This is NOT what you want to see if you’re headed to our Big Bend coastline to boat or fish!
A fun day on the Gulf or local rivers is very dependent on weather. And in Florida, in all seasons, it’s important to keep a “weather eye” peeled for weather approaching from the west. In summer and fall months, thunderstorms often build up over land and move shoreward, bringing deluges and lightning risks. In late winter and spring, strong fronts approach Florida’s Big Bend from the west on what is often a 3 or 4-day cycle–every cycle hitting hard, followed by nice clear weather in between.
What follows is a good primer on learning to predict weather from UCAR. (The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research is a consortium of more than 100 member colleges and universities focused on research and training in the atmospheric and related Earth system sciences.Members set directions and priorities for the National Center for Atmospheric Research, which UCAR manages with sponsorship by the National Science Foundation.)
1. Study the weather maps
The weather is constantly being measured all over the world. This data goes into weather maps that you can find on the Internet. These maps show cold and warm fronts, rainfall, cloudiness, and other information you need to make your forecast.
Enter your zip code below to check the most recent forecast and weather maps for a city near you.
Review information about weather symbols shown below. Then study the online weather maps to see what can learn about current and predicted weather.
Warm and Cold Fronts
Each circle represents a weather station. The circle at each station is empty if skies are clear. The circle is white if it’s cloudy. A line within the circle or a half-filled circle means “partly cloudy.”
Wind and Wind Direction
The little arrows attached to each weather station point in the direction the wind is blowing from. The more barbs at the end of each arrow, and the longer they are, the harder the wind is blowing. Each long barb is 10 knots (about 11.5 miles per hour or 18 kilometers per hour). Each short barb is half that amount. A barb that looks like a triangle is blowing at 50 knots (about 58 mph or 80 kph).
Air Temperature The number to the upper left of each station is the air temperature in degrees F (for U.S. maps) or degrees C (for other countries).
The number to the lower left of each station is the dew point temperature in degrees F (for U.S. maps) or degrees C (for other countries). The dew point is a measure of moisture; it shows how much you’d have to cool the air to get a relative humidity of 100 percent. The higher the dew point, the more water vapor there is for producing rain or snow.
The number to the upper right of each station is the barometric pressure. Since the pressure goes down with altitude, this reading has been adjusted to show the pressure as if the station were at sea level. The typical sea-level pressure is a little bit more than 1000 millibars. (The number is in kilopascals (kPa), which is the same as millibars).
The number has been compressed to fit the map by lopping off the first one or two digits (which are always a “10″ or a “9″) and omitting the decimal point before the last digit. For example, the code “085″ would mean 1008.5 millibars, while 954 would be 995.4 millibars.
Put it all together!
See if you can find any lines that go around centers of high and low pressure. They are called isobars; they connect stations with equal barometric pressure, so you can see where the highs and lows are. The wind usually follows the isobars, with a slight trend in the direction of the low pressure area.
Look at the wind direction around your forecast city. Is the air blowing from colder areas toward your city, or is warmer air moving in?
Will clouds or precipitation be coming, and if so, a lot or a little?
Will there be rain, sleet, or snow?
2. Study the satellite images
Satellite images show the amount of cloud cover. Clouds can act like a blanket helping to keep night warmer if the sky is clear. But clouds during the daytime can block the sun and keep temperatures cooler.
What does the image show? Is there much cloud cover? Do you think it will increase or decrease, based on what you have learned from the weather maps?
3. Study actual weather forecasts for your city
In each country, the government issues an official forecast. However, you may see a different forecast in newspapers, television stations, and online services. These may not agree with each other. Do you think one of these services will be the most accurate every day, or will the truth be somewhere in between them? What will you do for your forecast if these sources do not agree?
[Thunderstorms & Tornadoes] [Hurricanes] [Blizzards & Winter Weather] [Clouds]
The 2014 sheepshead season got off to a slow start, but now (mid-February 2014) these striped bait-stealers have been showing up in greater numbers along the Nature Coast from Cedar Key (in Levy County)to Panacea (in Wakulla County). As most of the big congregations of sheepshead are egg-laden females, there’s something about the length and temperature of winter days that gets them into a feeding frenzy, and local reefs are now active.
Several sources regarding the species and how to catch them exist, but there’s none better than Russ Roy’s article on the website of the Gainesville Offshore Fishing Club.
And, of course, there’s hardly a better fish to eat than a sheepshead. Try this recipe for “Sheepshead Stew” from a recent Sportsman’s Kitchen column in Florida Sportsman Magazine.
