Growing up in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, Anglers Journal editor-in-chief Bill Sisson recalls being mesmerized by the water and fishing from a young age. Memories include pier fishing for cunners and tinker mackerel with his father, and hanging over the seawall rocks and piers, gazing at the crabs and baitfish below. “I caught my first striper when I was 13,” Sisson says. “The sea and the creatures in it fascinated me very early on.”

Though he continued chasing his fishing obsession, especially in the surf, through his teens and 20s, Sisson was in his early 30s when he bought his first fishing boat. “I took out a little loan and bought a Tashmoo 18 lobster skiff,” he says. “I found a 30-hp Yamaha 2-stroke for it, rigged it with a side console and gave everything else the once over. Tern was a great boat.”

Around 2000, Sisson wanted a boat he could push faster and farther. “One of my Boston Whaler friends told me about a 1968 Whaler Nauset for sale on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, so I went and looked at it, sounded the hull carefully, and then bought it and trailered it home,” he says. “We replaced the console, put on a 90-hp Yamaha outboard and went fishing. I named her Clam after my four kids: Carly, Leah, Alana and Michael.”

Sisson picked up his current boat, a 1991 Royal Lowell-designed 22-foot Sisu center console that he named Swamp Yankee, around 2012 through a classified ad in a local newspaper. “I went over and saw the guy who was selling it in North Stonington, Connecticut, and he was asking more than I wanted to spend at the time,” Sisson recalls. “A year later, he let it go for less, and she was mine.”

The boat needed a lot of work, but the hull was in good shape. “She’s cored with balsa but is dry as a bone,” Sisson says, adding that his brother-in-law, Charlie Koller, a longtime boatwright, did the bulk of the rehab. “I did the early, dirty work,” Sisson says. “Charlie is the boat whisperer, the artisan. We had a new console molded from fiberglass up in Maine. Charlie fabricated the mahogany coaming, did the rigging and wiring, hung the motor, and painted her. She doesn’t look a thing like she did when I bought her.”

Swamp Yankee, a name meant as a tribute to the hard-working, salty folks on his father’s side of the family, is powered by a 150-hp Yamaha 4-stroke. “The boat gets up on plane very easily, tops out at about 35 mph and is fuel efficient at 23 mph or so,” Sisson says. “The boat has a rounded bilge but also has hard chines at the waterline that were added to the original tooling by the Sisu Boat Co. in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The boat has a solid ride and can handle the snotty stuff well if you just pull back the throttle a bit.”

Sisson recently moved the boat closer to his Connecticut home and uses it for striper sorties, false albacore fishing in the fall, sandbar fun, and simply poking around and exploring. “My wife and I went out looking for osprey last night and enjoyed just being out,” he says. “Swamp Yankee is a great boat for how I like to fish and relax on the water.”  

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