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A Georgia Native Finds Home on the Shorelines of St. Andrews Bay

Drawn to Florida’s beaches and saltwater fishing, a SweetBay homeowner finds himself at home on St. Andrew’s Bay.

Mark Moody’s favorite spot to hang out is just outside of his home in Panama City, Florida. And, in fact, he has two spots that seem to be jostling for that No. 1 ranking: One, the back lanai, which is where he and his wife Kelly often entertain and two, St. Andrews Bay and the five miles of bayfront shoreline Moody’s SweetBay neighborhood is built alongside.

But Moody doesn’t simply hang out. Often, he fishes. And while it’s intuitive that any neighborhood built along the saltwater shores of a 68,000-acre estuary offers an abundance of alluring nature places, the diverse fishing opportunities this body of water offers may not be as intuitive.

“It gives my wife and me great pleasure to live in a community where we know our neighbors and enjoy seeing them on a regular basis.”

– Mark Moody

St. Andrew’s Bay: A Fisherman’s Lure

With Moody, who recently moved from Georgia to Florida’s panhandle, the fishing is an enticing lure and he considers himself still learning how to fish the bay’s saltwater flats, seagrass beds, and deep channels. These deep channels hold migrating pompano, cobia, and mackerel, while flounder, smaller grouper and even sharks are often pulled from St. Andrew’s Bay.

The SweetBay community makes access easy for Moody to spend as much free time as he can fishing and kayaking. “The fishing is really good in the bay, specifically redfish and trout.”

In the Panhandle, including St. Andrews Bay, anglers tend to target redfish when other game fish aren’t as active. Redfish can live for decades, and some grow to be quite hefty. Mature redfish also called bull reds can be massive. And St. Andrews Bay has no shortage of these big red bulls. Meanwhile, Moody’s other pursuit, speckled trout, are abundant in the bay. They like to hang out in the seagrass and on the sand flats, and anglers often find success by fishing topwater in these areas during the summer months.

Moody says he gets out on the water as much as possible. “At least several times per month, much more in the warmer months.”

And, even when he’s not on the water, he’s using SweetBay’s natural trails to ride out to the shores in the evenings with his wife.

“Kelly and I drive down to the bay most evenings in our golf cart, and watch the sunset while listing to music,” Moody says. “Many nights there are dolphins in the bay, which we also enjoy watching. I always have my fishing rod with me.”

Some nights, he said, he’ll only fish for a few minutes. While, on other nights, he may fish for an hour or so.

Choosing a House

Mark Moody wasn’t certain he’d end up living in Panama City, much less owning a home at SweetBay. The move was a progression of small steps and trial periods.

“I moved to Panama City Beach where I rented an apartment on the beach, three years ago,” he says. “I wanted to see if I would like it, with the thought of my wife moving here after a trial period.”

So at first, Moody kept the family’s home in Georgia, where Kelly continued to live work as a school teacher. Shortly after moving to the beach, Moody had the opportunity to work at SweetBay as an onsite realtor.

“For the first year and a half, I searched for a place to live on the beach,” he says. “But I kept coming back to SweetBay as the best place to live in Bay County. In the fall of 2017, we decided to make Panama City and SweetBay our permanent home.”

Next, the couple’s Georgia home was sold and construction began on the Moody’s SweetBay Orchid home. By February 2018, they were permanent residents of SweetBay.

Moody says his favorite room in the home is the interior living room. But outside the walls of the home, his favorite space is the back lanai, where he and his wife spend quite a bit of time. And that’s not to overshadow his favorite home feature: the 8-foot interior doorways.

Finding Home

Community is many things, but often homeowners value the relationships that enhance a community and make it more than a place to live. It’s when a community becomes a network of relationships that the place truly thrives.

“It gives my wife and me great pleasure to live in a community where we know our neighbors and enjoy seeing them on a regular basis,” Moody says. He and Kelly get together with neighbors often for dinners and cookouts, usually with each family bringing a dish for a potluck-style meal.

The Georgia native also said SweetBay is a community where you feel like you’re on vacation every day. There’s the trails and proximity to the bay and the pool facility. But that’s not what Moody says he enjoys the most.

“It’s the people,” he says. “We have made many new friends since moving to SweetBay.”