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Tag: lodging

The Revival of Mary’s Fish Camp–A Hernando County Landmark

by on Sep.16, 2015, under Hernando and Pasco Gulf Coast

Mary's Fish Camp--A Hernando County Landmark! 8092 Marys Fish Camp Rd, Weeki Wachee, FL 34607

Mary’s Fish Camp–A Hernando County Landmark!
8092 Marys Fish Camp Rd, Weeki Wachee, FL 34607 www,marysfishcamp.org


I’d bet that the number of “legitimate” fish camps in the state of Florida can be counted on the fingers of both my hands.  With Florida’s rapid growth and the desire of the tourist and native population for hotels with hot tubs, free breakfast buffets and beach access, the few fish camps with cabins, RV parking, shoreline fishing, and the simpler things in life have been pushed aside in the name of “progress”.

Mary's is simple, with 3 cabins, a bait shop, and 16 RV spaces, on the Mudd River.

Mary’s is simple, with 3 cabins, a bait shop, and 16 RV spaces, on the Mud River near Weeki Wachee, Florida

When I wrote ” The Saltwater Angler’s Guide to Tampa Bay and Southwest Florida”, I started with a chapter on Hernando County.  At that time (2011), Mary’s was one of the few places to stay in the Weeki Wachee/Bayport area that reminded me of the “real Florida”.  After the book was published, and after Mary’s death, the place fell into disrepair and was soon closed.

Fishing from the seawall at Mary's is a local tradition--and a bargain at $6 a person!

Fishing from the seawall at Mary’s is a local tradition–and a bargain at $6 a person!

I’m happy to say that Mary’s has been revived and is scheduled to re-open in early October, 2015.  With lots of hard work, fond memories, and some cash, several local entrepreneurs are returning Mary’s to its original “glory”.  A simple place.  A place to relax.  A place to fish.

The cabins at Mary's have been rebuilt, with new kitchens and air-conditioning!

The cabins at Mary’s have been updated, with new kitchens and air-conditioning!

Mary’s is located at the end of Mary’s Fish Camp Road (where else?), just off Cortez Blvd, west of US19 in Bayport.  The Mud River flows downriver from Mary’s to the Gulf.  Along the way, it’s met by the flow of the “famous for mermaids” Weeki Wachee River.

marys 6

And, if you’re wondering why Mary’s Fish Camp is there, it’s simple.  There’s great fishing and scalloping just outside the Mud River on the Bayport flats, as well as near the multitude of shallow rocky outcrops that dot the Gulf coastline here.


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Cross City’s Historic Putnam Lodge to Re-Open in Early 2014

by on Jan.17, 2014, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS, Horseshoe Beach, Keaton Beach to Fenholloway, Steinhatchee, Suwannee

Ed and Beverly Pivacek are excited about tourism in Dixie County and the Florida Nature Coastline.  As a result, they’re re-opening the historic Putnam Lodge in Cross City.  Licenses have been obtained and it will open its doors for business by early February, with its kitchen and restaurant likely opening by early March.  If you’re heading to Steinhatchee, Horseshoe Beach or Suwannee on a fishing (or summer scalloping) trip, this will be THE place to stay inshore of those ports.  Ed can be contacted at (813) 390-4489.

Putnam Lodge “Then”
Putnam Lodge “Now”

Here’s some history:

Putnam Lodge, built in 1927-28 by the Putnam Lumber Company, is part of a bygone era in Florida’s forestry history. Here, beside the old Dixie Highway, Putnam Lodge, part of the “company town” of Shamrock, accommodated tourists, transients and company executives and clients. The lobby and the dining room of the 36-room lodge were decorated exclusively with the still preserved, artfully stenciled “pecky cypress,” a now virtually extinct lumber product. In its day, the Putnam Lumber Company, founded by William O’Brien, a timber magnate of Irish descent, and associates including E. B. Putnam, employed hundreds at its two state-of-the-art sawmills in Shamrock. The mills annually produced and shipped worldwide millions of feet of “deep swamp tidewater cypress” and “dense Florida longleaf yellow pine” lumber, products that are now rare because the old growth trees are gone. Shamrock provided its residents and employees with comfortable homes, a commissary, a store comparable to “any city department store,” two schools, two hotels, the Shamrock Dairy Farm, and an ice plant producing 18 tons of ice daily. The lodge is representative of a time of local timber supremacy and economic prosperity.

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You’ll Find Everything You Need at Punta Gorda’s Fishermen’s Village

by on Aug.12, 2013, under TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA, Upper Charlotte Harbor

Shopping, eating, fishing, boating, swimming or just plain “hanging out” in a nicely-appointed rental condo–you’ll find it all at Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda.

Fishermen's Village Resort is conveniently located on the Punta Gorda harborfront.

Don't miss a waterfront meal on the patio at The Captain's Table Restaurant at Fishermen's Village

Locally-owned and operated shops and restaurants below, with rental condo above. Fishermen's Village is a one-stop destination.

