2011-02-02 / Outdoors

Get out on the water

The Caloosa Catch & Release fishing tournament is turning 22 with its return to Captiva Island. Organizers are dubbing the event “the return to paradise tour.”

South Seas Island Resort will host the tourney, presented by Yamaha & Fort Myers Marine, when it’s held June 9-12, with two days of competition and many surrounding events. Anglers of all abilities will compete for cash, prizes and trophies. Special categories exist for women and children 12 or younger.

But only one angler will be named Caloosa Champion. The overall winner will be determined by the heaviest combined weight of all species of fish for both days of competition.

If you’re not into competitive fishing yourself, consider watching the anglers come back to shore. The weigh station at South Seas will be open 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, June 10.You watch returning teams weigh, score and release their catch of the day. Ditto for Saturday, June 11.

Buck Key Canoe Trail 
COURTESY PHOTO Buck Key Canoe Trail COURTESY PHOTO If tournament fishing thrills you, mark your calendar for the rest of the Caloosa Tournament Series — Sept. 23-26 at Pink Shell Beach Resort & Spa and Nov. 4-6 at South Seas Island Resort. Details for all three events are online at www.caloosacatchandrelease.com.

Other upcoming on-water events

Buck Key

This Wednesday, Feb. 2 marks the ribbon cutting for the opening of the mangrove tunnel trail through Buck Key, an enchanting island just west of Captiva Island.

At 11 a.m., paddlers will gather at the west end called Hurricane Hole and do a symbolic paddle through the island’s interior.

This used to be a popular route for locals and tourists until 2004’s Hurricane Charley made it impassable. Through a herculean effort involving public and private sectors, including the Ding Darling Wildlife Society and many businesses, the trail opened recently.

Folks are so excited, the ribbon-cutting plans took root and excitement in the paddling community and on the barrier islands is palpable. “Buck Key Paddle Trail is OPEN!” proclaimed an e-mail to me from Toni Westland , supervisory refuge ranger at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

Call 472-1100, ext. 237 with questions. Or just get in a kayak and show up.

Leukemia Cup

South Fort Myers’ St. Charles Yacht Club will host the Leukemia Cup Regatta on April 16, with competition held aboard a fleet of Colgate 26 sailboats donated by Fort Myers-based Offshore Sailing School. Owned and operated by SCYC members Steve and Doris Colgate, Offshore Sailing School became a national sponsor for the Leukemia Cup Regattas across the United States last year.

The 2011 Leukemia Cup Regatta will be held in the gulf off Fort Myers Beach’s Pink Shell Beach Resort, which is providing dockage and box lunches for the event.

Club organizers expect at least six of their member teams to participate, and this year they’re inviting other area yacht clubs to each send one fourperson team to compete. The entry fee is $125 per competitor, which includes lunch during the races and the awards barbecue at the St. Charles Yacht Club. Spectators can watch the races aboard member yachts for a donation of $35, which includes a box lunch. A portion of both these fees is tax deductible.

But you don’t have to wait for April for the fun. The kick-off event and dinner for the St. Charles Yacht Club Leukemia Cup Regatta is Saturday, Feb. 19 at the club for sailors, spectators and those who want to learn more about Leukemia Cup Regattas.

“Several of our club members are survivors of leukemia or lymphoma, and so many of us have been touched personally by friends and family who are affected by blood cancers,” Chuck Wright, past SCYC commodore and chair of the event sponsor committee, said via e-mail.

For participation in the Leukemia Cup Regatta as a competitor, sponsor or to provide an auction donation, contact Doris Colgate at 985-7511 or doris@offshoresailing.com.

Canine kayaking

Well-mannered pooches and kayakers are welcome to join a Lee County Parks & Recreation program offered at 10 a.m. Feb. 16, March 16, April 20 and May 18 at Dog Beach’s kayak launch on Estero Boulevard south of Lovers Key State Park.

Rover can’t be more than 100 pounds, and only one pup per kayak is permitted. Plus, Fido needs a life vest made for fourlegged types. It’s $40 per person (free for the dogs) and pre-registration is required. Visit www.leeparks.org or call 533-7440 to register. Call 533-7444 with questions. ¦

— Betsy Clayton is a freelancer based on Pine Island and also is Lee County Parks & Recreation’s waterways coordinator. Contact her at boatingbybetsy@yahoo.com

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