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11.29.06 -- REPORT: McIntosh Fish Camp to reopen bait shop

By CHER PHILLIPS



Judy Barnett will reopen the McIntosh
Fish Camp Bait shop this weekend. She's spent the last few weeks preparing the business to reopen, cleaning up the boat slips and even repaiting the sign.
Photo by Cher Phillips




The McIntosh Fish Camp's bait shop will reopen this weekend after a six year hiatus.

Anna and Eugene Colwell, who ran the bait shop for the last 25 years, closed the shop door when Orange Lake's water level dropped low enough to dry up the lake and with it, the local fishing business.

But now a new resident of McIntosh Fish Camp will open the door of that shop back up and bring new energy into the operation.

Judy Barnett will reopen the bait shop on this weekend.

The shop will open with bait on Saturday, Dec. 2. Then on Sunday, the shop will have its Grand Opening to coincide the VFW Crappie Tournament. Part of their Grand Opening celebration will be hosting one of the Crappie Tournament judges.

The bait shop will sell bait and tackle, including rods, cane poles, jigs and hooks. They will also sell ice and snacks, soda and coffee.

Colwell said the shop would sell two varieties of minnows, gold and black.

Barnett, an avid fisherwoman, said that the advantage in fishing with two types of minnows is that fish bite at different minnows at different times of day. She said sometimes all it takes to catch a bite on a line is to drop in a gold minnow after fishing with a black minnow.

Colwell said they plan to sell both wild shiners and commercial shiners. The difference in the two kinds of shiners is that commercial shiners are farm raised and wild shiners are caught from the lake.

The bait shop will also sell nightcrawlers or "wigglers," as Barnett recently discovered that some Floridians call earthworms.

Barnett was amazed that the Colwell's bait shop was left much as it had been six years ago.

"Literally, they just shut the door," she said.

Colwell agreed.

"We never really closed the camp," she said.

When the lake went down, she and her husband just shut the door of their business. Colwell said that at the time, "keeping it open would have been just fruitless."

But the lake's water level are now back up and the camp still has the structure to support wells for the bait and a collection of stock.

We have some things to start with and we'll learn what's good again -- or Judy will," Colwell said and laughed, reminding both herself and Barnett that she is trying something new, stepping back.


Barnett will run the shop. Colwell will be backing her up, helping out now and then with service and her 25 years of knowledge and experience selling bait.

Ten months ago, Barnett and her husband Lloyd rolled into McIntosh Fish Camp as a matter of what Barnett calls fate. In the process of moving from one camp to the next, Barnett said she picked up an old phonebook looking for a campground and found a listing for the Colwell's fish camp. Since moving in, she's hit it off with the Colwell's.

Eugene Colwell said when he and his wife ran the business in previous years it was "daybreak to dusk." The long hours are one reason the Colwells are passing the reigns of running the shop to Barnett.

Barnett said Eugene will be installing a bell for early morning customers to ring when they roll in to fish in the early morning. Another change is that this time around, the bait shop will not be renting boats or selling fishing licenses. Barnett said she and Casey Girardin, the owner of neighboring Sportsman's Cove have an agreement. She will send her customers to Casey's to buy their fishing licenses and Casey will recommend her shop for bait.

In the last five years, live bait wasn't sold at all on the McIntosh side of Orange Lake. Only recently have area businesses begun to bring back live bait.

Barnett also has readied the boat docks for rental again. The shop will again offer dock rental by the month. The docks, which have electricity, will cost $45 per month and are discounted to $40 per month** when the boat owner commits to docking a boat for a whole season.

(** This was originally posted incorrectly as $45. Thanks to Judy for pointing this correction out to me so I can update it. Dec. 5, 2006.)

posted by Cher @ 8:56 PM,

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Editor and Publisher:

I'm Cher From McIntosh, FL I'm a graduate student at the University of Florida working on a master's degree in Mass Communication. While I was finishing my undergrad degree in journalism last year, I reported on McIntosh, Fla. for an in-depth reporting class. I figured that the reporting and the public record files should go somewhere people can access them. Reporters don't report to keep the information they find to themselves. Some of that reporting is included here in a forum that allows response. McIntosh suffers because with no news coverage, the local government and the rumor mill have too much potential to run rampant over residents. I moved to McIntosh in the fall of 1999. My profile

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