the abundance of aquatic life. The currents sweeping under the bridge brings an array of fish that draw in locals and visitors alike. Take in Matlacha’s aesthetic with a peaceful stroll down the bridge lined with local anglers casting their lines in “Matlacha Reeboks”; these tall white rubber boots are an essential part of the coastal lifestyle here.

  • Shopping and More

This vibrant and cheerful island gives you a sunny welcome to their tasteful art community. Matlacha is scattered with vintage Floridian style homes, fishing boats moored just outside the doors, art galleries, shops, and a tranquil atmosphere throughout. The serene seaside experience is reminiscent of Florida Keys without the hustle and bustle. If you were searching for the perfect peaceful getaway, Matlacha is the place to be!

Matlacha home to a variety of creatives and artists, including international artist Leoma Lovegrove. You can observe her dazzling and unique paintings in Lovegrove Gallery and Gardens; her vibrant Impressionist-Expressionist style paintings are just the start of the artwork you must see while in Matlacha!

A Historic Slice of Heaven

This historic, colorful town is a tropical slice of heaven and a must-see when visiting Florida. Matlacha Cottages has a variety of places you can stay, most located directly on the water. An artist’s paradise, Matlacha’s tranquil and exquisite landscapes draw you in the second you step foot on this island; you won’t want to leave this historical heaven-on-earth!

Original Article Here

Hooked On Fishing?

Hooked On Fishing?

Hooked On Fishing?

By Hannah M.

 

Reel in The Big One!

Are you getting ready for your fishing trip on the sparkling waters of St. John’s River or Lake George? Whether you’re a new angler or “reel” expert, good fishermen are always looking for new tricks to help lure the best catch. Reeling in the big one can be fishy business, but fear no fish! Here are some great tips that will have you ready to tackle anything!

Got Bait?

When choosing what kind of bait to bring for the ultimate catch, live bait is always preferred! Worms and smaller fish are most commonly used and proven to be most successful. Freshwater fishing? Here’s a basic beginner tackle box guide to start with!

Location is Key

Today there are many tools available to aid your fishing needs! Electronic fish finders are widely used and a certain way of leading you directly to the best fishing spots. If you’re new to the game, make sure you bring a topographical map to keep track of water depths and an electronic fish finder.

Keep An Eye on The Skies

Seasoned fishermen know that the weather affects fish habits. Cloudy days are preferred for fishing, as your catch is more likely to be lured by your bait. Sunny Florida doesn’t see too many of those days, however; just cruise to some darker waters for the optimal catch. Planning a night fishing excursion? Paying attention to the moon and its phases is key for night fishing – full moons are prime time for the best catch, while moonless nights are the least favorable for fishing. The brighter the moon, the better!

Stay Safe

Practice, practice, practice! Ensure you can confidently tie knots and handle the sharp hooks prior to departing on your fishing adventures. There’s so little time and so many fish – you don’t want to lose any time due to injuries! Keep your fishing trip fun and make sure you’re comfortable with your equipment.

What’s Your Catch?

You’re almost ready for the complete fishing trip! Make sure you’re familiar with the fish in the spot you choose! Here’s a list of fish found in the St. John’s River. Looking for the best bass in the state? Head to Lake George for some fantastic fishing.

Fishing is a Reel Tough Job – You’re Ready to Tackle It!

Reeling in the big one is no easy feat, but with these excellent fishing tips, it’s sure to be an enjoyable and rewarding adventure. For a catchy fishing trip of a lifetime, rent a cabin or boat at Castaways on the River and get ready for your best adventure yet!

Original Article Here

Staying Safe While Having Fun on Vacation!

Staying Safe While Having Fun!

By Hannah M. 

Southern Florida is considered one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. Renowned for the alluring natural habitats, gleaming white sand beaches, calm rivers, and especially the intriguing wildlife. During your relaxing vacation in Southern Florida, you’re sure to run into the indigenous inhabitants- alligators. Below are some safety tips to keep in mind for an enjoyable vacation.