Waste Not, Want Not—Sheepshead Stew
At the table, there are few fish as tasty and sweet as sheepshead. And with cool weather upon us, the sheepshead bite is on. Under the influence of what many consider an unusually high bag limit, some anglers return to shore and are faced with the arduous task of cleaning as many as 15 of these thick-skinned bony critters. Even big ten-pound female fish don’t yield much meat, and with all those bones, lots gets left on the carcass, often going to waste.
In my humble opinion, the best barbeque (Or BBQ or Bar-B-Q!) is made with a complete pig, and the same goes for fish stew. The basis for fish stew is always the stock, and using the head and backbone of your sheepshead will bring yours to a new level without wasting any of that hard-to-reach meat. After the bones and other ingredients are strained away, the stock is so tasty that you might even consider a cup or bowl to accompany a salad or sandwich. But don’t stop there. Adding small chunks of firm fillet meat along with carrots, celery, onion, corn and potatoes make it even better.
My sheepshead stew is only one variation on recipes found worldwide. Stew’s just a simple name for what the Italians call cioppino, the Portuguese call caldeirada and the French call bouillabaisse. Mine’s just a start that might open the door to your creating your own special version. Don’t limit yourself to sheepshead, as any firm-flesh fish will work, including grouper, snapper, and even redfish. And don’t overlook expanding the recipe by adding whatever seafood is in season or available at your local fish market. Shrimp, clams, crabmeat, and scallops—the list goes on and on.
One or two fillets from a large sheepshead, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 stick butter
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 –cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup diced red potatoes (peeled)
1/2 –cup corn kernels
1/4 –cup all-purpose flour
2 -cups seafood stock
2 tbs. heavy cream
2 tbs. chopped parsley
In a heavy pot, sauté the carrots, onions, celery, potatoes and corn over medium heat until the potatoes are barely cooked. Add the flour, and then reduce the heat and cook, while stirring, about 3 minutes. Add the sheepshead stock, and bring to a boil. Finally, add the fish chunks and cook for about 5 minutes. Finish with cream and parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a few chopped chives. Serves 4-6.
2 tbs. olive oil
Backbone and head from a large sheepshead
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 -cup white wine (the good stuff!)
1/4 –cup tomato paste
1 tbs. salt
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp. ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium heat. Add vegetables and sauté about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add 3 cups water, white wine, tomato paste, salt, pepper, thyme, fish backbone and head. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer for 1 hour. Strain away the solids using a sieve, pressing down firmly to be sure you get all the liquid. Makes about 1 quart.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) proposed 2014 Gulf recreational red snapper season dates in state waters. This proposed season will be brought back before the Commission for final approval at its April 15-17 meeting in Tallahassee.
The 2014 proposed season, if approved in April, would be 52 days long, starting the Saturday before Memorial Day, (May 24 this year) and remaining open through July 14, closing July 15. The Commission could choose to change the season length and dates at the April meeting. Starting the season the Saturday before Memorial Day could increase recreational fishing opportunities for anglers by giving them the chance to fish for red snapper in state waters during the holiday weekend.
The federal season is scheduled to be 40 days long, starting June 1 and remaining open through July 10. This season is subject to change if NOAA Fisheries data indicate that the recreational red snapper quota will be caught before or after the end of the federal season.
State waters in the Gulf are from shore to 9 nautical miles. Federal waters extend from where state waters end out to about 200 nautical miles.
To learn more about this agenda item, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and click on “Commission Meetings.” To learn more about recreational red snapper fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing and click on “Saltwater,” “Recreational Regulations” and “Gulf Snapper.”
I recently visited with Jim and Nicole at Captain’s Cove Outfitters on SR40 in Inglis. If you’re headed to Yankeetown or any of Levy County’s great fishing spots, you’ll find the store just off US19, marked by the BIG ice plant out front. And in addition to some excellent advice on the local bite, you’ll find great prices on tackle and supplies. They stock Engel coolers, Costa Sunglasses, Star Rods, Shimano Reels, Penn Reels, Power Pro Line and a big selection of MirrOlures, Live Target Lures, Rockport Rattlers and Unfair Lures. And don’t forget the ice! Be sure to stop by and visit the next time you’re “in their neighborhood”.
There are millions (probably billions!) of seatrout in our local rivers and creeks right now. But while some are of the “keeper” variety, many are small. And ever since the late Capt. Paul Cronk had his photo published in the Gainesville Sun with President Carter and what seemed to be a short trout, Capt. Rick Davidson and I have called them “presidential keepers”. There’s nothing wrong with catching these small fish, but I urge you to have your Florida Sportsman Lawstick handy and to measure each and every fish. The FWC frowns on presidential keepers that aren’t released carefully, so be sure what you catch (and keep) is within the limits of the law. That law not only requires that you keep only 5 seatrout per angler per day, but that you don’t “double dip” by running back to the shore and then going out to catch another personal limit. With the number of fish in the water now, that wouldn’t be hard to do, but I’ve got good inside information that FWC officers in plain clothes are watching ramps, marinas and rivers closely.
