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Florida’s

The Hidden Coast

March-April 2018

The Last of Old Florida

See Page 8 for more info!

Trenton’s Quilt Fest Pg. 9

Regional Map Pg. 16-17

Cedar Key Arts Fest Pg. 23

PERRY, YANKEETOWN & All In Between!


• 7 Wildlife Management Areas • 9 Public Boat Ramps for small boats and kayak/canoe launching • Phenomenal Fishing and Scalloping • Restaurants, lodging, gift shops, grocery, hardware & boat rental • Year round events and more! www.steinhatcheechamber.com

We offer guides for fishing & scallop season, vacation rentals, sleeping accomodations and restaurants for both Jena and Steinhatchee.

Photo Courtesy of: Kim Kennedy @simplysteinhatchee

Start Scalloping Early with Us! The 2018 bay scallop season for Steinhatchee will be open from June 16 through Sept. 10!

Steinhatchee is the place to settle for a night, a month or longer.

NOW OPEN FOR FREE LOCAL DELIVERY TO SURROUNDING BEACHES CALL

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102 9th Street SE, Steinhatchee, FL 32359 2 • Florida’s The Hidden Coast


TheHiddenCoastMag.com • 3


Florida’s

The Hidden Coast

Produced by

North Florida Media Service

The Last of Old Florida

P.O. Box 624 | Lake City, FL 32056 www.nfmservice.com

March 2018

Volume 3 Edition 2

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Taylor County has what you need to have a memorable vacation. Experience the most wild, untouched coastlines in the state with the best fishing, scalloping, boating, kayaking and cultural events and festivals you’ll find anywhere. Experience Florida the way it used to be:

www.TaylorFlorida.com 1-866-584-5366 February: Fiddler Crab Festival April: FL State Bluegrass & Moon Pie Festival September: Smokin’ In The Pines BBQ Festival October: Florida Forest Festival

4 • Florida’s The Hidden Coast

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WELCOME TO THE ISLAND! PelicanRealty.com Small Town Realtors Big Time Results Caryn Stephenson, Broker Ann Young & Julie Vandegrift, Realtors Phone: 352.543.5581 598 2nd Street, Cedar Key Cedar Key, FL 32625

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6 • Florida’s The Hidden Coast

Scalloping Season is Just Around the Corner! Stop by and see us... We have everything you need!

Capt. Tom Cushman | 386-623-0243 captcush357@hotmail.com

Runnin’ Out Fishing Charters


“The Kayak Experience” Kayak Sales & Rentals | The Marina In Horseshoe Beach, Florida

Check this out and check it off your “To Do List”, “Bucket List”, “Wish List” or just your “I Need a Break! - List”. Visitors and Florida residents will soon be experiencing the natural attractions of Florida’s Hidden Coast while paddling a new fleet of quality kayaks in the sheltered waters of the bay at Horseshoe Beach, Florida. “The Kayak Experience” is a new Wilderness Systems and Perception Kayak dealership providing visitors easy access to kayaking in our pristine secluded bay in the Big Bend of the Gulf of Mexico. The town, situated on a peninsula jutting out into the bay, offers overnight and extended stay rental lodging – rooms, efficiencies, condos and homes. The dealership expects to open in late March providing both sales and bay rentals. New and experienced paddlers will find comfort, fun and convenience. Paddlers will depart from and return to the marina. Being just 600 feet from the open bay, no transport of kayaks by guest vehicles is necessary. Nonpaddlers can relax on the sun deck or lounge beside the canal’s high-tide beach launch area. Or bring a folding chair and sit at the street’s all-tides kayak launch ramp watching your family or friends in the bay. “Our goal is to provide the opportunity to feed your curiosity about kayaking. We will help every visitor discover his or her own paddling passion. Whatever your level of experience, you will learn more about the operation and care of the various types of kayaks and gear available today. Selection, purchase, transportation and storage are topics when you decide to buy. Renting equipment identical to what you may later purchase is an excellent way to experience the fun without stressing your budget. Whether a day-trip or an extended stay, a kayaking experience can add treasured memories for family and friends.”

