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Bob Banfelder

Bob is an award-winning crime-thriller novelist and outdoors writer. "The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water" is endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso~online at Amazon.

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July 02, 2017

Father's Day Concerns ~ Part II

by Bob Banfelder

No sooner than I had revised, updated, and copy/pasted yesterday's list from my website referencing the many topics that Donna and I cover on our Cablevision show, Scat called, informing me that his oldest son, Doug, United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Counterintelligence Specialist is once again being deployed to Afghanistan. That makes three (3) deployments to Iraq, and now three (3) to Afghanistan since 2002. Think about that; six (6) deployments to the Middle East over the past fifteen years. Both men and women like Doug, serving in our United States Armed Forces, comprised of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, serve to protect while our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, friends and acquaintances, can eat, sleep, and breathe safely through the night then awake anew to enjoy our life-styles . . . safeguarded. Scat and Jeanie are, of course concerned for Doug's safety. In a Father's Day pronouncement, Doug mitigated those concerns to a degree in his text message to Scat:

"Don't stress, Pop, nor you, Jeanie. I'll make it back. They had several chances to get me, but I'm faster and smarter, so they were never successful. I have one more tour, and then I can retire for good. Don't worry about a thing."

Sound familiar? Father and son have one more tour left in them.

It has been my privilege to honor one of many of these fine folks who put themselves in harm's way by serving their country so that you and I [especially readers of outdoor magazines such as Nor'east Saltwater)] may enjoy the freedom to fish, clam, crab, boat, travel, eat, sleep, breathe, and, yes, hunt while harvesting the fruits of their perilous labor—our precious liberty.

Along the lines of fishing, Scat wants to seriously learn how to fish and asked me to teach him. A good distraction methinks from what is obviously on the man's mind concerning one son's safety (Doug's) and the other's career focus, (Dale).

"Bob, would you be so kind as to teach me the ropes?" Scat had asked me in a thick brogue the day after Father's Day. "I have a new fishing pole and need to wind on some string."
"You mean a fishing rod; you wind line, not string, around the spool of the reel."
"Oh, I know how to reel, all right."
"Really?"
"Truly I do. And I can cast pretty well, too."
"Well, that I know because I was watching you out there."
"Really?"
"Truly."
"Listen, Bob. I see that your boat is still wrapped, and it's getting late in the season. I have me boat here that sits two, so if you and Donna ever want to go fishing, the oar is in it; just undo the rope and—.
"You mean you have a tandem kayak, meaning for two people for paddling; not an oar for rowing, nor rope for tying off. It's called a line, not rope."
"But you just said that line was for a reel.
"I did. Same holds true with lines for tying off."
"But then that would be a very thin line to secure it to a rod. How would it even hold?
"You mean a pole or a piling; you secure a line to a pole or piling, or a cleat."
"But you said that me pole is the same as me rod."
"Not exactly."
"Then what exactly do you mean, Bob?"
"Well, nautically speaking, ropes are really lines. But then there are fishing lines such as monofilament line, braided line, fly line, and lines for tying off. You spool a reel with fishing line and fish with a rod, not a pole." A pole, a piling, or a cleat is something you wrap your watercraft line around."
"Well, with all that nautical understanding, Bob, do you even know your arse from ye elbow?"
"We'll deal with fore and aft, port and starboard after we get you some string for your new pole. How's that, Scat?"
"Much better, Bob. Much better."

Scat and I always have a good laugh.



Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.


Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats


Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats

July 01, 2017

Father's Day Concerns ~ Part I

by Bob Banfelder

I trust that all you guys had a very nice Father's Day. I certainly had. The bite was on, and many a backyard BBQ had been fired up and soon ready for hot dogs and hamburgers, chicken, fish, steaks, and assorted vegetables, not to mention a parade of cold beverages to help tame the heat. In a few days, we'll be repeating the act, celebrating the Fourth of July; Independence Day. We sometimes take these moments in time—Father's Day and the Fourth of July—with friends and family for granted. I'd like to introduce you to a man who also had a nice Father's Day, but at the same time has concerns referencing two text messages he received, the first one concerning business, the other of a more serious nature.

Bob [Scat] Hardman is affectionately monikered The Scatman, who once sang and played the guitar under The Scat Brothers headliner; hence, the name, Scat, stuck. Scat spent better than four decades in the entertainment field as part of a technical production support staff. No one I know calls him Bob. I'm Bob; he's Scat. Scat lives year-round with his significant other, Jeanie, on a houseboat/barge (more accurately and legally referred to as a floating home), which is situated at a marina but a long cast from our home along the Peconic River in Riverhead, Long Island, New York.



Now, semi-retired, Scat is being called back on the grid, having recently received several offers from entertainment agencies to work concerts as a tour coordinator and technical production support staff adviser—tutoring, mentoring, teaching, and keeping groups of young whippersnappers in line. On Father's Day, Scat received a text message from one of his three sons, Dale, the youngest. The following is Dale's communication.

"Hey, I'm very serious about what you were talking about the other day, Pop. I would love to work the concert tour with you overseas. You never knew this, but I cried after the CD 101.9 cruise gigs got shut down after 9/11. Working side by side with you was the most enjoyable moment from my childhood, and I don't have many. I loved coordinating and working the technical aspects of the live shows alongside you and all those guys. A huge part of me always felt like that's what I was meant to do. If you can make it happen where I can come along, you can teach me all of the behind-the-scenes technical stuff that you've been doing for the past forty years. I'd love to carry the torch, Pop. So let's try and do this."

Scat had worked in the entertainment production field administrating technical support for big-name entertainers such as Barbra Streisand, Yanni, Katell Keineg (Jet album), Peter White, Bruce Springsteen, Rachelle Ferrell, George Duke, Rahsaan Patterson, KISS, Boney James, Lizt Alfonzo Dance Cuba, to name but a few. Working behind the scenes, Scat and his crew had set the stage both figuratively and literally for ‘Sold Out' concert performances; other examples are Smooth Jazz Holiday Concert at the Beacon Theater in New York City, as well as CD 101.9's Valentine's Day Concert, also held at the Beacon Theater.

Lifting a line from The Godfather ~ Part III, shortly after Scat received several concert tour-job offerings, Scat recites Michael Corleone's memorable moment from that movie: "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in," to which Scat may soon be singing several lines from Willie Nelson's On the Road Again. Scat has to weigh in on a big decision, for if he decides to go, he will be traveling widely and broadly—away from Jeanie and their floating home on the Peconic River. He'll be off to Brazil (a rallying point) before continuing the tour. I believe that Scat has already made up his mind because he emphatically declared to me, "Bob, I think I have one more tour left in me!" The Kills concert tour will be held in various cities in Scandinavia and Europe. From there, the rock band will be performing in South America, where Scat and his son, Dale, will likely meet up with the group. The tour will continue from South America to the United States and Canada.

Last month, Donna and I had set up a phone interview via our Channel 20 Cablevision Show (Special Interests with Bob Banfelder & Donna Derasmo) with Scat's oldest son, Doug, a United States Marine Gunnery Sergeant Counterintelligence Specialist, having served several tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. Doug expounded on his experiences. I had asked the man some hard-and-fast questions, to which I received candid responses. Donna's and my TV show airs for thirty-minute every Saturday at 4 P.M., coverage from Eastport to Montauk on Long Island's south shore, and Wading River to Orient on the north shore.

Special Interests with Bob & Donna is an eclectic show that we have been doing since 2012, covering a wide range of topics from criminal justice to hunting and fishing. As many of you know, I covered combination spinning and fly fishing travel cases and kits in a two-part piece here at Nor'east Saltwater last month for my bimonthly report (published on the 1st and 2nd of every month). On our Channel 20 Public Access Cablevision Show for July 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29, and August 5, 12, 19, 26, Donna and I will be covering those combo travel cases, which I believe will be of special interest to many viewers, especially if you love to travel, fish, and hunt. Many viewers and readers have requested that Donna and I cover more fishing and hunting segments on our show. And so we shall.

Our viewing audience is growing considerably and, consequently, so is our range of topics. The following is a list of select programming as it appears on my website, http://www.robertbanfelder.com. At the top of the page, you can click the bottom middle-column box that reads Cablevision TV ~ Special Interests with Bob Banfelder & Donna Derasmo; you'll note the many topics we've covered to date:

COVERING AN ECLECTIC GROUP OF TOPICS AND ISSUES SUCH AS ART, MUSIC, ENTERTAINMENT, ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES, FISHING FRESH AND SALT WATER (SPIN CASTING, BAIT CASTING, FLY CASTING), CLAMMING, CRABBING, SMOKING FISH, CANOEING, KAYAKING, POWERBOATING, PHOTOGRAPHY, FALCONRY, HORTICULTURE, FARMING, FASHION, FORENSICS, FICTION AND NONFICTION WRITERS, WRITING PROCESS RE FICTION AND NONFICTION, TRADITIONAL AND SELF-PUBLISHING, A HIGH-QUALITY OUTDOORSY VEHICLE, GOURMET RECIPES, SERIAL KILLERS, CRIMINAL JUSTICE, CONSUMER ADVOCACY, QUALITY OUTDOOR PRODUCTS FOR FISHING & HUNTING, HUNTING SMALL AND BIG GAME (HANDGUN, RIFLE, SHOTGUN, SLUG GUN, MUZZLELOADER, COMPOUND BOW, CROSSBOW), EXTRAORDINARY ALBEIT ORDINARY PEOPLE & PLACES OF IMPORTANCE.

You can find all my current Nor'east Saltwater articles by going to their website at and clicking on Blogs, listed at the top of the page. My articles appear under North Fork/South Fork Bays . . . and Beyond with Bob Banfelder. Earlier in time, when Nor'east Saltwater was a print and online magazine, I wrote articles that appeared in both versions. You can click on Magazine at the top of the Nor'east Saltwater page and find my print/online magazine articles in their archives, dated in descending order from December 2013 back to January 1998. The print Magazines and Blogs listings run from 1998 to the present for a grand total of nineteen (19) years, covering all of my articles for Nor'east Saltwater. That ought to keep an angler busy reading for a while. Additionally, a comprehensive listing of my entire body of works can be viewed on https://www.robertbanfelder.com, under the Publications (Fiction, Nonfiction, TV, Articles, Interviews) box located at the top of the page in the top far right column.

Tomorrow we'll pick up with Scat's oldest son, Doug (United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant Counterintelligence Specialist), and that son's Father's Day announcement to his dad, set in a rather disturbing light when reading between the lines. You'll then note the irony between a father and son's prophetic pronouncements. Stay tuned.


Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.


Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats


Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats

June 02, 2017

A Beefier Combo Spinning & Fly-Fishing Kit for Travel ~ Part II

by Bob Banfelder

To handle heftier medium/medium-heavy action spinning and fly rods/reels, I put together a beefier travel package to cover most fresh and saltwater applications. I began by purchasing Plano's All-Weather Tactical Gun-Guard Case, which brilliantly fills the bill for carrying angling or gunning gear come hunting season.


Plano Gun-Guard Case: the perfect travel case for your angling gear

Sandwiched between the top and bottom 1½-inch thick sheets of foam padding is a high-density 2¼-inch thick, perforated (pre-scored) Pick N' Pluck foam insert with which to customize your case: spinning rod and reel, fly rod and reel, fly box, lure box, packages of tapered leaders, tippet material, et cetera. This hard, sturdy plastic-molded Plano Gun Case, model number 108421, features a heavy-duty molded carrying handle, five (5) heavy-duty, spring-assisted dual-stage lockable latches, along with a built-in pressure-control release valve on the bottom of the case for ambient pressure/temperature changes. The valve in conjunction with an O-ring entrenched along the entire periphery of the case creates a Dri-Loc weather-tight seal. The case's interior dimensions are 42-inches long, 13-inches wide, and 5-inches deep. The only tools needed to cut (as opposed to ‘pluck') the foam to form and accommodate rods, reels, mini-tackle boxes, et cetera, is a snap-blade utility knife, ruler, and a Sharpie fine-point black marking pen for tracing. Some folks use an electric carving knife or a foam-cutting hot knife for smoother cuts. I prefer the snap-blade utility knife for better control.

After extended use, you may find that the edges of the cutout polyurethane foam inserts begin to wear. A quick fix of Plasti Dip (actually, a spray can) will reinforce the foam and prevent it from fraying. You can either wait until the issue arises or address the matter initially. The same would apply to the L.L. Bean Compact Spin/Fly case discussed in yesterday's Part I. However, I decided to use Plasti Dip on the Plano case foam and leave L.L. Bean case as is until I note wear. Be aware that working with solvents such as Plasti Dip will cause other issues if you do not know what you are doing. I'll address this momentarily when dealing with repair. In the meantime, let's begin cutting and creating the inserts to the relative shape of the items that you are going to place within the case: rods, reels, mini-lure and fly boxes, et cetera.

With the mid-section foam sheet placed in its case, set the edge of a rod's handle up against the 1½-inch non-perforated borders (top and side). Carefully measure, trace then cut along the perforated section that you wish removed.


Tools needed to start customizing your travel kit

Using your fingers, carefully push down and to the side to separate the foam while cutting in a straight line (no curves of any kind) to approximately mid-depth of the mid-section sheet. Then to facilitate matters, lift and remove the entire mid-section sheet from its case. Repeat the cutting procedure on the opposite side of the foam sheet in a similar fashion. Extending the blade of the utility knife a couple of inches to meet the cuts you made on the opposite side will easily separate the section for removal, creating a nice insert for one of the rods. Take it nice and slow. You will note that I basically followed the same layout of the L.L. Bean Compact Combo Spin/Fly Kit covered in yesterday's Part I.

There are Plano Gun Guard cases that feature wheels for easier transport; however, this model is perfect for our travel-angling needs. One could order a replacement mid-section foam sheet from Plano and reconfigure it to accommodate a pair of scoped long guns such as a slug gun, rifle, muzzleloader, extra barrel, et cetera. In any event, hold on to whatever foam you have removed for future alteration and and/or minor repairs. In our case (no pun intended), this Plano Gun Gear case will remain dedicated to our spin/fly/tackle accoutrements for travel. You'll note that I did this one step at a time; first the rod, and then the reel, and so forth.

Although the model #108421 Gun Guard case is specifically referred to as their All Weather 42 Inch Case, the interior length is actually 43 inches with a solid 1¼-inch non-pluckable foam border. That leaves you with a length of 40½-inches of foam sheet with which to cut and build your kit to custom fit rods, reels, mini-tackle boxes and/or gunning paraphernalia. You need that 1¼-inch foam border to firmly support these items along the periphery, so do not make the mistake of cutting and creating an insert into the border's edge.

Unlike a solid mid-layer sheet of polyurethane foam found in other gun cases, such as some Pelican case models, the perforated Plano Pluck N' Pull foam easily creates custom inserts for rods, reels, gun accoutrements, et cetera. Realize, however, that the best Pluck N' Pull shapes are cut to form either squares or rectangles. Making rounded corners or circles may jeopardize the integrity of the foam along those edges because you will now be cutting against and reducing the size of each ¾-inch cubed surface area. Also, a step-down type cutting effect would be the way to work around irregular shapes as with the fly reel shown. Maintaining at least a 1½-inch distance [two (2) cubes] between inserts will offer better support. Additionally, the convoluted construction of the eggcrate-like foam cushioning above and below the mid-section sheet serves to secure items firmly in place. If you do make a mistake in cutting, you can easily bond the foam piece(s) back together with either DAP Weldwood Original Contact Cement or Elmer's General Purpose Rubber Cement. But be warned that the fumes from those adhesives can impair the integrity of the O-ring seal running along the inner lip of the case. To avoid this problem, simply remove the mid-section sheet of foam that you are working with and move it to an area away from the case. Bond what pieces of foam you need then wait for the adhesive to thoroughly dry and until there is no odor remaining before reinstalling the sheet and using the case—usually a couple of days to be on the safe side. Good to go.

If you do decide to Plasti Dip the mid-section foam sheet, remove it from the case and carefully follow the directions on the aerosol can's label. Building up several thin coats of this rubber coating is better than laying it on thick. Again, allow the product to thoroughly dry and be odor free. In a well-ventilated area, work the aerosol spray back and forth with overlapping strokes, holding the can approximately eight inches away from the sheet. When spraying, avoid direct sunlight, high humidity, and breezy conditions. You'll note that I worked toward the front of the garage for good ventilation, out of the way of pollen, cluster blooms, polynoses, and other matter flying around this time of year.


Plano mid-section foam sheet sprayed with Plasti Dip


All Items Fit Neatly Into the Customized Spin & Fly Travel Case for Fresh & Saltwater Applications

Left corner: Cabela's Fish Eagle 54m graphite 4 piece 7-foot spinning rod (line weight 8–12 lbs. lure weight ¼ – ¾ oz.) ~ Shimano Sustain 3000 FE spinning reel.

Across top: Plano Guide Series model 3540 waterproof lure box ~ Wheatley fly box; Orvis canvas tri-fold fly wallets.

Right corner: KastKing Katmai #8 weight 4 piece 9-foot fly rod ~ KastKing Katmai 7/8 weight (gun metal) fly reel ~ packages of Cabela's and Rio tapered leaders ~ mini spools of tippet material.

Packages of tapered leader material, Wheatley fly box, and the Orvis tri-fold fly wallets fit beneath the Plano lure box. The mini spools of tippet material fit behind the lure box. You'll note that there is still plenty of room to create and further customize your kit. But for now, I'll consider this case complete. Last but not least, I'd put in a couple of Desiccite (moisture) packs for good measure. As foam can absorb and hold dampness, I would not store equipment (especially guns) in a sealed case for prolonged periods of time.


Other fine Plano cases for fishing tackle, archery & gunning paraphernalia; i.e., scoped rifles/slug guns, etc.

Plano has the perfect case for you and yours. For Donna and me, traveling to new areas to explore and enjoy our outdoor adventures is living life to its fullest. See you on the water, in the woods, fields, and mountains.

Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.


Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats


Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats

June 01, 2017

Compact Spinning & Fly-Fishing Kits for Travel ~ Part I

by Bob Banfelder

When researching compact spinning and fly-fishing kits for travel, I was looking for a complete kit that had a dedicated rod and reel for spin fishing as well as a dedicated rod and reel for fly-fishing—not one of those generic, dual-purpose rods that serve as a substitute for both angling methods. That just doesn't cut it. The L.L. Bean Spin/Fly Combo Outfit is the ticket. With compact case dimensions of only 21½-inches long x 8½-inches wide, x 3½-inches high, it is a perfect size for easy carry-on transport, backpacking, or to stow in your vehicle and have at the ready at a moment's notice. How many times have you driven by a promising body of water and said to yourself? Boy, I wish I had my spinning and/or fly-fishing equipment handy. Well, with the L.L. Bean Spin/Fly Combo Outfit, you can now have a pair of completely dedicated compact travel rods and reels on hand for fishing both sweet water and the suds.


L.L. Bean Compact Spin/Fly Kit

The L.L. Bean spinning outfit features a dedicated 4-piece, 6-foot medium/light-action rod that is well-matched to a series 1000 reel. The spool is preloaded with 110 yards of 6-pound test monofilament line—not 60 yards as specified in the description, which I immediately questioned. After carefully measuring then re-spooling, I thought perhaps the reel had been inadvertently spooled with 4-pound test line so as to account for the extra 50 yards of mono, which would happen to agree with their lb. test/yd. spool capacity description; [4/110, 5/100, 6/60 is printed on the skirted spool. I compared the diameter of the line to spools of both 4- and 6-pound test monofilament I had on hand and tactilely determined that it was 6-pound test mono. Granted, there is no universal standard referencing line diameter versus breaking test strength, and I was not about to hunt down a spring balance in order to test tensile stress. In any case, it's better to have more line than less. Later, referencing fly line and backing, we'll see that more line can become an issue. That aside for the moment, the spinning reel has a generous gear ratio of 5.2:1, 4 ball bearings, a smooth drag, and an anti-backlash system.

The fly outfit features a dedicated 6-piece, 8½-foot medium-action 5-weight rod that is nicely matched to their 5–6 weight Angler model #1 reel. Its good-size arbor is pre-spooled with 290 feet of backing, an 84-foot floating fly line (yellow), and a 9½-foot tapered leader. A fluent disc drag sports a large knob in order to easily apply the brakes.


4-Piece Spinning Rod ~ 6-Piece Fly Rod ~ Fly Box ~ Lure Box ~ Carrying Case

Additionally, the pair of rods and reels is protected within a functional vacuum-molded Cordura nylon fabric case with a clear-plastic zippered top. The case is lined with high-density polyurethane foam with cutouts shaped to firmly hold reels, rod sections, along with a pair of miniature lure and fly boxes. The plastic fly box (with slotted foam inserts), which can hold many flies, even contains a trio of easy-to-access fly-fishing hook threaders—great for changing flies in low-light and/or cold conditions. Beneath the boxes, I added packages of tapered leaders and tippet material. Last but not least, the case has a durable Cordura carrying handle.

After stripping out line, casting, and fighting a few fair-sized schoolie bass before finally calling it a day, I noted that the fly line was binding slightly—atop the spool, just beneath the reel seat—even after carefully rewinding the line back upon the spool. Why? The answer is that I wasn't reeling and laying the line precisely and firmly back-and-forth along the spool as when it was first machine spooled at the factory. When I returned home, I simply measured the backing, fly line, and leader so as to determine accurate specs. I then removed 100 feet from 290 feet of backing then retied it to the spool, leaving 190 feet, which is more than sufficient when coupled to 84 feet of fly line and a 9½-foot leader for a total of 283½ feet (94½ yards). In all my years of fly-fishing both salt and fresh water, I rarely went into the backing; when I did, it wasn't more than a few yards. So now, even if I fail to wind the line evenly upon the spool, I'm not going to have a binding issue unless I'm really careless. Also, if I later decide to whip finish a loop and add a weight-forward sinking section, or switch to a longer 100-foot fly line, I'm good to go. L.L. Bean is certainly being generous in giving you more than less rather than the other way around, so I can't fault them in that. In any event, always be sure to allow for enough clearance so as not to damage the fly line.

