An Expedition to Florida's Forgotten Coast. October 16 - 23 2011. Sunday to Sunday
I am offering a 3rd trip to Tates Hell and the FSU Marine Lab. This time we will stay longer and have more leisure time but if some of you are so inclined i will let you wear yourself out with maps and legends, seines, dipnets and snorkeling. I really think an additional couple of days to relax and enjoy the facility and region at a leisurely pace will be much appreciated by all.
Florida State University's Marine Lab's gated compound is located 1 hour below Tallahassee and right on the coastline looking South into the Gulf of Mexico. It has a wonderful view, interesting facilities to explore and will provide for a comfortable base. We will reside in their Beach House located right on the water. In past visits we have walked and waded the beaches during low tide, and at night by moonlight or lantern finding Sting Rays, Horseshoe Crabs, Flounder, Batfish and Jellyfish along with schools of Killiefish and Needlefish, pods of pulsing Squid and a green eyed Alligator. We have cast nets for Mullet and hooked Speckled Trout from the docks. We have marveled at and attempted to discern the diversity that lay within our nets. We have felt the sun's autumn warmth by day and nearly touched the Milky Way by night. During past visits we have seined the rivers, barrow pits, ditches and swamps of Tate's Hell which borders the vast Apalachicola National Forest to the North. We have snorkeled the cool, clear waters of the Wakula and a beautiful slough lush with plants, fish and life. We dove into the blue waters of the Cherokee sinkholes and lunched on the high bluffs and down by the sulpher springs. We measured Old Joe and found the gator's length a bit exaggerated and then dined in fine southern fashion at the historical Wakula Lodge. We have rode whales and fiberglass sharks and poked our fingers and arms into places we were told not to. Yet no one been lost, forgotten or eaten, but all have shared in the finest the sea offered from Blue Crab, Gulf Shrimp and Apalachicola Oysters, to freshly Smoked Mullet, softshell Crab sandwiches and bait shop Squid cleaned, ringed and fried. We walked up the tower of wood and overlooked the vast stand of dwarfed Cypresses. Fish, life and water are everywhere and i have yet to see it all, even after so many trips.
With limited space, we have the opportunity to continue the adventure again.
I am going to reserve the FSU Beach House for a full week, October 16 - 23, a Sunday to Sunday gathering, limited to 10 NANFA Fishheads. The cost is $500 per person which includes our beach house, the makings for each of our morning breakfasts and roadside lunches, and a variety of snacks and drinks for along the way. Most, if not all of the fees, will be included to the various facilities and activities we will visit. Nights, at individual expense, we will visit nearby seafood restaurants or perhaps cook some freshly caught or locally acquired fish, shrimp, crab or self seined Redfin Pickerel in the house's kitchen or on the outside grill.
The weather should be dry, the water low and the summer heat gone, and hopefully most of the bugs too. Alternate and backup plans for rainy days are a visit to the Gulf Specimens Marine Lab in Panacea or westward to the new Apalachicola Nature Center. Every past trip we have enjoyed the jungle cruise, swim, snorkel and high dive at Wakula Spring. We may even take FSU's trawling boat out into the gulf waters if we are so inclined.
We will encounter a wide variety of native fish from Bluefin Killies to melanistic Golden Topminnows and Sailfin Shiners. Big and small, beautiful or beastly, we have observed well over 35 species of freshwater fish in past visits.
Waders are required for safety in the swamps and caution is a must with alligators, water mocassins and other unseen concerns. Bring your snorkel gear for the amazing underwater views of the Wakula's spring, river, its tribs or clear lakes out in Tates Hell.
A freshwater fishing license is required, all laws are to be respected and no over collecting will be acceptable while staying at the FSU Marine Lab. Keeping a few souvenir fish is certainly ok. This adventure is to be experienced for its natural wonder and is not an opportunity for wholesale collecting. Alcohol is prohibited at the lab but quiet evening discretion has been tolerated during our stays. Smoking is not allowed in the house. The lodging is a 4 bedroom beach house, 2 of which are fitted with bunkbeds, 2 full baths, a nice kitchen and large living area opening to a patio and the sea. Outside showers are available and we have access to the compound by night. Video, TV and the internet is generally available. Cell phones work pretty well in the flat expanse of the panhandle.
Send a check for $250. to reserve your space as soon as possible. We are limiting this to 10 NANFA members to simplify logistics and for housing comfort. Make your check out to NANFA but send it to Casper Cox, 1200 Dodds Avenue, Chattanooga, TN, 37404.
Include your phone number and email address so i can keep you updated. My phone number is 423-624-0721 if you have any questions.
Your deposit check is generally non-refundable as the house must be reserved in advance and expenses will be incurred. The remaining $250 is due upon your arrival. Any additional monies, after all expenses, will be contributed to NANFA.
You can read about past adventures in the Spring 2005 American Currents, the Summer 2006 issue, or the Winter 2009 AC written by Keith Hudgins.
I have included a photo collage of our last visit in 2009.
Edited by Casper, 26 August 2011 - 04:10 PM.