A Day At Lone Cabbage Fish Camp

Posted in Uncategorized by Sean Holton on May 7, 2010

A group of current and former Orlando Sentinel staffers got together May 1 for an airboat ride on the beautiful St. Johns River. The occasion was a weekend trip to town by Sandra Fish, who was a reporter at the Sentinel in the early 90s and who now lives in Boulder, Col. We all thought it was only appropriate to take Fish to a Fish Camp. So she joined Mary Shanklin, Roger Roy, Mary Frances Emmons and me at a place called Lone Cabbage Fish Camp about 40 miles or so from downtown Orlando. There’s a great restaurant and bar with a menu including deep-fried gator tail. It’s a fun place to hang out after you buy your $22 ticket and are waiting for your boat’s number to be called. We got lucky because we drew Captain Gil as our airboat pilot. He’s quite a  character, as you’ll see in the video. Woe be unto anyone who tries to impress Captain Gil with their own lame tales of trapping alligators, chopping down cypress trees or getting shot in the arm. Capt. Gil is a lifelong river rat. He’s seen it all, and you will not impress him. I love Lone Cabbage. Skimming along in an airboat above the marshes of the St. Johns is one of my favorite things.


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  1. mike Oliver said, on May 11, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Man, looks like fun.
    Wish I could have been there. Sean I loved your line about loving it in the morning — but not sure Captain Gil was getting it, or maybe he was and just didn’t laugh too much.
    Airboat ride takes me back to the time I was assigned to cover the first day of newly legalized gator hunting (1988? 89?). Photographer Byron Small and I somehow hooked up with a bunch of Good Old Boys from Sumter County. Went out at night, pitch black, on the river. Shine the light in search of orange eyes — the farther apart those eyes, the bigger the gator. We spotted a good one and roared at it in the airboat. For some reason the gator stayed put — the light? Anyway, rolling up on the gator, a Good Old Boy harpooned it, pulled it to the side of the boat. Another Good Old Boy put a bullet between those eyes with a bangstick. They duct-taped its mouth shut and pullled it aboard. Pretty big one I remember, about 9 feet, which is about as big as any around there. The Good Old Boys dipped into the cooler on one side of the boat and Byron and I stood at the tail end of the gator doing our job, Byron snapping photos, me taking notes: “Big gator,” I’m sure I wrote. Suddenly the supposedly dead gator’s tail whipped (or maybe just moved).
    I’m still not sure what Byron and I did — jumped? danced around? yelled in an octave that sent the night creatures scurrying? Whatever it was, it was better than a Dukes of Hazzard rerun to the Good Old Boys.
    They hoot and hollered about it the rest of the night.

  2. Tim Holton said, on May 20, 2010 at 10:22 am

    This takes me back (with fond memories) to that day we spent there. Think it was the same boat pilot. The beer was the coldest and the gator tail,the greatest. But your being there with the elements of water and sky (and gators) was the best tonic for my spirits on a cool Florida winter day. I enjoyed it immensely that day and will relive it again whenever I wish. Thanks for that day Sean, lets have many more of the same.

    Love you,


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