“River of Fishes”
By Rusty Chinnis
Captain Jim Long poles Captain Rick Farrior across a shallow flat off the mouth of the Homosassa River on a busman’s holiday. Photo by Rusty Chinnis
The great American landscape painter Winslow Homer (1836–1910) was enamored with Homosassa, Florida. Homer regularly traveled to Florida, the Bahamas, and Cuba during the winter months, and this wild, spring-fed coast was one of his favorite destinations. The name Homosassa is derived from a Seminole word meaning “river of fishes.”
To this day the natural beauty that inspired Homer’s art, and his passion for fishing, permeates the area. In 1904, Homer painted at least 11 watercolors during a stay. In a letter to his brother, Arthur, he described Homosassa as “The best fishing in America as far as I can find.”
Despite the pace of progress and the impact of development and agriculture on the natural springs, the name still aptly portrays the area’s riches. The verdant and diverse marine and riverine ecosystem is a fly fisher’s paradise.