Enjoying Paradise at Its Finest
By Capt. Sergio Atanes
When you find that magic fishing spot that brings back memories of your younger years, why not go back again?
It’s amazing how spending a long weekend at Crawford Creek Fishing Lodge on Crawford Creek in the middle of 50,000 acres of swamp can mellow you and make you forget all your problems. We took the twenty minute ride by boat from the Chassahowitzka River Campground located at the end of Maggie Drive west of the intersection of US 19 and US 98.
Our group arrived at 3 p.m. on a Friday and was promptly picked up by two guides. We made the twenty minute journey winding in and out of creeks, which were scary at times seeing rocks in extremely shallow water. Randy Douglas, our captain, explained that their flat bottom 25 foot boats with outboards mounted on hydraulic jack plates could handle almost any shallow creek. This was our second year going to the lodge, so most of us knew the routine and quickly found our rooms and prepared for a wonderful steak dinner.
Saturday was a beautiful bluebird day with a slight breeze from the northeast, just enough to make you wear a light jacket. The previous year we had high winds, cold weather and the bite was hot. This year the weather could have not been better, but bite was off for reds. Trout and pompano did their best to entertain us, we limited out both days with some puppy drum as bonus catch.
There are only a hand full of local guides who know how to maneuver through the area. It’s easy to get lost in the creeks as they all look alike, and you can go all day and never see another boat. The weather allowed us to fish areas we couldn’t the previous year due to the high winds. We fished the open areas around points that held deeper water and the edges of cuts leading out from the creeks and deep holes.
This year I brought my own tackle, a seven foot medium light TFO rod with Quantum Smoke 30 reel and 10 pound Fins breaded line. I used a 32 inch long fluorocarbon leader and a 1/0 circle hook to complete the setup. The lighter tackle made it more challenging fishing around the rocks and rough shoreline.
Sunday was not a repeat of Saturday; the high pressure sitting on top of us made it a tough bite. Regardless, we caught fish, made some new friends, filled ourselves with some amazing food and brought home some fish for the pan.
I recommend Crawford Creek Lodge for a great getaway from the everyday routine and to see what old Florida was like.
The lodge is run by Bryan Stanley, a great cook and host.
Crawford Creek Lodge 813-477-1924
Randy Douglas (352)-236-3973
Al Hammaker (352) 232-2783
Good fishing and tight lines.
Captain Sergio Atanes is a native resident of Tampa and has been fishing the waters of Tampa Bay and Boca Grande for over 40 years. He owns and operates S & I charters, which is one of the largest charter booking services in the West Coast of Florida. S & I charters has 55 professional captains on staff. Capt. Sergio Atanes can be reached at (813) 973-7132 or www.reelfishy.com