Bring your big trout by either Sea Hag Marina any time between now and March 31st and enter this year’s Trout Madness Contest. You may enter once per day, with no charge to enter. The drawing for a $100 Sea Hag gift certificate will be held on April 1, 2014.
I’m “old school” and only eat oysters in months whose spelling includes an “R”. Yes, I realize we now have cleaner waters flowing over oyster beds these days and have excellent refrigeration technology, but I’m still not a fan of oysters taken from warm water. Warmer conditions mean an increased danger of contamination, and oysters are filter feeders with the potential for concentrating harmful bacteria, like Vibrio vulnificus, in warm water. For that reason, I consider February to be the peak of oyster season here in Florida.
I don’t get many arguments when I say that the nation’s best oysters come from Wakulla County on Florida’s Big Bend. Oystermen from Panacea and Shell Point have carefully protected their “crops” for generations, and those “fields” produce some of the tastiest oysters available. Salty and fat, these oysters are best savored either “raw” or with just a touch of horseradish or cocktail sauce. And they’re certainly not the oysters you let slide down the back of your throat without chewing. However, many folks like to eat oysters “dressed” and complex recipes like Oysters Rockefeller and Oysters Bienville headline menus from Florida to Texas. And every so often, something simple just jumps up off the table, begging you to take a bite.
That’s the story behind the Oysters Supreme and the Oysters Nacho at Ouzts’ Too Oyster Bar, located on the west side of the St. Marks River in Newport. This Wakulla County watering hole has been there for over three-quarters of a century, and is going strong, attracting an array of characters eager to chow down on fresh-shucked oysters and smoked local mullet. Owner Dorthy White and her crew pride themselves in oysters shucked “as they’re ordered” and a relaxed atmosphere that includes live music, karaoke and even guitar pickin’ in the “toilet garden” out back. And while oysters “on the half shell” headline the Outzs’ Too menu, they offer these two simple twists for patrons who enjoy their oysters warm or spicy. These variations are easy to make and will certainly please even the least adventurous guest at your table or happy hour.
Oysters Supreme/Oysters Nacho
Arrange a dozen or so small or medium shucked oysters (Save the large ones to eat raw!) on a microwaveable plate or platter. Take care to free the oyster from the bottom shell when you’re shucking as that makes eating easier. Put about a half-teaspoon of butter on each oyster, and then add either a teaspoon of chopped cooked bacon or a slice of pickled jalapeño pepper. Top with some shredded Cheddar cheese and microwave on high power for 2 to 4 minutes, depending on how well done you like your oysters. Serve with cold beer—of course!
The 2014 Gulf of Mexico red snapper recreational season will be 40 days, opening at 12:01am on June 1 and ending at 12:01am on July 11, 2014.
A list of frequently asked questions about the red snapper recreational season can be found at the NOAA Fisheries Southeast Regional Council Office website.
6th Annual Fiddler Crab Festival® February 14-16, 2014
All your favorites are scheduled including:
The Crab Jam
With special giveaways for Valentine’s Day (Friday), featuring Natalie Nicole Green on Friday Night along with The Ultimate Cowboy Challenge!
Saturday night we welcome The Tobacco Rd. Band! Follow us on facebook to see more about our headliner entertainment!
The Suwannee River Jam happens all day Saturday and is the venue for the up and coming in the music field. Among other gems to get their break through the Suwannee River Jam, Rion Page and Clay Brooker have been moving up to bigger and better things. Come spend a day in Steinhatchee (Saturday feb 15) listening to this year’s contenders for the coveted Suwannee River Jam finals held in May.
The Swampwater Cookoff is back on! Applications are available online along with cookoff rules and other information!
Saturday Morning Parade! Everyone loves a parade and you can be in this one! Look for applications below!
Sunday “Visit OUR Vendors” Treasure Hunt! A new event this year, the “pot o’ gold” awaits the entrant who figures out where the treasure is hidden! And you get a chance to meander through all of our great vendors on Sunday!
Fiddler Crab Racing - always a favorite and unique to the Fiddler Crab Festival, buy a crab, enter one of 10 semi-final races and with a winning crab, race in the finale!
River Tours, hosted by one of our local guides Steve Kroll, are available from River Haven Marina docks, run about 45 minutes, and bring you along some of the “purtiest natural river views” you are likely to see in the Big Bend.
20+ Extraordinary Raffle Prizes- The OMG event! All tickets sold Saturday, all items raffled that day! In years past we have had local artists work, liquor gift baskets, trips, vacation stays, and more… this is DEFINITELY one of the best raffles around!
