Early Hells Bay Boatworks History

SketchIf you’re interested in the origins of Hells Bay Boatworks, Chris Morejohn has been writing about his involvement in the beginnings of the company, his skiff design philosophies, building methods, techniques, and what was going on at the time in skiff building that set the Hells Bay designs and the skiff building industry on a new course.

Also on his blog are some great images of skiffs in variuos stages of design, experimentation and repair that Chris was working on during the early 80’s in Islamorada for clients like Carl Navarre, Dick Negly, Bert Scherb, Hal Chittum and others.

Vintage Florida Fishing Images

Whale shark recovered from shallow water (1912) it weighed 30,000 pounds and was 45 feet long. Photo: State Archives of Florida

A whale shark recovered from shallow water in  (1912) it weighed 30,000 pounds and was 45 feet long.
Photo: State Archives of Florida

As these vintage photographs illustrate, Florida has attracted the curious and adventurous to test its waters for centuries.



Zane Grey and Bonefish Oblivion

Author and Keys fishing pioneer Zane Grey. Photo: IGFA

Author and Keys fishing pioneer Zane Grey.
Photo: IGFA

Grey referred to the trancelike state sometimes achieved aboard a skiff after hours spent beneath the hot sun attempting to sneak up on schools of bonefish as “bonefish oblivion.”





Currituck Sound Skiffs

A Currituck Duck Skiff

A Currituck Duck Skiff

Currituck Sound, along North Carolina’s Northern Outer Banks is one of the world’s great duck hunting venues.  I grew up in a family of duck hunters and was fortunate to hunt there on occasion.  It is an area steeped in watermen culture, tradition, and boat-building dating back more than a century.  In an effort to preserve and document the area’s unique boating culture and boat-building skills, students at East Carolina University are creating digitized models of deteriorating wooden skiffs from the likes of legendary Currituck boat builders such as Pat O’Neal and Oscar Roberts not only for historical preservation, but also as a tool for understanding how to re-create and model shipwrecked vessels.






Original 1971 Bassmaster Classic Rebel

1971 Classic Rebel

1971 Classic Rebel

In 1971, Ray Scott, the Founder of B.A.S.S. secretly ordered 24 identical boats from a little known manufacturer for selected anglers to fish an unknown to them location in the very first Bassmaster Classic.  When their chartered plane landed in Las Vegas, Nevada to fish Lake Mead, the boats were lined up, numbered and waiting in the water.  40 years later, a numbered red boat caught the eye of North Carolinian Doyle Hodgin while driving down the road.  What he discovered that day is thought to be the only surviving boat from that event.

“A Land Remembered” Author Patrick D. Smith Passes

A Land RememberedIf you’ve done any reading on Florida frontier life, you’ve likely read Patrick D. Smith’s Florida classic, “A Land Remembered”.  Considered a must read by anyone interested in and familiar with Florida pioneer history, “A Land Remembered” traces the path of several generations of the MacIvey family scratching out a living in the desolate and harsh wilderness of pioneer Florida.


Recently Discovered Julian Dimock Work on Display

 “Enchantments: The Photographic Adventures of Julian Dimock, 1904-1913,”

“Enchantments: The Photographic Adventures of Julian Dimock, 1904-1913,”

Frequently traversing the Everglades and Cypress Hammocks by dug-out canoe, few photographers captured Florida’s wild frontier past like Julian Dimock.  His photographs captured an area few had ever seen, and even fewer photographed, while his portraits offer a rare glimpse of the frontiersmen and Florida natives who’s way of life has long since vanished.

Through March 29, the Marco Island Historical Museum will present a slice of Florida’s past with a collection of Dimock’s prints depicting his time in Southwest Florida shortly after the turn of the twentieth-century.


Video: “Save the Sawfish”

Smalltooth SawfishPRESSLAUNCH (www.presslaunch.us) produced this video for the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation and Hell’s Bay.  It features Hell’s Bay owner Chris Peterson, the Miami Herald’s Sue Cocking, IGFA president Rob Kramer, University of Florida scientist George Burgess, and a guide out of Bud N’ Mary’s.

The video is a truly unique look at Florida’s largest inshore fish, the first marine species protected by the Endangered Species Act, and one of the most endangered fish on Earth– the smalltooth sawfish. [Read more…]

Stu Apte and the Citrus Queen

Stu Apte Citrus QueenAh, the good ole days, when real men poled standing next to the engine and beauty queens coated in coconut oil observed the action from the comfort of genuine naugahyde.

There’s plenty of angling detail in this old video, including the use of a “stiffener” inserted into the fiberglass rod butt, Stu applying finger pressure to the line, and a demonstration of how hard it was to set a hook in the days of highly flexible rods and thick wire hooks. Stu was likely fishing in one of the Lower Keys bights where guides of the era had discovered some very large laid-up tarpon. [Read more…]

USS Bonefish

USS Bonefish Gato-class Sub

Wikipedia Image

The U.S. Gato-class submarine Bonefish was commissioned in 1943 and completed seven patrols in the Pacific, sinking or damaging more than 30 Japanese ships before being sunk in a destroyer counterattack on her eighth cruise.  In 1959 another USS Bonefish was commissioned and sponsored by the widow of the first Bonefish‘s captain.

Wikipedia mistakenly suggests that the original Bonefish was named after a fish that was either the ladyfish, dogfish, or sturgeon.  In fact surviving Chief Warrant Officer Cornelius R. (Bart) Bartholomew provided an image of the Bonefish wardroom scoreboard with a clear illustration of a bonefish.