Referencing the spinning rod, you will note that it does not have a hook keeper. That, too, is an easy fix. As I do not like retaining the hook in the leg of a guide, let alone one of its eyes, or impaled in the rod's fine cork handle, I prefer to secure the hook in a neat little item called The CATCH, manufactured by Adams WW, Inc. I have them attached to virtually every rod I own (spin, bait, and fly) — even if the rod comes with its own hook keeper. You'll note that the fly rod does come with its own hook keeper, yet I still attached The CATCH's compact size hook keeper to the wand. The hook keeper's slotted magnetic shield solidly holds and prevents the point and barb of the hook from catching you, your clothing, vehicle, and boat seats—not to mention, perhaps, a pet. The CATCH hook keepers securely attaches to virtually any size blank diameter in seconds via an ozone and weather-resistant neoprene O-ring. The CATCH lightweight hook keepers are available in three sizes: The CATCH compact size (black, orange, blue), The CATCH-BIG (black), and the CATCH-MEGA (black). http://www.getthecatch.com


Bob B's Big Bull's-Eye Fly & The CATCH Hook Keeper

Over the years, I've field-tested other brand-name hook keepers. For conventional spin, bait, and fly-casting rods, you want the CATCH hook keepers. Pictured below for the purpose of comparison is Fuji's EZ Keeper attached to the L.L. Bean travel spinning rod. The EZ hook keeper attaches in the same fashion as The CATCH hook keepers by way of an O-ring. Though, with the lure's pair of treble hooks exposed, it doesn't really much matter that those points and barbs are unprotected—unlike the single protected point and barb of the fly depicted in The CATCH's magnetic shielded slot. The EZ Keeper serves to hold a lure or fly, not to protect. Also, the EZ Keeper is available but in a single size, whereas the trio of The CATCH compact keepers accommodate hooks from midge-size 22–1, The CATCH-BIG up to 4/0, and The CATCH-MEGA up to 9/0. However, Fuji's EZ Keeper does have its place as a Tenkara line-management system.


Yo-Zuri Crystal 3D Minnow & Fuji EZ Hook Keeper

I first reviewed The CATCH hook keepers in Nor'east Saltwater back in August of 2013. The piece is titled Hooked on Hook Keepers. Click on this link for the complete article: http://www.noreast.com/articles/blog.cfm?b=35&a=4150.

Returning back to the pair of spin and fly-casting rods, both are finely wrapped and finished, boast genuine cork handles, 5 single-foot guides plus tip ~ 1 double-footed guide, 8 snake guides plus tip, respectively. The rods alone are worth the cost of the kit. And although the reels themselves are not of stellar quality—plastic components versus metal being the issue—you can always upgrade those items if and when the time comes while employing those same fine rods and suitably sufficient carrying case for many, many years. Our L.L. Bean compact combo travel kit will serve us at a moment's notice, always at the ready in our vehicle for unexpected, spontaneous adventure and action whenever our beefier equipment is back home taking up space.

In concluding Part 1, the fly reel is more than adequate, and the spinning reel stood up admirably against twenty-plus schoolie bass in a single outing. Moreover, the following day, I lost a nice-size striper (guesstimated at 30 inches) on the travel spinning rod as Donna was fumbling with the net right off the port stern. My point here is not to pick on Donna, but to make clear that the rod and reel easily handled a good-size fish in the suds, right up to the boat, the drag system having performed smoothly and flawlessly. As always, be sure to rinse your rod(s) and reel(s) with fresh water on return. Donna and I have both expensive and inexpensive equipment angling equipment that we have used, not abused, for decades. Take proper care of your equipment, and it will take care of you. Enough said.


L.L. Bean Travel Spinning Outfit ~ Yo-Zuri Crystal 3D Minnow ~ One of a Score of Schoolie Stripers Caught That Day in Our Compact Folding Porta-Bote (www.porta-bote.com.



Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.

Available on Amazon in paperback & -book formats


Available on Amazon in paperback & -book formats

May 02, 2017

A Wilderness Finger Lakes B&B ~ For Outdoorsy Men & Women Part II

by Bob Banfelder

What is additionally and exceptionally appealing about the The Wilderness Bed and Breakfast and its deer processing operation is that it has two professional butchers on hand to assist you: Frank Hartenstein (owner), and his associate, Barry Dunning. Frank is the full-time meat manager at Tops Friendly Markets in Watkins Glen; Barry is the full-time meat manager at Tops Friendly Markets in Ithaca. Both men take time off from their jobs during the whitetail gunning season to process your deer . . . the way you want it. Custom processing and packaging is not a problem. The first thing one observes as you enter the premises is that the place is spotlessly clean—all areas of operation. While watching the two men busy at work, you quickly realize that they are undoubtedly professionals, doubtlessly having turned the operation into an art form. The men work to a rhythm. Donna and I loved watching the pair ply their trade.


Frank Hartenstein and Barry Dunning processing venison


Hanging Area

Frank's wife, Andi, is most affable, having given Donna and me an extensive tour of the deer hanging area, processing room, cabins and property, complete with pond and paddleboat. In a word: impressive. Andi is also a certified event planner. Weddings, receptions, anniversaries, family reunions, office parties, birthdays and other such party celebrations have accommodated up to 300-plus people. Cottages normally rent for $70 per day (double occupancy) during the regular summer, spring, and fall seasons—apart from their in-season Hunter's Special weekly rental rate explained earlier in Part I. I'd look to book now for the 2017 season. You just can't beat their rates for what you receive.

The Hartenstein's Wilderness Bed and Breakfast is but a half hour drive from lake country wine tours, three State parks, Watkins Glen Speedway, Cornell University, and Ithaca College. Upon request, Andi can arrange first-class limousine service for wine country tasting tours, shopping at Waterloo Premium Outlets mall, Tioga Downs Casino & Racing, and airport pickup. Or just hop in your vehicle, slip in a CD, preferably Willie Nelson's On The Road Again, and travel to this fishing/hunting wonderland. There is truly something for everyone in the Ithaca/Newfield area. The Wilderness Bed and Breakfast website is http://www.thewildernessbnb.com/; Frank & Andi Hartenstein, 45 Chaffee Creek Road, Newfield, NY 14867 ~ Tel. (607) 564-0995.


Andi's Rescued Horses

As an aside, a December 2016 pig roast for Wounded Warriors in Action was hosted by Andi. Several warriors had stayed over at Frank and Andi's and participated in a whitetail deer hunting event. Among the group was the son of Billy Walkabout (March 31, 1949 – March 7, 2007). Billy is believed to be the most decorated Native American soldier of the Vietnam War. Billy had received the Distinguished Service Cross, five Silver Stars (one upgraded to a Distinguished Service Cross), ten Bronze Star Medals, one Army Commendation Medal (inclusive of a Valor ribbon, plus two oak-leaf clusters), and six Purple Hearts. Andi did all the arranging and cooking and did not charge for her time. These are the kind of top-shelf folks that you are dealing with at Newfield's The Wilderness Bed and Breakfast.

For a fishing and hunting paradise, visit and explore the Newfield/Ithaca area.


One of several rainbow trout that fell for The Gimp ~ a once-famous but often-forgotten fly


The Gimp

In keeping with an eye on travel, next month (June 1st and 2nd) we're going to take a close look at a pair of compact yet completely dedicated light–medium-action travel rods and reels for spinning and fly-fishing—not one of those generic, dual-purpose rods that serve as a substitute for both angling methods. Also, I'm going to custom-fit a hard case with beefier medium–medium-heavy action spinning and fly-fishing travel outfits that will handle most fresh and saltwater applications. As Donna and I will be doing more and more traveling, both these travel outfits will be at the ready for spontaneous adventures.

Back home on the North Fork of Long island, schoolies are in—along with some stripers with serious shoulders. Donna and I have been busy field-testing these dedicated travel rods and reels. The month of May will prove to be productive as bunker are in the Peconic River and adjoining bays. We're watching osprey carrying sticks to build a new nest and bunker to feed the family. See you on the water.

Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.


Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats


Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats

May 01, 2017

A Wilderness Finger Lakes B&B ~ For Ourdoorsy Men & Women Part I

by Bob Banfelder

In response to Part I of my April 1st article titled Spectacular Outdoor Activities Await the Adventurous, several folks called or e-mailed, requesting to see more photos and wanting to know more (actually a lot more) about The Wilderness Bed and Breakfast located in the Finger Lakes region of Newfield, New York. Another gentleman commented nostalgically, having had attended college in Ithaca, fishing Fall Creek and Cayuga Lake when he could find the time. I encourage all of you to visit this wonderland. The Wilderness B&B is a great base to begin your outdoor adventures this spring, exploring the area's gorges, waterfalls; fishing its lakes, streams, and ponds—not to mention spectacular deer hunting opportunities come fall and winter.


Two of six Wilderness B&B cabins, grounds ~ 21 acres, pond [winter 2016]

Snuggled just 11.2 miles southwest from the tip of Cayuga Lake, in the heart of the Finger Lakes region, surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains, lies a little-known B&B sanctuary that caters to outdoors men and women. At first blush, the establishment is appropriately named The Wilderness Bed and Breakfast; that is, until you learn that the enterprise does not serve breakfast during the off-season. The ‘off-season' corresponds with those dates set aside for hunting white-tailed deer during the gunning season in the 7R area of Central New York. Therefore, the appellation is not necessarily a contradiction in terms. What happens is that come deer hunting season, the operation receives a transformation, a metamorphosis if you will. While the cozy, warm, clean cabins accommodate deer hunters, The Wilderness B&B deer processing operation springs into action. It then becomes a deer hunter's mecca; a haven for the hearty. Through the remainder of the year, but not limited to one particular season within this pristine wilderness area, other outstanding opportunities abound for outdoorsy folks: fishing, bird watching, hiking, horseback riding, or just plain lounging around for a bit of R&R. Come springtime, many outstanding angling opportunities abound throughout this pristine area, all within proximity to The Wilderness Bed and Breakfast.

Just 2.1 miles down the road from the B&B is the Newfield State Forest, encompassing 1,552 acres. The forest is connected to the New York State Department of Conservation (NYSDEC), Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area, which covers more than 11,000 acres.

Additionally, the NYSDEC has Deer Management Focus Areas (DMFA) to help alleviate the overpopulation of deer. This is a homerun for those who want to increase the odds of bagging a trophy. More information is available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/82382.html. One of these Focus Areas is Cornell University in Ithaca, which is 12.5 miles northeast of The Wilderness Bed and Breakfast. Cornell land is but one of those areas that provides great hunting opportunities: http://www.cornellbotanicgardens.org/our-gardens/natural-areas/stewardship/deer.

Six private, spaciously separated cabins dot The Wilderness Bed and Breakfast landscape within a picturesque twenty-one acre property. The establishment provides a bathhouse with separate men's and women's bathrooms, game room, horseshoe pits, and although breakfast is not included during the ‘off season,' guests have their use of the kitchen facilities located in the main (common) cabin area where folks may prepare their own meals. Frank Hartenstein and his gracious wife Andi run a first-class operation.


Andi Hartenstein in the Common Area

During late fall and running through the winter deer hunting firearm season, the wilderness operation is truly unique in the sense that it offers a Hunter's Special weekly rental rate for a nominal $200. That's under $29 a day! Now get this: Two of the larger cabins can accommodate up to five folks for the same weekly rate. Do the math. We're talking about clean, comfortable, cozy lodging for less than $6 a day per person!


B&B Wilderness' warm, cozy cabins

In the Finger Lakes area, winter weather and temperature changes can vary dramatically, so one has to be ready for anything. For example, lake-effect snow can drop in on you within a surprisingly short period of time. For example, on the opening day of deer season, November 19th, 2016, with clear skies, the high and low for the day was 67º/32º Fahrenheit, respectively. By the following day, 7 inches of snow covered the ground. Gusts of wind were whipping up to 40 miles per hour. With the wind chill factor, it was 22º. By the 21st, 3- to 3½-foot drifts had piled up in certain areas. It was still snowing; 18–20 inches blanketed the landscape—2 inches over the tops of my Muck boots as I tracked, trudged, and still-hunted for white-tailed deer, eventually making it to one of my treestands. Days like that are for the hardy. I was set up by 6 a.m. as I had for the past few days. I took a nice button buck with a handgun, which became the highlight of the hunt because that challenge was on my bucket list. The high and low for the day had been 29º/26º.

By late spring and early fall, the area is a fishing mecca for sportsmen. Small and largemouth bass blanket many small ponds. Rainbow and brown trout fill the streams; lake trout and landlocked salmon laud crystal clear clean lakes. Shown below is a nice size catfish caught at the foot of Cayuga Lake, just steps from the Ithaca Farmers Market. Its dock and pier are open to the public, so you can shop, or fish, or take a leisurely stroll around the waterfront.


Local fellow with catfish caught at the foot of Cayuga Lake

Tomorrow we'll continue with PART II, covering more of this unique B&B operation and the area in general, so please stay tuned.

Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.


Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats


Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats

April 02, 2017

A Deal of a Fly Rod & Reel ~ This is No Fly-By-Night

by Bob Banfelder

Part II

Before we continue on our Ithaca/Newfield journey, I'd like to introduce you to a deal of a fly rod and reel. Tom Gahan, Marketing Director for Eposeidon, whom you met in Part I, brought this KastKing product combo to my attention. At this stage of my life, I know a bargain when I see one.

The KastKing Katmai fly reel pictured below is currently available in four sizes: 3/4 (74 mm diameter), 5/6 (87 mm diameter), 7/8 (97 mm diameter), 9/10 (109 mm diameter). I recently selected the 7/8 size to do double duty in both fresh and salt water. Not too large a reel for some serious freshwater action; not too small a reel for most inshore saltwater species. As the reel is saltwater approved, there is no issue when hitting the suds. The super smooth waterproof center-disk drag is sealed with an O-ring to prevent water and sand intrusion.


KastKing Katmai 9 foot 4-piece #8-weight fly rod
KastKing Katmai 7/8 fly reel offered in black or gunmetal gray

The reel boasts solid stainless steel components and a lightweight yet super strong frame and spool composed of an anodized cold-forged aluminum alloy. With a 1.0:1 gear ratio, 2 saltwater rated ball bearings, and an instant-stop one-way anti-reverse clutch bearing, you are holding dependability in hand, knowing you can cast tirelessly then tackle the big boys when the bite is on. Although I am right handed, I set up all my fly reels for a left-handed retrieve as I do not like to change hands to reel in a fish. All reels are shipped from the company for righties; left-hand conversion can be done in literally a minute. It's a bit different than what I'm used to; that is, reversing a pawl-click mechanism. On the KastKing Katmai, you invert the anti-reverse bearing. It can be a bit tricky the first time out, so I suggest that you watch the You Tube video under Katmai Fly Reel Conversion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHA_u4B54So. Everything is easy once you know how.

I loaded the large arbor spool with backing and 82 feet of a slow-sinking fly line comprised of a 58-foot floating section, a 24-inch weight-forward tip, and a 9-foot tapered leader. To it, I tied a specially designed variation of the Muddler Minnow, heading out to a salty water column I had in mind. As of this writing (mid-March), it is still too early in the season to ply our local Long Island waters for bass and blues, but it was fun waving around the wand. It casts wonderfully. Aside from being a renowned deadly streamer fly in sweet waters for generations, the Muddler Minnow [pictured above] is magic in the suds, too.

The four-piece fast action 9-foot #8-weight KastKing Katmai carbon fiber rod [available in #4- #5- #8- #9-weight] is wrapped and wonderfully finished with stainless steel snake guides, tip, and K-foot ceramic inserts re the stripping guides; a quality full cork handle and fighting butt; and an aluminum double uplocking reel seat. The rod comes in a sectioned-off, heavy-duty protective tube made of Oxford 420D ballistic material with a 1¼-inch wide adjustable strap, serving as either a shoulder strap or tightened down for a carrying handle.


Carrying case for the four 28½-inch rod sections

I can't wait to put my new KastKing Katmai fly rod and reel through the rigors of both a freshwater and saltwater environment this season. If this fly-fishing outfit is as fine as the other KastKing spin-fishing equipment that I've field-tested and reviewed in Nor'east Saltwater through the years, Eposeidon has another winner on their hands with their KastKing Katmai fly rod and reel combination. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) soon recognize KastKing Katami fly reels/rods as "Best in Show" award winners. For when you pair quality with affordability, you can't help but be a winner. You'd be hard-pressed to find this kind of quality and value in a #7/8-weight combo outfit—rod, reel, and case—for under $130 dollars. Katami is named after the Katami National Park in Alaska.

Exploring Additional Areas in the Ithaca/Newfield Region

A suggestion when fishing freshwater pools for a variety of fish is to fish below a barrier falls. The Ithaca area has over 150 falls; some big, some small. Many provide excellent angling. Others offer spectacular views. Buttermilk Falls falls within the scenic category, whereas Ithaca Falls and its tributaries offer superb fishing opportunities—generally a spring and fall affair. Buttermilk Falls is a must for hikers in that its trails range from 1.7 miles to a more strenuous climb of 4.7 miles.


Buttermilk Falls ~ author taking a hike ~ not the plunge


A pool along Buttermilk Falls trail

On the southwest side of Cayuga Lake is Taughannock Falls State Park in Trumansburg. Campsites and cabins overlook Cayuga Lake. For April 2017, the Department of Environmental Conservation stocks the lake with 16,500 brown trout ranging between 8½–9½ inches. In addition to brown trout, the DEC stocks lake trout. For those who do not have access to a boat, the State Park shoreline is hot spot, providing year-round sport. A short cast from shoreline puts you into 50–60 feet of water, which holds many species of fish. In addition to brown trout and lake trout, anglers can catch rainbow trout, landlocked salmon, bass, and panfish, to name bit a few. The park is located 8 miles north of Ithaca, along Route 89.


Taughannock Falls ~ plunging 215 feet past rocky cliffs that tower nearly 400 feet above the gorge.

Another 10 miles north of Taughannock Falls is Lucifer Falls, located in Robert H. Treman State Park. Shoreline fishing is permitted along Enfield Creek and its tributaries.

Salmon Creek and the Inlet. There are 1.1 miles of Public Fishing Rights (PFRs) along Salmon Creek, with three official PFR parking areas. Anglers can also use unofficial pull offs along the stream.

Not everyone within our circle of friends is a fishing fool. Some folks simply enjoy hiking in the great outdoors and/or capturing spectacular scenery with camera in hand. Lee Hanwick is a retired music teacher, camera buff, and our next-door neighbor and friend.


Lee Hanwick hiking along Buttermilk Falls

At this juncture, I'm sure you realize that there is something for most everyone in the Ithaca and Newfield areas—especially great fishing and hunting opportunities. It all begins by perusing the Department of Environmental Conservation information mentioned throughout this two-part article. Additionally, a good suggestion would be to join a sportsmen's club. Though Donna and I will only be visiting the area four times a year (spring, summer, fall, winter), it pays to become a member of a club. Fees are nominal and well worth the effort. The knowledge that you will glean over a period of time will prove priceless. We recently joined the Trumansburg Fish and Game Club. It's but a stone's throw from some of the areas we've been fishing and that I'll be hunting. Donna will be shooting the camera. As Donna and I enter our golden years, we don't just travel about—we explore the great outdoors.

For my bucket list, I have a couple of fishing activities planned; namely, bowfishing and ice fishing. I recently purchased a spin-cast type of bowfishing reel for one of my old Stemmler compound bows that was just collecting dust. I already have some articles in mind for future publications. Many of us outdoor folks divide our time between two mistresses [fishing and hunting]. I'll be hunting for fish, mainly carp on Long Island, along with other species on Cayuga Lake. For coverage of many fine angling products and informative articles, please check out my website at www.robertbanfelder.com under Publications [top right-hand box] and peruse those articles that I've written for Nor'east Saltwater over the years. You can do so—free of charge—by going into Nor'east's archives under the ‘Magazine and Blog' links at the top of the home page. The Blog link will direct you to my blog postings; the Magazine link will lead you to Nor'east's magazine issues, which may be read on your desktop, laptop, mobile, or tablet. Scrolling down to the bottom of the page you will see the link to older issues, where the magazine archive continues.

To conclude, I'll now return to home base ~ Long Island, New York. You may or may not know that the Connetquot River State Park Preserve in Oakdale—after its demise, covering a span of eight years—is finally getting back on track. The folks who fought for and worked indefatigably to bring back Connetquot's once world-class trout fishery are to be congratulated . . . profusely. Too many names to mention; however, one man has remained a friend of ours for many years: Dr. Richard Steinberger, affectionately monikered "Doc," of Idle Hour Fly Fishers. Doc had thoroughly researched the fishery debacle from a scientific perspective, helping to pave the way for positive change. Yes, yet another fishing fool. God bless.

Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.


Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats


Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats

April 01, 2017

Spectacular Outdoor Activities Await the Adventurous

by Bob Banfelder

Part I

As the headliner for my Nor'east Saltwater Magazine articles is titled "North Fork/South Fork Bays ... and Beyond," I'm going to transport you well beyond Long Island borders to a freshwater fishing mecca that once lie beneath a shallow saltwater sea, 350 million years ago. We'll be heading north to south-central New York; specifically, the surrounding areas of Ithaca and Newfield. Many bodies of water, both big and small, compose a picturesque canvas: lakes, inlets, tributaries, creeks, falls, ponds and pools. The region is but a five-hour drive from New York City. It is an outdoor haven for fledgling to fanatic anglers as well as hunters. Cayuga Lake, which we'll drop in on, is the longest (39.7 miles) and second largest of the Finger Lakes.


Cayuga Lake

The Newfield State Forest, encompassing 1,552 acres, is where outdoor opportunities also abound. The forest is connected with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation ~ Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area, which covers more than 11,000 acres. Additionally, the NYSDEC has Deer Management Focus Areas (DMFA) to help alleviate deer overpopulation. One of these Focus Areas is located at Cornell University in Ithaca. The Cornell University Deer Management Program provides great hunting opportunities. Visit the Cornell University website for details.

For fishing fanatics, Cayuga Inlet, at the southern tip of Cayuga Lake in Ithaca, provides five ample parking areas, two boat ramps on the east side of the lake, and one on the west side. Too, Salmon Creek on the east side of Cayuga Lake has two parking areas.


Author with a fingerling rainbow trout

The DEC stocks approximately 12,500 6-inch fingerling rainbow trout annually, which can grow to 29-plus inches. Excerpted from the Department of Environmental Conservation's website is information referencing Public Fishing Rights Maps:

Public Fishing Rights (PFRs) are permanent easements purchased by the NYSDEC from willing landowners, giving anglers the right to fish and walk along the bank(s). For more PFR information and legally permissible activities on those easements, please see the New York State DEC Public Fishing Rights page.

Most PFR easements are on trout streams. While keeping and eating the fish you catch is part of the fishing experience, many people choose to release their catch. If you release the fish you catch, please review the Catching and Releasing Trout page for tips on reducing the mortality of released trout. Want to know how much that fish you caught weighed? The Use a Ruler to Weigh Your Fish page http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9222.html will help you estimate the weight of your catch. Please view Fishing for Stream Trout http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/62477.html for information on catching stream trout. Further area information is available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/64153.html. There are many excellent fishing opportunities listed on the Department of Environmental Conservation's website. One of them is Fall Creek.

