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Tingleys Fish Camp, Merritt Island

Tingley's Fish Camp

Old Fish Camp on Merritt Island

Monday May 29, 2017

Under the shadow of the Christa McAuliffe Bridge on the Barge Canal cutting thru Merritt Island is the ruins of the once active Tingley's Fish Camp. Once a busy fishing camp for wandering anglers, this waterfront camp was rented to the Tingley family (Dave and Ann Tingley) from the Canaveral Port Commission in the 1958. The fish camp was simply known as the Barge Canal Fish Camp prior to that.

Growing up on Merritt Island Captain Richard Bradley knew the Tingley's and attended church with their family into the 1990's.  Ann Tingley was a devote Christian and member of the First Baptist Church of Merritt Island. Dave Tingley (her husband) was an avid fisherman and personally ran the fish camp and was seldom seen at church services as he'd be tending the store and counting shrimp as bait to the many anglers that would either boat or drive in.

Dave Tingley died in 1978 and it seemed the heart & soul of Tingley's Fish Camp died with him as it never regained it's prior stature afterward. Dave's wife Ann attempted to manage the place for twenty more years, but the challenges of business and the dwindling boat traffic on the barge canal drained most of the revenue from the old Florida style business where weekly fish fries and a waterfront restaurant kept things busy. Manatee zones slowed boating traffic and large modern marinas and restaurants took business away from the small small business and it's quaint location.

Waterfront Restaurant & Bar

One of Tingley's old docks near the boat ramp on the Barge Canal.

Modern Marinas like the Harbortown Marina with millions of dollars of investment capital and facilities slowly eroded on the Tingley's and with the hour long commute across Merritt Island, many boaters preferred to launch closer to their fishing and recreational boating areas on the Banana River or Indian River Lagoon. As time lingered less and less traffic forced the closure of Tingley's Fish Camp and it was sold a few years ago prior to the recession and never developed as a condominium community.  The remains look like a ghost town and is over run by rodents and stray cats with docks and wharfs in disrepair and memories that are fading to a generation of Islanders that are almost as rare to find.

Points of Interest on the Barge Canal

Traveling from east to west along the the barge canal you will immediately notice various boat yards and junky looking marine scrap yards on the south side. Further into the waterway you'll discover Harbortown Marina also on the south side. Traveling farther west is the Sea Ray boat factory immediately east of the State Road 3 draw bridge. Dining and docking is provided by Harbortown Marina and the food is well liked by many locals.

Passing under the SR3 bridge you see the ruins of the once popular Tingley's Fish Camp where weekly mullet fries and dining where common place into the 1960's. Once a popular fishing destination, this has become a ghost town as the Manatee Zone speed restrictions prohibited the business from flourishing.

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Fish Camp and Historical Landmark on the Barge Canal between the Indian River and Banana River Lagoons on Merritt Island.

Published by: Captain of Lagooner Fishing Guides©

Author Captain Richard Bradley

Captain Richard Bradley is the author and contributor for many of the articles written on the Lagooner website. Richard is a professional fishing guide, taking anglers in his native waters near the Banana and Mosquito Lagoons on Florida's central east coast almost three hundred trips seasonally. When not charter fishing, Captain Richard enjoys time with his family surfing, fishing, camping and various other outdoor activities.

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