Jim Stege (1950-2022)
Jim Stege, owner/operator of Stegbone's since 1998, passed away on September 16 2022 after a brief illness.
Jim's towering physical presence made him easily recognized by all. He made many good friends throughout the world as an architect, traveler, volunteer, mentor, partner, teammate, beer-drinker, fish camp owner/operator, historic preservationist, and supporter of good causes. He was sentimental and generous with his time, knowledge and resources. He gently earned your respect. Jim's lifelong volunteer work and devotion to his friends and family are enduring.
Jim grew up in Madison, Wisconsin but spent most of his adult life in Florida where he worked as an architect. In 1998, he took on the added responsibility of owning and operating a vintage Florida fish camp on the St. John's River south of Palatka, which he renamed Stegbone's. His years there were filled with new and renewed friendships; he cherished reconnecting with guests year after year. He loved history, old Florida, and vintage buildings, both rehabilitated and unaltered. Stegbone's reflects this love as well as Jim's talent for building community wherever he was.
Father's Day -- 2017
Jim Stege - Ed Stege - Scott Wood
Bloomington, Indiana (1973)
Father's Day was never well-celebrated around my home. Dad minimized most efforts to recognize his importance to us and he just worked that Sunday like most other Sundays. It was another one of those 'invented' holidays anyways.
But one of the efforts that we have been making around Stegbone's over the last 3-4 years is to make the place more kid and family friendly - to get the older 'boys' to bring mom and the kids when they come down, maybe on a different occasion than when the 'boys' come as a group. That's not exactly a new concept, but we are certainly trying harder with cleaner cabins, tidier property, and a few extra playful amenities around the property. A pool is probably a bit of a stretch - but we're open to your ideas.
But back to Father's Day and kids: I thought you might enjoy a few photos we have picked up along the way that have to do with our collective kids and their visible feelings from being around the fish camp.
"GET SOME REST AND DON'T WORRY - LOVE U!" -
On Father's Day weekend in 2013, a group of three stayed with us in Cabin #5. I was in #6 then. I found this sketch done by the young boy for his father on my table when they checked out. It carries with it a hint of many emotions that kids deal with now as they grow up more and more quickly and carry the burdens of the adults around with them. It's important to slow down that growing up and to help extend youth, and for we adults to let them know how much we care about them.
These two young Swiss boys had never fished before. In the winter of 2016, Larry Webb and Kyra Stauble helped them land a couple of 'big ones!' They were hooked. In general, all of our regulars are great at pitching in to make the most out of the experiences of our younger guests.
In 1999, Travis Carrick, the son of our wonderful first fish camp manager, Jimmy Carrick, tried his luck with an improvised 'gill net' off the south end of the dock. This became the image we used on our brochure for probably the first 10 years. It still seems like the essence of peaceful, boyhood exploration and contentedness.
When it came to exploration, these three Jax guys just crawled down onto their bellies and decided to examine what the river had to offer.
The Brown family from South Carolina has been coming down for many years. Here are three of their youngsters in our dock office when Mike Upton was with us - 2003 to be exact. They are young adults now and beginning to steer some of their young'uns our direction.
When we first arrived around 2000, we built a set of steps which are still there to the south of the South end of the dock. There was a sand beach under the cypress tree there and kids could do some pretty good swimming and playing. Terry's grandson Aaron is second from the right. He stayed with us in the early 2010's and is now doing well out in the Pacific Northwest.
The longer I stay around Stegbone's and the older we all get, the more important it seems that this place, and our lives in general, work to pass along strong values to our youth - whether those kids just happen to be passing by our cabin or are our own blood and soul. It is they who will ultimately keep this world turning.
We will be slightly changing our logo soon to visibly state how Stegbone's is heading more in this direction. Let us know what we can do to help your kids make the most of their youth. We want to help.
Catch ya later.
The Stegbone's Team
Memorial Day - 2016
On a weekend when we are thinking about what we have to be thankful for, we are especially lucky here to have a wealth of plants that can give the St. Johns River basin a tropical feel .
Bird of paradise, papaya, hibiscus, ginger lilies and banana , we appreciate them all. At this time of the year, most of the citrus fruit has departed, replaced by the flowers and green baby fruit that will eventually be next season's joy.
Since 1998, Stegbone's has now hosted eighteen spring seasons of pleasurable fishing and relaxation for our guests. As I sit here watching our present guests coming and going from our dock, I think about how lucky we all are to have this place. Somehow, it does not really seem to be owned by any one individual.
It is more like some kind of continuum, where one group after another takes care of the property to hand it down to the next one to enjoy. We who live here feel that way, and we sense that those who have been passing through for the last seventy-plus years do likewise. Each one leaves a piece of themselves and takes a little bit of it home with them as well.