Fall Creek & Public Access

Fall Creek, located in Cayuga and Tompkins counties, is a major tributary to Cayuga Lake. The creek begins near Lake Como and meanders for approximately 33 miles to Ithaca, where it enters into Cayuga Lake. There are 10.9 miles of Public Fishing Rights (PFRs) along Fall Creek, four with official PFR parking areas; anglers may also use unofficial pull-offs along the stream.

Parking Areas

Old Stage Road. From State Highway 90 go south on Hinman Road to Groton City. Take Groton City Road south to Old Stage Road.
Hinman Road. From State Highway 90 go south on Hinman Road for approximately 1.3 miles. Parking area is just past the County Boundary.
State Highway 90. On State Highway 90 approximately five miles west of Homer.
•Lake Como Road. From State Highway 90 parking area go west on 90 about 300 yards to Lake Como Road. Two miles north on Lake Como Road.

Cayuga Lake Inlet Areas:

Cayuga Lake Inlet is a small- to medium-sized stream. Cayuga Inlet is a major spawning stream for Cayuga Lake rainbows. A vast majority (around 70%) of the rainbows in the inlet are wild fish. Enfield Creek, a tributary to Cayuga Inlet, is stocked annually with around 10,000 (Finger Lakes strain). Rainbow trout, brown trout, Atlantic salmon, and smallmouth bass can all be caught in the stream.

The NYSDEC Cayuga Inlet Fishway is located on the inlet and is an important rainbow trout egg collection and sea lamprey control point.


Author fishing Cayuga Inlet

For fishing and/or big game hunting at its finest, rethink then set aside the Catskills and the Adirondacks for another day. You'll find it quite interesting to note that area streams actually flow north and exit into Lake Ontario, so go with the flow and head northwest this April for some serious outdoor angling action.

You'll Fall For The Falls
Area Inlets, Tributaries, Creeks, Ponds, and Pools Provide Plenty of Angling Action


Although lakes and their tributaries offer spectacular fishing in the Finger Lakes region, area pools and small ponds should not be overlooked. Covering a large body of water can certainly wear a body down as we get older, but homing in on a pool for trout or small pond for smallmouth and largemouth bass can still be a blast.

Our friends, Tom Gahan and his wife Darla, found time for a bit of rest and relaxation at a nearby pond in Newfield. Asking and receiving permission of area residents to fish an owner's freshwater pond was amicably given. The only stipulation was that Tom and I catch and release any fish taken. Not a problem. Acquiring a property owner's permission to fish on their land is easier than one might imagine. Folks there are friendly.


Left to right: Tom Gahan, author, and Darla Gahan
The boys eyeing their imitations ~ light spinning outfits in the foreground, readying for action.



Tom sorting through his boxes of tricks

Although the pond had not produced a single bite for the first hour and a half, Tom's persistence finally paid off. He caught, landed, and released a decent size largemouth bass. Tom was a happy camper; more on camps and other area accommodations in a moment.


Tom's largemouth bass, caught and released


Tom with a plastic imitation to which a largemouth bass finally surrendered

Tom went on and on about the effectiveness of a soft plastic worm. I simply told him that it had little to do with the lure but had everything to do with the luck of the Irish, for I hadn't had a hit all morning. Finally, as the morning wore on, I caught and released a nice largemouth. I went on and on about patience personified and the effectiveness of a crankbait. Tom emphatically insisted that it had wee little to do with the crankbait and everything to do with the sheer stubbornness of a thick-headed German. I didn't belabor the fact that my bass was bigger than his bass. :o) :o)


Author caught and released a nice largemouth bass from a pond in Newfield

Over the years, Donna and I have come to know a good many fishing fools, several who remain among our circle of closest friends. So, who is this Tom Gahan guy? you may be wondering. Tom is the Marketing Director for Eposeidon Outdoor Adventures, Inc., http://www.eposeidon.com/, a budget-minded company that is making industry inroads by leaps and bounds . . . or should I say waves—BIG waves. Under the Eposeidon banner, the company's brands include KastKing and MadBite, combining both quality and exceptional value. KastKing offers excellent spinning, baitcasting, and—now—fly-fishing rods and reels, along with high quality monofilament, copolymer, fluorocarbon, and braided fishing lines; lines for a fraction of the cost of other leading brand names. The company will soon be producing quality fly lines, too. MadBite features quality fishing lures at a price point that is as sharp as their hooks.

Camps and B&Bs in the area are plentiful in the Ithaca/Newfield areas. Snuggled just 11.2 miles southwest from the tip of Cayuga Lake, in the heart of the Finger Lakes region, surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains, lies The Wilderness B&B sanctuary in Newfield that caters to outdoorsy folks. Six spotlessly clean, spaciously separated cabins on twenty-one acres, along with a pond, blanket the property. Log onto http://www.thewildernessbnb.com/. You'll be glad that you did. Frank Hartenstein and his most amicable wife, Andi, run the establishment. During deer hunting season, the couple shift gears and provide a professional deer processing operation. Frank and his associate, Barry Dunning, are both professional butchers by trade. When I harvested my first button buck with a handgun this fall, of course that is where Donna and I brought the animal for custom processing. A young deer is venison at its finest.


Author with first handgun harvest

Tomorrow we'll continue our journey, first taking a look at A DEAL OF A FLY ROD & REEL. Stay tuned.

Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.



Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats


Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats

March 02, 2017

Step-By-Step Spring Commissioning for Outboard Engines & Boats

by Bob Banfelder

Springing into Action ~ Part 2


We're continuing with our spring commissioning procedures from where we left off yesterday.

PHASE THREE: bottom painting

Important Note: One has to first decide on what type of antifouling paint to use: [ablative, hard, or hybrid]. I'll be addressing ablative antifouling paints.

BOTTOM PAINTING FIBERGLASS HULL:

Items: protective clothing and covering for head, face, hands, and eyes [tight-fitting respirator & spare filters] ~ Interlux Micron CSC ablative antifouling paint, or Pettit Ultima SR 40 ablative paint ~ paint stirrer ~ roller paint tray ~ solvent resistant paint liner(s) ~ solvent-resistant 3/8-inch smooth to semi-smooth knap paint roller(s) ~ paint-roller poles (both long and short handles) ~ painter's 2-inch wide masking tape ~ slot-head screwdriver ~ nail ~ hammer ~ trash container

The most important item you should consider when bottom painting your boat— even outdoors—is a tight-fitting quality respirator and spare filters. A paper mask just doesn't cut it. If you are bottom painting out-of-doors, pick a day with no rain or heavy wind in the forecast. It would be very frustrating to have to stop in the middle of this project because of the elements.


A respirator for priming and bottom painting is a must because your health should be your number-one concern

Step 1: Tape the boat's entire waterline with painter's 2-inch wide masking tape.

Step 2: With a slot-head screwdriver, open the can's lid and remove. Place the tip of the nail into the lid's track and, with the hammer, make several evenly spaced holes for paint to drain when pouring.

Step 3: With a chip brush, first paint around any exterior fittings.

Step 4: Stir the paint well and pour just enough to fill the well of the solvent-resistant liner set within a metal paint tray. Use a chip brush to wipe clean the lid's track. Carefully roll and pick up just enough paint to load and encircle, not completely saturate the roller. Roll along liner to spread and release excess paint.
Step 5: Work from the bottom of hull upward to the taped waterline, covering the area(s) with a single coat if and where needed. You'll recall from yesterday's Part 1: If no gray primer is showing through the ablative top coat, simply forego bottom painting until the following boating season before rolling on a single light coat of ablative bottom paint to the entire hull—with a roller—right up to the waterline. Again, why add unnecessary weight (paint) to the hull? I have been alternating this step every boating season since 2010/11.





Above and below: Clearly, two excellent ablative topcoat choices

PHASE FOUR: protection for metal hardware at or below the waterline

TOUCH-UP PRIMING & PAINTING METAL HARDWARE:

Items: protective clothing and covering for head, face, hands, and eyes [goggles] ~ painter's 1-inch wide masking tape ~ 2-part Pettit Protect Epoxy Primer (4700 and 4701 Gray) ~ Pettit Prop Coat Barnacle Barrier 1792 aerosol spray ~ 220 grit sandpaper ~ short handle brass scratch brush ~ various size chip brushes (1in.– 4in.) ~ paint-stick stirrers ~ come-a-long ~ large bucket ~ three empty 5 oz. tuna cans ~ craft sticks ~ wide slot-head screwdriver ~ newspaper ~ rubber hammer ~ paint thinner for cleanup only ~ rags ~ trash container

Step 1:
Address all metal hardware at or just below the waterline that requires your attention; for example: swim platform bracket (stainless steel), outboard bracket below waterline (aluminum). Tape around hardware. With a chip brush, apply two coats of 2-part Pettit Protect Epoxy Primer (4700 and 4701 Gray), followed by two coats of Interlux Micron CSC ablative antifouling paint, or Pettit Ultima SR 40 ablative antifouling paint.

Allow time between coats to thoroughly dry; follow label instructions.

I had removed and stored the pair of stainless steel aerator screen strainers from the transom during the winterizing procedure. Using a brass scratch brush, clean the screens and spray both sides with two coats of Pettit Prop Coat Barnacle Barrier 1792 for superior protection.


A fine choice for underwater metals

PHASE FIVE: painting transducer/transducer wire, checking and reinstalling batteries, replacing zincs, reinstalling prop.

PAINTING THE TRANSDUCER:

Items: disposable nitrile gloves ~ MDR Transducer Antifouling Paint (with built-in-brush-cap) ~ thin sheet of cardboard

Step 1. Brush on transducer paint.

Step 2. Slip a thin sheet of cardboard between the transducer wire and hull at transom. Paint the transducer wire, too.


MDR Transducer Paint

Note: Never-ever paint your transducer with bottom paint because it will render it ineffective. Use only specially formulated antifouling transducer paint, which will help prevent barnacle buildup and allow for a strong signal to be sent to your electronic unit.

CHECKING & REINSTALLING BATTERIES:

Items: multimeter as battery tester (voltmeter) ~ 12-volt battery charger (6/2 amps) slot-head screwdriver ~ distilled or demineralized H2O ~ bulb-type battery filler ~ disposable nitrile gloves ~ three craft sticks ~ ruler ~ paper towels ~ trash container ~ 17mm socket wrench ~ 14mm socket wrench ~ kneeling pad ~ mechanic's pad on which to place tools (protects gelcoat's surface)

Step 1: With a multimeter set to DCV voltage 20, check the condition of your 12-volt batteries.

Step 2: Using each end of three craft sticks, fill battery cells [if needed] to a level measuring approximately 1-inch above cell's plates. Wipe sticks clean and discard.

Step 3: If the batteries need charging, set on a slow 2-amp charge until fully charged.

Note: Toward the end of last season, I saw that I needed new marine batteries. Blue Jacket deep-cycle lead acid-batteries are produced by East Penn Manufacturing Company, Incorporated (the world's largest single-site, lead-acid battery facility) – Deka [registered Trade Mark]. Blue Jacket marine batteries are distributed in Aquebogue, N.Y. by Lighthouse Marine, Inc.; a fine marine supply house, and a fine battery choice.


New batteries and paraphernalia

Step 4: Reinstall batteries, cables, and accessory wires in the inverse order that you had removed then during the winterizing procedure. We had covered those steps in detail at that time. Consult your notes so as not to put the wrong accessory wire(s) on the battery terminal post(s).

CHANGING ZINC(S); i.e., SACRIFICIAL ANODES:

Items: stiff wire brush ~ 10mm socket wrench ~ new zinc(s) if needed.

Step 1: Remove the sacrificial zinc shown just below the outboard bracket.

Step 2: Brush the zinc bar with a stiff wire brush, loosening the surface buildup of particles that are deteriorating the anode. The rule of thumb is to discard the zinc if it has lost approximately a third of its properties, replacing it with a new anode. You can generally get two seasons out of that one particular zinc.
With the engine raised after returning home, the zinc found on the bottom of the anti-cavitation plate need not be changed often—if at all. If zincs are subject to electrolysis, they will be compromised quickly. An annual, visual inspection will determine when they need replacement.

Note: Do not paint zinc(s) or area behind zinc(s) or you will render them ineffective.

REINSTALLING PROP:

Items: marine grease ~ chip brush ~ rubber hammer, block of wood ~ 7/8-inch socket wrench with 4-inch extension, paper towels or old rags ~ kneeling pad to protect knees ~ new cotter pin—if needed

Step 1: With a chip brush, apply marine grease to spline.

Step 2: Replace prop on the spline in the reverse order (of course) than it was removed during the winterizing procedure. See your winterizing notes or refer to your owner's manual.

Step 3: Insert cotter pin.

Step 4: Screw on and tighten propeller nut with socket wrench and extension.

Note: I do not prime or paint prop blades

PHASE SIX: sprucing up boat's exterior and interior.

WASHING, WAXING/POLISHING HULL, INTERIOR & DECK HARDWARE ~ CLEANING BILGE AREA:

Items: bucket ~ Mother's soap or Meguiar's Car Wash (preserves wax protection) ~ Mr. Clean Magic Eraser ~ Simoniz Royale Marine Fiberglass Boat Cleaner Wax ~ NuFinish Car/Boat Polish (you can apply this product in the sun) ~ NEVER-DULL Wadding Polish ~ MaryKate Big Bully Bilge Cleaner ~ polishing cloths ~ large soft towel ~ rags ~ 303 Aerospace Protectant ~ boat motor ear muffs (flusher) ~ 303 Aerospace Protectant ~ engine boat key

Step 1: After soaping and washing the hull with warm water, I use a Magic Eraser to remove any stubborn marks. Rinse well and dry.

Step 2: Next, I apply a coat of Simoniz Royale Marine Fiberglass Boat Cleaner Wax for superior hull protection. This wax is expressly formulated for fiberglass. Apply in one foot square clockwise sections—wax on; then buff counterclockwise—wax off. I'm sure most of us remember the Karate Kid. Yes? Next, apply a coat of NuFinish Polish.

Step 3: Wash and wax the boat's interior using the same wax/polish procedure as for the hull, after which you can chip away at polishing stainless steel bow rails and bases, bow pulpit plate, anchor and mooring cleats, latches, hinges, hasps, et cetera, with NEVER-DULL Wadding Polish. You can wait until the boat is in the water, which may prove easier, especially if you're at a floating dock.

Step 4: For the ultimate in cushioned vinyl seat protection, I use 303 Aerospace Protectant.

Note: If you had covered the cooling H2O inlet covers (vents) on each side of the lower unit duct tape (reason explained in Part 2 of the winterizing procedure) be sure to remove those two strips.

Step 5: Follow the label instructions on MaryKate Big Bully Bilge Cleaner.

START ‘ER UP:

Item(s): water source, hose, boat motor ear muffs (flusher) ~ drain plug ~ engine key

Step 1. First, set up items for flushing engine on land as you do not want any surprises when launching boat. Turn on water supply. Start ‘er up and warm ‘er up.

Step 2: Before launching boat, make darn sure that the transom drain plug is secure.

Everything shipshape?

Good to go.

Step 3:
Launch boat.

Spring is but three weeks away. Have a great fishing/boating season, guys and gals.


Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.


Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats


Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

March 01, 2017

Step-By-Step Spring Commissioning for Outboard Engines & Boats

by Bob Banfelder

Springing into Action ~ Part 1

If you had followed my 2016 winterizing procedures in Nor'east Saltwater for November 1st (Part 1) and November 2nd (Part 2), titled STEP-BY-STEP WINTERIZING WIZARDRY FOR OUTBOARD ENGINES, the majority of the work is now behind you. Let's move on to Spring Commissioning, referencing both your outboard engine and boat for this 2017 season. I'll continue using our 90 horsepower Yamaha TXR 4-stroke outboard engine and 18-foot Nautic Star center console as a generic model. If you hadn't followed those winterizing instruction as a general guide, you may want to copy those earlier pages for future reference. If so, please log on to Part 1: http://www.noreast.com/articles/blog.cfm?a=4856&b=35 and Part 2: http://www.noreast.com/articles/blog.cfm?a=4857&b=35 for complete details.

Let's uncover the boat and continue where we left off. It would be a good idea to first read through each procedure carefully before proceeding so that you will be familiar and highly organized. You will receive several useful suggestion as well as very important information that you may not be aware of. This approach will save you time, money, and frustration.

Come spring is when I change the Fuel/Water Separating Filter, address touch-up primers and paints for fiberglass and underwater hardware, check and reinstall batteries, replace zinc(s), reinstall prop, wash and wax exterior/interior of boat, clean the bilge, polish on-deck fixtures and fittings, and protect vinyl seats. Therefore, these are the steps we'll be covering referencing Spring Commissioning.

Let's get started.

PHASE ONE: changing the Marine Fuel/Water Separating Filter

FUEL/WATER SEPARATOR FILTER:

Items: Yamaha MARINE FUEL/WATER SEPARATING FILTER-High Performance 90 GPH/10 Micron Filtration ~ oil filter wrench ~ rags ~ paper towels ~ aluminum pie pan ~ glass jar ~ ¼ pint fresh gas

Step 1. Raising my outboard engine allows access to where the FUEL/WATER SEPARATING FILTER is located. Doing so shifts the group of cables out of the way for easier accessibility.

Note: The location of the spin-on/-off FUEL/WATER SEPARATING FILTER is rather difficult to reach and remove because it is practically touching the stern/starboard corner bulkhead—deep within the recess of my 18-foot Nautic Star.

A metal looped band-type filter wrench is required to remove the filter in that narrow space. No other type of oil filter wrench worked. I needed the thinness of that band to encircle the filter. However, the wrench would not properly grip the filter and kept slipping. What to do?

I took a thin sheet of cork gasket material, measured and cut two narrow strips to fit neatly within the metal band, and secured them in place with Gorilla Glue. The strips have remained firmly in place since 2010. The modified tool is a godsend. Yes, necessity is, indeed, the mother of invention. Hopefully, your filter is located in a more accessible area.


Note cork gasket material strips at one o'clock and seven o'clock positions within filter wrench band

Step 2. While removing the Fuel/Water Separator, it has to be supported in my left hand as I loosen the filter with the wrench held in my right, being careful not to spill any gas as I remove it. I have a disposable aluminum pie pan placed beneath the filter canister to catch any spill.

Step 3. Pour the old gas into a clean, clear jar and check for water, dirt, debris, and other contaminants. The gas should be clear, not cloudy or white in color. If you do have water in the gas, you'll see its separation at the bottom of the jar as the water is heavier than the gas; gas floats atop water. Consult your authorized marine mechanic if this occurs. I never had an issue using a Yamaha MARINE FUEL/WATER SEPARATING FILTER-High Performance 90 GPH/10 Micron Filtration canister.

Step 4. Nearly fill the new Fuel/Water Separating Filter with fresh gasoline to facilitate priming the fuel system.
Step 5. Lubricate the new filter gasket with engine oil, carefully spin on and tighten securely— approximately ½ turn after the gasket contacts the filter head base.

PHASE TWO: touch-up priming

TOUCH-UP PRIMING – FIBERGLASS HULL & GELCOAT:

Items: protective clothing and covering for head, face, hands, and eyes [goggles] ~ 2-part Pettit Protect Epoxy Primer (4700 and 4701 Gray) ~ tight-fitting filtered respirator mask (not paper) ~ paint scraper ~ 220 grit sandpaper ~ various size chip brushes (1in.– 4in.) ~ paint-stick stirrers ~ come-a-long ~ large bucket ~ three empty 5 oz. tuna cans ~ craft sticks ~ wide slot-head screwdriver ~ newspaper ~ rubber hammer ~ paint thinner for cleanup only ~ rags ~ trash container


Clearly an excellent primer choice for barrier protection

Let's first examine the all-important barrier-coat primer. I'll start by saying that when I pulled the boat for winterizing during the 2016 season, I did not have a single barnacle on the hull, having employed three coats of both an excellent 2-part epoxy barrier primer and ablative antifouling paint when the vessel was brand-new in 2010/11. What I did initially note at the end of the 2016 season was a light, slimy marine growth buildup, along with a few barnacles (very few) on the metal hardware, at and just below the waterline, which came off easily by immediately pressure washing. Additionally, having carefully inspected the hull after power washing, I noted a few small, patchy-white areas where not only the black ablative paint had worn away, but where the gray primer coat had begun to wear away, too, barely exposing the fiberglass/gelcoat. This was after six seasons. Most of those tiny areas were where the trailer's rollers had covered areas of the hull the season before. Therefore, when hauling the boat, I position it on the trailer so that I can access those worn-away spots come spring.


A few worn-away areas along hull (grayish-white); use come-a-long (if needed)

The magic to maintaining a virtually barnacle-free bottom is to first lightly sand the gelcoat—not with a heavy grit sandpaper, but with a fine 220 grit sandpaper. You want to prepare the area so that the primer will adhere well, not roughly scratched to the point where the protective gelcoat compromises the fiberglass. Next, apply three light coats of gray primer to the exposed area. This sounds like a lot of work. Actually, it's not. The initial step takes longer because you have to first lightly sand then wipe clean the area before applying your first coat of primer, allowing it to thoroughly dry. The second and third steps go quickly because you need not sand and wipe clean; however, you do need to apply all three coats with a brush—not a roller.

Allow those three colors to serve as your guide: white (fiberglass/gelcoat), gray (primer), and black (ablative paint). If you are not down to the exposed white surface of the hull, you need not prime. If you have only small areas of gray primer showing, with a chip brush, hit those areas with one coat of black ablative bottom paint. If no gray is showing, simply forego bottom painting until the following boating season before rolling on a single light coat of ablative bottom paint to the entire hull—with a roller—right up to the waterline. Why add unnecessary weight (paint) to the hull? That's the bottom line.

Note: In fact, I wrote an article for Nor'east Saltwater back in April 2013 titled Barrier Epoxies & Ablative Paints ~ The Bottom Line. You need not read the article to proceed with any of these Spring Commissioning procedures. I mention it simply because it covers Barrier Epoxies & Ablative Paints in depth. If you're interested, log on to http://www.noreast.com/articles/blog.cfm?b=35&arch=042013.

For hull touch-up, I'm going to stick with the 2-part epoxy barrier primer and ablative bottom paint for the 2017 procedure (stick being the operative word).

Note: Here is how I went about doing this touch-up job without making it seem like work. Call it a rationalization if you must. I pick a warm day between fall and spring. You could be raking leaves or cleaning up the garden, washing and/or waxing the car, cleaning screens, et cetera. In between these chores, I chip away at this important touch-up priming project.

Step 1: Scrape any loose paint from hull area.

Step 2: With a wide slot-head screwdriver, open up both cans of 2-part epoxy primer.

Step 3: Using separate stirring sticks, mix each can well. After noting the mixture ratio stated on the label, use the same sticks with which you just stirred the contents to simply dip and drip a small amount of primer and catalyst into an empty tuna can. A little bit goes a long way in covering small areas. With either newspaper or rags, wipe the sticks clean and save for next time.

