The Legend of Captain Jack Usina 6-29-1929/8-15-2014 by Mike Usina
I first met my cousin in the early fall of 1956, my father took me out to North Beach to see if Captain Jack would allow me to keep an old boat some where close to the water. Jack quickly assigned me a name that he would call me the rest of his life, Cousin Michael.
Not only did he give me a place to keep the boat in the water but he also made a place for me in the dock house where I could keep my 7 ½ Hp. Evinrude outboard motor. I would go on to spend most of the next three years of my life fishing with the Usina’s of North Beach.
Captain Jack loved Usina’s fish camp and north river, except for two years in the Army from 1950 till 1952 he would spend the next 30 years along with his Brother Frank running the fish camp 365 days a year.
Captain Frank did the maintenance on the boats while Captain Jack kept the rental outboard motors going and caught the bait for the fish camp.
This was a family run business as Aunt Kate did the cooking and Mamie operated the store.
Captain Jack as he was known, knew every inch of North river, every creek, every hole. He knew where to find the shrimp needed for live bait for the fish camp. He knew where to put out crab traps for the best catches of crabs, he knew where to find the most clams and oysters. He knew where, what tide and when to fish for Bass, Trout, Flounder or any other species of fish that were in north river.
Captain Jack was a friend to every one on the river, he never turned his back on any one who needed help, many times I saw him stop what he was doing to get a outboard motor running for a total stranger. Captain Jack would never pass by a boater that was broken down and needed a tow back to the boat ramp.
Captain Jack loved to talk fishing, he and I spent hundreds of hours fishing from one end of north river to the other, we would go fishing down to Indian River, Banana River, Wabasso and Eau Gallie Fl. drum fishing and I would marvel at the stories that Jack would tell, he never run out of fishing stories and never repeated himself.
I spent thousands of hours around Captain Jack, never did I hear him say any thing negative about any one. Never did I hear him use profanity of any kind, I once watched him hit his finger with a hammer, his response was that silly little thing. Captain Jack never gave advise unless you asked for it, he knew no age.
After working all day at the fish camp he would run the moon light boat cruise every evening all summer long on the Victory II.
I rode every night with him, listening to fishing stories and picking his brain about fishing spots. Captain Jack and I had one real thing in common, our ability to make fishing nets by hand. He got his shrimp net hung up on something on the bottom in a creek and lost it. I gave him my 6 Ft. nylon shrimp net and made me another one. I would help him rig and repair his shrimp trawls for catching bait for the camp.
Captain Jack would assign a nick name to those close to him, his first Son was named Michael, his nick name was Sam. The second son was named Robert, he was nick named Max. Then the apple of his life came along and she was named Jane and her nick name was Susie.
I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to be included into Captain Jacks life. I will never forget Jack’s wife Mary Usina for fixing enough extra to feed me supper many an evening.
There is just too much to say about Captain Jack Usina, it would take a book. He meant so much to me, he was my Cousin, my friend my big brother, and so much more.
He will long be remembered as the Legend of North River.