All good ideas. I fished a 2-piece rod for years when I was younger and didn't have a truck to fit a 6'+ rod into.
Because of the lightness, I ran full spinning tackle this past weekend. (Texas-rigged Wacky Worms with no weight. VERY hard to cast with baitcasting tackle.)
Find someone local that can show you the ropes. That'll help immensely.
If you have access to funds, I'd recommend a $30-40 combo rod/reel from Bass Pro or Dick's Sporting Goods. Neither will be the best you can get, but they'll get you started. Get some Berkley XL Smooth Casting line.
I've never been a rubber worm guy. Ever. I suck at them. Caught all of my fish this weekend on them - only b/c my buddy is a die-hard worm tosser and had caught 4 fish before I switched tackle. I'd reco going the rubber-worm route for sure. Maybe a loud surface bait (Rapala floater, Money Frog or a buzz-bait) if it's warm out and not TOO warm (read: july & august in FL) to push the fish deeper. The Rapala can double as a diving lure (altho not that deep) as well.
I'll say it again - find someone you know who fishes and go with them.
STOP when you buy a boat. LOL
I cannot tell you how long this road shall be, but fear not the obstacles in your path, for fate has vouchsafed your reward. Though the road may wind, yea, your hearts grow weary, still shall ye follow them, even unto your salvation.