The Fishing Industry

Tending the Nets

All along Florida’s Gulf Coast, fishermen set out weirs in the fall to trap the seasonal mullet run. Posts were pounded into the sand and nets strung out between them. At high tide the fish were trapped in the nets and harvested at low tide.

As the Gulf waters begin to cool, mullet begin their annual migration to warmer waters. The adults swim out to sea to breed in the Gulf Stream. The fertilized eggs are carried north on the current where the cycle begins again.

Out on the bay, men haul in their catch. The estuaries of the central Gulf Coast teamed with life. Although there were fish, shellfish, and game all year long, the autumn was a time of amazing plenty. Ducks and geese that flew in from the north, formed great rafts on the bay. Schools of mullet and then mackerel flooded in. For the people, it was both a time of great bounty and exhausting work. Every family had its own fishing place that had been established over generations.

When the nets were run out, they had to be constantly tended. Too many fish and the nets would sink and even tear. Sharks and blue crab rushed to feed on the fish caught in the nets. It kept everybody busy. And of course, there were always lots of pesky seagulls looking for a handout.

Tocobaga Fishing

In downtown St. Petersburg there was once an ancient city. It’s outline appears on the Ogden map of 1879. This city had six temple mounds located within a 48-acre berm. These were a Mississippian people – who depended upon the sea for their livelihood. Like maritime people all over the world, they worked hard and celebrated the season of the fish with a festival.

Work is never work when you bring joy to it. Temporary shelters were thrown up to salt and smoke the fish. Behind them on the rise above Booker Creek is  the temple mound complex up. It is autumn.

Men, tending nets out in the bay, filled canoes with mullet. Once ashore, the women and children take over the work of processing the catch.

The Mullet Run

In downtown St. Petersburg there was once an ancient city. It’s outline appears on the Ogden map of 1879. This city had six temple mounds located within a 48-acre berm. These were a Mississippian people – who depended upon the sea for their livelihood. Like maritime people all over the world, they worked hard and celebrated the season of the fish with a festival.

Work is never work when you bring joy to it. Temporary shelters have been thrown up. In the background is the temple mound complex up on the rise above Booker Creek. It is autumn.

Men, tending nets out in the bay, have filled canoes with mullet. Once ashore, the women and children take over the work of processing the catch.