We are all very lucky, and we owe so much to those who gave their lives to protect this lifestyle for us. On this Memorial Day weekend, it is a pleasure to look out on this property and count our blessings. So from Dena, Gary, Dennis and Jim, Happy Memorial Day and thanks to all those who help keep us going.
Catch ya later....
Happy 2016 -
Dena, Gary, Dennis and Jim continue to make the old place sing. We are hosting a group from Bass Pro this coming week who will be doing photo shoots for their apparel products on site - just like last year - only this time they chose to stay with us! They must now realize what all the rest of us have known for the last 70 years!!! Stegbone's is one of a kind - in a very good way.
Our camp continues to improve without losing any of its long-time special attributes. New 5V metal roofing has been installed on cabins #2, #3 and #5. #3's exterior has been fully painted. Extensive dockwork has occurred to help assure it stays around and your boats do too. Nearly 100 queen palms and 150 asiatic jasmine in mulch beds have been placed around the cabins to help add shade, comfort and reduce maintenance efforts. More clearing has occurred up behind #7. The OutBack, behind #7, has been thoroughly cleaned and refinished and is currently being rented to Milan and Dianne from Prince Edward Island. And cabin #1 is the first to have received new interior finishes and TLC thanks to Dena. The cabins are in absolutely great shape with added little amenities that you will definitely notice. You'll love it.
In addition, Gary has been attending to the exterior of #3, reflooring #6, installing shade structures, and all of the other honeydos that we all think up. He is a gem and a delight to the guys down around the dock. Our equipment is also being attended to. The old fish scaler is working well after a lot of repairs, the dock electrical system has been well-grounded, and plenty of wood is in the wood pile. You will appreciate it all. The place definitely looks more cared for and will be more comfortable for you.
Meanwhile, camp manager/techie Dennis, has installed two webcams to help us make sure your and our property stay secure, with remote smart phone connectivity; he has placed a new WeatherUnderground weather station on the dock so all of us can know exactly what the weather is like right here and right now on-line; and he placed a link to our USGS river data at Buffalo Bluff just two miles away on our website so you can tell temperature and river height wherever you might be.
Most importantly, we have a great group of staff here now who respect and appreciate each other and want to do the best possible for our guests. Nothing beats that.
Come try it all out! Things are happening in a good way at Stegbone's!
We wish you all a terrific year and hope that you will find a way to spend part of it here at Stegbone's...the last, best fish camp in Florida.
Catch ya later.
Some recent pics from friends above.
After a long 1 1/2 years of transitioning to new staff, I believe we are there.
Dennis is managing the camp now and handles reservations and check-outs and many of the day to day matters. He is living in the single-wide trailer - old cabin #6, has a positive attitude and stays with his dog Midnight. He also gives his mom a hand with her property over in Pomona Park. He has really made our operations smoother and is great with tech stuff also.
The photo of the dock from the water has a sailboat docked to the north. That would be the home of Dena Dalbney and Gary Voigt, who live-aboard and fill the roles of Guest Relations Manager and Dockmaster. Dena is great with organizing the cabins, cooking and just being friendly, and Gary is a great guy, great carpenter and will help guests around the dock.
Their friends Marsha and Ronnie have also been assisting in the cabin cleaning and with a variety of tasks that only the fishcamp could drum up. Marsha has given the cabins a great new, fresh feel and Ronnie knows fishing on the River from his childhood.
All in all, these five folks have great attitudes and are a pleasure to be with. After all, it is the people of Stegbone's that make it a wonderful place to be. We look forward to you meeting them.
We have also done a lot of additional repair work and are continuing to do so. Trees have all been limbed-up to help with the views, the Outback where Karla lived behind the double-wide (#7) is being cleaned up and will become a new cabin rental with a single and a double bed. It is very private and has a nice, modern and comfortable interior. The little RV behind #1 can even be used in a pinch for a one-man hunting cabin. Cabins are being power-washed and have been thoroughly cleaned. And carpets were steam cleaned. So we will be well-prepared for your spring visit and beyond.
Jim is staying in 142 NFC Rd, the block house to the north on the water that we rented years ago and Terry lived in more recently. He has cleaned it up some and really enjoys being there, and as a result, has taken the camp off the market.
Of special note, we have moved our office into the south end of 142 NFC Road, just north of #5 and where you will see the utility golf cart parked. We store our linens in well-lit, air conditioned space now and have re-organized all of our supplies and office set-up. It works great.
So, after seven year of not really knowing what would exactly happen, Stegbone's is back to what it wants to be - the best and last true fishcamp on the River. Come join us!
Catch ya later.