Skipper’s Fish Camp
85 Screven St.
“Guys, it just doesn’t get any better than this.”
Remember that iconic Old Milwaukee television commercial—all the dudes sitting around a campfire on the beach, the sun setting into the lake, knocking back cold ones?
Yeah. That’s what I was thinking to myself on this spring afternoon, sipping my ice cold Sweetwater 420 on the back deck of Skipper’s Fish Camp.
Sun shining down, a cool breeze blowing off the Darien River, shrimp boats motoring by, Charlie Daniels and Hank Williams, Jr. playing in the background.
It really doesn’t get any better than this.
The only other sounds I could hear were the cries of sea gulls and the locals at the table next to me calling out their “hey y’alls” to the shrimpers who just tied up to the pilings across the salt marsh.
Darien, Georgia is a fleeting little coastal town, one of the few still genuinely tied to the bounties of the surrounding waters.
The one block downtown consists of four or five buildings.
Just downhill towards the water’s edge lies Skipper’s and a row of shrimp boats—an increasingly rare sight on the southeastern coastline.
Cold hard economics makes it difficult to cling to this fading, salty way of life.
With diesel prices rising, it can cost several hundreds of dollars to fill a shrimp boat for a day of trawling the coastal waters.
Even at the high price per pound for local jumbo shrimp, it’s hard to eke out much profit.
Worse yet, folks can go to the local Piggly Wiggly and buy shrimp for $3-$4 per pound.
Of course, that shrimp doesn’t come from the Darien River. It comes from a shrimp farm in Thailand.
Can you taste the difference?
Local Georgia shrimp are firmer and sweeter.
My view is, seafood is supposed to come from the sea—not some third world farm on the other side of the planet where thousands of franken-shrimp swim in their own waste.
But don’t worry about eating shrimp that grew up swimming in its own excrement… the food they’re fed is spiked with massive amounts of antibiotics—so you won’t get sick.
Some Department of Agriculture bureaucrat would probably try to tell me that’s “progress”.
Give me a plate of shrimp that came right out of the deep blue sea right in front of me.
And that’s exactly what you get at Skipper’s Fish Camp where your meal probably came right off one of the boats docked out back.
And of course, the favorite way to enjoy local wild-caught shrimp here in the Low Country is shrimp n’ grits.
Skipper’s version comes as a whole mess of shrimp piled on a bowl of cheese grits, topped with smoky bacon.
I got my local shrimp blackened with a crab cake combo.
With a light peppery seasoning, my shrimp had a nice skillet char on the outside while succulent and tender on the inside.
My crab cake came Low Country style.
Around the Chesapeake Bay, crab cakes tend to be mounds of moist crab meat loosely held together by mayonnaise and a few traces of bread crumbs.
They do crab cakes a bit differently down here.
Skipper’s crab cake was flatter, with more seasoning, less mayo, and a nice dark char from the skillet.
I’m not going to start any fist fights over which crab cake I like better, but let’s just say any open-minded crab cake connoisseur won’t be disappointed at Skipper’s.
Skipper’s sides were also delicious—a highlight rather than an afterthought.
Collard greens chockfull of pork fat.
Sweet potato casserole with loads of pecans and brown sugar.
And top-notch, homemade onion rings. The batter complimented the thick, sweet, local Vidalia onion.
Of course, no trip to coastal Georgia is complete without sampling some local alligator.
Skipper’s gator bites back as the tender greasy meat is deep fried, then tossed in a fiery hot buffalo sauce.
I had to order several pints of Georgia’s favorite craft brew to douse the flames.
Yep. Had to.
Drinking beer in the sun on a Wednesday afternoon. Local shrimp, crab, and gator.
Nope. It does not get much better.
Rating: Seriously Thought About Buying Shirt.