If youre not much of a fisherperson then take advantage of using the throw net. Your children will love to play with the bait fish which are colorful and lively. Simply cast the net into the surf when you see the bait fish jumping out of the surf.
You do need a license to fish from shore and the fish are in very close to shore, often right in the surf. Pick your license up at the Kmart, a three day costs about $7 plus a Snook stamp which you will want.
You will see the Snook and Sea Trouts cruising up and down right where the surf laps against the beach, especially in the late afternoon / early evening and early morning. So the little ones will catch the big ones too. In the early morning walk with one of our fishing poles and cast into the surf using a gold or silver spoon. The fish here can be big...very big so hang on to the polls and do not leave poles unattended in the pole holders. I lost several poles, tackle rigs and pole holders to the big one, when I wasnt there or was looking the other way. The fish can be monsters. There are minimum lengths and maximum lengths for fish i.e. Snook have to be larger than 24" and small than 34" to keep (I have caught several larger than 34" and 25 pounds).
During the day and all day (dads early mornings are great) you can fish with live bait you either catch in the throw net or buy. Live shrimp are cheap and good for just about any thing. Pin heads are more expensive but work best for Snook (hook through the nose just below the eyes so you can cast and let them swim free). Bait can be purchased at the pink bait shop to the left of Crabby George's. Make sure to keep the bait fresh by keeping it in the surf. Once you buy bait get right back to the house and get them in the water they die very quickly if you dont. Use a rock and or anchor as a weight to keep it out just beyond the surf. You will find my anchor already rigged by the stairs of the beach deck, simply slip the bait bucket handle through the loop and back through to secure. Tying it can get it lost because of the movement of the surf.
Again please read the Fishing section for more details.
Some of the countries best golfing is right here in Englewood with dozens of public courses. Most courses offer complete rental service including clubs and carts. The beautiful tropical setting seems to be the only thing that improves my game…best of luck hit’em straight and watch out when close to alligator territory.
Florida wild life is fantastic...Stump Pass is a must! You will be amazed at the variety and beauty of the wild life on a walk to Stump Pass. The schools of fish are countless, Sea Turtles and their nests, nesting birds in the bird sanctuary, shelling is the best in the world with abundant prehistoric shark teeth. By the way Stump Pass is where lemon bay meets the Gulf. Its a walk (+3.5 miles round trip) but worth every step.
To get there hang a left on the beach. State land starts right after the multi-story yellow building (Weston Resort). At many places you can see the bay and the Gulf at the same time. Bring a bucket or one of the plastic grocery bag for shelling and catching fish. Remember if you plan to go the distance cover your selves with sun block, it could easily take you a couple of hours.
Before you go anywhere remember this is Florida Put sun block on especially the tops of your feet and scalp. Also if you are going to walk a good distance do not do so with a wet bathing suit the salt water will produce a nasty painful rash.
North on Rt. 75 toward Sarasota Myaka State Park is a great place to visit and see some monster Alligators. Take the Fan boat tour and the guide will find some big ones. Some are over 12 feet long and 75 years old...hell tell you all about and if your lucky to get the older gentleman with white hair he is really good. It takes about 45 minutes to get to Myaka but definitely worth the trip especially since we dont have any alligators on the beach. My parents have alligators and they are only three miles from the beach if you are interested!
Bring a bucket. Make sure to review the shell books so you can become a weekend expert of the unbelievable variety of shells. One of most interesting beach shelling activity is that of collecting prehistoric sharks teeth. Once you get keyed in on these you will be able to spot one 10 feet away. They are triangular in shape. My dad, who you may see poking around, has found some 2" in length with full enamel. They are great gifts (my wife prefers them over gems and diamonds although she may not admit it ... but its true).
Shell racks are found either in the shed or laying by the beach decking. Use these to rack up shells from the surf and dump them out for further exploration. Please feel free to donate shells to the collection found by the front door. Any arrangement will be appreciated.
Assume that all wild life you see is protected (except geckos). Sea turtles as discussed are protected by federal law and it is unlawful to pick up a hatchling. Enjoy them from a distance, however they say you can direct them to the water. Gopher turtles are plentiful and great to watch. They are much like a Boxer turtle only considerably larger and slow.
Geckos are all over the place. The children love to catch them. Once caught, if you place one on your hand or arm and stroke its back it will stay on you for hours and not try to get away. Eric and Adam love to "tame" them and walk around as "GECKO MAN". They think they are so cool!
You will find nets around that the kids use to catch them. Do not be alarmed if you catch one and it nips you...they might at first but cant break the skin. Oh and if you only get one by the end of the tail it will most likely give up its tail and take off. Dont worry it grows right back.
You will see dolphins (Flipper) and Manatees ...which can be quite alarming if you are swimming and still JAWS shocked. There are hundreds of different birds...small and large. Be cautious if you are fishing with live bait, not to leave it uncovered. The large birds will snatch them up if you turn your back for a minute...its fun for the kids to see.