Step 4: With a wooden tongue depressor, mix the combined contents well; discard stirrer. That's all the primer paint you'll need for applying each coat with a 3-inch chip brush to those small, well-worn painted areas. Allow to dry overnight.

In a large bucket, have all the items needed neatly stored and handy for repeating two more applications.

Tomorrow we'll continue with Part 2, Phase Three: Ablative Paints.
Stay tuned.

Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.


Available in paperback and e-book formats on Amazon


Available in paperback and e-book formats on Amazon

February 02, 2017

Spoon-Feeding Pike and Bass

by Bob Banfelder

Part 2 Savvy Rigging Requirements for Spoons

Somewhere along the line (no pun intended), the question arises as how to properly attach a line to a spoon. Back in those early days, it was a generally accepted practice to tie the line directly to the spoon. Why? Answer: for direct contact. However, in terms of practicality when it came to quickly changing lures, there was nothing quick about it—especially when tying knots at night coupled to the concerns of tying anything upon a choppy, cold body of water. I was all thumbs. Therefore, there came a point where anglers had to weigh in on the practical use of attaching ancillary hardware that would expedite matters when changing lures. Hence, a good many fishing folks affix a split ring to their spoon, followed by a barrel swivel, which helps eliminate line twist and aids in changing lures.

By attaching a quick-release clip (such as the Power Clip by Tactical Anglers) between the split ring and the barrel swivel, you can actually take off and put on a lure with your eyes closed. Changing spoons or plugs is that easy. You merely slip the 45º arm of the clip onto or off of the split ring—done. There is no chance of the lure slipping off the clip because the other 90º arm serves as a block. Also, there is no chance of the clip opening up like that of a snap swivel, which I'm certain many of us have experienced in days of old. Quick-release type power lips are shaped very much like a paper clip. I'm sure you've seen them, but be advised that not all of those clips are created equal; more on that point in a moment.

Tactical Anglers Power Fishing Clips are offered in four test-strength sizes of 50 lbs. 75 lbs., 125 lbs., and 175 lbs. [available in small packages or bulk quantities]. They are made from thick stainless steel wire, beefier than the standard round-ended Breakaway Fastlink Clip. Too, the Tactical Anglers Power Clips are designed to be relatively pointed at both ends rather than rounded, and for two sound reasons. One, they keep knots firmly seated. Two, they prevent a barrel swivel from dramatically shifting side to side when retrieving and fighting a good-size fish. To paraphrase Alberto Knie, CEO of Tactical Anglers, "Most pelagic (ocean) fish have a tendency to shift their head, but with the pointed design, it allows for the line to follow; hence, minimizing slippage," which is more likely to occur with the round-ended design. The benefit of the semi-pointed clip is that maximum direct contact is maintained. Tactical Anglers Power Clips are available from Tackle Direct, www.tackledirect.com.

I trust you'll be using these indispensable clips—not only for spoons, but for virtually all your lures, especially those long-lipped crankbaits, where the metal eye of the lure is smack up against its face, making it very difficult to fasten a split ring. With Tactical Anglers Power Fishing Clips, it's a cinch to clip to a split ring or directly to a lure's eye.

Small Package Pricing:

Eight (8) Tactical Anglers Power Clips per small package for test-strength sizes 50 lb., 75 lb., 125 lb., and 175 lb. ~ $5.99

Bulk Package Pricing:

Thirty (30) Tactical Anglers Power Clips per bulk package for test-strength size 50 lb. ~ $12.49
Twenty-five (25) Tactical Anglers Power Clips per bulk package for test-strengths 75 lb., 125 lb., and 175 lb. ~ $12.49

As probably noted in past articles, I do not tie my line directly to a quick-release clip. I simply secure one end of a Tactical Anglers Power Clip to the split ring, and a barrel swivel to the other end of the clip so as to eliminate line twist. Experimentation is your best guide. Different strokes for different folks. I even toy with various size split rings because their thicknesses can make a discernible difference in the water column. Avoid attaching a split ring too thick that it does not easily pass through the hole at the top of the spoon, for it will impede the lure's action. Beefier split rings I reserve for heavier spoons such as one ounce and greater. You want good wiggle room between the split ring and the lure. As a rule of thumb, I generally use the standard Breakaway Fastlink round-ended clips for smaller lures in freshwater; for example, 1/8 oz., 3/16 oz., ¼ oz., ½ oz., and ¾ oz. I use the beefier semi-pointed end Tactical Anglers Power Clips for larger, heavier lures in saltwater.


Top & bottom left: round-ended Breakaway Fastlink clips shown in two test strength sizes: 50 lb. and 80 lb. test ~

Top & bottom right: semi-pointed Tactical Anglers Power Clips shown in two of four available test strength sizes: 75 lb. and 175 lb. test



In attaching a split ring to either of the two types of quick-release clips, simply slip the 45º angled arm (not the 90º arm) of the clip onto the thinnest section of the split ring; that is, in between the ends of the double coil where it forms a narrow single-coil space. This facilitates both attaching and removing the split ring from the clip. Attach the clip to a barrel swivel in the same fashion, sliding it to the other end of the clip, and you're done.


Eppinger 1 oz. Dardevle ~ Green/Silver-nickel back spoon, split ring, Tactical Anglers Power Clip (175 lb.), Rosco barrel swivel, Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon



Various size split rings and barrel swivels

Owner, Rosco, Spro, VMC, and Worth components referencing split rings and barrel swivels are worth checking out.

Let's take a look at several Eppinger genuine Dardevle spoons. You'll pay more for an original as opposed to any knockoffs. Why? Eppinger Dardevles go through a five-step manufacturing process to assure quality and craftsmanship. One: the brass or copper blanks are premium corrosion-proof, stamped, and polished. Two: the spoons are then primed with a two-stage etching epoxy primer, which takes a day to dry. Three: Eppinger's craftsmen then apply four to five coats of an exclusive lacquer. Four: the detailing is air brushed and hand painted—a final coat of clear lacquer sealer is applied for ultra-durability. Five: finally, the Dardevle trademark is applied to signify quality. Give the Dardevle its due and experience the ultimate in fish-catching ability. The action is awesome; the proof is in the pudding as you'll soon see.


Eppinger spoons categorized clockwise according to model and size:


Dardevle 1 oz. category: Green/Silver ~ Pink/White Diamonds ~ Hot Shad ~ Yellow/Red Diamond ~ Red/White Stripe ~ Red/White Stripe (Weedless)

Dardevlet ¾ oz. Wide Profile category: Hot Mackerel ~ Red/White Stripe

Cop-E-Cat ¾ oz. Imperial Heavy category: Hot Mackerel ~ Lime/Red Dot ~ Glo'in ~ Silver ~ Blue Silver ~ Green Silver ~ Red/White Stripe

Cop-E-Cat ½ oz. Imperial category: Silver ~ Blue/Silver ~ Lime/Red Dot ~ Red/White Stripe ~ Hot Mackerel

Dardevle Midget 3/16 category: Gold ~ Orange/Black Dot ~ Red/White Stripe ~ (circa 1982) Red/White Stripe

Lil' Devle 1/8 oz. category: Lime/Red Dot ~ Red/White Stripe ~ Hammered Brass

Eppinger spoons range in sizes 1/32 oz. – 3½ oz. and come in a mind-staggering assortment of colors and styles. Log onto www.eppinger.net to view their full product line. If you go a bit overboard in your purchase and receive flak from anyone, you simply say that the devil made you do it—period.

On the saltwater front this past season, there wasn't an Eppinger spoon viewed above that didn't produce a respectable fish: blues, stripers, weakfish—even fluke! On the freshwater scene, with limited time, Donna and I had good success with several Eppinger spoons, especially the Midgets and Lil'Devles.

Don't be fooled into thinking that little, light spoons can't compete with larger, heavier lures. To hammer home that point sharply, note Eppinger's Lil' Devle 1/8 ounce Hammered Brass spoon in the mouth of the 4-plus pound lunker largemouth bass. I was taking a short break from bowhunting whitetails in the Finger Lakes Region of Central New York. Awesome fishing in the area, folks.


Author with a nice largemouth bass—caught and quickly released


Largemouth bass caught on 1/8 oz. Hammered Brass Eppinger spoon, Shakespeare Ugly Stik SPL 1102 ~ 5 foot Ultra-Light Action rod, Shimano Stradic C14+ 1000 FA reel

As many of us will be severely suffering from cabin fever this February, take or make the time to explore new areas close to home. Bundle up and walk the beaches. Read the water. Jot down notes of places that look promising. Then return to those spots come spring—rod and reel in hand. You may be surprised to discover fresh, fertile fishing grounds.

Next month I'll be detailing a two-part step-by-step Spring Commissioning procedure for outboard engines and boats ~ subtitled SPRINGING INTO ACTION. That ought to warm things up a bit. Until then, think ahead to springtime.


Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.


Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats


Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats


February 01, 2017

Spoon-Feeding Pike and Bass

by Bob Banfelder

Part 1 ~ A Nostalgic Moment in Time: The Thousand Islands

One hundred sixteen-years ago, the Lou Eppinger heritage had started. In 1906, Lou hammered out a 2-ounce spoon of his own design, fishing the Ontario frontier. Six years later, Lou had turned his prototype spoon into a successful lure that he named the Osprey. Four years later, in 1918, the name was changed and later became widely-known as the Dardevle. You have probably used one of those tins as a kid. The spoon is easily recognizable by the logo's horns and devilish facial features imprinted on the red and white striped lure. That is, until several toothy denizens of the deep did their thing and marred the face and finish.


Circa 1982 and new 2016 Dardevle Midgets ~ red/white striped 3/16 ounce, nickel back

As a kid, I don't believe I ever made the Dardevle connection to the term daredevil until I became aware of a different form written on the packaging of Drake's Devil Dogs, which I ate voraciously as a child and throughout my adolescence. Interestingly, Dardevle, taken from the German language, Teufel Hunden [or correctly written together as Teufelhunden], became an apocryphal nickname applied to a United States Marine by German soldiers referencing a Marine's fighting ferocity with specific reference to the 4th Marine Brigade and Belleau Woods. When I joined the Corps as a young man, I was most disappointed to learn that there were no Devil Dogs to be found in boot camp, or offered up post-boot camp in the mess hall as dessert, not even in the PX!

Years later, having had my fill of Drake's Devil Dogs, I turned my interests back to hunting and fishing. I had fished from the age of four; hunted (legally) since the age of fourteen. In 1982, I was fishing with family in Gananoque, Ontario; the Canadian gateway to the spectacular Thousand Islands. I was using my go-to Dardevle spoons to nail some nice-sized pike and bass in the shallows. That was thirty-five years ago. Wow! Yeah, time certainly does fly by when you're havin' fun—fishin'.

Donna and I navigated out of Brown's Creek, then up, down, and around the heart of the 1000 Islands section of the St. Lawrence River. We cruised all the way to Kingston, partway up the Rideau Canal, then back downstream to Brockville and beyond. The August nights were cool, a perfect time of year to enjoy some serious fishing. One island in the chain is suitably named Camelot. Paradise personified. A fishing utopia awaited us just a short island hop to the northeast. The northwest section of Gordon Island provided the serious angler with some of the most fantastic northern pike and largemouth bass fishing to be had anywhere in the area. It was also the quieter side of the island to dock as boaters tended to congregate along the south central docks, somewhat protected from the prevailing west wind. But even on a windy day, the L-shaped northwest dock (accommodating three boats back then) posed no problem save a gentle undulating motion.

Immediately to the east sat a solitary dock that actually accommodated two boats, but as the adjacent side was painted yellow, and therefore reserved, yet seldom used by Park's personnel, it afforded perfect privacy and was one of the hottest fishing spots in the area for pike and bass. However, it was not necessary to nest ourselves there if either of these docks was occupied because the entire several hundred yards of shoreline was indeed productive, along with Jackstraw Island to the north and Jackstraw Shoal to the west. The key to one's success was a willingness to rise early, quietly working the shoreline. And as both these fighting fish, especially pike, have a propensity to strike red and white striped spoons, well—you've practically put fillets in the skillet.


The author with a morning's catch in the Thousand Islands

The secret in preparing pike is simple; the timing crucial. It was revealed to me by a soul who could have passed himself off as a native guide, sporting two-weeks growth of beard and an uncanny ability to locate and catch northern pike as long as your arm, along with largemouth bass whose mouths are as large as a man's fist.

The man was actually a dentist from Philadelphia who annually immersed his whole being into a fortnight of action-packed fishing and camping on Gordon Island every August for several summers. After taking Donna and me into his camp and confidence referencing a fishing hot spot, he demonstrated the art of filleting pike by quickly running a razor-sharp fillet blade along both sides of the bony contour, discarding the skeletal remains, resembling some sort of prodigious prehistoric tooth. Turning the strips over, he swiftly swept the blade beneath the flesh, separating skin and scales and forming perfect fillets. Lifting and placing them into a hot skillet, he invoked his magic with a modicum of seasonings.

"Little but equal amounts of extra virgin olive oil and margarine because butter burns," he stated solemnly. "If you don't fillet them, by the time the flesh cooks to the bone, the outside is already tough and you lose the sweet, juicy flavor. Bass, you don't need to fillet." He turned the pike fillets over the hot open fire as soon as the fleshy meat turned white. "Best tasting fish ever," he declared. The smell of the sizzling fillets was as heavenly as the stars under which we sat. In short order, we were all feasting on very flavorful fish—pike and bass. "Best tasting fish ever," he repeated. "Yes?" Through a protracted silence, I nodded the man's pronouncement in sincere agreement, eating contently. Donna seconded his sentiments.

Armed with a newfound knowledge and an eagerness shared by my almost ten-year-old son and Donna, the three of us were ready by 4:30 a.m., attaching the necessary wire leaders to our 8- and 10-pound-test monofilament lines. Checking our drags, we quietly began working the shoreline downstream, applying new lessons learned from that marvelous mentor from Philadelphia.

The water proved a perfect mirror, reflecting images of overhanging branches and a solitary green heron gliding across the surface. We casted and retrieved our red and white striped Dardevle spoons for a good thirty minutes before listing a multitude of excuses. And then it started to happen. Slowly at first. Large swirls out all around us. Then closer. Fish feeding frantically. Suddenly a fish broke the surface—its magnificent outline rising with our expectations. Jason casted some 20 yards to the right of the swirl. Three cranks of the reel, and there came a tug; then nothing. The retrieve produced a long length of weed.

"Don't give the lure time to hit the bottom," I instructed excitedly. "Start reeling as soon as it hits the water."

Another cast and a sudden strike. Jason instinctively set the hook securely. The drag screamed violently—then stopped as Jason gained some line. The rod bent almost frightfully, and the drag screamed insanely. It was certainly a good-size fish. Jason was losing more line than he was gaining. I scrambled for the net, praying that I'd have the chance to use it. The boy was beginning to tire of this give-and-take situation and needed words of encouragement.

"The fish is beginning to tire," I stated resolutely.
"My wrist," he pleaded.
"Keep reeling—you're gaining some line back."

Another run—straight down deep. Frustration turned to exasperation.

"Get that rod tip up. Higher. Now reel! Pump him gently . . . That's it. Now you're gaining on him."

A series of grunts and groans followed, accompanied by my son's reeling and pumping action. After what seemed an eternity, a long torpedo-like missile began to emerge. Exploding the surface, it shook violently against the rim of the too-small net that I held. Carefully ladling its lower extremity, I quickly swung the beautiful prize over and into the boat.

"A fantastic fish! You did great, J. Really great," I offered proudly.

A very weary but exulted young fisherman wholeheartedly agreed, smiling down breathlessly at his first respectable northern pike.

A half hour later, I picked up a nice pike, and Jason hooked into a good size bass. Of course, Donna had us all beat. She does that. Then Jason was on another fish. After a very long and serious tug of war between bass and boy, it appeared that Jason would be the overzealous victor; but at the last moment, as the fish appeared on the surface, it thrashed about defiantly—shaking the spoon clear. The 4-pounder fell back into the dark waters and disappeared. But persistence rewarded my son generously with a nice largemouth in the 3½-pound class. Before the sun rose over the top of the island, I had caught and released a smallmouth bass. Donna, as almost always, had caught the first, the biggest, and the most.

After a gourmet breakfast of fresh fish and buttery biscuits, followed by a refreshing late morning swim, Jason and I decided to try our luck at catching some nice size perch and sunfish we spied swimming in and around a dock. Within an hour, we had caught and released some two dozen panfish.

Excellent panfishing was enjoyed during the day, especially for the more conservative angler, as no special equipment or time schedule was adhered to. Fishing from almost any dock produced sunfish, rockbass, and perch in abundance. Also, shady spots along the shore near rocks, stumps, and weeds were likely places. Even a dropline is sufficient and will provide hours of excitement and enjoyment for young children. One simple fact to remember is that a small hook, with a small piece of worm, will catch more panfish than a big hook with a gob of worm attached. Interestingly, our small Dardevle spoons out-produced live bait.

The evenings, especially just before dark, tended to be quite buggy. Of course, the bass and pike were out there along with those miserable mosquitoes. Although you can secure a fair catch in the late afternoon without being eaten alive, you will most assuredly be certain to miss out on more productive fishing by packing it in too early. A simple remedy to the situation was a long sleeved garment, a good insect repellent for the hands, and a hat with a mosquito net that fits securely around the crown, protecting your face and neck. Good to go.

Tomorrow we'll continue by addressing SAVVY RIGGING REQUIREMENTS FOR SPOONS, so please stay tuned.

Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.


Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book format


Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book format

January 02, 2017

Berkley's Fusion19 Super-Sharp Hooks: From Panfish to Pelagics ~ Part II

by Bob Banfelder

Moving up in size from where we left off yesterday, let's examine the SUPERLINE EWG 4/0 hook, which has a forged bend and an increased diameter for added strength, giving it the power required to pull fish out of weeds, reeds, and other thick vegetation. The hooks are offered in sizes 2/0–7/0. The 2/0 and 3/0 come six to a package; 4/0 and 5/0 come five to a package; 6/0 and 7/0 come four to a package ~ $3.99 per package.

One of the two soft plastic crawdad-type representations shown below (left), rigged Texas style, is Berkley's scented 3½-inch Alabama Craw duel-colored PowerBait, nicknamed the Fight'n Bug. As many of us reading this piece are not presently in the southeast, in your mind, set aside the lure's crawdad creature feature, its regional color (Alabama Craw), as well as limiting the lure solely to freshwater applications. Instead, consider this killer bait for the suds. Here on the East End of Long Island, Donna and I have caught and released more than our fair share of blues and striped bass with this crawdad color imitation as we have with, perhaps, the more suitable northeast purplish colors (right), which I'll cover momentarily. I believe it's not so much a matter of color or menu choice as it is purely an appetite decision, for food is food for thought for the fish. Hunger is probably the cognitive conception coupled to Berkley's scented attractions.


Left ~ top and bottom: Berkley's Alabama Craw duel-colored PowerBait ‘Fight'n Bug' & Superline Ewg 4/0 hook
Right ~ top and bottom: Berkley's Bama Bug purple color PowerBait ‘Change Up' & Heavy Cover 4/0 hook

The only thing I do differently referencing the Texas-style rigging is to push the point of the hook ¼ inch into the nose of the larger soft plastic baits instead of 1/8 inch on smaller soft plastic worms. Otherwise, the procedure remains the same. Also, I do not worry about concealing the eye of the hook. I do, however, concern myself with making the lure weedless by skin-hooking it as described yesterday in Part 1.

Shown above on the right side of photo and rigged Texas style is Berkley's HAVOC 4½-inch Bama Bug purple color, monikered the ‘Change Up' by designer Scott Suggs. The soft plastic lure is impaled with Berkley's HEAVY COVER 4/0 hook, built for flipping. Half of the top section of the hook shank is constructed with a stainless steel bait-keeper wire wrapped within a tight-gripping material in order to reduce slippage and prevent readjusting. The hooks are offered in sizes 3/0–6/0). All four sizes come four to a package ~ $5.99 per package.

For getting down into the water column, Berkley's weighted hooks, such as the Weighted Superline 4/0 EWG and Weighted Swimbait 5/0 with screwlock, are the key to nailing those denizens of the deep. Donna and I use them on our swimbaits rigged Texas style. We have had excellent success with Berkley's specifically formulated PowerBaits for Saltwater; namely, Berkley's 5-inch Jerkshad in a Pearl/Watermelon color. That's when we switch from spinning outfits to our low-profile bait casting reels and rods. The knack to working the lure(s) is to slowly . . . s.l.o.w.l.y retrieve your swimbait, which imparts maximum tail action, which in turn produces some serious strikes.

Berkley's Weighted Superline 4/0 EWG hooks (Environmental Working Group) are offered in sizes 3/0–7/0. The size is imprinted on the leaded portion for easy identification. The weighted 4/0 shown below is approximately 3/16 of an ounce. Sizes 3/0, 4/0, and 5/0 come five to a package; sizes 6/0 and 7/0 come four to a package ~ $5.99 per package.


Left top and bottom: 6-inch Boss Dog with Weighted Swimbait 5/0 and screwlock
Right top and bottom: 5-inch Jerkshad with Weighted Superline 4/0 EWG without screwlock


The Weighted Swimbait 5/0 hook and screwlock are offered in sizes 3/0–7/0 and also has the hook size imprinted on the leaded portion for easy identification. The spiral bait keeper makes for fast and secure rigging of plastics. These leaded hooks will take your swimbaits down deep to the lunkers. The weighted 5/0 is approximately 1/3 of an ounce. All sizes come four to a package ~ $5.99 per package. Both Donna and I have had very good results using Berkley's HAVOC 6-inch Black-Red Fleck/Chartreuse color plastics, dubbed the Boss Dog, designed by Gary Klein.

As some folks make the mistake of pushing the body of the plastic lure over the weighted belly of the hook (thereby compromising it), let's take a moment to address the proper way to rig such a weighted hook (with or without the screwlock) Texas style. First, push the point of the hook approximately ¼ inch (for larger lures) into the nose of the lure as you normally would, exiting the bottom of its body. Now, carefully back it out, completely removing it. You have just created a channel. Next, insert both the eye and angled neck of the hook into that bottom channel, rotating and aligning the body vertically at the center of the bend in the hook. You'll recall earlier that to precisely place and reinsert the point of the hook into the body of the lure so as to keep it perfectly straight is to hold the hook vertically and allow the lure to hang naturally. Within the bottom center of the hook's bend is exactly where the second reentry point should be made. You will have to bend the swimbait to accommodate this entry point. Embed the point of the hook into the body and out its top. Both the point and barb should lay perfectly flat atop the lure. Next, in order to make the swimbait weedless, stretch forward the section of body below the barb, allowing the section to return rearward and skin-hook the point of the hook into the body. The point of the hook should be barely concealed as pictured. Leave the eye of the hook exposed for tying your fluorocarbon leader. No need to conceal the eye as you had the worm lure. Good to go.