Arts and Crafts Vendors - we have BY FAR the best of the best in Arts and Crafts Vendors! Lining the streets around the Community Center, there is more than just something for everyone – there are lots of things for everyone! PLUS visit the “Kids of All Ages” area and find lots of fun things to do including the Petting Zoo, Bunjee Jump, and much more.
Food Vendors - Looking for something to eat??? Want to gorge on great seafood, to sausage dogs, to bar-b-que, to kettle corn, to funnel cakes – and everything in between, there is sure to be something for even the pickiest of eaters. And this year, there are LOTS OF TABLES TO HAVE A SEAT AND EAT!!!
Photo contest – With four categories for photography, there is room for just about everyone’s favorite photo! Cash prize for the overall winner and ribbons for others, it’s great to have your photo’s judged by professional artists but just as much fun just to enter!
Boot Artin - what’s that you ask??? Get yourself any ol’ pair of boots, paint ‘em, decorate ‘em, glitter ‘em up, or do all that and more and enter them into Steinhatchee’s very own Boot Artin contest! Still not sure??? Check out our facebook page this month for sample photos of previous entries!
Lots of Spots Fishing Tournament – This is an “Angler Contest” held on Saturday – Anglers fish against each other from boats or the shore or a ramp or a dock… in local waters, for Redfish (aka Red Drum and Red Bass). Spots are counted by officials from both sides of the fish and the fish with the most spots is the winner! Prizes for 1st and 2nd place, plus #1 Lady Angler and #1 Jr. Angler (junior 16 and under).
Sunday Poker Run (for motorcycles, golf carts, runners, and cyclists) – 2 routes available and if it is cold, ride in your car!!! We’re an equal traveler opportunity festival! The fun is all in poker hands, prizes for best and worst hands, and raffles, PLUS you get lunch!
BIG ITEM RAFFLE! Tickets available NOW for the $3500 Value Jon Boat!!! $5 each and can be mailed anywhere! You don’t even have to be present to win – but you DO have to pick up your boat! This Jon Boat is SWEEEEET! Includes trailer, motor, and more. What a great way to start out the 2014 fishing season! Call us if you want us to mail you tickets – 352-356-8185! This raffle supports Steinhatchee’s 4th of July Fireworks show! And what a show it is!!! Almost an HOUR of fireworks seen 30 miles away! Buy a chance and help us keep up the fireworks!
AND of course, Commemorative Hats and both Ladies and Mens T-shirts are available – $15 each, or buy a set of 1 hat, 1 T-shirt and 1 Jon Boat Raffle Ticket for a value price of $32 (a $35 VALUE!) We’ll ship them as well for the post office fee of $5.60! Hard NOT to take advantage of this value!
Contact the Chamber at 352-356-8185
email us at email@example.com
and follow us on facebook – Steinhatchee River Chamber of Commerce
GET YOUR 2014 FIDDLER CRAB FESTIVAL T-SHIRTS AND CAPS NOW!!!
Available at Chapman Insurance Office daily on Riverside Dr, Good Time Motel & Marina, River Haven Marina or by sending a note to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
$15 each, in multiple colors this year!!!
Ed and Beverly Pivacek are excited about tourism in Dixie County and the Florida Nature Coastline. As a result, they’re re-opening the historic Putnam Lodge in Cross City. Licenses have been obtained and it will open its doors for business by early February, with its kitchen and restaurant likely opening by early March. If you’re heading to Steinhatchee, Horseshoe Beach or Suwannee on a fishing (or summer scalloping) trip, this will be THE place to stay inshore of those ports. Ed can be contacted at (813) 390-4489.
Here’s some history:
Putnam Lodge, built in 1927-28 by the Putnam Lumber Company, is part of a bygone era in Florida’s forestry history. Here, beside the old Dixie Highway, Putnam Lodge, part of the “company town” of Shamrock, accommodated tourists, transients and company executives and clients. The lobby and the dining room of the 36-room lodge were decorated exclusively with the still preserved, artfully stenciled “pecky cypress,” a now virtually extinct lumber product. In its day, the Putnam Lumber Company, founded by William O’Brien, a timber magnate of Irish descent, and associates including E. B. Putnam, employed hundreds at its two state-of-the-art sawmills in Shamrock. The mills annually produced and shipped worldwide millions of feet of “deep swamp tidewater cypress” and “dense Florida longleaf yellow pine” lumber, products that are now rare because the old growth trees are gone. Shamrock provided its residents and employees with comfortable homes, a commissary, a store comparable to “any city department store,” two schools, two hotels, the Shamrock Dairy Farm, and an ice plant producing 18 tons of ice daily. The lodge is representative of a time of local timber supremacy and economic prosperity.