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Florida’s Fishing Traditions….Sebastian

November 19, 2009

“To true fishermen, independent and rugged living means more than any modern convenience.  A true fisherman, a real salt, if you will, they like that independence.  They like the solitude.  They like the river. They like the ocean.  It’s the thrill of the hunt.  It’s the chase.  It’s the pursuit.  Most of the real true fishermen are self-reliant people.  They fix their own equipment.  They’re electricians, they’re plumbers, they’re welders, they’re fiberglass men, and they’re carpenters.  They very much don’t want to depend on anybody else.  It’s really that rugged breed that you don’t see a lot of today.”
-Charlie Sembler, fisherman from Sebastian, Florida.

Sebastian, Florida has seen its share of “salts” like most waterfront communities in the state. There are countless stories to be heard and history to be re-visited. Now you can hear these tales of the community of Sebastian, a waterfront region that was separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a barrier island, the Indian River Lagoon. The goal for many years was to cut an inlet through the barrier island to gain access to the fisheries of the Atlantic Ocean and the abundance of fish and shellfish ripe for the picking. The creation of the Sebastian Inlet introduced a flow of saltwater into the center of the freshwater lagoon.  The brackish water allowed the Indian River to become the most species-diverse lagoon in North America.

Our seafood department has produced a video documentary about the city of Sebastian and the Indian River Lagoon. The video can be found here. Five additional videos will be produced to highlight some of Florida’s other working waterfronts in the following locations: Keys/Miami, Cortez, Tarpon Springs, Destin/Apalachicola, and Jacksonville/Mayport/St. Augustine. These videos will detail the historical development of each area’s commercial fishing industry and spotlight the fishermen who carry on the fishing legacy today.

So pull up a chair and lend an ear for a little taste of Sebastian’s history.  You might become hooked!

photos from flickr 1, 2, 3

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