Cool off from the summer heat at Fishermen's Village

Spectacular Charlotte Harbor sunsets are the end to a perfect day at Fishermen's Village.

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Resurrection at “Fat Point”–Punta Gorda Has Come A Long Way Since Hurricane Charley!

by on Aug.11, 2013, under TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA, Upper Charlotte Harbor

I remember driving from Gainesville to Fort Myers in the fall of 2004 and seeing nothing but blue tarps and crushed mangroves alongside I-75 south of the Venice exits.  That was the year we had to postpone the annual meeting of the Florida Outdoor Writers Association, and push it back to October.  And even two months later, when we finally had the Conference at Venice, much of southwest Florida was still in ruin.  Punta Gorda, or “fat point” as its name translates in Spanish, took the worst hit.  Many historic building were destroyed and the downtown was literally flattened and flooded.  Only a few structures remained, and those that did struggled.  Only after a huge community effort (and millions of dollars!) did Punta Gorda become what it is today.  Extremely walkable and bikeable, with over 50 independently-owned restaurants, shops and 4 very nice harbor-front hotels, Punta Gorda has become an excellent destination for anglers and sportsmen wanting to take advantage of Charlotte Harbor’s bounty.

The rooftop bar at the Wyvern Hotel is a great place to watch the sunset.

I can’t think of many more communities  the size of Punta Gorda that are more angler-friendly.  There are excellent boat ramps, marinas, and the city’s location at the mouth of the Peace River, in upper Charlotte Harbor, makes running to some great fishing spots easy.  You can read about fishing in The Saltwater Angler’s Guide To Tampa Bay and Southwest Florida, but now take a visual tour of “Fat Point”

Sunset along the waterfront at Punta Gorda

Dinner's great at Laishley Crab House, on the Peace River

Punta Gorda's bikes are free. Just be sure to return yours!

Laishley Park, Marina and Boat ramp complex is just upriver from town

Feeling old? Take a sip from Punta Gorda's Fountain of Youth. Just hold your nose!

Some original structure remains from pre-Hurricane Charley days.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night fun at Dean's Tex-Mex

Punta Gorda has over 50 independently-owned restaurants

The Sheraton Four Points Hotel is conveniently located harborside.

Fishermen's Village offers lodging, shopping, bars, restaurants, dockage and access to great charterboats!

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Looking for Lodging in Punta Gorda? Give Some Thought to The Four Points by Sheraton Harborside

by on Aug.08, 2013, under TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA, Upper Charlotte Harbor

When they say “Harborside” at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Punta Gorda, they mean it!  Nestled between the north and southbound lanes at the southern end of the US41/Punta Gorda Bridge over the Peace River, this place couldn’t be more perfectly situated in terms of a leisurely walk to one of  downtown’s many excellent shops and restaurants.  Or to a fishing trip in and around Charlotte Harbor!

The Four Points by Sheraton is conveniently located withiin easy reach of downtown Punta Gorda's food and fun.

The modern hotel features deluxe guest rooms, decorated in a muted nautical theme, as well as a pool, tiki bar, excellent restaurant, and business lounge for guests. And, with a parking lot large enough to handle a boat and trailer, what more could a traveling angler expect?

Enjoy the sophisticated comfort of the Four Points by Sheraton when you return from a busy day on the water.

Maybe access to the mouth of the Peace and Myakka Rivers as well as to all of Charlotte Harbor, where some of the best fishing in Florida happens?  If you’re not sure about the area, you’ll find the folks up the street (320 Cross Street, to be exact) at Waterproof Charts willing to help you select the proper fishing or navigation chart for your trip.  These are some of the best charts around, and I highly recommend that newcomers and seasoned visitors keep a copy of their Charlotte Harbor & Lemon Bay (#1F) handy on every fishing trip here.  Another valuable asset and neighbor to the hotel is Laishley Park Municipal Marina, with a boat launch and other facilities suited to fishing the local waters.

Laishley Marina has 85 boat slips and a public boat launch. It features a Day Room for a shower and cleanup and has Boater's Bathrooms which include showers. It also includes a large Community Room which is intended for use by community groups, private functions and civic and corporate meetings.

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Weston’s WannaB Inn, Englewood Beach At Its Finest! Fisherman Friendly, too!

by on Aug.07, 2013, under CAPT. TOMMY'S BOOK SIGNINGS, TALKS, TRAVELS, Siesta Key to Boca Grande, TAMPA BAY AND SOUTHWEST FLORIDA, Upper Charlotte Harbor

As a kid, in the 1960s, my parents’ idea of a great vacation was to drive to the border of Sarasota and Charlotte County and stay in a small motel at Englewood Beach.  There, we’d swim during the day and usually fish for snook all night.  Englewood Beach takes up the southern, Charlotte County, end of Manasota Key, and is accessed by a bridge from the mainland south of Englewood “proper”.  The island’s main road is Gulf Blvd, which runs from the entrance to Stump Pass State Park all the way to the northern end of the island.

