Skimming over the flats in the air boat, often in 1 inch of water was like gliding on a magic carpet. Tiny islands flew by, with beaches, cabbage palms, pine trees, marsh, creeks and wildlife. Flocks of white pelicans, terns, and higher up, huge flocks of birds turned in unison into the morning sun. Bald eagles and Ospreys circle the marsh. All this revealed over the great expanse of water, marsh and oyster bars. Alligators, large and small sank out of the way, or splashed into the water.
While taking all this in, we knew great fishing was just around the next oyster bar. The three of us Dude Boy, Fat Rat and the Binkster, or the B-Brothers as we are known, have fished most all the hot spots in the Florida waters. However, the one place we had not experienced was the backwater oyster bars of Cedar Key area. Fishing here is rarely accessible via boat due to the thousands of hidden oyster bars that can grab your lower unit and wrench it off.
Cedar Key is about 17 miles from U.S. 19, South of Chiefland Florida or about an hour and a half from Tarpon Springs Florida. Cedar Key itself offers good fishing and great restaurants. Robinson’s is on the right about halfway to Cedar Key from highway 19. You can spend the day at some of the restaurants, the shops and museum. The history of Cedar Key is very interesting as you will find if you visit the museum. It was once located on an island, but was moved due to hurricanes in the early years. At one Time Cedar Key was the jumping off place as the Railroad from the North ended here. It was anticipated to be a larger city, but the development of Tampa superseded that plan.
Lon Cornelius, Clarence White and I had planned the trip a couple of months back. Thanks to our friends Richard and Elisabeth Eastman we stayed at the old Ben-Jack hunt camp overnight which was close to Cedar Key. We had dinner at Robinson’s restaurant with the Richard and Elizabeth Eastman the night before the trip.
Over the years, we have hunted and fish some parts of Cedar Key and got to know Carl and Eve Robinson, the owners of Robinson’s Seafood Market and Restaurant. Carl’s wife, Eve Robinson cooks some of the best fried oysters and shrimp you will find anywhere. It is hard to find good fried oysters short of Savannah Georgia. At Robinson’s you always get a good southern Lima Bean Soup as the standard appetizer with your meal; with or without rice and onion, along with plenty of hush puppies. Needless to say, we eat at Robinson’s Seafood Restaurant every chance we get. It is located on SR 24 out of Otter Creek on the way to Cedar Key. Otter Creek is on U.S 19, Just South of Chiefland Fl. ([email protected]).
Carl Robinson operates the seafood market and charters inshore, offshore and back country via air boat (352-543-5051). The air boat is large and seats 3 in addition to Captain Robinson. Our adventure began under overcast skies, but soon turned out to be the ideal spring fishing conditions with water like glass, puffy clouds and endless visibility. Carl was looking for the right bend in a creek for the deep spot that held red fish. We softly bumped into an oyster bar, beaching the boat for this spot. Our first stop was successful with a half dozen reds released. Then we slid deeper into the back country finding more red fish and some 23 inch spotted sea trout.
Again we beached the boat, got out and cast the area. this way we could cover more ground, since there were three of us fishing. We were using fresh shrimp on a jig, which worked very well. At one point, we fished off the air boat and fished the oyster beds. This is where we caught most of our fish, although we must have fished 15 or 20 honey holes, each producing fish.
Needless to say, if you should do this just for the fish, you would be missing the best of the outdoor experience. Just skimming over the water with its endless scenery and crystal clear water makes fishing an afterthought.