Crabs are plentiful. Early in the morning and at dusk the crabs come out on the beach and scurry around. Even though they are clawed they are basically harmless. In fact the children will love to chase them, especially at night with a flashlight...its a blast. We put them in a bucket for while then let them go.
Sand Crabs are found in the surf from the high water mark to the boundary where the waves hit. The children will love playing with them. We find them as we dig sand castles or holes in the sand where the surf reaches. When digging in the surf you will also see brightly colored Coquinas which are tiny little clams...actually they are there by the thousands. After a wave subsides you will see them wiggling back into the sand...my daughter Sara loves to watch them.
The fish are incredible. If there hasnt been a storm the water is normally crystal clear and thousands of fish fly by in schools...it is really cool to see. Often you will see a huge Snook right in the surf. By huge I mean +36". They are cruising the surf for Sand Crabs. We have seen schools of skates, tuna Jacks, bait fish, blues, etc.
I am sure I missed something...you will love the variety and beauty of the Wildlife.
Just incredible. If you are lucky enough to be here when the hatch is going on you never forget it. This is generally around July to late August. Sea Turtles are protected by law and you should not touch them. Most of the nests are found on the pass island beginning after Westons. The nests are marked with sticks and numbered.
There are three couples licensed to log and "net" the nests on Stump Pass. Netting refers to the act of placing wire nets over the nest and beneath the sand so that the raccoons can not get the eggs. Forty five days after the sighting and logging of the nest (3-10 a day) the licensed netters come back and remove the nets so the young can hatch and get to the water. During the hatching season it is best to leave the outside lights out, because it disorientates the hatching turtles and they wont find the water.
In Sarasota the Ringling Museum, of Circus fame, is great to see. The mansion where the Ringlings lived is fascinating and beautiful. Plus Mr. Ringling was a great collector and therefore opened his own Museum. It takes about an hour or so to get there.
Afterwards, let the kids blow off steam by going to Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota. Just follow the signs for the beach. Sometimes we would go there right after the Myaka State Park tour. The sand is white and very fine like salt.
Located south of town on 776 Pelican Pete’s has miniature golf, go carts, batting cages and an arcade with video games and a snack bar.
Wow! They are spectacular! Reserve this part of your day for relaxing on the deck or the beach for the most beautiful Sunsets you will ever see. They are truly fantastic. Words cant describe them.
First off, this is Florida and the Key closes down early, besides you are here for the beach not drink. Weekdays most places close down at 9:00pm and 10:00pm on Fridays and Saturdays. The three restaurants on the island are all with in walking distance, which can work out great if you are interested in a bite then a walk back watching the sunset.
On the Key there are several good restaurants. Frankly, ...you cant beat Crabby George's. For me, its one of my favorites anywhere. I wish I could find one like it in Chicagoland. The meals are huge, hearty, fresh (fish-grouper) and reasonable! The character of the place is great.
The Lock and Key is a Restaurant not a Park and Ride. It is very good for a sit down dinner with a more formal atmosphere (comparatively speaking) and yet beach attire is acceptable. The oysters Rockerfeller and fish specials (Red Snapper ask them to make it for you with capers or picante) are great!
Gulf View is more formal with nice atmosphere. The food is good and the piano bar is nice to enjoy after dinner. A golf shirt will do but it is more expensive. It is the furthest walk and is right across from the public beach.
Captains Club is to the right of Crabby George's and closest to the house. The TiKi bar is the attraction, not the food. Actually, we go there when the kids are nuts and wont stay put in a restaurant. The TiKi bar is outside so the kids can run wild, eat and they have a DJ. We dance with the kids and they love it.
Calico Jacks is a "local" bar and we havent attempted it. I am told that if they serve food dont eat it.
In short George's, Lock and Key and Gulf View for food. Captains Club for Fun!
Manasota Key is laid back. Beach attire is acceptable almost anywhere. Of course if you want to hose off and dress up a bit, have at it.
The best fish (we are splitting straws now), I have had is at the Fishery in Placida by Boca Grande. They are a commercial fishery and a restaurant. The fish will be is great(Red Snapper and Grouper or what ever is native Salmon will be prepared well, but it is not native)...they stop serving at 9:00pm. To get there simply hang a right on to Placida road and go passed the Boca Grande bridge...it will be do on the left before the road takes a hard left. By the way Boca Grande is a great thing for the ladies shopping of course!
Sharkys nightclub in Venice is fun for you kids without children. Extremely powerful Margaritas...in fact they will only serve you two (by Law). The music and food are good. Venice is known for their shark teeth on the beach. Most places are very reasonable since most of the clientele are on fixed income, which is also the reason why the places shut down so early.