Sharing is Not Caring!

The most essential rule to keep in mind regarding alligators is to keep your food stored away. Do not feed them! Alligators have an instinctive fear of humans, which is favorable for us, as people are natural prey in the wild. Sharing your food can be dangerous, as it emboldens the alligator, and in turn, may look for other people in search of food. A good rule of thumb is to not feed any wildlife you may encounter.

Alligator Mating Season

Spring and Summer is alligator mating season in Florida, so be extra careful during these times. Alligator nests may also be found more frequently, so if you happen to run across one, do not disturb it. Mother gators are always nearby, so just keep in mind to give the alligators their space! Their temperament may change erratically, and you may see larger gators than normal – the best thing to do is not interact with them in anyway and give them plenty of space.

Keeping Your Furry Friends in Mind

It’s not the complete vacation without Man’s Best Friend! Everyone loves to bring their pet along for a cruise on the river or to splash in the waves. It’s easy to keep your best bud safe by keeping them leashed the entire time. Headed for a lazy day on the river? Make sure to keep your dog leashed when you dock, especially during alligator mating season.

Stay Away!

These magnificent creatures may appear passive and idle, but they move rapidly. A good rule is to always keep 60 feet between you and the alligator. If they hiss or lunge at you – back up! That’s a warning sign you’re too close.

Safety while Swimming

St. John’s River is a prime destination for boating, fishing and lovely water views. From the deck, under the warm Florida rays, you may be tempted to take a quick dip in the waters. A key safety rule to keep in mind on your vacation is this: If you can’t see your feet or arms while in the water, do not swim!

Swimming where you cannot see your arms or legs should be avoided, as gators frequent these areas.

There are many gorgeous, crystal clear springs that are accessible from St. John’s River, including Silver Glen Springs. The water is shallow and alligators are rare. Make sure to visit one of these breathtaking spots during your fishing trip!

Fishing Safety

Be careful where you pick your fishing spots – some gators will be attracted to the fish on a hooked line and may grab it. Fishing in areas that are heavy in vegetation or near the water’s edge is discouraged, as those are popular gator hang outs. If you’re fishing for a fresh catch for dinner and don’t want any surprise bites, just stay in open, clear water.

Have a Safe Vacation!

Geared with these quick and easy safety tips, you’re ready for your vacation on the river! Castaways on the River can help you plan for your essential vacation. With many different rental boats to choose from in the marina directly outside your hotel room or cottage door, relaxing on the river is a Florida Must-Do!

Original Article Here

Escape the hustle and bustle!  Castaway for the day on Cayo Costa Island.

Escape the hustle and bustle! Castaway for the day on Cayo Costa Island.

If you’re looking for a hideaway from the excitement of Southwest Florida for the day, Cayo Costa Island State Park is the perfect oasis. This barrier island, accessible by boat or ferry, is tucked away near Punta Gorda and North Fort Myers, making it the ideal private retreat. This remarkable Gulf Coast location, renowned for the white sand beaches and shelling, is a seclusive and relaxing getaway.

Getting to Cayo Costa Island

Cayo Costa Island lies at the entrance of Charlotte Harbor, nestled between North Captiva Island and Boca Grande, and is reached by boat or ferry. If you don’t have a boat to visit this breathtaking island, Captiva Cruises, the official state park concessionaire, has you covered! The ferry accommodates all kinds of family fun, offering private cruises for special events and conveniently running from several locations including: Captiva Island, Punta Gorda, Boca Grande, and Pine Island.

Cayo Costa State Park Features

The ferry docks at the State Park and from there it is a short walk (a free tram service is also offered) to the captivating white sand beaches and shelling. Booking your trip in advance is encouraged and can be done by phone (239) 472-5100 or on the Cayo Costa Ferry website.

When you get to the island, you will certainly see some aquatic life, as the beaches are a sea turtle nesting area from May-September. These nests are marked with wooden sticks, so be sure to get some pictures, but not to disturb the nests, as they are protected by law.

