Photo Gallery | Mayport Florida: Catch Fish, Buy Fish, or Eat Fish
Founded in 1562, Mayport, Florida, is located just north of Jacksonville Beach, and is adjacent to the Mayport Naval Base. Home for shrimp boats which plow the waters of north Florida every morning before sunrise, Mayport is a favorite stop for locals who want fresh seafood. In Mayport, you can catch it, buy it to take home, or eat it in one of the several restaurants.
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Growing up in Jacksonville, we would regularly travel to this area to get to the jetties to cast nets for shrimp. When the shrimp were "running," we could fill a five-gallon bucket in an hour. When the shrimp were not running, it may take a day to fill a half of a bucket. Shrimping is simple. At low tide, you place a stake along the shore with a meal ball that will attract the shrimp. When the tide rises, the shrimp congregate around the food, and then you cast your net near your stake. Strangely, we had the best luck in the evening in the dark. Never really could figure out why, but we were always anxious to return during the evening hours, knowing that we would have a good catch.
As we were selecting our spot for Sunday's outing, we saw a man sitting in his truck. Walking past his truck, we struck up a quick conversation. That's another delightful part of our travels to Mayport. It's such a relaxing quiet area of Florida that everyone is quite welcoming when it comes to conversation. Of course, most of our talk is centered upon "fish tales." This older Southern gentleman sitting in his truck told us that he often visits this one spot along the St. Johns River to reminisce about the good times he had with his father. Recounting the memories of his father, he told us that he and his father (who had passed away at 95 years old) had shared many days of fishing, watching boats come and go, and just being together. Surely, many people in and around Mayport have those special memories. After spending some time along the strand, we decided to pack up and do what a lot of fishermen do, but never reveal.
We found a fresh seafood market that had what we needed for our Sunday evening supper at just the right price. Not only did we pick up some large shrimp, but we met Abe. At first, we thought Abe was the guard dog. But, upon inquiry, the shrimper told us that he had put Abe behind a fence, closed the gate, and left for work. Later, using his tracking skills, Abe arrived to share his day with the shrimper. I guess that is the true meaning of a tracking dog. Well-behaved and just happy to be a part of the sales team, Abe was sad to see us leave, but all fun things must come to an end.
Leaving Mayport, you have two options for departure. You can exit by Route 1A (Ocean Street/Mayport Road) or catch the St. Johns River Ferry across to Heckscher Drive and Fort George Island. If you choose the Ferry ride, then you have another adventure just ahead of you if you head to Fort George Island, Amelia Island, and Fernandina Beach, but that's for another day. We chose to exit by way of Route 1A and Wonderwood Drive to the bridge, with a quick stop at the Fort Caroline Ribault Column, which is one of my favorite spots in Jacksonville. I enjoy the high bluff (St. Johns Bluff) and lookout because I feel on top of the world, but yet all alone. Historically, the Ribault Monument commemorates the 1562 landing of Jean Ribault near the mouth of the St. Johns River. Ribault erected a stone column bearing the coats of arms of his French King Charles IX to claim Florida for France. It's really a special place that some locals and tourists miss. Be prepared for heat if you visit in the summer. You may just prefer to put it on the list of "things to visit" in the Fall.
THIS INFORMATION WAS COMPILED BY RADIO SPORTS TALK HOST AND JACKSONVILLE GIANTS TELEVISION PLAY BY PLAY ANNOUNCER RICHARD MILLER. AT 26, RICHARD MILLER IS THE YOUNGEST RADIO SPORTS TALK HOST IN THE NATION. HIS SHOW, MILLER ON SPORTS, AIRS WEEKDAYS FROM 4:00 TO 6:00 P.M. ON AM 1600 – THE BEACH. LISTEN TO MILLER ON SPORTS. “EVERYTHING ELSE IS JUST TALK.” All photographs and images are the property of Miller On Sports. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Photos by: B.L. Miller
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By: B.J. Wilson
Date: July 15, 2012