The Swimbait 5/0 with screwlock (unweighted) is shown below. The hooks are offered in sizes 3/0–7/0. Sizes 3/0, 4/0, and 5/0 come five to a package; sizes 6/0 and 7/0 come four to a package ~ $3.99 per package.

Although the suggested hook for Berkley's 4½-inch Blue Shiner Gold color PowerBait, named the Rib Shad, is a Swimbait Jighead, I employ the unweighted 5/0 Swimbait hook with screwlock. I didn't listen too well in school either. :o) :o) You'll note that I rig the Rib Shad with the screwlock secured in its nose and the hook through the lure's body and out the top. However, you'll also note that because of the hook's configuration that the barb and point do not lay flat atop the lure (Texas style) and that its body is positioned directly between the bend of the hook, creating a sail-like, keel-like combo. That is precisely the form and figure I desire. The hook's smoke-satin finish will not spook fish as might a typical shiny stainless steel sail-like, keel-like display. Also, by not skin-hooking this rather thick-bodied shad imitator, you will be more assured of solid hookups.

The tail-thumping, paddle action of this killer bait triggers hard-hitting reactions. If you wish to go deeper into the water column, simply rig this imposter on a weighted Swimbait 5/0, similar to that when rigging for the 6-inch HAVOC Boss Dog explained earlier.


Berkley's 5/0 Swimbait hook with screwlock & Rib Shad PowerBait

Visit Berkley at http://www.berkley.com for a full description of their entire line of Fusion19 hooks and soft plastics. The hooks and lures are winners—not only in terms of producing solid hookups, but in terms of pricing. You'll thank me later.

Also, you can secure the recipe for Bob B's Black & White BIG Bull's-Eye Fly that appeared in the April 7, 2009 Nor'east Saltwater magazine issue (page 54 ~ illustrating prismatic Mylar eyes) by copying and pasting the issue's following URL in your Google address search box: http://files1.allcoastmedia.com/magazineissues/pdf/Noreast2004_0385126.PDF.


Bob
B's Black & White BIG Bull's-Eye Fly ~ updated 2016 photo with molded 3-D eyes.

Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.


Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats


Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats





January 01, 2017

Berkely's Fusion19 Super-Sharp Hooks: From Panfish to Pelagics ~ Part I

by Bob Banfelder

First off, Donna and I wish everyone a Healthy and Happy New Year, including a great 2017 Fishing Season.

Donna and I have been field-testing nine of Berkley's Fusion19™ smoke-satin-color hooks for the past year, along with several of the company's soft plastic (silicone) baits. They are absolutely awesome. Berkley's Fusion19 hooks is a trademark as is their revolutionary, technologically-advanced polymer coating designated as SlickSet; hence, Fusion19™ hooks and SlickSet™. What Berkley did was to fuse the SlickSet coating to their high-carbon steel hooks. The result: effortless hook-sets. The hooks' tips are tack-driving, needle-point sharp and easily penetrate a fish's cartilage as well as the flesh of your finger if you are not careful. The hooks are engineered to be the sharpest and slickest on the market. They were new for 2015.

The hooks are freshwater "bass-specific designs," says the company. However, Donna and I use them for virtually all saltwater applications as well as sweetwater situations. Together, you and I will be examining these perfected hooks closely. In the suds, both Donna and I have taken stripers, bluefish, weakfish, porgies, blowfish, seabass, blackfish, and fluke. In freshwater, we had a blast landing brook, rainbow, and brown trout with a fly rod, especially after tying a few new flies on Berkley's size 1/0 Drop Shot Fusion19 hooks. Next, I went on to playing around with their Weedless Wide Gap size 1/0 for largemouth bass. Playtime was over. We began nailing one largemouth after the other, along with a few smallmouth bass. More on that momentarily.

Among Berkley's Fusion19 hooks are nine designs I'll cover today and tomorrow: Drop Shot 1/0; Weedless Wide Gap 1/0; Offset Worm 3/0; EWG (Environmental Working Group) 3/0; Superline EWG 4/0; Heavy Cover 4/0; Weighted Superline EWG 4/0; Weighted Swimbait with screwlock 5/0; and Swimbait with screwlock 5/0. As pictured below, the hooks are clamshell-packaged in their resealable plastic storage units for easy accessibility and safety's sake because, as already mentioned, these hooks are extremely sharp. Depending on size, the hooks come in quantities ranging from four to seven hooks per package.


Resealable Clamshell Packaging


Let's begin with Berkley's Fusion19 Drop Shot 1/0 and the Weedless Wide Gap 1/0. These hooks have become a favorite of mine for tying a streamer fly that I created back in early 2008, aptly named Bob B's Black & White BIG Bull's-Eye Fly. It is a unique fly pattern in that the eye of the fly essentially is the fly. Berkley's Fusion19 Drop Shot 1/0 hook and their Weedless Wide Gap 1/0 (with its fluorocarbon weed guard) lend themselves well to this pattern because the eye of the fly fits neatly into the hook's semi-circular frame.

Apart from the hook's intended purpose as a drop-shot rig for live or artificial bait such a plastic worms, I find the Drop Shot 1/0 very useful for tying both saltwater and freshwater dry flies, too. With the aid of buoyant materials such as deer hair spun around the shank of the hook, its short shank and slightly raised eyelet assist in keeping the pattern resting flat atop the water column; hence, making the hook quite suitable for many dry fly applications. The hooks come seven to a package and are offered in sizes #6, #4, #2, #1, 1/0 and 2/0 ~ $3.99 per package.

Referencing the somewhat larger Weedless Wide Gap 1/0, you can work a fly where others dare not swim; namely, weeds and other thickly vegetated areas. Bob B's Black & White BIG Bull's-Eye Fly, serving as a wet fly, is a great all-around pattern, for you can fish it in both fresh water and salt water. In our northeast waters, Donna and I have taken panfish to pelagics. Initially, I tied the fly with flat (tape-type) prismatic Mylar eyes before experimenting with 3-D (dome-shaped) eyes and larger heads to push water. Too, I played and plied our rivers and bays with a yellow/green color pattern. The Weedless Wide Gap hooks are offered in sizes #1, 1/0, 2/0, 3/0. All but the 3/0 come five hooks to a package. The 3/0 comes four to a package ~ $5.99 per package.


Top: left to right ~ Drop-Shot 1/0 & Weedless Wide Gap 1/0 hooks
Center: left to right ~ Bob B's Black & White BIG Bull's-Eye Flies ~ exhibiting 3-D (dome-shaped) eyes ~ fly on left pushes water nicely
Bottom: experimenting of late with a yellow/green pattern.

All three patterns have been proven effective in either sweet water or the suds.

Moving on to larger size Berkley Fusion19 hooks. As a rule of thumb, I use a 3/0 hook for smaller baits, a 4/0 for medium size baits, and a 5/0 hook for larger baits. Let's examine the Offset Worm 3/0 and the EWG 3/0.

The Offset Worm hook 3/0 has a slightly narrower gap than the EWG 3/0. The hooks are offered in sizes 1/0–5/0. The 1/0 and 2/0 hooks come seven to a package; 3/0, 4/0, and 5/0 come six to a package ~ $3.99 per package.

The EWG 3/0 hook has a slightly wider gap than the above. The hooks are offered in sizes #1, 1/0–5/0. The #1, 1/0, and 2/0 hooks come seven to a package; 3/0, 4/0, and 5/0 come six to a package ~ $3.99 per package.

Texas Style Rigging:

Both hook designs are ideal for rigging soft plastics, particularly worms. Let's rig Berkley's HAVOC 4½-inch Junebug color (monikered the ‘Money Maker') by designer Brandon Palaniuk. We'll rig the worm (along with some other soft plastics) Texas style.

First, push the point of either hook (Offset Worm 3/0 or EWG 3/0) into the nose of the worm, approximately 1/8th inch in and out the side. Slide and rotate the worm up the shank, past the hook's 90 degree angled neck, right up to the eye of the hook. This angle holds and keeps the worm from sliding down.

Next, a trick to precisely place and reinsert the point of the hook into the body of the worm so as to keep the worm perfectly straight is to hold the hook vertically and allow the worm to hang naturally. Within the bottom center of the hook's bend is exactly where the second reentry point should be made. You will have to bend the worm to accommodate this entry point. Embed the point of the hook into the body and out its top. Both the point and barb should lay perfectly flat atop the worm. Next, in order to make the lure weedless, stretch forward the section of worm below the barb, allowing the section to return rearward and skin-hook the point of the hook into the body. The point of the hook should be barely concealed as pictured below. After tying your fluorocarbon leader to the hook, gently push the head of the worm over the eye of the hook, concealing the connection. Good to go.

I cast this lure with a light-action spinning reel and rod—no weight added to either lure or line of any sort. The worm's action in the water column is natural, so you will receive strikes and solid hookups.


Top to Bottom: one Offset Worm 3/0 hook and two EWG 3/0 hooks ~ HAVOC Junebug (color). Top two worms show hooks' exposed eyes, barbs, and points. Bottom worm—properly rigged weedless—conceals hook's eye, barb, and point. Berkley's Vanish fluorocarbon leader material, tied to the eye of the hook and hidden, offers a virtually invisible presentation.

Tomorrow, we'll continue with Part 2 of BERKLEY'S FUSION19 SUPER-SHARP HOOKS ~ FROM PANFISH to PELAGICS.

Once again, a Healthy and Happy New Year, including a great 2017 Fishing Season.

Stay tuned.


Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats


Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

Member: Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.




December 02, 2016

HOLIDAY HAPPINESS ~ Great Gift Ideas for Anglers & Bookworms ~ Part 2

by Bob Banfelder

Anglers


We'll continue from yesterday with other great gift ideas for the upcoming holidays, one of which is a KastKing® 24-Rod Holder. It is most definitely a winner. As a matter of fact, for 2015, KastKing's fishing tackle management system won a "Best of Show Award" at ICAST (International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades) for its award-winning design. I wanted one for Christmas. Surprisingly, Christmas came early for me this year, so I decided to review the item in time for you to consider it as a gift to yourself or a special someone. That person will positively thank you profusely, and here are several reasons why:

Easily and amazingly, you can put KastKings's-24 sturdy, durable, totally portable fishing rod stand together in just minutes without using any tools! The rack is constructed of lightweight, rust-resistant, high quality aluminum (4.8 lbs.), forming a frame that can accommodate 24 rods and reels in the full upright position. The unit measures 28.5 in. high x 29 in. wide x 13 in. deep, which means it can be placed virtually anywhere: den, bedroom, basement, garage, or office. Whether you own several rods or an entire collection, you'll be proud to display your angling arsenal in this handsome framework. Cushioned holders, both top and bottom, protect and secure rods and reels firmly in place.


KastKing's 24-Rod Rack

You may recall an article I wrote for Nor'east Saltwater on December 1, 2014, having given rave reviews regarding the Eposeidon Ecooda Hornet 6000 spinning reel. The piece is titled SHIMANO'S FLAGSHIP STELLA SW SPINNING REELS VERSUS EPOSEIDON'S ECOODA HORNET FOR SURF FISHING: http://www.noreast.com/articles/blog.cfm?b=35&arch=122014. You may also recollect an earlier piece I wrote on July 1, 2014 titled Eposeidon ~ Professional Fishing Tackle ~ Affordable Pricing, in which I reviewed the Ecooda ERS 3000 Spinning Reel: http://www.noreast.com/articles/blog.cfm?b=35&arch=072014. The Ecooda ERS 3000 (purple/silver spool) is shown seated in the 5th forward slot from the right of KastKing's 24-Rod Rack. Both of these spinning reels are winners that you may also want to consider as holiday gifts.

Continuing to appreciate what this unit will actually accommodate, let's follow along at the rear of the rack, moving from left to right. Situated directly in back of KastKing's Ecooda Hornet 6000 spinning reel is an even larger Stella 8000 Saltwater Series Shimano spinning reel. For the purpose of demonstration, I'll reverse their positions so as to give you a somewhat better side view.


Left: KastKing's Ecooda Hornet 6000 spinning reel.
Right: Stella 8000 Saltwater Series Shimano spinning reel


Next comes a large size, round-style bait casting reel and rod (which blocks the next slot); two medium-large, round-style bait casting reels/rods; a single rod (less reel); a pair of medium-sized round-style bait casting reels and rods, a fifth larger round-style bait casting reel and rod, a pair of smaller round-style bait casting reels/rods, two low-profile bait casting reels/rods, and lastly, filling the 24th slot, a large arbor design Pflueger fly reel with a 10-weight, 9-ft. Temple Fork Outfitters ~ Lefty Kreh Signature Series rod.

Let's tally this angling arsenal: 13 spinning reels and rods in six different sizes; 8 bait casting reels and rods in four different sizes and two styles (round and low-profile), 1 rod (less reel); 1 large arbor fly reel and rod. That's twenty-three of the 24 slots utilized. You can finesse and fit rods and reels by alternating and/or facing some of them toward the center of the frame as seen in the above photo. Also, you can raise and lower the top and bottom frame to adjust butt or shaft of rod. All my rod and reel setups in the KastKing holder have a specific lure attached to them, ready to go into action at a moment's notice. When accommodating very large bait casting and trolling rods and reels, some slots, of course, will be blocked. Even though the KastKing rod rack will hold many of them, I store these reels and rods elsewhere.

Although KastKing has a smaller rack for holding 12 rods and reels, I suggest that you purchase the larger, stronger, upgraded unit. If you enjoy fishing, you'll be surprised at how quickly you can amass an angling arsenal. Whatever size rod holder you choose, the attractive packaging adds to the thought of an ideal gift for the holidays. In short, the all-new upgraded aluminum KastKing 24-Rod Rack is the best rod/reel holder on the market. The company's slogan is that KastKing Keeps Fishing Fun—by keeping it affordable. The KastKing rod rack is available online through Amazon, Cabela's, and Wal-Mart.

*******

Bookworms


Always a great gift idea for the holiday season is a good book, especially a book for those who tend to suffer from what the onslaught of winter can heap upon us—cabin fever! Not just any book, but perhaps a novel or novels that are truly page-turners; novels that entertain as well as educate; novels that are absolutely unique in that they surprise and may even astound, novels that surely satisfy.

My award-winning mystery/crime-thriller novels do exactly that. I am disappointed reading novels that follow a formula. I am disappointed reading such novels that are trite. My novels are fresh—exceptionally unique—highly entertaining, and educational. This is accomplished through extensive research. I am frustrated with novels whose characters are flat (two-dimensional). My main characters are unforgettable. Also, I am disgusted with novels' endings that do not deliver satisfaction. My endings will surprise and may even astound you.

Having taught creative writing on a college level for a good many years, you will be assured of a well-written work. As an outdoorsman, I often incorporate my knowledge of the great outdoors into my writing. I have written nine (9) novels to date: three novels comprised of a thriller-killer trilogy; four novels framing the award-winning Justin Barnes serial-killer series (each novel can stand by itself or may be read in order for greater appreciation); a mystery-thriller novel inspired by a true serial-killer trial here on Long Island, of which I attended every day for a fifteen-month period; and a biographical novel of a murderess with whom I corresponded for years as she served out her prison sentence.

Along the lines of our outdoor interests, I have also written two nonfiction books—one on fishing (endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso), and the other on hunting. But rather than hear me crow on about my eleven works to date, please log on to Amazon and read the reviews.

A Special Holiday Offer: Between now and New Year's Eve, if you order any three or more books directly from me, they'll be personalized, autographed, discounted 15%, and will include tax. Shipping charges apply. E-mail me at robertbanfelder@gmail.com.



A Bob Banfelder Book Collection

Clockwise. Robert's mystery-thriller trilogy: Dicky, Richard, and I ~ The Signing ~ The Triumvirate

Continued Clockwise. Robert's award-winning Justin Barnes four book series: The Author ~ The Teacher ~ Knots ~ The Good Samaritans

Top Center, left to right. Trace Evidence ~ Battered

Bottom, left to right. The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook For Salt Water & Fresh Water

The North American Small & Big Game Hunting Smart Handbook – Bonus Feature: Hunting Africa's & Australia's Most Dangerous Game

A Banfelder book is a good book—period.

www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoors Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo
Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.






December 01, 2016

HOLIDAY HAPPINESS ~ Great Gift Ideas for Boaters & Anglers ~ Part 1

by Bob Banfelder

Whether one celebrates Hanukkah or Christmas, both festivals (technically) fall hours apart from each other this year—December 24th, December 25th respectively—that is, only a few days after the first day of winter. Winter! December 21st. By then your boat should be winterized, shrink wrapped, or stored in a protective shelter. By now, surf casters, fly fishermen, and anglers of all sorts should be taking care of his or her fishing equipment; namely, reels, rods, lures, et cetera. By now—December 1st—you should certainly be thinking about buying presents. But for whom? But for you, of course! Presents that you are unlikely to find under the Christmas tree or Hanukkah bush . . . unless, of course, you dropped many hints and/or presumptuously presented a wish-list similar to that of a wedding gift registry. Ah, reviewing the 2016 calendar, I also noted that Kwanzaa falls on December 26th, lest I be accused of failing to be politically correct. The Kwanzaa celebrations honor the African heritage in African-American cultures.

Boaters


One of several handy gift suggestions comes from Happy Cove (www.happycove.com), a distributor of innovative, creative products for your boat. The wizard behind the curtain is Glen Sherman. A four-season, veteran boater who lives aboard a 43.4 foot Endeavour catamaran with his wife, Diane. The vessel is named Debt Free. When I first saw the man, I called out to him from our dock as he was pulling his brand-new craft into the marina next to us. "Ahoy, there! Are you truly debt free?" He smiled amicably and said, "Not after just purchasing this boat." Glen is a mild-mannered, highly intelligent individual. The man's love of boating is reflected in his product line.

Let's take a look at a must-have item that belongs on every boat. It is the SOS C-1001 SIRIUS NIGHT VISUAL DISTRESS SIGNAL. By federal law, boats over 16 feet are required to carry three currently-dated, hand-held, approved flares for both day and night distress signaling, inshore and offshore. What is interesting about the SIRIUS NIGHT VISUAL DISTRESS SIGNAL is that it's Coast Guard Compliant, making flares obsolete when coupled with a 3 x 3-foot orange distress flag, included in the SOS C-1001 package. The LED (Light Emitting Diode) VDS (Visual Distress Signal) runs off three alkaline C-cell batteries—not included.

How many times have you questioned whether or not your flares were still within the legitimately-dated time frame? Surely, not after you requested a voluntary dockside Auxiliary Coast Guard vessel safety check.Hopefully, not during an on-the-water surprise appearance by the Coast Guard. For failure to carry flares aboard your boat, or having expired flares, could result in a $1,000 fine. Forty-two (42) months from the flares' date of manufacture to expiration date is a long time. Surely, I'm sill within that time period, you may be thinking. When's the last time you even checked?

Keep in mind, too, that a 4-pack of Orion Locate handheld signal flares state a burn-time rate of three (3) minutes per flare as compared to a steady six-plus hours with the SOS C-1001 SIRIUS NIGHT VISUAL DISTRESS SIGNAL. Also, an Orion Locate rated handheld marine flare has a visible rating of 700 candela; that is, 700 feet as compared to SIRIUS' NIGHT VISUAL SIGNAL of 10 miles. In all candor, after researching visible shore distances, coastal distances, day/night illumination, and intensity, the considerations are varied—altitude being a key factor. Therefore, in terms of safety sense, it would be wise to carry both flares and the SOS C-1001 SIRIUS NIGHT VISUAL DISTRESS SIGNAL. If you are boarded by the Coast Guard, you will certainly be compliant, night or day, with the NIGHT VISUAL DISTRESS SIGNAL and accompanying orange flag. If you suddenly discover that the ancillary flares are expired, replace them immediately. Just don't broadcast your oversight.

A list of features and benefits of the SOS C-1001 SIRIUS NIGHT VISUAL DISTRESS SIGNAL is impressive. Unlike handheld signal flares, your gift to you is a one-time purchase. It is family-safe because it is a non-pyrotechnic electronic unit, so even your children can operate it in an emergency situation. It is easy to operate, displaying a simple on/off switch. Again, the signal lasts six-plus hours. The unit is buoyant because it has built-in flotation.

On a supposed negative side, which I really don't see as a downside, the SOS C-1001 SIRIUS NIGHT VISUAL DISTRESS SIGNAL is more expensive than initially purchasing flares. However, in the long run, it is less expensive. Flares may be more visible during daytime; that is why I suggest carrying both flares and the night distress signal light. Also, alkaline batteries can leak as can the batteries in your flashlight, handheld radio, and other such items. Removing batteries in the off-season then checking them periodically through the boating season will resolve this potential problem.

Whether your craft is sixteen-plus feet or far less, be smart and give yourself the gift of peace of mind.

Peace.


As shown, the SOS C-1001 SIRIUS NIGHT VISUAL DISTRESS SIGNAL light also comes with an orange distress (3' x 3') signal flag


Anglers


Many anglers know the importance of selecting fine terminal tackle. For example: hooks, weights, split rings, swivels, lures, et cetera. Serious, knowledgeable anglers know the importance of power clips; specifically, Tactical Anglers Power Clips. When changing lures, especially those long- and short-lipped crankbaits (aka square-bill hardbaits), they often prove troublesome. When? Answer: When it is dark, wet, and/or cold. Why troublesome? Answer: because you are trying to do one of two things: you are either cutting the line and retying it to the metal eye fixed up against the nose of the lure, or you are trying to slip a barrel swivel affixed to the end of your line onto a split ring that is attached to the metal eye up against the nose of the lure. The first procedure is time-consuming. The second procedure proves awkward, particularly when you're in a hurry. You just don't have the dexterity required on a rocking boat.

Tactical Anglers Power Clips allow you to change these types of lures easily and quickly—I'm talking practically a nanosecond, especially when connecting a barrel swivel to a power clip in lieu of a split ring. With smaller, long-lipped hardbaits, tight quarters make it all but impossible to attach a barrel swivel to a split ring. Even after doing so, in the comfort of your home, it is still cumbersome to later try and affix a barrel swivel to the split ring when changing lures on a bobbin boat (the exception maybe being when the eye is positioned forward of the lure's face, fastened to its bill). Keep in mind that today's quality hooks are extremely sharp. Ouch! What to do to ensure dexterity?

What I've done most recently is to simply remove all split rings from my long-and short-lipped crankbaits, replacing them with the appropriate size Tactical Anglers Power Clip. Attached to the end of my fluorocarbon leader is a quality barrel swivel to which I slide the other end onto the arm of the Power Clip, changing lures in a heartbeat because, now, you have something to easily grip between thumb and forefinger—instead of being all thumbs. I could literally change lures blindfolded. It is that easy. Also, there is no chance of the clip opening up like that of a snap-type swivel, which has surely happened to several of us in years gone by.