What To Do On Cayo Costa Island

Once you dock on the island, you will see 9 miles of sparkling and immaculate white sand beach, untouched and ready to be explored. This island features sand dunes and peaceful pine forests with tranquil oak-palm hammocks tucked in with the mangroves. If you’re looking for the perfect picnic spot, the island is full of grassy spots hidden under the shade of palms or pine trees.

Cayo Costa Island has gems tucked all over and is considered to be one of the best beaches for shells in the world, so if you want a unique and memorable souvenir, look no further. The island  ends in over six miles of trails, which are perfect to enjoy fishing, biking, birdwatching or snorkeling.

If you want more time on this tranquil island, you can rent a cabin with bunk beds or bring your own camping gear for the full island experience and enjoy your fresh catch on the grills at the campsites.

Castaway For The Day!
Castaway For The Day!

McCarthy’s Marina in Captiva is your last stop on your way to Cayo Costa Island, so be sure to have picked up all of your essentials before you become a castaway for the day!

Original article here

What to Wear on Your Summer Fishing Trip

What to Wear on Your Summer Fishing Trip

What to Wear on Your Summer Fishing Trip Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

What to Wear on Your Summer Fishing Trip

Summer is prime time for fishing trips here around Riviera Dunes Marina, which means you have to know how to dress for the season and the climbing temperatures! The thing about dressing for summer is that you want to wear breathable, comfortable clothing, but you also want to make sure you’re protected from the sun. Whether you’re taking your boat out for your summer fishing trip or you’re going boatless and heading to the shores, here’s what you should wear so that you can have a great time catching our local fish!

Sunscreen

First things first, you want to protect your skin with plenty of sunscreen, especially during your summer fishing trip. Choose sunscreen that not only has a high SPF, but it is also sweatproof and waterproof! Of course if you have sensitive skin, make sure that you find a hypoallergenic formula that also fits the aforementioned requirements. Then, when you’re out fishing, reapply your sunscreen every couple hours.

Base layer

When choosing your base layer, find a shirt that contains 100 percent polyester and a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) of at least 50, this way the sun will have a much more difficult time getting to your skin when you’re out on the water or in the sun all day. And if the shirt is water repellent, this is crucial so that when you sweat, it won’t be able to linger on your skin.

Top layer

Now that you’ve found your base layer, it’s time to get the perfect shirt for your summer fishing trip. You’ll do well with a 100 percent nylon shirt that will dry quickly, since this fabric is lightweight and more ventilated allowing you to have great breathability when you’re fishing. Some shirts even have insect repellent built into them, which is a bonus when it comes to fishing!

Bottoms

For your bottoms, it’s recommended to wear shorts. However, if you plan to spend a long day out fishing, with changing temperatures throughout the day, you could even wear pants that can be converted into shorts. Look for pants that have UPF 50+, are quick-drying, moisture-wicking and lightweight, yet durable, to withstand a full day on the water. Of course, the more pockets the better, so that you can hold any fishing tools if you’re in the water or away from your boat.

Shoes

There are two types of shoes you should wear when fishing this summer: flip flops and water shoes. You’ll want both types to be waterproof, comfortable and easily formed to your feet. Just like your bottoms, you want your shoes to be lightweight enough so that they are flexible and comfortable, but you also them to be durable enough to grip to wherever you’re standing when you get your big catch!

Hats and sunglasses

When it comes to hats and sunglasses, you’re providing an extra layer of sun protection from the sun. This of course doesn’t mean that you should forego sunscreen. Look for a wide-brimmed hat made with a waterproof material that will also protect your neck, face and ears from too much sun exposure. For sunglasses, wear those with 100 percent polarized lens but are also high-quality to ensure the best protection.

Gloves

Lastly, protect your hands with gloves during your summer fishing trip. While you might not wear these during the entire duration of your fishing trip, they are good to have should the weather grow colder or if it’s a particularly sunny day.

