Author Archives: nelsonhouse
How cool! Gorgeous location-aware audio walks made special for Austin in collaboration with with Radiolab launching for SXSW 2015
Download the app (free for a limited time)!
‘Before the streets of Austin were lit with electric lights, they were electrified by something else: news of the Servant Girl Annihilator—perhaps America’s first serial killer. The case unfolded over the course of a single year, a year that changed Austin forever. You’ll see traces of that pivotal year everywhere, and along the way you’ll encounter stolen hats, secret labyrinths, and one of the best views in town (at one of the most unlikely locations).’
As a guest of the Angell house, we recommend that you check out our favorite bakery, Scratch. Their bagels are out of this world… grab one on your walk down to Willard beach!
WFSU-TV’s “Dimensions” did a fantastic piece on our partner Mel Livingston and his restoration of the historic Bowery building in Apalachicola. The building is really coming along thanks to Mel and his dedication and vision. It really is a special project, take a look!
We have been working hard on the Bowery Building restoring it piece by piece to it’s original glory… or even likely better than it was originally… we like to think so! The attention to detail, using recycled wood, tin, fixtures etc, all add up to some pretty exciting and jaw dropping before and afters.
Stairs before and after
New water closet
Vast flats make tunnel skiffs a good choice to fish from.
Apalachicola Bay is uniquely rich among Florida estuaries, made fertile with the muddy flow of the Flint and Chattahoochee rivers out of Georgia, which join at the Woodruff Dam to form the Apalachicola River. Because of the high nutrient load, the bay is one of the prime oyster-producers in the country, and all that energy also translates through the food chain to the gamefish. Apalachicola Bay Fishing is hard to beat.
Such productivity is generous in unexpected ways to anglers. The river and the bay are among the few waters to share a run of gulf-strain striped bass, native fish that reach weights of over 50 pounds. They’re most often caught far upriver, just below the dam where they congregate during their spring spawning runs, but some younger fish, to five pounds, also hang around the bridge and the docks in downtown Apalachicola, where they readily attack shrimp or jigs fished close to the pilings after sundown.
The true passes here, though, are on the south side of the bay. They start on the west end with Indian Pass, which cuts off St. Vincent Island from the Indian Peninsula about 10 miles west of the town of Apalachicola. It’s a narrow but deep cut, and the launching ramp here is subject to high-speed currents that can make reloading tricky. But you drop right into prime trout and redfish water; run around the corner to the north and you’re in 3-foot-deep Indian Lagoon, which is littered with oyster bars that nearly always hold a few reds and some jumbo trout. Or motor two miles east to Pickalene Bar, a rock and shell bar that juts almost a half-mile out into the bay. Fish the cuts through this bar as well as the point with shrimp, killifish or finger mullet and you’ll find the usual inshore suspects.
From Indian Key Pass, run west to the huge bar off Cape San Blas and you’re on one of Florida’s best spots for “bull” reds in fall; big schools of the giants come within casting distance of shore, and will attack just about anything, including big spoons and topwater plugs. The sure bet, though, is finger mullet. Freelined on the edges of the bar in calm weather, they’re just about sure to find a heavyweight drum of 30 pounds and up. You can also access the point from the beach—get a beach-driving permit at Port St. Joe first, though, and be aware that this beach is not hard like the beach at Daytona—it’s 4WD country, only. (You can park just off the pavement and walk to good sloughs, though.)
Wads of the reds sometimes come east into the pass, too; it’s a good spot to soak a chunk of cutbait on the bottom on outgoing tides this month. The same is true of St. Joseph Point, in the area of Channel Marker 24, where bait often attracts the schools. And both this point and all the beach between here and the cape are hot spots in October/November and again in April/May for catching pompano on 1⁄8- to 1⁄4-ounce bucktails hopped along bottom.
Another spectacular fishing spot in this area is 4-mile-long St. Vincent Bar, which doglegs slightly east then almost due south off St. Vincent Point, on the extreme east end of the island and well inside the bay. This bar is only two to three feet deep, and forms a barrier for all the water passing in and out of West Pass into the main bay. Not surprisingly, the tip of the bar, where the water falls off into 10-foot depths and the tides form big eddies, is a great spot for everything that lives in the bay, including some big tide-runner trout in fall.West Pass, which is actually the second-westernmost pass on the bay, has a small but dependable run of tarpon from June through September. Six-inch swimmer-tail jigs bounced with the tide do the job, though most are caught on live pinfish or mullet slabs fished on bottom. It’s a murky, deep pass with holes approaching 50 feet. Deepest water is at the narrowest section, just off Marker 7 on the St. Vincent Island shore. The tarpon could be anywhere here; fish where you see rollers, and if you don’t see them, try drifting through the hole with a 1- to 4-ounce breakaway jig a la the Boca Grande rig, or drift a similarly weighted live pinfish, finger mullet or crab near bottom. Big reds also sometimes show up in this pass, both in the deep water and along the long bar called East Bank, which has depths as shallow as two feet rising out of 20 feet of water on both sides. (Be careful when running out of this pass or Indian Pass; both have unmarked, migrating bars at their mouths, sometimes shallow enough to cause you to hit bottom in anything that draws more than a flats skiff.)
