A Taste of “Old Florida”: Bill’s Fish Camp at Suwannee
There are very few real “fish camps” left in Florida. Of those that disappeared, many were sold and their valuable (and strategically placed) real estate swallowed up by developers to build pricey condos and vacation homes. Some of that happened at Suwannee, Steinhatchee, Yankeetown and Cedar Key, but there are a few left. On our Big Bend, Shell Island Fish Camp at Wakulla, Spring Warrior Fish Camp south of Perry, and Bill’s Fish Camp at Suwannee immediately come to mind as examples of the few that survived into the 21st century. Bill’s is a classic, and the subject of this short article, so let’s use it to define the concept of a “fish camp”.
If you’re not a die-hard fisherman, it’s hard to describe to you what makes a fish camp the perfect place to set up shop for a short–or even extended–fishing trip. First, like Bill’s, the camp can’t be in the middle of a civilized area. If that happens, you get “fish-campy” lodging with lots of boat and car traffic–as well as a McDonald’s just around the corner. Second, there are likely no frills. It’s clean, the beds are relatively comfortable, there’s a small kitchen, and there’s a central location for a fish fry or cookout. And the staff is friendly, smiling and glad you’re there. They probably have some tackle and bait, but it might be limited. Of course, there will be good, reliable fishing reports, too. And third, it should be near the fishing!
Bill’s is certainly a winner in all these categories, especially in terms of convenience and access to the fish. It’s just a short idle to the Suwannee River. You can head upriver to fish for bass, head to Dan May or Barnett creeks in cooler weather for trout and reds, or head offshore for grouper, king and Spanish mackerel, amberjack or cobia. And at Bill’s there’s a nice floating dock near the door to your cabin or RV.
Speaking of RVs, Bills is adjacent to Anderson Landing Park. This state-maintained RV park is clean, neat and often crowded. Call Bill’s for information at (352) 542-7086, as they’re in charge of registrations. Anderson Landing also has a free boat ramp.
Suwannee is located at the end of County Road 349 in Dixie County Florida. Leaving Old Town, FL you will need to travel south on County Road 349 for 23 miles. After entering the town of Suwannee, take the 3rd paved road to the left. This will be 219th Street (also named Suwannee River Drive). Bill’s Fish Camp and Motel will be about 75 yards on your left directly across from the Suwannee Baptist Church. Phone: (352) 542-7086