Kayaking is a great way to sightsee in areas not accessible by land or by larger watercraft. Wildlife tend to ignore kayakers who approach indirectly. The rising and falling tides hide then expose sections of both the islands and oyster bars serving up a variety of wildlife from dolphins, fish, crabs, osprey, pelicans, egrets, herons, cormorants, and seagulls. Raccoons on Butler island search the tidal flats at low tide for a crab lunch or dinner. The bay also draws a growing number of anglers who enjoy the simplicity of fishing from a wellequipped kayak. We can equip you to join them too. The rental fleet consists of recreational, touring and fishing kayaks ranging in length from 10 feet to 14 feet. Five are “sit-inside” and six are “sit-on-top” design. Four will have pedal drive propulsion units with onehand-controlled rudders. This is a popular option for those wishing to rest their arms or have a hand free for a camera, binoculars or a fishing rod. The forward/ reverse feature and steering with one hand provides greater opportunity to the serious observer or angler to remain aligned with their objective. Kayaking, you will appreciate it when you experience it! “The Kayak Experience” The Marina In Horseshoe Beach | (352) 498-5405 Copyright © and By: Jeff Cary

TheHiddenCoastMag.com • 7


16th Florida State Bluegrass Festival Schedule of Events

April 5-7, 2018

8 • Florida’s The Hidden Coast


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BOAT RENTALS • GOOD TIMES MOTEL • WHO DAT BAR & GRILLE Flats and off shore charters are available

TheHiddenCoastMag.com • 9


The City of Hawkinsville

By: Toni C. Collins

The Largest and Last Steamboat on the Suwannee River

A

s early as the 17th century, the Suwannee River played an important role in the development of central Florida. Waterborne transport helped to supply the needs of Spanish, British, and Americans. In 1834, newspapers announced that a steamboat was stationed at St. Marks which was dedicated to the Suwannee trade. During the 2nd Seminole Indian War, steamer traffic on the river was centered along the lower river, mostly below present day Branford. Steamers like the American carried the captured Indians to Seahorse Key where they were transferred to oceangoing vessels for the trip up the Mississippi River for the trip west. After the Indian Wars, steamers navigated much further up river to provide service to the cotton growers located around settlements such as Columbus, at the confluence of the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers. During the Civil War, the Suwannee provided a refuge for blockade runners who frequently would make a dash for Cuba with their cargo of cotton. When the war ended, there were no known steamboats on the river until the spring of 1872 when the steamer Wawenock began running from New Troy (near Troy Spring) to Cedar Key. For the next two decades, steamboating flourished. In 1900, the largest steamer to ply the waters of the Suwannee made an appearance. The City of Hawkinsville, a 141-foot vessel with two decks, a single smoke stack, square stern, and molded bow was brought into the river by the Gulf Transportation Company of Tampa to assist with the booming lumber industry.

10 • Florida’s The Hidden Coast

Originally built at Abbeville, Georgia in 1896 for the Hawkinsville, Georgia, Deepwater Boat Lines. When the vessel was brought to the Suwannee, it served a route that included stops at Branford, Clay Landing, Old Town, Vista, and the Cedar Keys. Official registry records indicate that the City was in service until May 19, 1922, when her last captain, Mr. Currie, abandoned the vessel just south of the Nature Coast State Trail railroad trestle at Old Town. The abandonment of the vessel ended the steamboating era of the Suwannee River. In 1991 the sunken steamboat was mapped by Florida State Archaeologists. The Hawkinsville became Florida’s third Underwater Archaeological Preserve in 1992 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. Today, the hull of the Hawkinsville rests on a series of limestone rocks that support the hull above the river bed providing an underwater archaeological preserve for divers who have advanced open water training. Access to the site is by boat only. The wreck is marked by a series of buoys on her starboard side and by two mooring buoys approximately 50 feet down stream from her stern. For almost a hundred years more than 50 steamboats ran the Suwannee. Today, the remains of perhaps a dozen steamboats can be found along the river’s bottom. Want to learn more? Readers can go to levycountyhistorical society.com to learn more about the Yulee family and also historian and author, Toni C. Collins. You may also email her directly at toniccollins@att.net.


