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Fishing in paradise

“Come on, take down your fishin’ pole       

and meet me at The Fishin’ Hole.

I can’t think of a better way                          

to pass the time o’ day!”

The youngster in the broad-brimmed hat, perched with her fish on the running board of an old Jeep, would seem to agree.

She’s Beverly Burns, and the scene is Johnny Brantner’s Ye Ole Feshin’ Hole in the Florida Keys at Marathon. Brantner offered bait, tackle and taxidermy, as well as cold soda, Amoco gas and a wealth of fishing knowledge at his roadside business on U.S. Route 1, the Key West highway.

In the early 1950s, when this shot was taken, Brantner’s was one of many small-town Keys businesses catering to a growing coterie of avid anglers, who were coming from farther and farther away for what they’d heard was some great fishing.
In 1956, Sports Illustrated ran a story, “Down the Keys to Wonderland,” detailing the scene. “Nowhere in the world is there fishing to compare with that of the Florida Keys,” crowed the special report, which included a foldout map of the island chain with all the hot spots. Brantner’s Ye Ole Feshin’ Hole was among the centers profiled. “Located at Mile 63.4, next to the Marathon Medical Center,” the surrounding waters were noted, according to the article, for bonefish and tarpon.
The image comes from the Edwin O. Swift Jr. Collection of the Monroe County (Fla.) Library, which can be viewed online at www.keyslibraries.org. The lyrics are from “The Fishin’ Hole,” by Everett Sloane, Earle Hagen and Herbert Spencer — better known as the theme from “The Andy Griffith Show.”

This article originally appeared in the November 2011 issue.


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