Anglers stay on the move to catch the best bite, and four-wheelers are a good option.
St. Vincent Island is a neat place to visit if you’re a hunter or wildlife watcher. The island was once a privately owned game preserve, stocked with all sorts of exotic game. Most of that is gone today, though some sambar deer remain. There are plenty of native whitetails, too, and quota permit hunts here have high success rates. The island is also home to one of the few families of red wolves left on the planet; they were restocked here by the Fish & Wildlife Service a few years back and seem to be doing fine. There are hiking trails throughout the island, if you feel like walking, and tram tours are also available. Be cautious if you go into the woods, though; those who have hunted there say the incidence of rattlers is much higher than on the mainland.
Higgins Shoal, which makes north from St. George Island in this same area, is also a good spot; try the section of 5-foot depths that’s broken off from the main bar. On calm mornings, the 2-foot depths extending out up to a quarter mile from shore here are worth poling or wading for reds.
Bob Sykes or Government Cut, about six miles south/southwest from Apalachicola, is a favorite spot for catching reds, sheepshead, blues and lots of other stuff in fall. Unlike the other passes here, it’s not a natural pass, but a dredged cut 7 to 10 feet deep and shotgun straight. Current velocities are high, and the downcurrent side is always a good bet because lots of bait comes streaming through to predators waiting just out of the flow—fish the seam where the outgoing water meets the Gulf. The jetties are good spots for sheepshead and flounder in cool weather; the ’heads grab sections of fresh shrimp, while the flounder bite best on live killifish dragged along bottom.
Just east of the cut, on the inside, is a mile-long stretch of oystery shoreline that practically shouts “redfish” to those who like to pole and look, while four miles east is Pelican Reef, a favorite diving spot for birds due to all the bait, and a favorite spot for spotted seatrout, for the same reason—depths range from three to five feet. Beyond the reef is the St. George Causeway, which rides atop the Bulkhead Shoal, a stretch of shallow water that separates Apalachicola Bay from St. George Sound.
Anytime action is slow during the cooler months, you can always go looking for the oystermen. Oysters are still dredged up the old-fashioned way with long hand-powered tongs that look something like giant salad tongs. Most of the oystermen won’t mind if you set up downcurrent from them to try a little sheepshead and redfish action; their tonging creates a chumline that often turns on an assortment of fish, but particularly reds and sheepshead, both of which love oysters.
The local shrimp trawling business hints at the abundance of forage on Apalachicola Bay.
We’d be remiss not to mention East Pass, too, though technically it’s a pass into St. George Sound rather than Apalachicola Bay. But it’s the widest pass in the area, spanning more than a mile, and gets absolutely stiff with mackerel and blues this month and again in April, with fair action throughout the summer. The outside edge is a good place to slow-troll a big live ladyfish for a smoker king, and you may see cobia prowling around the bars most anytime from April to November.
Offshore action on kings usually starts at about 40-foot depths, around three miles out; you won’t find them right against the beach as you do both farther west and farther south along the Florida coast. Spanish, on the other hand, come in close—in fact, loads of them come right into the bay when the baitfish are on the move in spring and fall, and they’ve usually got blues with them.
The town of Apalachicola and surrounding areas welcome recreational anglers, but don’t wear your sportfishing emblems. This area was a hotbed of commercial gill netting, and some folks here have not yet given up the battle. (Some say they haven’t given up the netting, either!) But the fishing is better than ever with the conservation changes, and the town is a delightful place to stay, with some interesting curio and antique shops, museums and great, moderately-priced seafood restaurants, all within a short stroll from the waterfront.
First Published in Florida Sportsman Magazine, October, 2000.
ACL 2013 Line-up
You probably know by now that our heavy-hitting 2013 lineup features Depeche Mode, The Cure, MUSE, Kings of Leon, Atoms For Peace, Lionel Richie, Phoenix, Wilco, Vampire Weekend, The National, and Eric Church — all slated to play both weekends.
We know that some of you have asked whether Weekend 1 and Weekend 2 will be the exact same lineup. The answer is yes – but not 100%. Though the majority of the acts will play double weekends, a handful of local and emerging artists will vary from Weekend One to Weekend Two.