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TheHiddenCoastMag.com • 11


CEDAR KEYS AUDUBON AND LINK TO RESC to birds in distress. For years and years, all the locals and many visitors had Black’s and Maple’s telephone numbers and readily telephoned them when they encountered birds entangled in fishing line, with bones in their throats, and in otherwise dangerous circumstances. Black and Maple responded to these many calls day and night. Of course, each rescue, or attempted rescue, demanded hours of their time. Black and Barry asked CKA to work with them to establish an education plan for individuals who encounter birds in distress and a rescue plan to deliver assistance, and, hopefully, The Cedar Keys Audubon Chapter was recovery for the birds. And, indeed, they did. established in March 2016 with some twenty- The Cedar Key Bird Rescue Program was born five like-minded members anxious to advocate in August 2016. for birds and conservation. They looked forward to learning more about birds, taking VOLUNTEER TRAINING leisurely walks to identify birds in the area, On July 22, 2016, a training workshop for and collegially connecting with experts about volunteers was held at the Kirkpatrick Lab in Cedar Key. Twenty-one individuals learned the curious creatures. No sooner where they in operation, and safe bird handling and de-hooking techniques, while still contemplating a calendar of expert bird transport protocol, and incident report speakers-to-be, hikes, and more, an important data collection. A live pelican, provided by need was brought to their attention: ensnared, licensed wildlife rehabilitator Mary Opall of Nature World Wildlife Rescue in Homosassa, debilitated, injured birds needing rescue. Florida, actualized the workshop content and left the group far more confident than before PROGRAM BACKGROUND The bird rescue problem was brought to Cedar the training experience. Additional training Keys Audubon members by Florida Fish and sessions are planned. Wildlife expert Tiffany Black, working out of the Cedar Key Fitzpatrick Lab, and University MORE HELP AVAILABLE of Florida Sea Grant Agent Dr. Savanna Barry, The Cedar Key Bird Rescue Program has now working out of the University of Florida Nature provided additional numbers to call for help. Coast Biological Station. The two scientists In addition to Black’s and Maple’s numbers, approached the Audubon chapter in April of Cedar keys Audubon Co-Presidents Deborah 2016 and asked for members’ help with bird Anderson and Crosby Hunt, Education rescue. Barry cited the high number of bird Chairperson Janie Veltkamp, and others have entanglements in Cedar Key and noted that joined the list. the area is identified as a bird entanglement hotspot by the Florida Fish and Wildlife SIGNAGE New informative signage contains phone Conservation Commission (FWC). Both long-time Cedar Key residents, Black numbers of trained volunteers who can assist and Doug Maple were the two persons in the with injured birds and reminds fishermen to area available with expertise to give assistance dispose of their fishing paraphernalia, often 12 • Florida’s The Hidden Coast

in p th

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AND UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA RESCUE BIRDS

s, all ack’s adily ered ones rous nded urse, nded

pelicans can eat them. This is excellent news because large fish carcasses and scraps can become lodged in the throat or digestive tract of pelicans, which are adapted to eat and digest only small bait fish. • Overall, volunteers for CKBR have donated over 210 hours of time to resounding to injured bird reports, worth an estimated $4,698.00 to the Cedar Key community.

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ADDITIONAL READING

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For additional great redoing on the rescue effort, the University of Florida’s Nature Coast Biological Station, and the Cedar Keys Audubon Chapter, do visit the following links: https://ncbs.ifas.ufl.edu/cedar-key-birdrescue-responds-local-need/ https://ncbs.ifas.ufl.edu/sustainable-humanbird-interactions/ https://www.cedarkeysaudubon.org injurious to birds, properly. These signs are PERFECT PARTNERS placed at the five popular angling locations in The partnership between the Cedar Keys Audubon and the University of Florida’s Nature the Cedar Key area. Coast Biological Station is a fine example of two groups devoted to conservation and aware RESULTS (excerpted from https://ncbs.ifas.ufl.edu/ of a public need, working together, learning cedar-key-bird-rescue-responds-local-need/) from one another, and doing what needs to be done. Thus far: • The Cedar Key Bird Rescue Program has accepted 70 calls about bird injuries, most of Copyright © by Mandy Offerle which have involved entangled juvenile brown pelicans. • Of these calls, 22 have resulted in a successful release or recovery of a bird that would have otherwise assuredly perished from its injuries (example pictured right). • Of the other 48 calls, many were attempted rescues where the bird escaped capture and others involved birds that were too severely injured to survive, even after transport to a rehabilitation facility. • Audubon representatives report that local public education efforts have resulted in a marked decrease in the number of anglers that routinely discard large fish scraps where TheHiddenCoastMag.com • 13


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YOUR BUSINESS HERE! Restaurant & contact information

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$75/ per edition Call 386-719-1354 for more info!

Attention Restaurants!

Be a part of our "Local Flavor" page • Covers Yankeetown to Steinhatchee • Social Media Updates • 70K Distribution • Available at I-75 Welcome Center • Online Presence • Published Six Times a Year

For information on our next edition call

386-719-1354 TheHiddenCoastMag.com • 15


16 • Florida’s The Hidden Coast

The Hidden Coast

Find Your Way Around


TheHiddenCoastMag.com • 17

Map Courtesy: River Graphics Maggie Valley, NC 2875 | Tel. 828.944.0134

The Last of Old Florida


A Local Perspective

SAVANNA BARRY UF IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station Cedar Key

Chiefland’s Newest and Largest! Gated/Fenced and well lit A clean professional facility We offer a wide range of storage unit’s sizes RV-Boat covered and uncovered Clean Dry and Safe Long Term or Temporary Fully paved Open 365 Days a Year Climate Controlled and Conventional Units Video Surveillance

