On the way to Pine Island, a left turn onto a gravel road brings you to a spot with a long history.
Established in 1946, Mary’s Fish Camp has hosted families from all over the world in its cabins and RV spots.
Locals, as well, have lined up along the seawall to catch Mullet, Sheepshead, Snapper and Drums for their dinner. Some visitors have told of childhood vacations spent at the fish camp when they have come back to visit the place from their memories. One family brought the ashes of their beloved, deceased father to scatter in the river, in a place of peace and tranquility.
For the past few years, Mary’s Fish Camp has been closed and had fallen into disrepair.
Thanks to the efforts of a group of Brooksvillians, whose Managing Members include George Foster, Blair Hensley, and Kent Eppley, the fish camp has re-opened with updated plumbing, electrical and roadwork.
George Foster jokes, “I am the oldest of the eleven member group… You can print that. Yes, print that.”
He laughs as he sits on a rocker in front of the general store watching the day’s fishermen. Every so often, he interrupts the conversation to point out a new fish being reeled in on someone’s line.
When asked what his motivation was for purchasing the camp, George says, “It’s a really cool place. I used to come here.”
He got involved in helping the former owner to bring the camp back into compliance with local zoning regulations. When it went on the market, George and friends made an offer and now Mary’s is once again a destination. “So many people have memories here,” George says.
“It’s a really cool place. I used to come here…So many people have memories here.”
– George Foster
Since re-opening, a group of regular patrons line the seawall in their folding lawn chairs. One gentleman carries a counter to ensure that he does not exceed the limit of 50 mullet per day. Each guard their secret bait and chum techniques used to make the most of their fishing experience.
Mary’s Fish Camp has three cabins with full kitchens and bathrooms as well as 17 RV sites.
Fishing off the seawall is included in all rental prices. Daily visitors can pay a modest fee for fishing. The property maintains a group fishing license that allows its patrons to fish off the shore without obtaining an individual Florida fishing license.
The store is open seven days a week, with Patti at the register to greet customers on most days.
They sell boiled peanuts, Golden Flake® potato chips as well as fishing poles, tackle, chum, sunglasses, suntan lotion, towels, Frisbees®, and more. RC® Cola and MoonPies® are coming soon to complete the nostalgic feel.
Plans for the future include possible kayak and canoe rentals, bait sales, and a new floating dock.