Lodging options at the WannaB Inn Range from low-rise to high rise. All are comfortable and nicely appointed.

The fishing's great at Englewood Beach, as is the beachgoing!

At the aforementioned southern end of Gulf Blvd (At #985, to be exact and to help your GPS), lies Weston’s WannaB Inn, a true Florida treasure, and one of the most angler-friendly lodgings in the area.  At the WannaB Inn, you can launch your boat and tie up to one of the three docks on Lemon Bay, or rent a boat (powered by one of those “green” 5HP outboards that runs on propane).  Then, you can fish Lemon Bay while the rest of your crew basks in the sun at the pool or the beach, or takes a walk down Stump Pass State Park to the pass.  There are 80 clean and nicely-appointed rooms and suites at the WannaB, each with comfortable appointments, including kitchens.  And for the folks who just can’t get away from their iphones and ipads, there’s full Wi-Fi throughout the property.

Going fishing in Charlotte County is wonderful, but so is the local food.  I recommend you take the 15-minute drive to Placida and eat at least one dinner at The Fishery Restaurant (13000 Fishery Road, Placida, FL  33946  PH: (941) 697-2451).  There, always ask about the specials, and if they have shrimp and scallops over pasta, give it a try.  You’ll enjoy the food and the view to the docks and Charlotte Harbor.

Make the short drive to Placida's Fishery Restaurant

Enjoy the eclectic interior at The Fishery

Don't misss the scallops and shrimp at The Fishery

...and don't forget the view!

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Sea Hag Marina in Steinhatchee Makes Major Lodging Upgrades

by on Apr.05, 2011, under Steinhatchee

For the last couple of years, despite my loyalty to The Sea Hag Marina in Steinhatchee, I’ve been ‘down’ on recommending lodging there.  The motel rooms at Paces’ Cottages across the street had become run down and while the lodging at the marina was somewhat better, it still lacked in amenities and decor.

Paces Cottage, exterior

Paces' Cottages' motel rooms show vast improvement with new paint job.

One of the big problems with the Paces’ properties was that while the Sea Hag handled rentals, they didn’t own the place.  Now the units are part of the Sea Hag Empire and thanks to owner Charlie Norwood’s spending some money and Audrey Switalski doing some decorating and painting, they’re really very nice.  The rooms are cozy, and the new beds, linens, microwaves, flat-screen TVs and coffee-makers make them an excellent value for your next fishing trip.

Paces interior

The motel rooms at Steinhatchee's Paces' Cottages are cozy and clean.

There are five lodging choices that are actually on the grounds of the Sea Hag.  One, the Ragin’ Redfish, is atop the Ship’s Store. The Mermaid Cove is located just to the west of the marina and offers dockage, a hot tub, and a ‘romantic’ 4-poster bed.  The Grouper Shack, the Scallop Place and the Skallywag Shack have all been updated, too.  Visit the Sea Hag’s Web site for details and rates. And don’t forget to make your reservations soon for scallop season!

dining area towards hot tub

Enjoy a meal indoors or a soak in the hot tub after a hard day of fishing at Steinhatchee, Florida

mermaid living room

The view of the Steinhatchee River from the living room at the Sea Hag Marina's Mermaid Cove is spectacular!

dining room ragin redfish

New furniture makes the Ragin Redfish the perfect place for a fish dinner!

living room ragin redfish

Relax in style in the Ragin Redfish at Steinhatchee's Sea Hag Marina

four-poster bed at Mermaid Cove

The bedroom/common area at the Sea Hag Marina's Mermaid Cove has been totally redecorated.

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Lodging at Sea Hag Marina, Steinhatchee–Rooms Upgraded and Re-Decorated!

by on Feb.03, 2011, under Steinhatchee

The folks (Charlie and Danielle) at the Sea Hag Marina in Steinhatchee have begun upgrading and fixing up their rental rooms and houses.   This is just in time for the Third Annual Steinhatchee Fiddler Crab Festival that’s coming up February 18-20.  Give the Hags at ‘The Hag’ a call today at (352) 498-3008 to reserve accommodations!

Grouper Shack

The Grouper Shack at the Sea Hag Marina, Steinhatchee, FL

The Scallywag Shack

The Scallywag Shack at the Sea Hag Marina, Steinhatchee, FL

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Stunning Low Price for a Luxury (Fishing) Vacation at Steinhatchee Landing Resort

by on Dec.01, 2010, under Steinhatchee

From December 1, 2010 until June 15, 2011, if you stay four or more nights at the Steinhatchee Landing Resort, you’ll receive a 50% discount on your room!  That’s a deal–and there’s some pretty good fishing in Steinhatchee, too.  Come see us!

Vacation in style at Steinhatchee Landing

Vacation in style at Steinhatchee Landing

Stay in one of the Spice Cottages at Steinhatchee Landing Resort

Stay in one of the Spice Cottages at Steinhatchee Landing Resort

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