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The Hidden Coast is... a place where coastal habitats such as marshes, mangroves, and seagrass meadows flourish to create an amazing place for anglers, birders, paddlers, and boaters to enjoy nature. While you are here... please respect nature, especially sensitive habitats such as seagrass meadows that can easily be damaged by careless boating practices. The natural resources of this region are extremely important to our tourism and fishing-based economy. One of my favorite things... is snorkeling in seagrass meadows. I also love teaching boaters how they can help keep our seagrasses beautiful and healthy. Check out http://beseagrasssafe.com/seagrass-pledge/ for information about seagrass safe boating and to take a pledge that will enter you to win a Power Pole™! Locals know... the waters of Florida’s Hidden Coast are shallow and tough to navigate for first-timers. If you go out boating, watch the tides and respect the seagrass. The fish will thank you!

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18 • Florida’s The Hidden Coast

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Spring has sprung here in Steinhatchee!

By: Capt Mike Farmer. Salt Addiction Charters

water temperatures have reached 70 degrees and maintained for a while that means the spring fishing party is on. This actually occurred at the end of February so this transition is in full swing. During this time the fish that have wintered in the creeks and rivers or out offshore begin to move onto the flats. During this transition baitfish that had migrated south for the winter begin to move back into our area. As this bait moves in larger predator fish follow and feed as they make their venture back to our part of the gulf as well. During this springtime period we will see many fish species appear that have been south for the winter. Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish, Cobia and others will make their way back into our fishery once again.

The Calendar says it will officially begin on March 20th as the Spring Equinox takes place. This occurs as the tilt of the earth on it’s axis in relation to the sun reaches a point where the day and night are equal. From that point on the days will get a little longer each day. The Spring is such a magical time with all of the sun will rise a little earlier and set upon the beauty and changes that occur here each year horizon each afternoon just a little bit later. in Steinhatchee and I hope you will come for a visit where we can share the beauty and Winter came a little earlier than what we have experiences with you. Spring fishing is full of grown accustomed to last year but it seems action and a great experience for novices. If that Mother Nature is making up for it and I can be of service to take you out for a day February has had quite the Springish feel for on the water please give me a call or visit my most of the month. Many migrational birds website. have shown up already, some have been here for several weeks. Trees are budding out Capt Mike Farmer and blooming all through the woods, Easter 352-210-1551 Lilies are beginning to pop up and bloom in www.saltaddictioncharters.com the ditches along the highways. As all of this new stuff is happening we will see the Loons, many of our species of ducks and the White Pelicans disappear until the fall. All of Gods glorious sights that we see in the springtime are showing up everywhere. Spring fishing patterns are shaping up nicely and this should prove to be a great Spring fishing season here in Steinhatchee. Once the

TheHiddenCoastMag.com • 19


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20 • Florida’s The Hidden Coast

Fish or Crab off of Your Own Deck! See Back Page For More Information!


Horseshoe Beach Spring Festival; A Day of Family Fun Horseshoe Beach will be holding its 8th Annual Spring Festival on April 7, 2018. Travel down 351 West to the beautiful coastal town of Horseshoe Beach, and enjoy a day full of music, food & fun.

This annual festival boasts over 60 vendors, a variety of food, live music throughout the day, face painting, a parade, a book & bake table (buy a baked goody and get a free book), all topped off with a giant raffle.

The festival begins at 10 a.m. with the parade starting at 11 featuring the newly elected Grand Marshal, the Dixie County High School Band, the Shriners in their Krazy Kars, and a variety of creative local floats. During the day, wander through the vendor displays and enjoy the food and music. At 3pm there is a raffle with over 30 quality prizes, and you do not have to be present to win.

The Horseshoe Beach Library, located at 126 Main Street, sponsors the annual festival and all proceeds go to funding the Library. The local Library was begun in 2007. This non-profit Library is now fully self-sufficient, staffed by volunteers, and funded by generous contributions and fundraisers such as this festival. For more information and an ever growing list of raffle prizes, please visit the Library’s web site: www.horseshoelibrary.com or call 352-498-0180.