Next: What to Bring on Your Bradenton Fishing Trip

What to Bring on Your Bradenton Fishing Trip

What to Bring on Your Bradenton Fishing Trip

What to Bring on Your Bradenton Fishing Trip Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

What to Bring on Your Bradenton Fishing Trip

Summer is right around the corner, which means there’s plenty of time to take a day or more out of your schedules for a good ol’ Bradenton fishing trip. Here’s a helpful checklist to assist you when you’re ready for a day fishing out on Bradenton waters.

Your fishing license or permit

Whether you are a local or a visitor during your Bradenton fishing trip, you’ll need a fishing license or permit, which you can get on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website. However, you might not need a fishing license or permit if you meet the exemptions listed here. Make sure to do your homework before embarking on your fishing trip.

Rods and tackle box

What’s a Bradenton fishing trip without your rods and a stocked tackle box? Whether you have your single lucky rod that you always reach for or a few favorites, make sure to bring them on your trip! Then, check your tackle box to make sure you have extra fishing line, scissors, pliers to remove hooks, gloves and plenty of bait.

GPS and backup maps

Navigate your Bradenton fishing trip with ease when you have a GPS. If you don’t have a GPS within your boat, check out Google Earth on your phone in order to view a topographical map and find the best fishing spots in Bradenton. And though you might never need it, bringing the old paper map will certainly come in handy should your mobile devices fail.

First aid kit

It never hurts to be prepared in the event that there is an accident when you’re fishing. Check on your first aid kit to ensure there are bandages, antiseptic wipes, gauze and adhesive tape to mend any unfortunate fishing accidents.

Stocked cooler

Even if you’re spending just a half day on the Bradenton waters for your fishing trip, you should always bring a stocked cooler. Make sure your cooler is packed with plenty of water and food. Plus, you might need a cooler if you’re fishing with live bait.

Protection from the sun

It’s likely there will be plenty of sun when you’re fishing in the Sunshine State. Don’t leave home without sunscreen, hats and polarized sunglasses to sufficiently protect yourself from the sun.

Next: 4 Tips for Protecting Yourself from the Florida Sun

5 Safety Tips for Your Spring Fishing Trips

5 Safety Tips for Your Spring Fishing Trips

5 Safety Tips for Your Spring Fishing Trips Riviera Dunes Marina

5 Safety Tips for Your Spring Fishing Trips

Do you have a fishing trip on the horizon? Whether it’s a solo fishing trip or you’re taking the whole family, it’s always wise to refresh your safety knowledge for your upcoming spring fishing trips. In addition to always wearing your Coast Guard-approved life jackets, here are our safety tips to ensure you and your loved ones have an enjoyable and safe time on the water!

1. Make sure your first aid kids are stocked with the essentials.

The last thing you want during your spring fishing trips is to have an accident. However, the best thing you can do in advance is to have your first aid kits chock-full of gauze and bandages in a variety of sizes, safety pins for the bandages and antiseptic wipes. Also, make sure to have a pair of sturdy scissors in the event that you need to cut and remove a hook from your skin.

2. Obey the “No Fishing” signage.

There is a reason that there are designated non-fishing areas. The “No Fishing” signage has been put in place in order to protect wildlife habitats, marine life and even your boat from getting stuck in more shallow areas.

3. Wear proper clothing.

Make sure to dress for the occasion and weather during your spring fishing trips. Once your dressed for the weather, protect your skin by applying sunscreen on any areas that your skin will be exposed. Wearing a hat is another good idea not only to protect your face, but it provides a cool shade on particularly sunny days. To protect your eyes, the best sunglasses to wear are polarized sunglasses since these also allow you to peer below the water’s surface. Then make sure to wear sturdy shoes, preferably those with rubber bottoms, that will be able to grip the wet boat and also protect you from stray hooks or other items that you might encounter.

