Welcome back yak fans. This month I’m taking us up to Yankeetown,
located north of Crystal River, just above the Barge Canal and the Withlacoochee River. This area is a kayaker’s dream. Yankeetown was founded in 1923 by Armanis F. Knotts from northern Indiana–also known as AF Knotts. He was a member of the Indiana House of Representatives as well as being instrumental in the founding of Gary, Indiana. As you know, I really enjoy doing these kinds of stories. You never know what you may learn as you dig in.
Also, as to two other things near and dear to my heart–bait shops and food. For the first, Captains Cove outfitters on 40 just past the light has a great shop with a full line of bait and tackle, helpful staff and spot on fishing reports (As they say everybody there is a fisherman). So, if you head that way, stop in and tell them I said “Hey.” As to food, I was going by the Shrimp Landing restaurant at 5:30 am and saw they were open. So, next trip I’ll be stopping In.
But, back to fishing. Remember, this is a column about kayak fishing in case you forgot, LOL. Yankeetown offers several put ins, both on the Withlacoochee and the Gulf side. On the River side, you have Allen Park. This was a little hard to find and locals have warned me about leaving a vehicle there, so be warned. Another, just before Yankee town at the end of the Barge Canal, you drive out to the end of that road and there is a little launch from which you can reach the river or the power plant outflow (but that’s a bit of a paddle).
Going out toward the boat ramp on the right, you have Bird Creek Park. Both of these areas are best to fish on an incoming tide and, by the time you read this, the monster black drum should be stacking up at the outside of the river–I’ll be going back soon. The last trip I took was to Bird Creek Park and paddled back toward Pumpkin Island. My client was working a fast-moving cut with a Gulp Mantis Shrimp on a jig head and soon had his limit of trout.
I was working a top water, the Zara Spook Jr in bone silver, (like that’s a surprise to those of you who read my stuff) around the grass islands and a monster red came up and snatched it. After fighting for a minute, he headed straight for the grass and I’m thinking, not again. Into the grass he went, as my leader goes thumping through and he comes out the other side. I’m trying to figure out how that spook didn’t get caught in the grass, but he didn’t give me much time to reflect as he came straight at me, and under the yak He went. I barely get that back under control and into another stand of grass he goes and, again, I don’t lose the lure or the fish. Now I’m really confused! I finally worked him into deeper water and, after about five minutes, I get the answer to my question. The reason I didn’t get hung up was because it wasn’t there. Mr. red swallowed the whole thing! As I peered down and saw the spook, sideways no less and just above the crusher plates. I’m wondering how I’ll ever get it back out, but a pair of forceps came through and, with only a bloody lip from the leader, five minutes later he swam away.
We caught some more reds and a few black drum and had two really heavy break offs. At the end of the day my client had his limit and a fun day on the water.
Till next time, and happy holidays to you and yours