TheHiddenCoastMag.com • 21


Dirt Roads From: Toni C. Collins

What’s mainly wrong with society today is that too many Dirt Roads have been paved. There’s not a problem in America today, crime, drugs, education, divorce, delinquency, that wouldn’t be remedied, if we just had more Dirt Roads because Dirt Roads give character. People who live at the end of Dirt Roads learn early on that life is a bumpy ride. That is can jar you right down to your teeth sometimes, but it’s worth it, if at the end is home...a loving spouse, happy kids and a dog. We wouldn’t have near the trouble with out education system if our kids got their exercise walking a Dirt Road with other kids, from whom they learn how to get along. There was less crime in our streets before they were paved. Criminals didn’t walk two dusty miles to rob or rape, if they knew they’d be welcomed by five barking dogs and a double barrel shotgun. And there were not drive by shootings. Our values were better when our roads were worse! People did not worship their cars more than their kids, and motorists were more courteous. They didn’t tailgate by riding the bumper or the guy in front would choke you with dust and bust your windshield with rocks. Dirt Roads taught patience. Dirt Roads were environmentally friendly. You didn’t hop in your car for a quart of milk, you walked to the barn for your milk. For your mail, you walked to the mail box. What if it rained and the Dirt Road got washed out? That was the best part. Then you stayed home and had some family time roasting marshmallows and popping popcorn. You got pony rides on Daddy’s shoulders and learned how to make prettier quilts than anybody. At the end of Dirt Roads, you soon learned that bad words tasted like soap. Most paved roads lead to trouble. Dirt Roads more than likely lead to a fishing creek or a swimming hole. At the end of a Dirt Road, the only time you ever locked your car was in August because if you didn’t some neighbor would fill it with too much zucchini. At the end of a Dirt Road, there was always extra springtime income from when city dudes would get stuck. You’d have to hitch up a team and pull them out. Usually you got a dollar...always you got a new friend...at the end of a Dirt Road. Written by: Paul Harvey, American Radio Broadcaster 1918 - 2009

22 • Florida’s The Hidden Coast


A Local Perspective

JEFF CARY Carry On Destinations, Inc. Dixie County

The Hidden Coast is...a treasure trove for experiences with nature, both around you and hidden within you. Rediscover your natural self. While you are here... trek the Greenway Trail to the trestle over the Suwannee near Old Town and observe local residents - sturgeon, alligators, birds and humans – going about life on the water; visit the coastal villages of Suwannee - way down upon the river, Horseshoe Beach - on its island speckled bay and the sister fishing villages - Jena/Steinhatchee. One of my favorite things... is the Dixie Main Line road (my “jungle tour”) and its extensions - Willie Locke and Bowlegs roads. Drive from Suwannee to Jena via these primitive roads while observing the wildlife along creeks and coastal nature preserves. Locals know... the natural attractions and can help visitors, whether seeking some solitude or excitement, find their special spot. Surrounded on three sides by water, you are always close to great seafood dining, fresh or saltwater paddling, skiing, pleasure-boating, diving, fishing or hunting.

Top Ten AGAIN! The Old Florida Celebration of the Arts (OFCA) was once again named one of the Top 10 Juried Art Fairs in America in the ArtFairCalendar. com annual survey. That’s top 102, and 100 more reasons to attend this year’s celebration March 24 & 25. The OFCA has also received, for the 3x in the last four years, national recognition as one of the Top 5 Small Town Art Shows. Sums up traveling to the tiny Gulf Coast town of Cedar Key for the 54th Annual Spring Arts Festival a trip worth a 1000 times over. EXPERIENCE OLD WORLD FLORIDA IN AN INTIMATE VENUE 120 artists invited to the OFCA are selected by an experienced jury. Mass produced items or country crafts are not favored so that the artwork for sale — traditional 2D paintings, prints, and photography in addition to 3D ceramic, glass, wood, metal and mixed media sculpture — is finely and uniquely crafted with demonstrations scheduled for both days. Limiting the number of artists leaves room for a relaxed layout, notably more intimate from larger events that often host 250-300 artists and thousands more visitors. A TOP TEN COOLEST SMALL TOWN, TOO Experience one of the best art festivals in America during the 2018 Old Florida Celebration of the Arts March 24 (10-5) and 25 (10-4) in one of “America’s Coolest Small Towns” (Budget Traveler). The friendliness and hospitality of cool Cedar Key squared with this top ten festival, makes it a trip worth a thousand times over! March 24 (10-5) & March 25 (10-4), Historic 2nd Street Contact CedarKeyArtsFestival@gmail.com; 352-543-5400 www.CedarKeyArtsFestival.com Facebook “Old Florida Celebration of the Arts in Cedar Key”

