The Big Catch: Naples History and Its Fishing Past

March 12, 2019 @ 7:00PM — 9:00PM

Join us to hear storyteller Todd Turrell, author of local history and founding partner of Turrell Hall & Associates in Naples, for an evening filled with larger-than-life historical photographs and stories of Naples' colorful past, particularly its commercial and recreational fishing industries.

The Big Catch: Naples History and Its Fishing Past image

AWE March Evening Talk

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Back in 1885, a New Yorker named W. H. Wood caught a tarpon with rod and reel off the shores of Punta Rassa, an unknown feat at a time when the so-called "silver king" of fish was normally harpooned. Suddenly, the waters of Southwest Florida were densely populated with boats dropping line into water. Word spread quickly worldwide, and a tourist fishing industry developed, places like the Useppa Inn and Gasparilla Inn getting their start hosting well-heeled anglers. Thomas Edison was seeking a winter home when he came across Southwest Florida and saw for himself that some of the best tarpon fishing could be right outside his door. Sawfish and sharks, manta rays and manatees—the game was wide-ranging and exotic to many. Times change. Restrictions were placed to curtail overfishing. More than a century later, fishing is still a draw.

Writers like Zane Grey and Ernest Hemingway (above) fished Gulf waters then tried to capture the experience in words. Grey came back from a trip and wrote that he had witnessed a scene "indescribably beautiful." Hemingway fished for tarpon and wrote in a letter that it's a "thrill that needs no danger to make it real."

How did Naples develop? How did fishing affect Naples development and vice versa? Todd Turrell will tell us the illustrious past and the history of fishing off the Gulf Coast.

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