Shelter from the storm
Cortez's fishing history goes all the way back to the Native Americans (the Calusa, also a maritime people) and the Spanish explorers who soon followed. But its modern history dates to the 1880s, when a half dozen fishing families fled North Carolina (Beaufort, to be exact, according to legend) after a series of hurricanes slammed the Grand Banks. Today, their names are revered: the Guthries, Bells, Taylors and Fulfords. Many of their descendants still live in the village.
Originally known as Hunter's Point, the new site was sheltered by barrier islands but not closed in. Nearby passes offered access to north Sarasota Bay, Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico — and more fish than anyone could count.
When the post office arrived in 1896, they gave the little town an official name: Cortez. Despite the name change, the rhythms of daily life remained the same.