Born and raised in Cortez, Thomas "Blue" Fulford hails from a line of fishermen who settled in the fishing village on Sarasota Bay in the 1890s to raise their families. A handsome septuagenarian with china-blue eyes and a droll sense of humor, he recalls waking up as a child and running out the door for a day of hunting for rabbits and duck on the sand flats, and learning to fish almost as soon as he could hold a net. Not even losing a leg in a fishing accident could keep Fulford from a life on the water. He fished for 50 years before Florida's 1995 net ban put him-and most other Cortez fishermen-out of business. Fulford now makes cast nets, lunches on the docks with friends-ex-commercial fishermen like him-and watches his old boat glide by under new ownership and regulations. "It was wonderful to have that freedom," he says about his old way of life. "If you were born in Cortez, you were born to be a fisherman."
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