TheHiddenCoastMag.com • 23


CEDAR KEY, FLORIDA

TIDE CHARTS

MARCH 2018

24 • Florida’s The Hidden Coast

APRIL 2018


MARCH 2018

APRIL 2018

TIDE CHARTS

SUWANNEE, FLORIDA

TheHiddenCoastMag.com • 25


Robert E. Lee in Florida

TE. Lee may not be aware that he had a very real

By: Toni C. Collins

hhose who have followed the career of Robert Nathaniel Green, who was the old Commander of Lee’s father, General Henry “Lighthorse Harry. personal interest in Florida. Many years before Lee When General Lee was returning from the West became well known for leading the Confederate Indies, where he had been recovering his health, he troops during the Civil War, he was a member landed at the plantation where he died on March of the Commission who made a detailed and 25, 1818. He was buried in the plantation garden. personal examination of the entire coast line of Florida from Pensacola to Jacksonville. During the winter and spring of 1870, General Lee’s health and was impaired. His daughter, Agnes In his function as Secretary of the Commission persuaded him to take a trip into the deep south. under the U.S. Engineer Department, Lee and On March 24th, the pair left Lexington, Virginia, three others, under an order dated September 8, and traveled south by rail, where Lee visited 1848, proceeded to Mobile, Cumberland Island once again. Alabama, to embark on the Lee wrote a letter to his wife revenue cutter USS commenting that the cemetery Phoenix, a schooner. The was unharmed but the house purpose of this directive of the had burned and the island was Engineer Department was to devastated. make an examination of the coasts of the West and East Lee continued on down the coasts of Florida from Pensacola St. Johns’ River and spent the Bay around to Amelia Island. night at the home of his close friend, Col. Robert G. Cole. The main objective of the Cole was a member of General Board order was to explore the Lee’s staff during the time Lee Coast of Florida to select and was in command of the Army designate the bays, harbors, in Virginia. On the return trip and inlets to be entered into the north, Lee and his daughter New System of Coastal Defense. visited Cumberland Island A prior special board already for the last time and Agnes reported on the Florida Reef, decorated her grandfather’s including Key West & the Dry grave with beautiful fresh Tortugas. The Phoenix being flowers. ready for sea when the Board members reported in, the vessel The final report of the Survey sailed on September 30th. of the Florida Coast submitted by the Commission found the Lee apparently visited Florida following. The relative value and four times during his life. His first visit was in importance of the Sea Coast of Florida for erection 1829, when he identified the details of several of coastal defenses: To receive first attention of harbors such as St. Josephs’ and Apalachicola. At the Government: St. Georges Island, Tampa Bay, that time the exploration did not include the entire and Biscayne Bay. To receive second attention: peninsula but only went south as far as Tampa Bay Cedar Cays and St. Johns River. To receive third on the West Coast and Indian River on the East attention: St. Andrews Sound, St. Josephs Bay, St. Coast. Marks River, and Charlotte Harbor. As submitted by R.E. Lee, Captain and Bvt. Col, Recorder to the Late in 1861, Lee was assigned to the command Board. of the department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Want to learn more? Readers can go to levycountyhistorical Florida, and he paid his first visit to Dungeness society.com to learn more about the Yulee family and also plantation on Cumberland Island, Georgia. historian and author, Toni C. Collins. You may also email her directly at toniccollins@att.net. Dungeness was the estate of Commander General

26 • Florida’s The Hidden Coast


Catching the Captain’s Drift Making the Spring Trout switch from super shallow to the 3-4’ range. As spring moves into full swing in March

to April we should be set to catch good Numbers of trout in the flats here in Horseshoe Beach. All it takes is short run to marker 9 turn right run out 1/8 to a ¼ mile west northwest to the torn down rack area and start fishing. This time of year is a favorite for most, because of the sheer numbers of good fish on the flats. Birds will be diving on bait pods as they move through our water and with them here come the schools of predator fish (Spanish, Trout, Blues and Reds) all of which make for a good pull on light inshore tackle. My rigs of choice this time of year are the weighted equalizer rigged with live shrimp or cut Pin fish when the sun is high in the sky or the top water plug early and late. This is prime time to focus on your drift patterns across the scattered grass patched flats. Start out in the areas that have large pot holes or cuts and as you pick up a few good fish mark the spot and after a couple 100 yards pull back and set up and make the same drift again. Repeat as long as you keep catching fish. This will help stack the odds in your favor to fill the fish box with a nice catch, once the fish are located. There is nothing wrong in asking for some support or directions to a good area to fish, However you stand a lot better chance if you pull the person to the side to ask for some helpful hints, most true fishermen will not give their best spots away however they will help you get close. Keep in mind if you tell everyone you see at the dock where you caught your good catch that good spot won’t be so good for long and support and direction won’t be so easy to come by. So if you are lucky enough to get some help keep it under wraps as long as possible. Nothing takes the place of your time on the water spent searching for that super-secret awesome fishing spot and is no better self-reward than to help a friend do the same once it is your invested time I guarantee you won’t be so quick to give it away either. Catch the Drift, Capt. Brett Up the Limit Fishing Adventures