Backing up to split rings for a moment, I have seen anglers tie their leader/line directly to the split ring attached to the metal eye in the nose of the lure. A thin line can most magically work its way along the attenuated section of the split ring; that is, in between the ends of the double coil where it forms a narrow single-coil space. Say good-bye to that lure. A barrel swivel affixed to a Tactical Anglers Power Clip (shown below) is not going anywhere.


Barrel swivel & 50 lb. test-strength Tactical Anglers Power Clip affixed to eye of long-lipped crankbait

Tactical Anglers Power Clips are offered in four test-strength sizes of 50 lbs., 75 lbs., 125 lbs., and 175 lbs., available in small packages or bulk-packed. If you are an avid angler, I strongly suggest that you buy them in bulk because you are likely to use them for a number of applications, considering the fact that they will make changing lures facile instead of frustrating. Tactical Anglers Power Clips are bulk-packaged in quantities of 25 clips referencing 175 lbs., 125 lbs., and 75 lbs. test-strength sizes; 30 clips re the 50 lbs. test-strength size.

Tactical Anglers Power Clips are made from thick stainless steel wire, beefier than the standard round-ended clips with which you may be familiar. Also, these Power Clips are designed to be relatively pointed at both ends rather than rounded, and for two good reasons. They keep knots properly seated; swivels, better positioned. To paraphrase Alberto Knie, CEO of Tactical Anglers: ". . . Most pelagic (ocean) fish have a tendency to shift their head [when fighting], but with the pointed clip design, it allows for the line to follow; hence, minimizing slippage," which is more likely to occur with the round-ended design. The benefit of the semi-pointed clip is that maximum direct contact is maintained.

Come February, I'll be covering Tactical Anglers Power Clips in further detail as they apply to your favorite spoons. In the meantime, after immediately gifting yourself these indispensable Power Clips in time for the holiday, surprise a fishing-fanatic friend—even a novice—a gift he or she will greatly appreciate. Too, as a stocking stuffer, be reminded of that age-old-adage: "Good things come in small packages."


Stocking Stuffers

Tomorrow, December 2nd, we'll continue with some great gift ideas for the upcoming holidays.

Stay tuned.

Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoors Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo
Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater ~ presented on the 1st & 2nd of every month.


Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats



Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats










November 02, 2016

Step-By-Step Winterizing Wizardry for Outboard Engines Part 2

by Bob Banfelder

Continuing from yesterday's November 1st winterizing procedure. As a reminder, I'm using our 90 horsepower Yamaha TXR 4-stroke outboard engine as an overall model.

PHASE THREE: lubrication points, engine fogging procedure, changing spark plugs [if needed], winterizing bilge pump and live-well pump(s)

LUBRICATION POINTS:

Items: grease gun & cartridge ~ paper towels & rags ~ proper grease gun fitting(s)

Step 1: Consult your owner's manual for the location of lubrication points.

ENGINE FOGGING PROCEDURE:

At which time [if needed] CHANGING of SPARK PLUGS

Items: YAMALUBE Store-Rite Engine Fogging Oil (can with spraying tube ) ~ stepladder ~ WD-40, boat key(s) ~ paper towels ~ rags ~ electric screwdriver & bits ~ Dielectric lubricant ~ Anti-Size lubricant ~ Q-Tips ~ spark plug gap tool ~ 5/8 in. socket wrench with 6 in. extension ~ paper towels ~ vinyl gloves ~ [if needed: four (4) NGK LFR5A-11 spark plugs]

Step 1: With cowling removed, use an electric screwdriver to facilitate the removal of access cover to spark plugs.

Step 2: Carefully remove spark plug boot and spark plug — one at a time so as not to mix up the wiring sequence.

Step 3: If needed, replace spark plugs at that time. I run approximately 200 hours before changing plugs. Consult your owner's manual and gap plugs accordingly. My engine requires a 0.039 – 0.043 gap; I gap at 0.039.

Step 4: Utilizing the can's spraying tube, insert into nozzle then squirt a small amount of fogging oil into each spark plug's chamber. With a gloved finger, smear a small amount of anti-seize lubricant around each spark plug thread. Squeeze a tiny amount of Dielectric lubricant on the head of a Q-Tip and coat the inside of each spark plug boot. Replace plugs. A good estimate of correct torque is ¼ to ½ of a turn past finger tight.

Step 5: Turn the ignition key on then quickly off to crank but not start the engine. If, however, the engine does start, shut it off immediately if not sooner. :o) :o) The fogging oil has now lined the cylinder walls. Yes, you will note some smoke. Not to worry. Lightly spray W-D 40 all around and atop the engine. I said, lightly. Replace the cowling.

WINTERIZING BILGE PUMP AND LIVE-WELLS PUMP(s):

Items: -50 degrees RV pink antifreeze ~ extended cup-type toilet plunger

Bilge Pump Procedure:

Step 1: Pour in a half gallon of pink RV antifreeze at anchor well, which runs into bilge (aft) area.

Step 2: Hit the bilge pump switch on console, passing the pink chemical through the discharge fitting. Make sure that the antifreeze discharge is dark pink; not light pink. You will see the discharge change from light pink (because it contains water) to dark pink, meaning that the antifreeze has completely run through the pump, which is now winterized.

Live-well(s) Procedure:

There are several ways to winterize your live-well pump(s). The following is a quick, easy way.

Step 1: Unscrew the pick-up (intake) screened strainer at the stern of the boat then gently place and press the plunger over the opening.

Step 2: Making sure that the live-well's aerator valve is in the open position, have your partner in the boat pour a gallon of pink RV antifreeze down into the live-well then immediately hit the respective aerator switch (forward or aft) on the console as you hold back the flow of fluid at the stern. Yes, some of the antifreeze will spill from around the plunger; however, most of the fluid will be sucked up through the live-well pump and recirculating tubing. When your partner sees the fluid turn from a light pink color to a dark pink color, you're good to go.

PHASE FOUR: changing primary fuel filter element, changing vapor fuel filter [if needed], cleaning and securing the electronics and boat for the season, wash & wax boat, remove batteries

CHANGING YAMAHA ENGINE'S PRIMARY FUEL FILTER ELEMENT:

My engine is equipped with a PRIMARY FUEL FILTER ELEMENT that must be changed annually. It is located inside the plastic filter bowl as pictured below on the port (left) side of the engine.

Items: Yamaha Engine's Primary Fuel Filter Element 6D8- WS4A- 002 ~ Yamaha Engine's Primary Fuel Filter Element's O-ring (gasket) ~ 6D8-24564-00 ~ adjustable wrench

Note: My Primary Fuel Filter Element is to be used only in models with the "6D8" mark stamped on the filter housing, not to be used with any other model.

Step 1: With the adjustable wrench, unscrew the PRIMARY FUEL FILTER ELEMENT bowl nut at the top of the unit. This releases the unit from frame and allows you to get a firm grip on the plastic cylinder bowl in order to separate it from its cap by turning the bowl counterclockwise to open. However, there are two wires extending from the base of the plastic Primary Fuel Filter Bowl, which could be precariously twisted. To avoid this, detach the blue clip/wire to the left [shown below], which will prevent the wires from twisting as you remove the bowl from the cap by hand. It is secured tightly, so be careful. Leave gas in bowl.

Step 2: Remove old Primary Fuel Filter Element with its O-ring (fuel filter gasket) from top of unit by gently pulling downward. Replace both new element and O-ring by pushing upward until the element is seated.

Step 3: Close Primary Fuel Filter Element Bowl securely by turning the bowl clockwise, reattach the blue clip/wire, reattach Primary Fuel Filter Bowl to top of unit and tighten down nut with wrench.


From left to right: Primary Fuel Filter Bowl with Element [vertical] & Vapor Fuel Filter [horizontal]

CHANGING YAMAHA ENGINE'S VAPOR FUEL FILTER:

My engine is equipped with a Vapor FUEL FILTER that only gets changed after 800 hours, or unless you see gas within it. It is located horizontally to the starboard (right) side of the Fuel Filter Element Bowl [as shown above].

Items: Yamaha Engine's Vapor Fuel Filter 69J-24502-00 ~ wire cutters ~ adjustable wrench

If the Vapor Fuel Filter needs replacement, use a pair of wire cutters to carefully snip the two cable ties from hoses. Remove hoses from filter. Remove old filter, and snap in new. Reattach hoses and, obviously, new cable ties.

SECURING ELECTRONICS AND BOAT FOR THE SEASON:

Items: damp cloth ~ CRC: a marine electronic cleaner ~ plastic storage box & towel

Step 1: Remove, clean and store your electronics. A damp (not soaked) cloth of mild, tepid water is all I use to clean the shell (housing) of the GPS/Fish-finder, and the VHF marine radio and/or handheld unit. After air-drying the items, I lightly spray both the male and female connections with CRC. Next, I wrap each unit in a hand towel and store them in a hard, protective plastic sportsmen's dry-box until next season.

WASH & WAX EXTERIOR OF BOAT:

Items: bucket ~ Mother's soap or Meguiar's Car Wash (preserves wax protection) ~ polishing cloths ~ large soft towel ~ rags ~ paper towels ~ NuFinish car/boat polish (you can apply this product in the sun) ~ duct tape

Step 1: Before walking away from my boat, and because the vessel is close to the water and may occasionally be exposed to a higher than normal tide, I use two small strips of duct tape to cover the cooling H2O inlet covers (vents) on each side of the lower unit.

REMOVE BATTERIES:

Items: 17mm socket wrench ~ 14mm socket wrench ~ kneeling pad ~ mechanic's pad on which to place tools (protects gelcoat's surface)

Step 1: Before removing batteries, turn battery switch to OFF position.

Step 2: Make a note of which battery is which. Example: Starboard battery = #1 battery. Port battery = #2 battery.

Step 3: #1 Starboard battery removal procedure:
Disconnect negative (- thick black) cable first; use 14mm socket.
Disconnect positive (+ thick red) cable next; use 17mm socket.

Note that I record the order, position, and color of my accessory wires connected to the battery terminals. Yours will surely be different. List accordingly. It will make life easier come spring when you reinstall your batteries. Trust me.

Again, these are my battery wiring notes.

# 1 Starboard Battery

Positive small post takes thin orange/green accessory wire with blue crimp.

Positive small post takes thick positive (+) red battery cable on top.

Negative small post takes thick negative (-) black battery cable.

Next is the thin black accessory wire with yellow crimp.

Lastly, is the slightly thinner black accessory cable.


Bird's-eye view of #1 starboard battery with accessory wires and cables attached


Step 4: #2. Port battery removal procedure:

Disconnect negative (- thick black) cable first; use 14mm socket.
Disconnect positive (+ thick red) cable next; use 17mm socket.

________


Bravo! You've just graduated and are officially a Winterizing Wizard. Oh, I almost forgot. If you are independently wealthy, hate getting your hands dirty, dislike work in general — as opposed to working these procedures as a labor of love — please disregard all of the above. Didn't I initially tell you in Part 1 to read through everything first? Well, didn't I? :o) :o) On a more serious note, winterizing and maintaining your outboard engine will save you a great deal of money. That's a given. Additionally, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that you did this yourself — properly.

Note: I change the Fuel/Water Separator, zinc(s), wash and wax the interior of boat during Spring Commissioning. I'll cover that procedure, along with bottom painting, at the beginning of March 2017.

*******


As an aside, for those of you who have been following my reports regarding the pollution of the Peconic River over the last two years referencing the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant, in addition to seven years fighting the Calverton/Manorville toxic plume debacle, I said that I'd let Nor'east Saltwater readers know when the plant (which was supposed to be completed this past March) is fully operational. Finally, it is! The $24 million upgrade was completed as of Monday, September 26, 2016. Now, the powers that be can address the antiquated septic and sewer issues that contribute and continue polluting our waterways. Referencing the Calverton/Manorville toxic plume fiasco, no one is really talking. No new ink on that matter. At least we're moving in the right direction referencing the lower region of the Peconic River in Riverhead.


Bob Banfelder

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoors Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo
Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater
https://www.robertbanfelder.com



Available
on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats


Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats



November 01, 2016

Step-By-Step Winterizing Wizardry for Outboard Engines Part 1

by Bob Banfelder

For a basic understanding of where you should begin the winterizing process as well as the reasons why, please first peruse these pages. Doing so now will undoubtedly save you a great deal of time, money, and frustration later. I'll use our 90 horsepower Yamaha TXR 4-stroke outboard engine as an overall model for winterizing outboard engines.

Words of sound advice before we begin winterizing: two heads and pairs of hands are better than one. Having a partner will be especially helpful. I have a partner, Donna. We have been winterizing and spring commissioning our boats for the better part of twenty-five years. To avoid frustration, start your work early in the day, have the necessary tools, materials, and equipment handy, and as you work through these instructions, with a pen and these guidelines at the ready, jot down specific information as it pertains to your engine and boat. For example, where I may use a ½-inch open-end wrench for a certain procedure, you may need a 7/16-inch socket. Simply record the change. This will considerably expedite the procedure the second time around. You will note that all tools, material, and equipment are listed for each procedure. Filing away this report when finished then working from a freshly printed copy will keep the information neat and clean for future reference. Working with these general instructions, along with your owner's manual, you will experience little if any difficulty.

It is both amazing and amusing to watch folks run back and forth retrieving tools, materials, and equipment in order to winterize their boats. Organization is absolutely the key to flawlessly performing the following procedures in addition to maintaining one's sanity. Several small items such as screws, nuts, washers, and O-rings are neatly arranged in a shallow, waxed cardboard box that once contained four lobsters on ice. Cleanup of oil, water, and grease, afterward, is simple. Larger items are set out and in easy reach. Waiting until the last moment to hunt up tools, materials, and equipment can really hold up the operation. Bad enough that wind, rain, or a setting sun can postpone the process when working outdoors. Again, be organized and get started as early in the day as possible. Many times I'm at the mercy of the tide in order to haul the boat. Therefore, if it's too late in the day to start another procedure, Donna and I continue the next step, weather permitting, on another day. Let's begin.

PHASE ONE: stabilizing the fuel system, hauling the boat, securing drain plug, pressure washing the vessel.

CONDITIONING THE FUEL SYSTEM:

Items: Sta-bil gasoline stabilizer ~ Star Tron: enzyme fuel treatment ~ measuring cup showing ounces ~ paper towels and rags ~ funnel ~ stepladder

Step 1: Before I top off the fuel tank to approximately 7/8ths capacity so as to deter condensation and allow for expansion during the off season, I stabilize the gas with a good conditioner, following the label's instructions, running the additive through the system. I also add the proper amount of an enzyme fuel treatment, which also addresses ethanol fuel issues in today's gasoline.

PRESSURE WASH BOTTOM OF BOAT, WATERLINE, SWIM PLATFORM, PROPELLER(S), LOWER UNIT IN ADDITION TO ANY ANCILLARY HARDWARE:

Items: pressure washer ~ vinyl rain suit ~ vinyl gloves ~ stepladder ~ garden hose ~ paper towels ~ heavy-duty canvas work gloves ~ MaryKate On/Off ~ chip brush ~ block of wood ~ marine grease ~ safety glasses ~ hearing protection

Step 1: Haul the boat and position it on the trailer so that the rollers are either several inches forward or rearward from last season in order to reach areas that will need attention come spring. Power wash the bottom of the hull straightaway. Pressure washing now will facilitate the task of removing barnacles and marine growth later. Pressure wash the prop(s), lower unit, stern area including transducer, strainers, swim platform, et cetera.

Note: It's certainly convenient to own your own pressure washer. But you can rent one or contract a person to perform that job. If you purchase your own, make sure that it has a psi rating of at least 2400; 5.5 horsepower; otherwise, you'll be wasting time and money in trying to remove stubborn barnacles and marine growth.

Step 2: After power washing, MaryKate the scummy waterline, working quickly with a disposable chip brush between this powerful On/Off chemical and the H2O supply. Be sure to wear safety glasses and gloves.



PROPELLER(s) REMOVAL:

Items: pliers ~ rubber hammer ~ block of wood ~ 7/8-inch socket wrench with 4-inch extension ~ marine grease ~ kneeling pad to protect knees

Step 1: Place a block of wood between the anti-cavitation plate and the propeller to prevent the prop from turning. Loosen propeller nut with socket wrench, noting the order of parts as you remove them: cotter pin (straighten and pull out with pliers), propeller nut (flat side inboard), washer (cupped rim inboard), spacer (flat rim inboard), propeller, then thrust washer (ribbed surface facing inboard; i.e., high part of rim facing outboard, shallow part inboard. Take copious notes, comparing it to your manual's diagram. If you have trouble removing the prop, gently tap it on both sides by using a small piece of wood and rubber hammer. Check the prop blades, shaft and splines for any damage. Remove any fishing line from the shaft. Store the prop and parts for spring commissioning, at which time you'll reverse the order, of course, for installation.

DRAIN PLUG FOR BILGE:

Items: small Ziploc bag ~ cord or plastic cable tie ~ adjustable wrench

Step 1: If removable, remove and store the drain plug in a small Ziploc. With a cord or plastic cable tie, hang the bag from the boat's (steering) wheel, which will serve as a reminder to reinstall it come spring. I could write a pamphlet filled with horror stories about folks who forgot to do just that. As my vessel is in close proximity to the water, I leave the boat's drain plug screwed in just in case there is an exceptional high tide.

ENGINE OIL & OIL FILTER:

Items: 3.9 quarts YAMALUBE 4-stroke FC-W 10W-30 ~ vinyl gloves ~ oil filter: Yamaha #5GH 13440-00 ~ standard oil filter wrench or end-cap type ~ optional: Jabsco Porta-quick 12V oil changer ~ trash container ~ paper towels and rags ~ long wide-mouthed funnel ~ 14mm socket wrench with 4-inch extension ~ scissors ~ kneeling pad ~ container for oil disposal ~ container to catch oil flow

Step 1: No need to first run the boat under load; that is, taking the vessel out for a spin in order to get the engine oil hot. Remove the cowling (cover) to access the engine's oil filler cap then tilt the engine up in the extreme position. Remove oil cap. Using a 14 millimeter socket wrench with an extension, unscrew the engine's oil drain plug and metal washer. The plug, situated up and within the rubber drip cup, is located at the rear of the outboard as captioned below. Carefully set aside plug and washer. The oil will not drain out until you lower the engine. Having a pail or suitable container handy, slowly lower the engine and catch the flow of oil. Use a level to determine the engine's precise vertical position, allowing the oil to completely drain.

Important Note: Yamaha's owner's manual will tell you that the engine oil should be extracted with an oil changer run through the dipstick (which does require getting the oil hot) because not all the oil is fully drained through the oil drain plug via gravity since some of it lies in areas that do not completely drain. The difference in the amount of oil when extracting it from the dipstick as compared to draining it through the oil drain plug is slightly less than a cup as depicted below. This amount represents approximately 1/16th of the total volume. The owner's manual states that the engine oil is good for 100 hours or 1-year intervals. So, here's my rule of thumb: As I generally run approximately 50 hours during the boating season, I drain the oil from the oil drain plug—not the dipstick. I have consulted several knowledgeable marine mechanics on this point, and they say to simply but thoroughly drain the oil from the oil drain plug and that you'll be fine. In years when I put on something close to 100 hours, I extract the oil through the dipstick. The choice is yours. Again, you'll first have to get the oil hot to facilitate extracting the oil through the dipstick. You do not get the oil hot when draining through the oil drain plug.


Oil drain plug is located up and within the black rubber drip cup

Step 2: Once the engine oil is drained, remove the oil filter; no fuss, no muss. Be sure and apply a film of clean oil to the new oil filter gasket before installing. Put the cowling back on the housing and secure both latches.

Optional: You can easily drain the engine oil from Yamaha's 15hp–150hp 4-stroke outboards through the oil drain plug via Fred Pentt's neat little setup. Fred's You Tube video clearly explains this procedure. Click below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5NzKBtVV-A. The cost is $15, which includes shipping. Compare this item with West Marine's Ocean Accessories Tilt-N-Drain Oil Changer at $23.99, plus shipping. You'll find that West Marine's Ocean Accessories' fitting is plastic, whereas Fred's oil drain fitting is metal. Fred Pentt's phone number is 1-360-581-0904. Checks may be sent to Fred Pentt at 2731 Aberdeen Avenue, Hoquiam, WA 98550. Why I recently opted for Fred's item is that you can drain the engine oil without playing around with a pail and a potential mess. Additionally, you can address another winterizing procedure, carefree, while the oil is draining. It's a win-win, guys and gals.


Fred Pentt's 34-inch oil drain tube and fitting (O-ring included) for Yamaha 4-stroke outboards, 15hp–150hp

PHASE TWO: prop removal, draining oil from lower unit, filling oil in the lower unit.

DRAINING OIL FROM LOWER UNIT:

Items: oil drain pan ~ paper towels & rags ~ empty plastic gallon container for lube (oil) disposal ~ small level ~ kneeling pad ~ impact screwdriver ~ trash container ~ small funnel ~ rubber hammer ~ 2 gaskets # Yamaha 90430-08020

Step 1: Simply level the outboard engine and place an oil drain pan beneath the lower unit. Remove the bottom (longer) gear-lube drain plug with a screwdriver (an impact screwdriver [if needed]. With a paper towel, wipe the magnetic tip of the plug clean of any metal shavings. Set aside. Remove the upper (shorter) gear-lube drain plug at the top of the lower unit by the cavitation plate, and allow the unit to completely drain. Inspect the oil.

Note: If the oil is milky, consult your Yamaha dealer because water is getting into the gear case.

Step 2: Remove old gaskets from the two plugs (screws) and replace with new.


Place a level on the cavitation plate for precise draining of the lower unit

FILLING OIL IN THE LOWER UNIT:

Items: YAMALUBE MARINE GEARCASE LUBE 0.708 US quart Hypoid SAE#90 – 80W90 ~ multi-purpose plastic quart pump kit with tubing and extension fitting for oil drain plug ~ impact screwdriver ~ regular wide-slotted screwdriver ~ plastic gallon container for used oil ~ gallon-size Ziploc storage bag and cable tie

Optional: I use a Craftsman garden pump-sprayer for multiple engines. Example: my 2.5hp, 5hp, 90hp. A nice feature on the garden sprayer is an in-line on/off flow handle. Starting the gear lube flowing then stopping it before disconnecting will prevent overfilling. Containing and storing the sprayer in a 50-pound plastic laundry pail facilitates ease of transport and collects any spills. Place the pail within a large plastic garbage bag to keep the sprayer unit protected from dirt and grime when stored.

