The marquee event of Shark Fest 2011, the fifth annual Are You Man Enough? Shark Challenge pits teams of anglers against one of nature’s most fearsome predators in a two-day fishing competition that awards bragging rights and $15,000 in prizes to its victors. Armed with a bucket of chum and a thirst for adventure, teams depart Cape Harbour at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday to spend the next 12 hours earning themselves 100 tournament points per shark caught, with bonuses awarded for the biggest hammerhead landed, biggest bull shark landed, and most congenial shark thrown back, followed by a 10 p.m. results announcement. On Sunday, the top five teams return to the docks to do battle in a shotgun-started sudden-death contest in which teams scramble to assemble 16 feet of aggregate shark in front of thousands of spectators in order to claim the grand prize. Teams are responsible for knowing the tournament schedule and for providing their own boat, bait, and fishing equipment, as well as two active cell phones for sending back proof-of-catch videos and at least one fisherman-notary to inform captured sharks of their legal rights.
Captain Nate Maynard may just as well have been born on a boat. Growing up in South Florida, he spent much of his youth studying the waters off Pine Island Sound, Charlotte Harbor, and Matlacha and San Carlos Passes, learning the patterns of the prized catches lurking beneath. As he got older, Maynard tested his expertise by entering the tournament scene, refining his approach for fishing the area’s expansive shallow flats, bays, and outer-island passes.
With Lip’em N Grip’em Fishing Charters, Maynard imparts his knowledge to all levels of anglers during guided outings. Supplying all equipment and preferring live bait such as pinfish and shrimp—but willing to use artificial lures based on the availability of live bait and clients’ preferences—the captain leads parties on fishing excursions for hauls of South Florida’s many species, including redfish, snook, and trout. For fisherman seeking bigger trophies, Maynard motors his 22-foot, 225 horse-power Sterling boat toward waters home to tarpon, shark, and flounder shaped like Academy Awards.
Captain Maynard operates by a “no fish, no pay” policy to demonstrate his integrity toward clients. In addition to guiding, he also takes guests on sunset cruises and wildlife excursions such as dolphin and manatee tours.:m]]
Florida Paddlesports' fleet of watercraft includes everything from tandem and fishing kayaks to yoga and touring paddleboards. When not selling or renting these aquatic vessels, the staff members use them to lead group tours of Florida waterways around destinations such as Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, Pine Island, and Bokeelia. Along these trips, they lead paddlers past mangrove tunnels or glistening white beaches and point out dolphins giving manatees skincare tips. The crew also bestows paddling prowess upon groups during kayaking and standup paddleboarding lessons, and takes groups out on both vessels for fishing excursions.
Since the shop has at least one rental available of every kayak and paddleboard it sells, staff members recommend customers try out a Native Mariner kayak or Tahoe standup paddleboard before committing to one. Additionally, they deliver rentals to customers' launching spots and their retail shop brims with paddling wear and accessories from the likes of RailRiders clothing, SealLine, and Malone.
When they moved from Michigan to Florida, the owners of Jim's Coney Island left behind the cold weather, but didn't forget a recipe for the Great Lake State's much-loved Coney Island hot dog. At their Cape Coral eatery, they recreate the tasty dog seven days a week using Michigan-made hot dogs—which are specially seasoned and made with their natural skin casing—piled high with mounds of chili, mustard, and onions. Chefs also pay tribute to other cities' signature dishes, such as a philly cheesesteak and a classic new york reuben, while also preparing gooey calzones, hot wings slathered in four types of sauces, and hand-tossed pizzas made with butter, butter cheese, garlic butter, or garlic-salt flavored crusts. The menu's all-day breakfast invites diners to enjoy fluffy three-egg omelets and sweet french toast platters at any hour of the day.
When you think of barbecue, you likely think of heat: a grill's flames, a sauce's smoky flavor. BBQ Donut Rentals, however, takes a cooler approach to the cuisine by setting its barbecue feasts at sea. Accommodating up to 10 passengers, each circular boat is essentially a floating picnic table. Said table includes a grill at its center, upon which guests can sear their choice of barbecue classics, such as burgers, ribs, and chicken legs. An umbrella shields diners from the sun's rays during daytime voyages, and the umbrella can be outfitted with lights for evening jaunts.
Gulf Coast Kayak sits on the edge of Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve, a scenic sprawl of estuaries, back bays, and mangrove tunnels roofed by the interlaced branches of waterside trees. Their single and tandem kayaks give paddlers a way to drink up this scenery, instead of waiting on the shore, thumbs-outstretched, hoping to catch a ride from a passing mermaid. Alternatively, paddlers can opt for a guided tour, such as the Sunset Birding Tour, which can afford birdwatchers glimpses of osprey, herons, and spoonbills. For those who cannot make it to their storefront, Gulf Coast Kayak is able to deliver kayaks anywhere in Matlacha or Pine Island for a fee.