Levy County Quilt Museum 11050 NW 10th Ave. Chiefland, FL 352-493-2801 www.levycountyquiltmuseum.org Welcome to the Withlacoochee Gulf Area Chamber of Commerce Withlacoochee Gulf Area Community, home of Yankeetown & Inglis and the beautiful Withlacoochee River designated as one of Florida’s Outstanding Waterways.  Our small towns are located at the south end of Levy County and are part of the Nature Coast of Florida.  We consider our beautiful “old Florida” towns your gateway to the Gulf of Mexico where you can actually “Follow That Dream” to an abundance of outdoor activities including boating, sailing, fishing, camping, hiking, bicycling, paddling, and birding on the river or on the Gulf.  When you visit Florida, be sure to come see our neck of the woods as Florida was meant to be.

Open Tuesday-Saturday 10 – 3 Free Admission | Free Parking RV’ers  Welcome | Large Parking Area

inglisyankeetownchamber.com

TheHiddenCoastMag.com • 27


Convicted By Capt Brian Smith, Big Bend Charters Steinhatchee The mission was to target sheepshead, also known as “convict fish” because they are black and white striped and notorious bait stealers. We were headed toward an offshore wreck. The day was perfectly ‘blue bird’ in the middle of March. A cold front had passed through a couple of days ago and another was on the way, but today was cloudless with slick water. Although we were bundled up like skiers on the lift, the non-Floridian garb kept us in Florida temperatures except for part of our faces. Strangely, the cold blow across our noses felt refreshing, lively. Twenty-five minutes into the ride I stopped for a ‘nature call’ and wiped the tears that had been pulled from my eyes. There was a trickle of water from each eye to the associated ear. The second leg of the journey went by quickly. During that time, I noticed the water clarity. At twenty-five knots I was seeing the bottom, thirty foot below! Was this saltwater or was I running across gin? The cold winter weather had forced the phytoplankton to fall out of the water column turning it gin clear. Water that clear makes the bottom machine not that necessary, one of the nice things about that is you can compare what is being displayed on the screen directly against reality. The GPS calculated the wreck site to be ~200 feet ahead on a 260 heading. That was pretty much straight ahead. For some reason, I peeked around the console. Astonished, I could see a large dark spot ahead on the bottom where the wreck should be. The closer we got, the more pronounced the wreck became. I put the motors in neutral so we would glide directly over the wreck. Inquisitive as a cat, I excused myself to the rail and looked overboard. I could see the hull and rigging as plain as looking through thick glass. Following my lead, the others went to the gunnels immediately carrying-on about the swarms of fish milling

28 • Florida’s The Hidden Coast

around the wreck. They were sheepshead. From the other side, one fellow blurted out, “What the @#$% is that?” I went over just in time to see the tail section of a huge fish jutting out a hole in the starboard bow before the boat moved forward and it went out of view. “That was a resident Jew fish”, (Goliath grouper for the PC minded, but I said Jew fish because I believe PC stands for Pussy Cat) I said. “How big do you think that fish is?” Was the rifled question. “Over three-hundred pounds, American”, I responded. The fish looked like a Volkswagen partially parked in the sunken shrimp boat. If seeing something like that ain’t cool, then I don’t know what cool is. The sheepshead were on that wreck like sand gnats on a bald man’s head on a warm evening. The boat vibrated with excitement. It was mostly I, I believe. I still get as excited about fishing as when I was a kid on a creek watching carp suck chunks of bread from the surface. It is the feeling of being fully alive a drug will never duplicate. The fishing poles were pre-rigged. The mate had cut a pile of frozen shrimp into ¾ inch pieces, if they were large enough to dice. All that was left to do was anchor well. That was up to me. But if it didn’t work out well the first try I’d blame the mate for dropping the anchor in the wrong place. Captains can be so vain. However, no one believes me in the first place when I point the finger at the mate, especially when I get another finger back at me from him. Its’ just for yucks; no harm no foul. We dogged the anchor rode off due to the lack of sea and the boat came to rest ten feet, or so, on the port side of the sunken boat. It was a great job, I felt humbly cocky. It was fishing time! Little B, our mate, had everyone baited up quickly. Everybody was more than ready to drop bait on that wad of fish.


