A Pioneer Son at Sea
Fishing Tales of Old Florida

Gilbert L. Voss, edited by Robert S. Voss

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Florida Historical Society Charlton Tebeau Award
"An outstanding piece of Florida fishing history by one of the most famous marine biologists in Florida."--Gene Shinn, author of Bootstrap Geologist: My Life in Science

"A perfect blend of history, science, and adventure. Allowing his natural storytelling talent to shine through, Voss tells of the waters, inlets, coves, and colorful characters that comprised South Florida in the early twentieth century."--Janet DeVries, author of Pioneering Palm Beach: The Deweys and the South Florida Frontier

"A vivid picture of Voss's early years as a fisherman and outdoorsman prior to his illustrious career as a marine scientist and educator, who passed along volumes of knowledge about the marine environment and its inhabitants to the scientific community."--Tommy Thompson, author of The Saltwater Angler's Guide to Tampa Bay and Southwest Florida

"A priceless memoir and a spectacular adventure."--Terry Howard, author of High Seas Wranglers: The Lives of Atlantic Fishing Captains

Long before tourism dominated Florida’s coastline, the state was home to dozens of commercial fisheries and ethnically diverse communities of rugged individuals who made their living from the sea.

In A Pioneer Son at Sea, Gilbert Voss, a celebrated marine biologist, recounts his early days of fishing on both coasts of the peninsula during the Great Depression and World War II. Here are vanished scenes from old Florida, almost unimaginable to modern residents of the state: gill-netting for mackerel off Jupiter, the early days of charterboat fishing for sailfish out of Stuart and Boynton, the snapper fleet at Carrabelle, sponge-diving at Tarpon Springs, the oyster fishery at Crystal River, and mullet fishing from airboats at Flamingo.

Oversized personalities inhabit these pages, including Voss's brothers, who were themselves seminal figures in the early days of Florida big-game fishing. Voss's anecdotes feature Crackers, rum runners, murderers, Conchs, wealthy industrialists, now-legendary charterboatmen, Greek spongers, and Cuban vivero captains. These stories are not just spirited portraits of fishermen from a bygone era, they are also remarkable tales of the formative years in the life of a scientist and conservationist who later worked tirelessly to preserve our dwindling marine resources.

Gilbert L. Voss (1918-1989) was professor of biological oceanography at the University of Miami. He was the author of several books including Seashore Life of Florida and the Caribbean.
Robert S. Voss, the author's son, is a curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
Sample Chapter(s):
Press Kit
Table of Contents

Charlton Tebeau Book Award (Florida Historical Society) - 2017

Great value as a record of Florida’s maritime memory, narrated in a straightforward yet very personal manner by an extraordinary native son.
--Bulletin of Marine Science

These first-hand accounts bring the fishing techniques and local characters of old Florida to life in a time of abundance.
--St. Augustine Record

Features characters that jump off the pages and gives you a look into the world of fishing from a man that has fought hard to protect it.
--Marlin Magazine

This unexpected gem...sheds a bright, multi-colored light on the fishing industry in southeastern Florida during the 1930s and 1940s....If you want the inside story of a fisherman’s life, this is the place. If you want to understand the passions that drive someone willing to toil for bare subsistence in the chaotic fishing economy, open this book.
--Florida Weekly

A priceless window into untold local histories of Florida. . . . This memoir is one of great adventure and laughter, but also one that highlights the unfortunate realities of change.

Offers uniquely memorable stories about fishing and Old Florida, and a fine addition to the library of any literary angler.
--Drunken Odyssey

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