4. Handle your tackle, hooks and rods with care.

There are a few key things to keep in mind when handling your tackle, hooks and rods during your spring fishing trips this season:

  • Always look behind you before casting. You don’t want to accidentally hook a loved one, a tree, your boat, etc.
  • Always make sure to clean up after yourself after handling your tackle and baiting your hooks by storing these items in your tackle box in order to prevent them from being stepped on.
  • Never place your hand inside a fish’s mouth if the hook is deeply latched. Instead, use pliers or scissors to remove or cut back the line so that you can remove it safely.

5. Bring a stocked bag and cooler.

Even if your fishing trip will be just an hour, make sure that you stock a cooler with the essentials including plenty of water and food. Then, in a large tote, make sure to pack it with flashlights, bug spray, rain jackets, towels and your cell phone.

We hope you enjoy your spring fishing tips near Riviera Dunes Marina! Happy fishing!

Next: Top 5 Live Fishing Bait for Bradenton’s Freshwaters

Top 5 Live Fishing Bait For Bradenton’s Freshwaters

Top 5 Live Fishing Bait For Bradenton’s Freshwaters

Top 5 Live Fishing Bait For Bradenton’s Freshwaters Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

Top 5 Live Fishing Bait For Bradenton’s Freshwaters

Will you be freshwater fishing near Bradenton or Sarasota soon? Whether you’re a veteran freshwater fisherman looking for new bait to use or a novice ready to learn the ropes, here are the top live fishing bait you should bring with you when you’re freshwater fishing.

Golden shiner

Did you know that the spring months of March and April are the peak time of the year for catching largemouth bass in Florida? To take home this trophy game fish, golden shiners will be your best bet. Using a large hook, secure the golden shiner through either the lips or dorsal fin, then use a medium-heavy rod, which is helpful if you’re in a heavily vegetated area.

Clams and Mussels

Clam and mussels make for reliable live fishing bait, too! Like all live bait, you want to make sure that they are as fresh as possible in order to have the most success when freshwater fishing. Clams and mussels, in particular, can be easily gathered from local shallow waters when you’re en route to your fishing hole.

Minnows

Minnows are excellent live fishing bait for our local freshwaters. You’ll often have luck with minnows drifting in deeper water until you can find a school with an appetite. Freshwater anglers are known to have success catching bass and black crappie. Using a No. 4 hook, secure the minnow upside down being careful to not harm its spinal cord. By doing this, the minnow will be secure on your hook, yet still be able to move to attract a school.

Shrimp

Shrimp are another one of the top live fishing bait you should use when fishing in freshwater. There are advantages and disadvantages to baiting them live or frozen. Live shrimp will certainly be more expensive, and it’s difficult to keep them alive unless you are regulating their temperature and keeping them in aerated buckets. However, in comparison to frozen shrimp, they cannot be easily stolen by bait thieves, and they easily attract fish due to their movements. Ultimately, you get to decide which is best suited for your fishing trip.

Worms

Oftentimes the tried-and-true worm will do the trick when freshwater fishing in the Bradenton waterways. Use worms when fishing along the bottom or when lowered beneath a float. If you’re not having luck, adjusting the depth of your worm will often do the trick. Worms are known to be great bait for catching bluegill, redbreast sunfish and trout.

Next: No Boat, No Problem! 4 Local Fishing Holes

Spring Break: Family-Friendly Activities  near Riviera Dunes Marina

Spring Break: Family-Friendly Activities near Riviera Dunes Marina

Spring Break: Family-Friendly Activities near Riviera Dunes Marina

Spring Break: Family-Friendly Activities near Riviera Dunes Marina

With spring break just around the corner, it’s time to start planning your trip to the Bradenton, Sarasota and Palmetto areas! In addition to our area’s pristine beaches, you’ll quickly discover that our area accommodates all ages. Family-friendly activities abound near Riviera Dunes Marina, from fishing trips to nature obstacle courses and much more. Here’s a snapshot of some fabulous activities that are perfect for your family this spring break.

Spend a day in the trees.

