Camp Holly Fish Camp
kept my boats at Sweetwater
several years, and even lived there for a year after
the Challenger disaster,
but eventually I sold my houseboat to the owner of Camp
Holly and moved my kicker boat over to his camp too.
my Gheenoe there for 18 years, and it was really
nice to have my boat sitting right there on the river,
but the original owner is no longer there, and recently
I repaired the damages done to my boat and moved back over
to Sweetwater. My boat's still sitting on the water, just
on the Sweetwater Canal.
the main access to Central Florida from our town, used
to pass on the south side of Camp Holly. There
were two earlier bridges built
on the south side of the camp, but when they built the
newest bridge they put it to the north (just to the right
of the photo above) and tore out the middle of the old,
of Camp Holly go thru my regular stompin' grounds. Many
years ago the original owner of the camp had a 3-seater
boat he would take people out in. He would go past a group
of us and we could hear him idle down to tell his riders
things like "Those
were Florida crackers back there, and that meat they were
cooking was probably alligator, and that jug was full of
worked out signals with some of the different airboat
drivers for the camp. When you are out in the heat
all day it is sometimes nice to have an airboat "blow" you....they
drive past aiming their rudders towards you and spray
you with a fine mist as they go by. That can feel really
good on a hot day...if you're expecting it.
driver used to drive up with a tour boat and raise an eyebrow
as he went past. If I wanted to be "blowed" I
put my hand on top of my hat to hold it in place and gave
a nod. We went through our routine one day as I sat talking
to another boatload of fishermen. They weren't in on the
signals and got really mad that they had been blown, even
though I told them it was my fault.
driver used to see me paddling around or just sitting in
the middle of nowhere and drive over to see if I was o.k.
. Trust me, if I'm NOT o.k. I will be standing up in the
boat waving my arms, yelling and screaming for help. I
am not shy in certain circumstances - - such as being broke
down in the middle of the marsh. If I am in distress you
can bet your ass I won't just be sitting there reading
a book and noshing on grapes.
Holly nearly flooded from heavy rains.
the years I have been friends with many people who lived
at Camp Holly - the original owners and various regulars
and residents. My
son was once great friends with the son of the owners
and we all made some wonderful memories growing up
together. Members of my family have worked at the
camp, and we have had Thanksgiving potluck dinners
in the main building. We have seen years when the
water was ankle deep to walk into the main building,
and years when it was so low we had to struggle to
push my boat out of the muck hole to launch it.
used to fire off our Fourth of July fireworks off the
end of the old bridge,
Catfish on the bridge ready to
be cleaned and cooked.
once I attended a wedding there - the bride wore a denim
halter-top dress and the groom couldn't let go his cigarette.
We had a rousing good party afterwards. For several days,
as I vaguely recall.
used to run trot lines,
and when we had an overabundance of catch we would throw
a cook-out there at camp. We would clean our catch and
fry it up all right out on the bridge - vast batches of catfish
nuggets, each batch spicier than the last.
would have so much fish we would take trays of catfish
nuggets into the bar area to share. A couple of our
group ran crab traps, so sometimes we would have blue
crab feasts where we would cook up a bushel and try
to eat our way through them.
upon a time Camp Holly was a real happening place. People would drive for many miles to get a Holly Burger
for lunch, there was always a pool game going on, and
for a while a Bluegrass group would practice there.
You could always count on a crowd having a good time!
camp is no longer run by the original owners and
after close to 20 years of keeping my boat there
I have moved out, but we really used to have some
good times there!