Took a trip down the Little Manatee River today, Dec. 20, 2013. To say the trip was a disaster is an understatement. However, at the right time of year I bet it's great. The staff was very helpful and talked sense when explaining the trip down the river. We rented a canoe and was told the river is low at this time of the year (and no doubt lower later this winter). The attendant told us the last couple that went down told him there was only one place they had to get out and drag the canoe over a sand bar. At this point I can only think this couple weighed 3 pounds each as we found there were 8 or 9 places we had to get out in the first hour of a 2 1/2 hr. trip. We weigh 380 lbs. combined. At least two sandbars were quick sand and I would get out of the canoe to push us across the bar and find the sand was firm for 5 or 6 seconds then I would sink down to my knees in 1 second. If I had not had a hold of the canoe I would have been in real trouble. (Funny they never mentioned quick sand, wonder why?) The real problems happened with the sunken logs that the canoe would hang up on. Usually that was in deep water and we had much trouble getting off them. After about an hour of NOT trouble free cruising we were forced into a tree that over hang the river. In trying to push the branches up and pass under the tree the current took the canoe out from under us and over it went. Thank God the water was only about 2 feet deep and there was a couple of guys on the far bank that came to our rescue. All our gear went floating down the river (cellphone and camera included) and they helped us retrieve all of it and get the canoe upright.
Needless to say we joined another couple that had a similar experience at the 1 hour trip canoe landing and called the operator to come get all of us, 1 1/2 hr. early and less than half way though the trip.
I would strongly suggest you DO NOT try this activity in the winter months A/K/A "the dry season". From what the other couple told me mid summer, if we experienced a good rainy season, would not be good because of very fast running water down the river. So don't even think of a canoe trip down the Little Manatee River between November 1st and June 1st or in mid summer if heavy rains have been experienced in the area. Also, do NOT take electronic equipment with you on any such trip without having zip lock bags to store them in when not in use.
I would be glad to share pictures if I had a "working" camera.