WEEKEND 1 ONLY:
Wick-it The Instigator
Peterson Brothers Band
Latasha Lee & The BlackTies
Kristin Diable & The City
WEEKEND 2 ONLY:
The Dynamites feat. Charles Walker
Luella and the Sun
Sons Of Fathers
Not In The Face
Tyree Morris & Hearts of Worship
Heavenly Voices Choir
All other bands on the Lineup will play both Weekend 1 & Weekend 2
Three-Day Passes for Weekend One (October 4-6) are sold out, but a limited number of VIP & Platinum Passes, as well as Travel Packages are still available for that first weekend.
Three-Day Passes, VIP & Platinum Passes, and Travel Packages for Weekend Two (October 11-13) are also still available. We hope this answers any questions you might have and we look forward to seeing you at the Fest in October!
We agree, come stay with us instead!
I’m staying in the Ambassador Suite in The Consulate, a favorite place to stay for my wife and me. It’s a
huge 2 bedroom apartment, 12-1500 Sq. Ft that is in a restored commercial building on the waterfront
in Apalach. The Willis family has done a great job of restoring and operating this 100+ year old property.
It houses a clothing store, The Grady Market, and 4 apartments upstairs that are rented out short term.
Our apartment has a great kitchen and is a good entertaining space that we have taken advantage of the past couple of years, but the main attraction is the large glass wall (actually large old windows) looking out over the bay and the busy waterfront. One can sit all day and not tire of watching the parade of fishing boats and pleasure craft. This waterfront is the mouth of the Apalachicola River and is part of the Intercostal Waterway, accounting for the traffic, along with fishing, both commercial and sport. There is also a deck overlooking the bay that is nice for late afternoon cocktails and early morning coffee.
For the next 3 days I try to help Mel and his co-worker Jim, both master craftsmen and restoration experts, as best I can but I’m mostly good at running errands. In a past life (1976) I was a carpenter but my skills have diminished greatly and they never were up to snuff with this crew. I can do grunt work but Mel and Jim are reluctant to ask, given my advanced age. The most helpful I can be is conferring with Mel on decisions about what to do and not do, layout, and finishes. I always will do what Mel wants as he is the acknowledged expert, but he seems to value my opinion so I give it.
I’m especially excited about the apartments (rooms) upstairs as the readers of this blog may be able to
use them. There will be two small rooms with queen beds and a small bathroom and two larger rooms
with a king bed, nice large bathrooms and a second sleeping option (day bed or loft). All will share a
full kitchen and numerous decks and porches will have spectacular views of the bay. We hope to have
enough period furniture to make the experience seem like a boarding house from 100 years ago.
The temporary sign on the downstairs front window reads, “Coming soon, Bowery General Store and Tea Room/Wine Bar (with slightly used TVs for sale).” The last business in the building closed in the 70’s and amongst other things they repaired TVs. There were about 30 of them circa 1950-60’s left in the building. We took the best looking and put about 10 in the shop windows.With all the gawkers that
a restoration attracts, the TV’s have been a hot topic of conservation around town. Mel was smart to
restore the front façade first before spending months doing structural repairs, which were many. The
restored fronts have created a buzz about town and excitement for the coming stores. We hope to open
everything in 2013. Apalachicola is a gem and I think most would enjoy a few days here. We’re happy to
be a part of it.
The long (16 hour) drive home alone was uneventful but I learned a lot of American history from my
Learning Company CD’s. I enjoyed this trip, especially my time with Mel, and my time in Apalach, but
I was happy to get back to my wife and family. I have a one year old grandson and he needs to see
his “Papa Jim”, or is the other way around.
As we head out, across the eastern part of the county I grew up in, I play a mental game with myself. If,
by some economic reason, my sleepy town of 3,000 had grown to 1,000,000, what would it look like and
what should it look like from a city planner’s point of view? In this part of the county, with its rolling hills
and dense forests, I see large parks with lots of low impact recreation.
Our first stop, as we cross South Mississippi, is in Hattiesburg at the City Grill, a New Orleans style
restaurant I would recommend to travelers. It’s owned by Robert St John, a respected Mississippi
restaurateur and food writer. It’s located just off the interstate on Hardy Ave and is next to a Starbucks.
On across and down to the Gulf Coast, we go through Mobile into the Florida Panhandle. We stop for
early supper at the Red Bay Grocery, a delightful little restaurant and store in the middle of nowhere.
It has been made slightly famous via a documentary short film by Merrill Livingston, Mel’s daughter, a
SCAD educated filmmaker. It’s the story of a small community coming together to save the store and
their way of life. The store is now actually owned by the 50 or so community inhabitants. The film is
excellent and we’re all very proud of Merrill.
We get to Apalach about sundown and even though we had dinner in Red Bay, I can’t resist going to
Papa Joe’s for a couple o’ dozen raw Apalachicola Bay oysters, the best in the world. At Papa Joe’s,
if you sit at the bar, the oysters are $6.95 a dozen and a dozen is more likely to have 16 than 12. As the
bartender shucks my oysters and hands them to me he says, “You know, I never was too good at ‘rithme