Yankee Town and Old Fishing Memories November 2019
By Capt. Sergio Atanes
A fishing trip can be a memorable experience for both young and old. During the shooting of our TV show years ago we traveled to Yankeetown, a small community just a 2 hour drive north of Tampa. As we entered the quite little town, I had memories of yesteryear as a young boy living in Ybor City. We all felt like we had traveled back in time at least fifty years.
Gail was our host at a quaint bed and breakfast place called the Wipplewill House, and just down the street within walking distance was the Isaac Walton Inn. It had once been a bed and breakfast inn, but now is serving superb appetizers such as baked escargots and mushrooms in a covered pastry shell and entrees such as almond crusted flounder. Last best not least is the New York chocolate cheese cake. To add to this wonderful dining experience is the ambience of sitting at your dinner table overlooking the river with beautiful oak trees on the bank.
A favorite local hangout for fishermen is Charlie’s General Store, and serves the best fried chicken money can buy, I understand it closed a few years ago like most small business just could not make it in these times. We also found a unique planter a converted old boat that now house an assortment of plants.
We had heard of some great offshore fishing in this area and the best captain around was none other than Capt. Ky Lewis, an old friend who grew up fishing offshore around the Clearwater area. Ky had decided to give up the hassle and bustle of big city life and settle in Yankeetown years ago.
We met at first light and Capt. Ky had it all worked out, our destination was an offshore spring about 40 miles due west loaded with fish, or so he said. His 32-foot boat with a single diesel engine cruises at 20 knots, and although not the fastest, was quite a fishing machine.
The 2-hour run seemed short, and our camera crew Phil and Grace from Horizon East Productions made ready the equipment we would need for filming. I never realized how much goes into making a TV show. Zack, our first mate and son of Capt. Ky was preparing the bait and checking all the tackle, as time was near to battle our prey.
The word came from the captain that we had arrived at our destination. Zack responded lowering the anchor and allowing just enough line to secure the boat and stopping over the spot. Our mikes were secured on us and the camera was rolling as the baits went down. The clear waters of this area made fishing even more exciting when you could look down and see not just one fish but dozens of amberjacks swimming under the boat ranging from 10 to 50 pounds just waiting to be caught.
I was ready to catch one of those big amberjacks, but Capt. Ky said we would be able catch them later. Knowing better than to argue with a Captain that knows his spot, we quickly baited our hooks with dead spanish sardines and lowered our lines to the bottom as soon as possible. Not being familiar with the area, I asked Capt. Ky what we were fishing for, but before I could get an answer I had a tug on my line and the rod bent double. Looking at Capt. Ky he said with a smile, “just fight the fish and you will see.”
The tug of war was on, and out of the corner of eye I could see that Capt. Ky had one of his own that was taking control of him. The camera crew moved around us trying to follow our every move, and Zack made ready to land my fish, a nice gag grouper in the 12 pound range with Capt. Ky behind me boating an 18 pounder.
We quickly got our baits back down and tried again. This time the tug seemed different and as I set the hook I knew this was not a grouper. It felt like could it be, yes it was one my favorite fish, a mangrove snapper and a big one at that. As the fish came aboard, he weighed in at 8 pounds, to be exact. Capt. Ky had another fish, and this was a beautiful grouper. Another bait, and another grouper. I thought I was in heaven.
After a short while, Capt. Ky decided we were ready for a change, and needed to work our muscles a bit harder by trying our luck at catching kingfish. He suggested we change our bait to live pinfish.
I lowered my 6 inch live pinfish about 10 feet below the surface, and like a fire house drill several kingfish appeared from nowhere and were fighting for my bait. Within seconds the rod bent double, the line screamed out, and the battle continued for 10 minutes or more until finally the exhausted kingfish, came to the surface.
The time had arrived to head back to the dock. We had a great day of shooting thanks to clear weather, Capt. Ky and his son Zack, our first mate and soon to be captain of his dad’s boat, and our camera crew.
Camera crew gave us the thumbs up for a great show in the can and now we headed back home to the hassle and bustle of the big city life. It was nice to go back in time, and on our next visit, I will bring the grand kids and let them enjoy the good old days.
Capt. Sergio Atanes
Let me make your next fishing trip an ADVENTURE!