The outfits were trout gear, ten-pound mainline, twenty-pound leader, ended with a quarter ounce jighead. The lightweight jighead allowed the bait to sink slowly through the fish, giving time for them to notice the bait going down, follow it before it became part of the bottom where they would have to hunt it. The technique worked like a charm. The exciting part was being able to watch it work. The angler knew he had a bite before he felt it because he watched the fish eat the piece of shrimp. Sometimes what he thought he saw didn’t happen yet and he would jerk the jighead away. That was great for the sheepshead because the shrimp would pull off the hook and the fish got a freebie. It didn’t matter when or how often that happened because the bite was so steady, a lost fish meant laughter. The cooler filled up faster than we cared for it to happen. Little B and I were somewhat happy when it was over because our hands were wellused pincushions with little red dots on fingers and palms. The ride back in was a glorious celebration; so much so, we didn’t notice the chill even though the temperature hadn’t rose much during the day. Seeing the wreck, watching the fish, watching the fish take the bait twenty plus feet below, catching fish on light tackle, a mate doing an outstanding job keeping folks fishing at a fast pace and the good attitude by some fine folks made the day unforgettable. We were privileged to watch a fish factory at work. The conditions of the day were such that I wish they would happen every time. But every time out isn’t that blessed, yet every time out is a blessing. On the way back in, I started thinking of what we did. I was happy because it was a lot of fun, yet in the back of my mind… I knew the fish were spawning, producing more fish. I watched some the large females leak eggs from the vent as she was tossed in the fish box. My thoughts were interrupted by conversation. But back at the dock, my thoughts came back to me as I watched the fish cleaner dress the fish. Large double sacs of eggs were washed down the shoot. Broken eggs sacs spewed gobs of eggs all over the cleaning station. They were rinsed away. I didn’t feel happy about that; the future was being flushed in front of me. I didn’t have to allow killing the egg-laden females to make the day. If they had been released, it would have prolonged the fun. I failed to look at the big picture; it’s the way I felt. I thought about just the guide boats that could easily haul in 60 to over 90 reproducing fish/trip/day. I didn’t want to be a member of that club. I was convicted.

I delved into the biology of sheepshead to get some footing on my feelings. The common weight is 1-8 pounds with a maximum weight of ~22 pounds. A twenty-pound sheepshead may be a fish of the past but could be a realistic future management goal. I can’t imagine a goliath sheepshead; the fight would be awesome! Sheepshead spawn from February through late April. Females drop, on average, 11,000 eggs, if inshore, and 250,000 eggs, if offshore, per spawning event. Spawning may occur several times per season. Intermittent spawning is an insurance policy that some spawn will occur during the most favorable conditions; all the eggs are not deposited in the same basket. Large females may produce over one million eggs per season. Eggs hatch within 28 hours when water temperature is 73 degrees. The males are sexually mature at three years and females’ need four years yet grow more rapidly than the males. Their lifespan is 20 plus years, meaning, left alone, they will reproduce for sixteen years or more. The juveniles live in sea grass flats or over mud bottom until large enough to mill around rock piles and pilings. Their diet is diverse including vegetation. Lettuce for bait? I had my conclusions. Fisheries management that allows a mass number of fishermen to hoard during a determinant spawning period fails to take into consideration the longevity of a specific fishery. Closing sheepshead fishing during their spawn would be initially unpopular, yet the preliminary feelings would fade once anglers started picking up more and more sheepshead in the creeks while red fishing. Perhaps a more agreeable solution would be to reduce the bag limit from 15 to 5 and have a brief closure during the peak of the spawn. Regardless, harvesting mature egg-laden females is senseless. Why cripple our children’s future fishing? After all, a large female sheepshead isn’t that much of an admiral prize. Would you hang it on your den wall? Sheepshead fishing is pure fun. Tossing back the big girls teaches a prudent lesson for those aboard, especially the youngsters while prolonging the action. It is a win win situation. Governing ourselves is better than being governed. Government management is an oxymoron that has historically been proven to be poor, regardless of the issue they indulge. Everything in excess is opposed to nature. -Hippocrates

TheHiddenCoastMag.com • 29


HORSESHOE BEACH, FLORIDA

TIDE CHARTS

MARCH 2018

30 • Florida’s The Hidden Coast

APRIL 2018


MARCH 2018

APRIL 2018

TIDE CHARTS

STEINHATCHEE, FLORIDA

TheHiddenCoastMag.com • 31


The Marina

Florida’s Last Frontier 262 3rd St. • Horseshoe Beach • (352) 498-5405 www.themarinainhorseshoebeach.com

Featuring Jake’s Waterfront Pub and non-ethanol gas. Open Fri. and Sat. 4-12 with live music weekends.

We also rent kayaks, bicycles, golf carts, fishing poles, crab traps plus a full line of scalloping supplies. Kayak Our Beautiful Shoreline!

DEPARTMENT

The Only Boat Lift in Horseshoe Beach!

March, 2018  
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