Step 1: After the gear case lube has completely drained from the lower unit, refill it with fresh gear oil by connecting either of the pressurized filling devices to the lower (bottom) oil drain plug via the extension fitting. Pump the oil in slowly so as not to create an air lock, right up to the oil level opening (top). As the oil starts to come out, immediately secure the opening with the top plug.

Step 2: Next, unscrew the extension fitting from the lower unit, quickly replacing the lower (bottom) plug. I secure both screws by firmly tightening then tapping the back of the impact screwdriver with a rubber hammer. This will lock the screws solidly in place. Actually, I try and unscrew both plugs with a regular slotted screwdriver [without employing the impact screwdriver]. The screws should be solidly tight, whereby you would need the impact screwdriver to remove them—which, of course, you do not want to do. This ensures that the two plugs are not going to loosen, leak oil, or take in water.

Step 3: Finally, I wipe both areas clean and, nonetheless, check for leaks. Place the multi-purpose plastic quart pump kit with tubing and extension fitting in an upright position, securing it to the pump's handle with a cable tie. Store the item in the Ziploc bag till next time. This will avoid an oily mess.


Quart pump kit with tubing and extension fitting


Tomorrow, November 2nd, we'll continue with Part 2, Phase Three.


Bob Banfelder

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoors Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo
Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater
https://www.robertbanfelder.com


Available
on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats


Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats




October 02, 2016

Crankbait Transitions from Sweetwater to the Suds ~ A Colorful Array of Keen Killers ~ Part II

by Bob Banfelder

We are continuing from yesterday's report of Berkley's pro-design dream team referencing Fishing Evolved crankbaits. We'll lead off with the Pitbull, following up with Wild Thang, and finally three (3) Cutter models: Cutter 90+, Cutter 110+, and the Skinny Cutter 110+. David Fritts, Justin Lucas, Josh Bertrand, Garry Klein, and Scott Suggs comprise this awesome group of professionals. Be reminded that these lures, designed but not necessarily designated to sweetwater, are proven to be deadly in the suds as depicted throughout this two-part report. The five designs are tough on fish but prudent on the pocketbook—$6.95 each for the Pitbull and Wild Thang models; $7.95 each for the Cutter series.

The Pitbull is a broad-lipped, erratic, floating slayer that comes in three sizes and weights: Pitbull 3.5, 2", ¼ oz., diving to depths of 2–5 ft.; Pitbull 5.5, 2 3/8", 3/8 oz., diving to depths of 3 to 6 ft.; and the Pitbull 7.5, 2¾", 5/8 oz., diving to devilish depths of 4 to 8 ft. Shown below is the Pitbull 5.5, Gilly color; 18 deadly colors from which to choose. These three crankbaits are a serious breed, exhibiting powerful predator-like action, flash, and tail wag—which is no indication of its friendliness. In short order, the predator fish will become the predator.


Pitbull 5.5


Pitbull 5.5 ~ Gilly color ~ bests cocktail blue

*******

Wild Thang 8.5 is a rattling lure sporting a longer and far broader bill than that of the Pitbull. Wild Thang demonstrates a ‘wild' aggressive tail-thumping action, irresistible to predator fish. The lure comes in two sizes and weights: 2", 3/8 oz., and 2¼", ½ oz. Shown below is the 2¼", ½ oz. Wild Thang in a Ghost Green Craw color; 18 deadly colors from which to choose. The lure dives to depths of 6 to 9 feet on retrieve, slowly rising when paused . . . triggering an instinctive strike from predators. In other words, if the ‘wild' aggressive tail-thumping action doesn't get ‘em, the sluggish ascent shall. Alternate the actions—descend … ascend—and you will connect.


Wild Thang 8.5


Wild Thang 8.5 ~ Ghost Green Craw color ~ hoodwinked this 19½-inch fat flattie

Berkley's stout-bodied, wide-lipped, deep-diving hardbaits go down to where the flatties flourish. Donna casted the lure but three or four times when she suddenly connected with this fat flattie in 14 feet of water, which tells you this hungry fish rose to the occasion to meet its maker. Donna was wild with excitement, especially when I missed it with the fist swipe of the landing net. However, a nice dinner was not to be denied.

******

Last but not nearly least in this lineup of lethal lures is a trio of Cutter series suspending hardbaits:

The Cutter 90+ model is 3½" in length and weighs 3/8 oz. Shown below is the Yellow Perch color; 18 colors from which to choose. Its ¾" coffin-shaped bill foreshadows what lies ahead . . . predators awaiting a supposed easy meal. The Cutter 90+ is aerodynamically designed to ensure long-distance casting. In the water column, it is a suspended jerkbait that begs a variety of actions, diving to depths of 4 to 6 feet. As the company's instructions suggest, "twitch, jerk, pause, rip, burn, and/or employ standard retrieves." You will drive fish into frenzy. Note two needle-sharp Fusion19 trebles for a solid hookup.


Cutter 90+

*******

The Cutter 110+ model is 4 3/8" in length and weighs 9/16 oz. Shown below is the Chartreuse Shad color; 18 colors from which to choose. Similar in shape and bill as the Cutter 90+ model, it differs in that it rattles noisily and sports three treble hooks in lieu of two. Its coffin shape bill gives it a darting action, creating an enticing side flash with minimum rod movement. Engage it as you would the Cutter 90+ model; that is, "twitch, jerk, pause, rip, or burn" as it dives to depths of 4 to 6 feet. The trio of needle-sharp Fusion19 treble hooks ensure effortless hookups.


Cutter 110+

*******

The Skinny Cutter 110+ is a sleek, thinner version of the Cutter 110+, also measuring 4 3/8" in length, but shedding 2/10th of an ounce; that is, weighing in at 7/16 oz. Negligible? Yes—yet noticeable different in the water column. As with the Cutter 110+ model, the Skinny style has three needle-sharp Fusion19 treble hooks ensure a solid hookup. Shown below is the Chartreuse Shad color; 18 colors from which to choose. Work it as you would the Cutter 90+ and the Cutter 110+ models.


Skinny Cutter 110+


Skinny Cutter 110+ Chameleon Pearl color (left) and Cutter 110+ Chartreuse Shad color (right) capture good-size snappers

*******

What would take a good many words along with a fine understanding of physics and geometry is the engineering expertise that goes into crafting these refined favorites shown throughout this two-part report. At Berkley, the company kept good company with consummate crankbait design engineers coupled to a dream team of professional-anglers in order to create lures that result in your success on the waters virtually everywhere. To quote the company, "These hardbaits capture the essence and action of artfully handcrafted wooden baits with exactness and durability delivered in a synthetic bait. The balanced designs throw straight and far."

For continuous use in salt water—like any lures' hardware—the crankbaits' ultra- sharp treble hooks need only be upgraded when showing signs of exposure to the elements. You can either replace them with Berkley's new Fusion19 Treble 1x hooks, or simply affix your favorites with new split rings and a pair of split-ring pliers. After a full season of field-testing these hardbaits in the suds, I did not need to change any hardware. After every trip, whether fishing fresh or salt water, I thoroughly rinse all rods, reels, and tackle with fresh water. Good to go.

In the near future, I'll be covering several of Berkley's new Fusion19 swimbait hooks (et al), along with soft plastics. In the meantime, visit Berkley at www.berkley.com for a full description of all their crankbaits and hooks. They are winners; not only in terms of producing sharp results, but in terms of pricing, too. You'll thank me later. Another nice touch that Berkley provides is that rather than have their hooks laying around helter-skelter in your tackle box, Berkley's sharp Fusion19 hooks come clamshell-packaged in resealable plastic containers for your protection and convenience. Neat? You bet.


Bob Banfelder
www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoors Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo
Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater


Now available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats


Now available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats




October 01, 2016

Crankbait Transitions from Sweetwater to the Suds ~ A Colorful Array of Keen Killers ~ Part I

by Bob Banfelder

If you're angling for some of the best synthetic hardbaits and penetratingly honed treble hooks available in today's highly competitive fishing industry, allow me to lure you in and hook you up solidly. You won't be disappointed with the following offerings, for you will save money, time, and frustration. You will steadfastly attract and confidently fight fish. What kind of fish? Answer: virtually all kinds of fish referencing freshwater, brackish, and, yes, saltwater applications. Designed by David Fritts and his dream team for freshwater fishing—but not necessarily limited as such—the following selection of crankbaits is positively deadly in the suds. Therefore, do not shortchange yourself. Too, their devastatingly chemically-sharpened treble hooks may surprise you.

Here in Part 1, we'll take a good look at a few of Berkley's assortment of proven Fishing Evolved crankbait designs: Bad Shad, Digger, and the Warpig models. These designs are hard on fish but easy on the pocketbook—$6.95 each. When you team up professional design engineers with professional anglers in state-of-the-art testing facilities, the results are awesome as you will soon see. David Fritts, Justin Lucas, Josh Bertrand, Garry Klein, and Scott Suggs comprise the Berkley pro-design dream team referencing these Fishing Evolved crankbaits.

First in the lineup is the Bad Shad 5, shown below in the Black Gold color; 18 killer colors from which to choose, available in 2", ¼ oz. It is a dynamite lure, diving from 5 to 7 feet. This crankbait is lethal on walleyes, muskies, trout, crappies, smallmouth and largemouth bass, stripers, bluefish, and weakfish.

The design features a lifelike side-to-side roll and simulated tail wag that drive fish bonkers. Within an hour, Donna caught and released a few schoolies. Not to be upstaged, I headed our boat toward a neighboring bay, grabbed another rod set up with the slightly longer, heavier Bad Shad 7, which you will see momentarily, and went to town on a good many schoolie bass and cocktail blues.


Bad Shad 5


Bad Shad 5 ~ Black Gold color ~ gets belted by 15-inch cocktail blue

Note: Both the Bad Shad #5 and #7 (shown below) dive on retrieve, slowly ascend the water column when paused, and remain afloat at rest. Employing a variety of rod-action techniques, the fishing action for both Donna and me was nonstop.

The Bad Shad 7 is shown below in Irish Shad; 18 colors from which to choose, available in 2¾", 1/3 oz., diving from 6 to 9 feet.


Bad Shad 7


Bad Shad 7 ~ Irish Shad color ~ is clobbered by cocktail blue

*******

Next are the Digger models. The lures come in three sizes and weights: Digger 3.5, 1¾", ¼ oz. ~ Digger 6.5, 2", ½ oz. ~ and the Digger 8.5, 2½", 7/16th oz. Shown below are the 6.5 Digger in Red Craw color and the 8.5 Digger in Brown Mustard; 18 colors from which to choose. The lures present a stocky profile with a downward angled bill. These crankbaits are lethal lures for both saltwater and freshwater applications. The action is awesome, a truly deep-digging descent on retrieve while displaying an aggressive wobble and seductive side flash—then a slow ascension when paused. The lures rattle to draw attention, and two needle-sharp Fusion19 treble hooks ensure triple, terrible trouble for predators.


Digger 6.5 ~ Red Craw color ~ fools small fluke

The Digger 6.5 dives and covers the water column from 5 to 8 feet. This bantam-sized fluke did not just strike the lure, it inhaled it. The Digger 6.5 drove steadily toward the floor when suddenly a summer flounder hit the Red Craw color crankbait in 7 feet of water, both fish and artificial rising to the occasion with a vengeance. Just short of performing radical surgery, I had all to do to remove the lure from its mouth and release the small fry, unharmed, to swim away and fight another day. Cocktail blues and schoolie bass, too, saw ‘red,' smacking the devilish Digger in a maelstrom of sheer madness. I am very impressed with these lures. The power you feel on the retrieve, coupled to the action you see in the suds, are absolutely awesome . . . and when a strike does occur—stand by! You'll positively dig this crankbait.


Digger 8.5


Digger 8.5 ~ Brown Mustard color ~ dupes this 19-inch keeper fluke

The Digger 8.5, diving from 7 to 9 feet, is designed to drive a bit deeper into the water column than its 6.5 cousin. Where my go-to Glow Squid plastic lure rigged with a strip of fresh/frozen squid and a feisty (live) mummichog (killiefish) failed to attract any attention, Berkley's Brown Mustard-colored 8.5 Digger flimflammed this respectable keeper. On my first cast, the fluke smacked the crankbait in 9 feet of water.

*******

The following is Berkley's Warpig. The lures come in two sizes and weights: 2 3/8", ¼ oz. and 3", ½ oz. Shown below are the Cream Pie and the Vintage Craw colors, respectively; 18 colors each from which to choose. The Warpig is a fast-sinking, bluntnose, lipless, noisy rattling rascal that exhibits aggressive action. The heavier 3", ½ oz. lure allows you to cover a lot of water faster and deeper. The pair offers realistic appeal, acoustical allurement, and absconding action throughout the water column. Predator fish will be on the warpath for Berkley's Warpigs . . . until that final moment.


Warpig ¼ ounce Cream Pie color


Warpig ¼ ounce ~ Cream Pie color ~ garners all-you-want bluefish

Donna caught and released a score of cocktail-size blues with Berkley's Cream-Pie colored ¼ ounce Warpig; that is, until a BIG chopper came along and chomped through the line. I'll only have to go into my piggy bank to replace that lure, whereas I'd have to delve deep into my war chest for a hopefully similar replacement via another brand. Another way of putting it is that Berkley lures are to be viewed as inexpensive, not to be labeled cheap.


Warpig ½-ounce


Warpig ½-ounce ~ Vintage Craw color ~ has schoolie bass succumb

Now shy one Cream Pie color ¼-ounce Warpig in my arsenal, Berkley's Vintage Craw color ½-ounce Warpig has done double duty in annihilating schoolies, both cocktails-size and chopper-size blues, too.

*******

Tomorrow, October 2nd, we will continue with five additional Berkley crankbait designs. Stay tuned.


Bob Banfelder
www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoors Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo
Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater


Now available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats


Now available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats














September 02, 2016

PORTA-BOTES ~ Four Fantastic, Foldable, Affordable, Angling/Hunting Boat Models ~ Part II

by Bob Banfelder

Let's continue and thoroughly examine Porta-Botes's Alpha Series construction. What exactly is it made of, and how does it compare to aluminum, fiberglass, hypalon, or PVC materials? Porta-Bote's unique FLEXI-HULL™ is a flexible space-age material that "cooperates" with the water, not counteracts against it. The hull is, again, flexible, not flimsy. The entire craft is unbelievably strong. I'm a careful writer, so I don't use words carelessly. I'll repeat with emphasis: The entire craft is unbelievably strong.

Example: Picture loading one of their four production models with 600-plus pounds of concrete blocks, raising the craft 20 feet above a body of water then dropping the boat! This durability test, depicted in Porta-Bote's colorful brochure, was conducted by Japan's Coast Guard. As a result, Porta-Bote passed with flying colors and is also marketed in Japan. Keep in mind that the new Alpha Series has an integral, foldable one-piece (built-in) transom, unlike their older Genesis Series. In order for the transom to fold, it is hinged. The above test is testimony to the strength of Porta-Bote's patented polypropylene waterproof hinges, too. All four Porta-Bote models (8½ feet, 10 feet 8 inches, 12½ feet, and 14 feet) are constructed of high-impact polypropylene-copolymer. It is an amazingly hard, engineered resin originally developed for use in the aerospace field. This material withstands the abuse that would otherwise render aluminum, fiberglass, hypalon, and PVC inferior by comparison. Polypropylene-copolymer will stand up to jagged rocks, sand, salt, and even acid. Molded-in colors and finish (aside from cosmetic scratches or scrapes caused by severe abuse) remain unaffected. Three standard colors are available: Pearl White, Olive Drab, and Aluminum, which is actually a subdued gray color as pictured throughout with reference to our 10-foot 8 inch Porta-Bote model. Also, a special-order Orange color is available at an additional cost. Come waterfowl season, I'll simply cover the craft (and myself) with a Mossy Oak camouflage netting material.

Also pictured in the brochure, demonstrating Porta-Bote's stability, is one angler, seated, rod held high, fighting a huge fish in the River Seine (France), while the other man, standing, hauls up the massive hundred plus-pound fish high over the gunwale. The freeboard on all four models is, to say the least, generous: 22-inch depth mid-ship referencing the 8½-foot model; 24-inch depth mid-ship referencing the 10 foot 8-inch, 12, and 14-foot models. Flexi-Hull™ provides stability personified and has been endorsed by such magazines as Field & Stream, Hunting, Trailer Life, Small Boat Journal, Practical Sailor, and Alaska Outdoors. Additionally, Porta-Bote is CE certified (Conformité Européene; i.e., European Conformity) by the leading trade association for recreational boaters; specifically, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA). These boats are virtually unsinkable as thick foam flotation runs along the entire interior of the vessel, right beneath the gunwale. Even the flexible hull material is buoyant. Porta-Bote guarantees the hull material for 10 years against defects.

Donna and I enjoy all forms of fishing: bait casting, spin casting, and especially fly casting. It's a pleasure to comfortably stand in a Porta-Bote and cast a fly without having to do a balancing act. Referencing other comparably-sized portable watercrafts for the purpose of angling, such as kayaks, canoes, and especially inflatables, Porta-Botes excel because you have lots more room, comfort, and stability. When likened to Porta-Botes, inflatable boats are, in my mind's eye, rendered obsolete.

In the final analysis, pricing, you'll find that in most cases the cost of a Porta-Bote is less than purchasing a quality inflatable boat of even the more costly hypalon material. What more could you ask for? In addition to the options already mentioned, you may choose from a sufficient listing. For example: Back-Saver Swivel Seat, Bimini Porta-Sunshade. For you seafaring salts, you can even sail your Porta-Bote by employing a sail kit (lateen-rigged) on the 10 foot 8-inch, 12½ foot, and 14-foot models. The kit includes all the necessary rigging, materials, and marine hardware: triangular sail, boom, gaff, mast, tiller, leeboards, lanyard, fore-stay halyard, main sheet, blocks, metric bolts, et cetera. The only tools you'll require is a center punch, electric drill [5/16-inch (8mm) drill bit], and a Phillips screwdriver.

Porta-Botes are easily transported any number of ways: simply placed into a station wagon or pickup truck, folded flat upon vehicle rooftops or roof racks then secured with a pair of nylon car-top straps (offered as an accessory option), carried vertically alongside a motorhome with a set of specially designed locking RV mounts (accessory option), conveniently conveyed by sailboat, powerboat, and sea planes, too.


Porta-Bote Accessories

As pictured above, Porta-Bote's necessary accessories take up very little space: three bench seats with hinged brackets, oars and oarlocks, and the necessary hardware. That's it! The other ancillary yet essential items, also shown, include life vests, security cable, and lines, which are seen atop the bow cap for display purpose. I slip the cap and its contents into a boat bag for compact carry. Without even removing our Subaru Outback's luggage cargo cover, note that there would be ample room for a small outboard engine, a mid-size cooler, tons of your fishing gear, clothing, ad infinitum. If you feel that I'm trying to sell you on a Subaru Outback as well as a Porta-Bote, you are correct. Best vehicle that Donna and I have ever owned; best small craft that we have ever owned, too. Period.

When you are ready to set up your Porta-Bote, simply unfold and hold open the boat's beam with the aid of a specially designed 56½ inch x 2½ inch notched wooden slat (included but not shown), insert the two 2 inch-thick x 9½ inch wide, solid, comfortable, heavy-duty plastic bench seats into their brackets; lastly, setting the 42-inch angled bow seat into place. Our 10 foot 8-inch model has six cup holders molded into the seats. Each seat comes with three stainless steel fold-down supports that fit into clips beneath the gunwales and gives the boat its shape. Locking pins ensure that the clips stay firmly in place. A thorough set of step-by-step printed instructions in addition to accompanying pictures make unfolding and folding a Porta-Bote painless. Initially, setup may take some time. However, after you unfold and fold your new boat several times, you should be able to do either procedure in a matter of a few minutes. Everything's easy once you know how. Also, a wearing-in of the hinges, precise seat/bracket placement, and the hull material itself, will all ease up a bit, facilitating the procedure. A good analogy might be to that of breaking in a new pair of shoes. Too, with another person assisting you, it becomes a breeze.


Showing Porta-Bote's Alpha Series foldable transom panels, creating a one-piece integral stern unit


Porta-Bote's Alpha Series transom panels locked securely in place, forming a solid, one-piece integral transom unit and motor mount

Once you take your Porta-Bote out for a ride, you will quickly realize that it is an entity unto itself. The boat neither bounces around like an inflatable, nor does she pound the surface like a rigid craft. What the boat does do, because of its flexible V-entry design, is to dig into that watery surface and go with the flow—quite literally. Flexibility is the operative word. Comfort and stability are the results. Why this boat material, design, extraordinary ride, coupled to its compactness, is not the be-all and end-all for portable boats ranging from 8½ feet to 14 feet is remarkable in itself. Porta-Bote, believe me, is in a class all its own. It is the perfect portable, foldable, affordable, angling/hunting boat.


Our 10 foot 8-inch Porta-Bote Model Set up for Fishing

Porta-Bote's 12½-foot model weighs in at 87 pounds (less the weight of three seats). The hull's beam is 5 feet (same as the 10 foot 8-inch model). The 12½-foot model would most definitely serve as a comfortable, all-around craft for a trio of anglers, not to mention waterfowl shooters come the season. The integrated foldable transom will accommodate up to a 56-pound gas engine as does the 10 foot-8 inch model.

Last in the quartet is Porta Bote's 14-foot model, weighing in at 108 pounds (less the weight of four seats). The hull's beam is 5 feet, the same as both the 10 foot 8-inch and 12½-foot models). The integrated foldable transom will accommodate up to an 89-pound gas engine. This vessel will easily accommodate four outdoorsmen, such as anglers, waterfowl shooters, scuba divers and their equipment, et cetera. For divers, an optional, removable boarding ladder may be attached to the bow for easy entry and egress.

Note: All four models fold to a 4-inch thickness and a 2-foot width. Too, all models can accommodate respective outboard gas engines utilizing a short-shaft length of 15 inches. All four models can accommodate an electric outboard with a shaft length of 30–42 inches.

Let's take a look at the new Alpha series pricing:

8½ ft. Porta-Bote ~ $2,499.
10 ft. 8-in. Porta-Bote ~ $2,699.
12½ ft. Porta-Bote ~ $2,849.
14 ft. Porta-Bote ~ $3,199.

So, what are you waiting for? Check out Porta-Botes online at www.porta-bote.com. You'll thank me later.

Bob Banfelder
www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoors Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo
Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater


Now available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats


Now available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats




September 01, 2016

PORTA-BOTES ~ Four Fantastic, Foldable, Affordable, Angling/Hunting Boat Models ~ Part I

by Bob Banfelder

Imagine four portable boat models that fold to a four-inch thickness, are the shape and width of a surfboard, come in easily transportable lengths of 8½ feet, 10 feet 8 inches, 12½ feet, 14 feet, and are comparatively lighter yet more durable than other boat manufacturing materials. The second generation Alpha Series Porta-Bote design boasts a one-piece integral transom. Forget about inflatables. This assemblage of foldable Porta-Botes is the epitome of portability.