If your family loves being outside, but they want to take a break from the beach, everyone will enjoy a day in the trees as they traverse unique obstacle courses at TreeUmph! Adventure Course! If you’re new to ziplining, TreeUmph! has guides that not only monitor you to ensure you are safe, but they also train you to best navigate the courses. Of course, you are always clicked in with their belay systems to keep you secure during your adventure. Zipline among the trees or sit back and watch your loved ones for one unforgettable experience during your vacation! 

Cast a line.

If you don’t already know, the folks here love to spend a day fishing! You can choose from a shorter excursion at one of our local piers, or you can seek out a local fishing charter where a captain takes you out for a longer fishing trip. Depending on the day, you might catch red grouper, flounder or king mackerel, among several other species. Do you love deep sea fishing? There are trips here just for you! There are even special sunset fishing trips, too. The best thing about local fishing charters is that they are often customizable. You could take a private charter to accommodate a small group of people or join in on a trip with a few dozen other people. 

Tour our area in a new, unique way!

Perhaps you visit the Gulf Coast for spring break every year, but you’re looking to get a fresh taste of our region this year. There are food tours that take you through Downtown Sarasota as you sample our area’s best in fine dining, global fare and more delightful delicacies! Eco tours are another unique way to tour the area. Whether your vessel is a bike or a kayak, there’s always something new to discover about our area’s natural history.

Have a beach day.

Of course, it’s not a visit to the Bradenton area without a day spent at the beach during your spring break vacation. From lounging on the beach to playing a round of frisbee, to shelling and looking for unique birds, our many beaches are a great way to relax and spend time with your loved ones.

Next: Unique Ways to Tour Bradenton and Sarasota

A Guide to Pontoon Boat Fishing in Sarasota

A Guide to Pontoon Boat Fishing in Sarasota

A Guide to Pontoon Boat Fishing in Sarasota Riviera Dunes Marina Blog

A Guide to Pontoon Boat Fishing in Sarasota

Anglers love pontoon boat fishing as they’re comfortable, can accommodate a group of people and are sturdy, which is especially true during rougher water conditions when a small boat would typically rock in the Sarasota waterways.

If you’re a boating novice or looking to learn more about pontoon boat fishing, you’ve come to the right place! Here’s a quick guide in order to help you have a successful fishing day on your pontoon boat. 

Remove or lower your bimini top.

If you don’t have much experience fishing on a pontoon boat, then you don’t want to make the mistake of having your boat’s bimini or canopy top interfering with your cast. Before you set sail on your fishing trip, remove or lower your bimini tops to ensure your hooks don’t catch on them.

Bring a second anchor.

While pontoon boats are sturdy, they can be a bit hard to keep still when fishing if the wind begins to pick up its pace. To make your afternoon of pontoon boat fishing a successful one, bring more than one anchor. Release one at each end of the boat. By using two anchors, this will prevent the boat—and you—from spinning while you’re fishing. As you learn more about pontoon boat fishing, you may choose to add more anchors for your next trip if the weather is particularly windy.

Pack multiple towels.

In order to protect your boat’s seats, packing multiple towels for your trip is a wise idea. From baiting your hooks to gutting the fish, the last thing you want to worry about is damaging your seats, especially if they are cloth seats. Vinyl seats tend to be more forgiving, but you should still take precautions and make the clean-up process much easier for yourself. It’s also helpful to have another towel available for you to clean your hands throughout the day.

Rod holders are a good idea.

Due to the finite amount of space on your pontoon boat, creating a place where you can rest your rods can be especially helpful during your fishing trip. You can easily purchase mounted pontoon rod holders that are not only helpful but are convenient to stow away when you’re not fishing. Look for rod holders that have a wide adjustment angle in the event that you need more flexibility.

Bring an extra container for your fish.

While this seems like a no-brainer, you will thank yourself later when you’re having a successful day pontoon boat fishing, and you want to keep fishing longer. Bring an extra container, such as a cooler, in order to store your fish until you’re ready to clean them.

Next: Tips for Wintertime Fishing in the Palmetto Area