A Private Tour of the Destin History & Fishing Museum
Easy access to deep water is a big part of why Destin is known by many as the “World’s luckiest fishing village”. Just 44 miles out of Destin Harbor anglers are in 600 feet of water. The DeSoto Canyon is only 70 miles off the coast of Destin and is more than 2,699 feet deep! Deep water brings a wide variety of fish species into play hence making Destin a top fishing spot.
Kathy Marler Blue is the Executive Director of the Destin History & Fishing Museum and she was kind enough to give us a guided tour this past fall. It was a beautiful day in northwest Florida when we met up with Kathy who is from one of Destin’s original founding families in the Marler’s. Below is a small portion of our conversation with Kathy. Make sure to watch the embedded video to see our full tour of the Destin History & Fishing Museum.
Kathy Marler Blue Guides us through the Destin History & Fishing Museum
30A Prime: Thanks for the guided tour today Kathy. Please give us an overview of what the Destin History and Fishing Museum is all about.
Kathy: This museum has documented the history of Destin’s early families from the 1830’s on as well as the history of our fishing industry and how it all began. Fishing in Destin, Florida began with a type of net boat called a “Seine Boat”. The oldest Seine boat still in existence is the “Primrose” which is on display here at the Destin History & Fishing Museum. You’ll learn how fishing in Destin has evolved over the years into what you see in the harbor today.
30A Prime: I love to fish and it was a big reason why we moved here from Wisconsin about 5 years ago. We are standing in a room filled with pictures and trophies from what I know is one of the most famous fishing tournaments in the world. Please talk about the important role the Destin History & Fishing Museum plays in documenting the results of the Destin Fishing Rodeo each year.
Kathy: We are currently in the “Rodeo Gallery”. The Destin Fishing Rodeo is one of the longest running fishing tournaments that exists in the United States. 2018 will mark the 70th annual event which runs the entire month of October. We have a replica Destin Fishing Rodeo leaderboard here at the museum so if you were a winner in 2017 your name is on our board. The “Rodeo Gallery” features all things Destin fishing so when you come in here, you’ll get a really good idea of what it’s like to fish in this part of Florida.
30A Prime: Who were the original founders of Destin, Florida?
Kathy: Leonard Destin is considered the founder of Destin, Florida and he was originally from New London, Connecticut. William T Marler, who the bridge that connects Okaloosa Island and Destin is named for, would be considered the original manager of Destin. “Uncle Billy” as he was referred to, was the “go to” person in early Destin.
When residents had a problem they went to Uncle Billy (a.k.a William T Marler) and he’d figure out what needed to be done. Uncle Billy was the person who brought a preacher, teacher, school and the mail here to Destin, Florida. He was also Destin’s first Postmaster. Marler family members were postmasters for 76 years.
Our “Pioneers of Paradise” exhibit features the first 16, last name families that settled permanently in Destin. These families were here before we had roads or bridges which eventually came along in 1936.
To put it in better historical perspective… Destin had no bridges until 1936, no electricity until 1938 and no telephone until 1952.
The first telephone phone call was made by Al Fox to Charles Absolom Marler who was the younger brother of William Thomas Marler and it was made from the building that Whataburger currently resides in at 101 Harbor Blvd, Destin, fL 32541.
30A Prime: Please talk about your new “Commercial Fishing” exhibit and why it is so important in regards to telling the full story of Destin, Florida.
Kathy: The history of “Destin Commercial Fishing” is one of our newest exhibits here at the museum and we are really proud of it. The exhibit highlights the commercial fishing industry in Destin, Florida and the process by which seafood is harvested from the Gulf and makes its way to restaurants. This exhibit helps people understand the history and importance of the commercial side of fishing.
30A Prime: Please talk about the early days of commercial fishing in Destin via net boats and the significance of having the “Primrose” on display here at the museum.
Kathy: The Primrose was the last net boat built in Destin in 1926. It was wider, longer and heavier than any of the earlier net boats built. The Primrose was also the first net boat that had a motor. It was placed in a hole in the center of the boat and was a little 30 horsepower motor. The fishing nets went off the back of the boat.
There were about 40 to 50 Seine boats (net boats) built before the Primrose and they were all powered by 6 to 8 young men. A boy was considered to be a man at age 12 in that time period. Each man on the boat handled an oar that was called a “sweep” and was about 20 feet long.
30A Prime: Please talk about these beautiful fish mounts, the mural behind them, and why Destin is regarded as one of the best fishing towns in the United States.
Kathy: We have over 75 fish mounts at this museum and every one was caught out of Destin waters. A huge variety of size and species of fish are caught out of the Destin Pass and here’s why…
If you ignore the fish and look at the mural behind them, it helps explain why the fishing out of Destin is so good. Of the entire Florida Panhandle, Destin is the closest port to the deepest water. So anglers out of Destin can access every depth of fishable water including Billfish grounds quicker than other ports. That makes a big difference when you’re paying money to go fishing.
A fathom is a way that open water is measured. One fathom is equal to six feet. Right out the mouth of the Destin Pass, there’s a 50-fathom drop which is equal to 300 feet of water. Just 44 miles out of the Destin Pass you’ll hit a spot called the “Hundred Fathom Curve” which is 100-fathoms deep. That is equal to 600 feet of water in depth. Just 70 miles off the Destin Pass is a spot called “DeSoto Canyon” and it’s 450-fathoms deep which equals 2,700 feet.
To give you some perspective, the difference in depth just between the “Hundred Fathom Curve” and “DeSoto Canyon” is like a 60 story to a 270 story building going straight down.
The easy access to extremely deep water is a major reason why the fishing off of Destin, Florida is among the best in the world. Destin is also at an advantage because the Gulf Stream happens to swoop up closest to the Port of Destin which brings in migratory fish.
I encourage everyone to take a little time out from their vacations and come see us at the Destin History & Fishing Museum. We’ve got scavenger hunts for the young and young at heart.
You can learn more about the Destin History & Fishing Museum via their website here… DestinHistoryAndFishingMuseum.org
Below is our full video interview with Kathy Marler Blue at the Destin History & Fishing Museum in Destin, Florida…
Important side notes on the history of Destin, FL via Kathy Marler Blue:
- The Indian culture in Destin, FL dates back 12,000 to 15,000 years.
- Tyler Calhoun was Destin’s first retiree and land developer.
The Destin History & Fishing Museum is located at… 108 Stahlman Avenue, Destin, Florida 32541