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Fishing and Oyster Men!

Aug 17, 2007
My trip to Apalachicola this time was only for a few days. Normally I try to spend a week or more there, but this time I had to limit myself to three days on the bay. After a tough winter, a walk on the beach in early spring was wonderful! A cold front came through on the third night and cooled off the whole area. I'm glad I didn't have to be on the water with the wind howling from the north. I'm a fair weather fisherman and cold winds make me shiver.

Early morning on St. George Island is what I dream about when I'm not there. I walked out on the deck of the property where we were staying, early enough to see the bright orange ball of the sun back lighting the entire bay. The shoreline, grass and docks were silhouettes of burnt umber, backlit by a burnt orange sun. Absolutely beautiful!

Finishing my coffee and a sausage biscuit, I launched my kayak and began paddling my way toward St. George Island State Park. I saw a couple of oyster boats a couple of hundred yards away, racing toward oyster bars. I stopped and watched one of them slide up to a spot he had obviously worked before, for he knew exactly where it was.

Standing up in his long thin boat with a little shack on top, he picked up the tongs he would use to harvest oysters. There was another man in the boat who would be culling the oysters as they were brought up, making sure that each one was at least the legal size of 3 inches long. I envied then the freedom this kind of occupation afforded them, but only for a moment.

By nature I'm a lazy man and tonging for oysters is hard work, not to mention back breaking work! The oysterman was using a long handled device that looked a little like a two-headed rake, but operated like a post hole digger. Plunging that contraption into the water and bringing it up to the boat all day long is hard enough, but then you have to take those oysters home and someone has to shuck them! I've done a little oyster shucking and it's not easy either!

Leaving them to their work, I began paddling again toward the grass beds near the State Park. Here there were no docks sticking out in the water, just a natural shoreline that continued for at least 8 miles before it ran out of island. The next little Island was Dog Island, but I wasn't going that far. I didn't need to; I had enough water and cover for fish to last all day long without trying another island.

I tied on a gold spoon onto my 8lb. test line. Using a spinning rod and reel, I cast near the grass and retrieved the spoon at a moderate pace. Nothing! Moving on down the shore line I fished for a half hour and decided that the fish were not in the grass beds this morning.

The great thing about having miles of water is that you have plenty to choose from. I began paddling in the open water between oyster bars and changed my bait to a silver spoon and immediately I caught a speckled trout. After an hour I had my limit and headed back to the house to see what the rest of the family was doing.

Tonight was our night to stay in and have a seafood feast. We cleaned the fish and put them on ice for the evening meal. Oysters, shrimp, and scallops were waiting in the seafood shops on the island and across the bridge into either East Point, where you turn right off the bridge from St. George Island, or Apalachicola to the left. We turned right.
East Point, Florida is truly a fishing town, right out of the history books! It looks like it's straight out of a Hollywood film. It has a fish market where you can buy shrimp, oysters and scallops. They also have a oyster house where oystermen sell their catch of the day. There was a "Help Wanted" sign on the door. Well, not exactly a sign, it said, "Oystermen Wanted" on the flap of an old card board box.

In addition to a couple of store fronts catering to fishing charters, there was a convenience store that was bulging with a little bit of everything you could imagine and a thrift store run by the local church. There was a diner that looked as if it had been closed for years. There may have been a couple of other businesses but I can't remember what they were. All in all, a great little fishing town!

We picked up the fresh seafood and other items then went back across the bridge and prepared for the evening's meal. Even cooking is fun on the island!
About the Author
Bob Alexander is well experienced in outdoor cooking, fishing and leisure living. Bob is also the author and owner of this article. Visit his sites at:
http://www.redfishbob.com
http://www.bluemarlinbob.com
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