Packaged and Shippped Securely

Somehow, someway, the Porta-Bote International line of portable, foldable boats had eluded me as it has a good many angling/hunting folks. In my research, I had asked myself why this is so. How could a mode of truly fantastic, foldable, portable, affordable watercraft have escaped me? Over 100,000 Porta-Bote owners throughout the world are more than satisfied with their readily transportable craft and its unique features. Why not a million-plus people? Many folks are not even privy to these remarkable boats. Perhaps the answer lies in that Porta-Bote's older Genesis Series models (dating back twenty of now forty years of operation) had a separate transom, which required more setup time, plus the fact that there were minimal leaks along the seam where it joined the hull when attached. Not the case with the Alpha Series one-piece foldable transom. This more modern innovation incorporates an intricate multi-step welding system that joins four foldable panels by way of a sealant sandwiched between them via an injection process, incorporating a series of stainless steel wire staples that secure the seams and form the transom—guarding against leaks. Ingenious! This technique is also utilized in the aerospace industry.

Still, we're talking two decades where I somehow missed the boat so to speak; that is, the foldable, affordable Porta-Bote evolution. In its hull construction, Porta-Bote employs the space-age material polypropylene-copolymer, which is nearly twice the thickness (i.e., ¼ inch) of the aluminum used in building both riveted and welded recreational crafts. Unlike aluminum, polypropylene-copolymer is virtually puncture proof. In my opinion, referencing portable boats, this aerospace material makes all other materials obsolete. We'll see precisely why as we move forward with one of the most exciting watercrafts that I've reviewed to date.

Had I known about Porta-Botes earlier in time, I would have purchased one of four models from which to choose in lieu of most any kayak on the market. Granted, different types of vessels serve different purposes. A kayak can, indeed, get you into some very skinny water. So, too, can Porta-Botes with their 4-inch draft—and with considerably more comfort, room, and, most importantly, superb stability. Had I known about Porta-Botes back then, I would have purchased one in lieu of any inflatable boat. A small to medium-sized inflatable will serve as a suitable tender (dingy) as well as a fair-to-middling fishing craft. However, in reality, an inflatable boat, regardless of the size you select, you'll find that the interior space (beam, length, and bow area) has considerably less room than first imagined because of the vessel's air chamber diameters. As a comparative example to my 10 foot 8-inch Porta Bote, an Achilles inflatable model LSI-330E also has an overall length of 10 feet 8 inches; yet the inflatable has an actual inside length of only 5 feet 8 inches. Its overall beam is 7 feet 5 inches, which interiorly narrows down to 2 feet 7 inches because of a pair of 18-inch air tubes taking up most of the space. Ostensibly, you may be thinking that you're getting a 10 foot, 8-inch length inflatable boat with a beam of about 7½ feet when in actuality you're getting far less interior space than what you first imagined. You'll note the difference the moment you sit inside. Narrowing things down factually and arithmetically, you are losing approximately a whopping 67% of otherwise usable interior space!

Keep in mind the fact that most inflatable boat owners generally leave their crafts inflated for seasonal use, deflating then inflating them biannually for winter storage and spring commissioning, respectively—negating the purpose of normal portability. Why? The answer is because it is a commonplace pain in the butt to manually pedal-pump up those air chambers: three air tubes on soft bottom inflatables (two side tubes serving as bulkheads (walls)–one keel tube serving for the floor (deck). As a tender aboard a larger vessel, an inflatable is just easier to leave inflated, contending with either cumbersome maneuvering or expensive davit systems.

Porta-Botes offer considerably more comfort, room, and outstanding stability than inflatables, with emphasis on the ‘stand-alone' root word, standing, for you can comfortably stand, dance the jig, and maneuver about without fear of tipping over when casting or fighting a denizen of the deep. A promotional video on one of their web sites shows this antic. Trick photography you may be thinking? For those of you who know me well via my article writing—through the years—know that I tell it like it is. If a product has certain flaws, many a magazine would edit out such negatives, or wouldn't run the article at all. Nor'east Saltwater allows me to present both sides of a controversial argument. I have owned and/or paddled sit-in and sit-on-top type kayaks as well as touring and fishing canoes. I have propelled many a rowboat on rivers, lakes, bays, and the ocean. Porta-Bote's foldable hulls are stability personified whether purchased in 8½ foot, 10 foot 8 inch, 12½ foot, or 14 foot lengths.

Let's start with Porta-Bote's smallest 8½-foot model, weighing in at 68 pounds (less the weight of two seats). The hull's beam is 4 feet 8 inches. It most definitely serves as a great tender as well as a doable craft for two anglers. The integrated foldable transom will accommodate up to a 35-pound gas engine. The craft is easily carried short distances by one person from vehicle to nearby access point. Too, setup is a breeze.

Since Donna and I were looking for more comfortable angling conditions, I opted for the 10 foot 8-inch model, weighing in at 78 pounds (less the weight of three seats). The extra 10 pounds over that of the 8½-foot model is certainly a consideration as far as portability is concerned if handled by one person. Although Donna and I are up there in age, we have no problem lifting and positioning the folded boat atop our Subaru Outback—and that's without the aid of any mechanical device. It lays folded flat to a 4-inch thickness, 2-foot width. The integrated foldable transom will accommodate up to a 56-pound gas engine. I have a 3.5hp Tohatsu 2-stroke outboard engine weighing 28.7 pounds. Also, I have a 5hp Yamaha 2-stroke outboard engine weighing 46.2 pounds. As both engines have integral gas tanks, you need to factor in the weight of the volume of gas for each engine. For my 10 foot 8-inch Porta-Bote model, each engine's internal gas tank filled to capacity falls under the maximum engine/gas allowable weight specification.


After unlocking then locking the integrated rail cross bars across the roof of our 2015 Subaru Outback, we have a sturdy platform for which to safely transport our 10 foot 8-inch Porta-Bote. Love this vehicle, love our Porta-Bote.

For example, my Yamaha 5hp 46.2 pound engine has an integral gas tank of 2.96 quarts. Gas weighs just over 6 pounds per gallon. Therefore a quart of gas is 1.5 pounds—multiplied by approximately 3 quarts is rounded off to 4.5 pounds. Hence, I have to add approximately 4.5 pounds to the weight of the engine, bringing the now total weight of engine and gas to 50.7 pounds, which is still 5.3 pounds under the allowable total weight to hang from the transom. Good to go. Keep in mind that the newer 4-stroke engines are heavier than the older 2-stroke engines, so do the necessary math before deciding which model Porta-Bote and gas engine is right for you, both in terms of the maximum outboard weight allowable and portability. I use the lighter 3.5hp engine when traveling some distances from body of water to body of water. I use the 5hp engine when leaving the boat set up locally, no differently than most folks leave their inflatable or rowboat set up with the engine secured to the transom.

One day when I upgrade from my older 2-stroke engines, I'll research dependable 4-strokes. A suggestion would be to consider Suzuki's model DF6S 6hp outboard engine with a 1.5 liter (1.585 quarts) integral gas tank. You'll be good to go for the 10 foot 8-inch, 12½ foot, and 14 foot Porta-Bote models; the latter of which will accommodate a Suzuki 4-stroke 9.9hp engine. I mention this because Porta-Bote offers special pricing on Suzuki models 2.5hp–30hp. Of course, for covering small bodies of water, Porta-Bote's oars and oarlocks (included) will suffice. These 2-piece oars are made from lightweight yet durable plastic blades and aluminum handles. They store conveniently crosswise and out-of-the-way beneath a seat. Whether under oar or outboard power, our craft rides high and tracks extremely well due to its patented semi tri-hull configuration.


Our 10 foot 8-inch Model Porta-Bote

To facilitate matters when traversing demanding distances from vehicle to access area, the Porta-Dolly's™ 13¾-inch wheels are an indispensable, optional item. They are cleverly designed and install in seconds. You can even wheel the boat right into the water then quickly and easily remove the pair. I'm very impressed with this setup. Save yourself a step and order the dolly wheels when you order your Port-Bote. You'll thank me later. The dolly wheels and adjustable frames fit all four models. Also, note that I bungee-cord a pair of Type II life vests beneath the mid-section bench seat for out-of-the-way stowage. Good to go.


Porta-Bote & Porta-Dolly

Tomorrow, September 2nd, we will continue with Porta-Bote's Alpha Series and its superb construction, including the 12½ foot and 14-foot models.

Bob Banfelder
www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoors Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo
Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater


Now available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats



Now available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats













August 02, 2016

In Summery & Summary

by Bob Banfelder

Today's piece concludes the coverage of the toxic plume discovered in the upper reaches of the Peconic River (Calverton/Manorville area), dating back to 2009. Additionally, I'll finish up addressing the more recent coliform (fecal) and other bacterial contamination found in the lower reaches of the Peconic River in Riverhead. The major contributing culprit is the antiquated Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant, awaiting an upgrade. Any day, now; any day, officials keep telling us. The result of the plant having dumped raw sewage and partially treated sewage into the Peconic River over a period of years has resulted in high nitrogen levels, low dissolved oxygen levels, turtle and fish die-offs, the closing of recreational shellfish harvesting areas, and the cancellations of public activities by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services. Let's first take a look back in time to the concluding article that I wrote for Red Room, concerning the upper reaches of the Peconic River.

THE FOX IN CHARGE OF THE HENHOUSE?


June 10, 2014

Well, it has been 5 years, 2 months, and 9 days since I began reporting on the toxic plume discovered in the Peconic River, located at the headwaters in Calverton. It has been 3 years, 5 months, and 9 days since I last reported that the United States Navy had finally begun testing as to how they might treat Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). So where are we today, June 10th, 2014?

Installed only in October 2013, we now have a $4.6 million treatment facility pumping toxic groundwater in an attempt to remove the contamination bestowed upon us by the Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant at the former Grumman Corporation Calverton site where the company built, tested and cleaned its aircraft. The contaminating culprits were jet fuel and chlorinated solvents, especially the latter. However, the plume is still traveling from the site and onto private land as well as county parkland, stated the Riverhead News–Review in an April 17th, 2014 front page article. The remediation system is going to "be in operation for at least another two to four years—assuming all goes as planned," scribes staff writer Tim Gannon in his piece. Actually, it's going to be another two to four years, minimum.

You'll recall the fact that the toxic chemicals found in the Peconic River were as high as two hundred (200) times New York State's allowable drinking water standards. You'll also recall the United States Navy initially refusing to do anything about this deplorable situation, claiming that these Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) would simply go away through "natural attenuation," said Navy spokeswoman, Lieutenant j.g. Laura Stegherr, who had later reinforced the Navy's position by stating, "The Calverton site does not present a health or safety risk." The lieutenant j.g. added, "Current sampling shows the concentration of volatile organic compounds detected in the Peconic River is lower than appreciable values and ecological values. Additionally," she continued, "concentration levels in groundwater have remained steady or decreased over time . . . ." All of these statements are blatant lies.

Prevarication and procrastination by the United States Navy had and have many of us still wondering if this final treatment facility approach is a ‘too little too late' situation. We, of course, certainly hope not. Nineteen pounds of the Volatile Organic Compounds have been removed from the groundwater thus far. Yet, because the plume shifts periodically, "scientists feel that the groundwater extraction wells have a capture zone that should still be large enough to capture the plume," said consultant Dave Brayack of Tetra Tech EC, Inc., a company that provides a full range of consulting, engineering, remediation, renewable energy, and construction services worldwide. Brayack, quoting scientists' words like feel and should give me pause and make me wonder. However, in all fairness, state and Suffolk County officials seem satisfied that the cleanup of the toxic plume is going well. We'll just have to wait and see what happens over the next several years. "There's always a possibility it [the plume] could do something we've never seen in the past," said Brayack.

What makes me leery is the fact that it's the Naval Facilities Engineering Command that is heading up this toxic cleanup, the very department that initially denied that the Calverton site does not present a health or safety risk. Isn't that a lot like the fox overseeing the henhouse?

Again, stay tuned for SNAFUs that are certain to rear their ugly heads over the course of several years. I'll only disappear from reporting this horrendous debacle through "natural attenuation."

*******


Returning to the moment and addressing the lower region of the Peconic River, specifically the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant [officially referred to as the Riverhead Wastewater Treatment Plant], we are still waiting in earnest for the upgrade to be fully functional . . . and waiting . . . and waiting. The work began in April of 2014. It's been one delay after another. The upgraded facility was to have been completed back in April of this year. Residents are now told that the new completion date will be at the end of August. Should we the people hold our breaths, noses, and keep our patience in check?

What is positively unsettling to Donna and me is that within the 2014, 2015, and 2016 recreational seasons here in Riverhead, we have watched folks kayaking, canoeing, sculling, paddle boarding, jet skiing, and fishing on the Peconic River; also, swimming and even clamming in these waters. Many people are not aware of the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant's failures to function properly, especially visitors on vacation who immerse themselves in these activities. Until such periods of time that the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant is operating satisfactorily and the river's water quality meets acceptable standards, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services had advised (via an occasional mention in a local publication) people to stay out of the Peconic River east of Grangebel Park (the tidal section of the river). I'll excerpt from one publication, our RiverheadLocal:

"Peconic River contaminated in downtown Riverhead by sewage discharge; county officials issue advisory: avoid contact with river water downtown. If contact does occur, rinse off with clean water immediately. Seek medical attention if after exposure you experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, allergic reactions, breathing difficulties or skin, eye or throat irritation." It's interesting to note that the publication date was December 15th, 2015, not exactly the height of the recreational summer season.

It is also interesting to note that a scheduled ‘Riverhead Rocks' August 14th 2016 triathlon event is being presented by the Peconic Bay Medical Center. In past years, as part of the triathlon, we've seen these athletes swim right behind the Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center in downtown Riverhead, heading east just past our home on the Peconic River—along the very watery path that the Suffolk County Department of Health Services had advised people to stay clear of until such time as the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant is functioning properly. As the plant is operating satisfactorily on an on-again-off again basis, we're warned by watchdog groups to take precautionary measures before recreating within boundary zones of the Peconic River. One group recommended that folks "check current water quality testing before entering any waterbody," suggesting that folks "sign up and receive alerts about the discharge of untreated sewage into local waterways via NY-Alert." Why wasn't there or aren't there signs presently along the Peconic River warning people about this health issue?

Oh, I get it! It's all about dollars and cents—not sense. It's about revenue. For a number of years, I've done all I could to inform folks about these serious concerns. Wait a minute! That's not entirely true. I have a buddy, Markus Gneist, who builds state-of-the-art surf boards [www.facebook. com/journeysurf/]. Surely, I could have Markus design and create a specialty board that I could lie flat (hidden) upon, exhibiting a menacing-looking pair of fabricated shark fins, thereby clearing the Peconic River of folks by yelling, "SHARK!" With good intentions foremost in mind, I don't think that's at all tantamount to yelling "FIRE!" inside a crowded theater. Ah, but then I'd first have to come in contact with the river water myself as it presently flushes to and fro from the antiquated Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant. Oh, well.

Let's hope that by the end of this month the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant upgrade will be completed, operating, and fully functional. Also, businesses that operate near or on the water, such as the Indian Island Golf Course in Riverhead, must be closely monitored. For example, in 2015 the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant started pumping wastewater into the golf course's irrigation system in order to reduce the use of fertilizers needed to keep the course green. Prior to that year, seasonally, tens of millions of gallons of partially treated wastewater, resulting in nitrogen overloading, was being dumped directly into the Peconic River. Currently, the irrigation approach is being done at night. If you fish the area at night, which Donna and I occasionally do, you'll occasionally catch a whiff of exactly what's going on—disgusting. Remember, the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant is still not up to speed. When the treatment plant upgrade is finally, fully functional, measures like these (not to mention addressing outdated home cesspool/septic systems) will hopefully alleviate the problem at one end of the Peconic River. I just hope that it's not too late for a successful cleanup at the other end; that is, the toxic Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs) that have leached into the upper sections of the Peconic River and adjoining properties within the Calverton/Manorville areas in Suffolk County.

Notes: Still, to this date, August 2nd, 2016, the water clarity of the Peconic River east of Grangebel Park in Riverhead out to Reeves Bay and Flanders Bay remains dismal and disgusting. Donna and I have lived on the Peconic River for twenty-six years; we know what this body of water should look like . . . the treasure it once was.

It is also important to note that neither Governor Cuomo nor Joseph DiMura (Director of Bureau of Water Compliance for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation) responded to the well-documented case I presented, which clearly showed that the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant did, indeed, dump raw sewage into the Peconic River. Not surprisingly, neither party accepted Donna's and my invitation to appear on our Cablevision show, Special Interests.

Final Note: As a reward referencing my work through the years in fighting for clean waters, KastKing, a provider of quality fishing products at affordable prices, sent me this personalized shirt. Too, my name is on the front of the shirt. I will wear it proudly. And, no—I'm not turning my back on you. :o) :o)



For next month, I'll be writing a two-part series on an affordable, quality portable boat (four models from which to choose).


Bob Banfelder
www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoors Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo
Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater






August 01, 2016

It's Not Over 'Til It's Over

by Bob Banfelder

For today and tomorrow, I'm going to wind down reporting on the toxic pollution of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) discovered in the upper reaches of the Peconic River and area drinking wells. I've been recounting this matter for the past seven years—since January of this year for Nor'east Saltwater. I coupled this coverage to the more recent coliform (fecal) and other bacterial contamination found in the lower reaches of the Peconic River, low dissolved oxygen levels, high nitrogen levels—resulting in the closing of toxic shellfish grounds, turtle and fish die-offs, and the on-and-off again cancellations of public activities by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services. It's been a long haul, folks. Let's take a look back in time to another article that I wrote for Red Room, a once prestigious online literary magazine comprised of a community of writers.

CLEANUP OR BEING TAKEN TO THE CLEANERS?

August 7, 2010

Well, some Suffolk County officials as well as community members appear, at this point, satisfied that the United States Navy has finally begun testing as to how they might treat the Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) contamination calamity at Calverton. On July 21st, 2010, I received a copy of an e-mail from a very savvy, no-nonsense community member of the Restoration Advisory Board, Jean Mannhaupt, concerning the Navy's endeavor to eventually clean up the toxic groundwater plume at Calverton.

In sum and substance, the e-mail stated that several members of the Restoration Advisory Board took a tour of the Calverton site with naval officials and their contractors who are undertaking the work. The team is conducting pump testing and has initiated their pilot study to determine if bioremediation is a viable cleanup technology. Bill Gunther, Community Co-Chair for the Calverton Restoration Advisory Board said, "We were very impressed with the extensive testing underway, which indicated to us that the Navy is finally serious about an active cleanup of the groundwater contamination. The NYSDEC representative was also there, and we learned that the Suffolk County Health Department has been taking water samples during the testing program. During the pump testing, the Navy's contractors are routing the contaminated water through carbon filters before release, so in effect, some cleanup is being done already. We are finally seeing the action we have all been seeking for some time."

On July 29th, 2010, the Riverhead News-Review reported that the Navy had begun testing by utilizing two methods for treating the contaminated groundwater. In February 2011, "based on those test results, the Navy will present a comprehensive Corrective Measures Study that will include long-term cleanup options," recounts staff writer Vera Chinese.

Please be reminded of my fourth blog dating back to August 17th, 2009, in which I had commented on and questioned the time frame of the Navy's "Corrective Measures Study," fearing procrastination on their behalf. Time has been steadily slipping away. Much time has been lost because the United States Navy had been in denial from the onset, claiming that Calverton's toxic plume was simply going to go away through "natural attenuation."

Allow me to reiterate from my August 2009 blog: "And so it shall continue (meetings and studies, compromises and concessions), ad infinitum, is my pessimistic outlook. I truly hope I'm wrong, but I rarely am mistaken, for I've been dealing with federal, state, and local governments for more years than the Navy has been polluting the Peconic River. Action speaks louder than words."

Was I wrong? Most assuredly not.

Excerpted from Ms. Chinese's text, I took the liberty of boldfacing the staff writer's key words and phrases so as to emphasize qualifiers that might tend to have some of us wonder and worry. Too, I include my bracketed documented reminders:

After a 30-day public comment period, the study will be amended, if necessary. Once it is approved by the state, an actual cleanup could begin.

The first treatment method, called a pump test, mimics the groundwater pump-and-treat system on a smaller scale. Testing of that method began July 12.

The other cleanup option, called a biodegradation system, involves injecting the groundwater with corn-based organic materials that help degrade the polluting chemicals. A test of that approach began July 19.

Lora Fly, the Navy's remedial project manager, said pump-test data had already been collected, although the Navy will continue to collect information from the second test until December. She said that it "is not going to be an instantaneous result."
Both methods could ultimately be used in the cleanup efforts at the site.

The treatment systems will target high concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that are flowing from the former Navy property toward the Peconic River. [Actually, trace concentrations of volatile organic compounds have already found their way into the Peconic River.]

VOC concentrations as high as 1,090 micrograms per liter have been found in the area. State drinking water standards are five (5) micrograms per liter.

The chemicals, used for decades to clear grease from jet engines when Grumman operated an assembly plant and flight test facility at the site, could have harmful effects on humans and wildlife. They have been found in the river. [Also, the toxic chemicals have been found in the banks of the river.] Grumman ceased operations in 1994 after about 40 years there.

The Navy previously contended that the chemicals were disappearing naturally as they flowed south toward the river, a theory that community members and elected officials rejected.

*******


Is the United States Navy finally doing the right thing? It seems so. Will state government drag its feet following the Corrective Measures Study, further thwarting or delaying "an actual cleanup?" I've been reporting and commenting on this matter since April 1st, 2009. We will be well into 2011 before we even begin to learn the corrective measures our governments (federal, state, and local) will take.



Photo credit: Donna Derasmo. July 31st, 2016. Building in which polluted groundwater flowing from the former U.S. Navy Grumman site in Calverton is extracted and treated by air strippers before being discharged into the ground.

*******


Tomorrow, Nor'east Saltwater readers, I will put to bed this series of disturbing events and move on to more positive articles beginning in August. Stay tuned.


Robert Banfelder
www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoors Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo
Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater



July 02, 2016

A Rodeo of Rhetoric Re the U.S. Navy ~ Yet Hope Springs Eternal

by Bob Banfelder

We are continuing with the United States Navy's initial procrastination (2009) referencing the cleanup operation of the toxic plume discovered in the upper section of the Peconic River—affecting the Calverton/Manorville areas. We'll learn what transpired at one of the Restoration Advisory Board meetings that Donna and I attended. I'll, again, be going back in time, excerpting from another article I had written for Red Room (a literary on-line magazine for writers), focusing on the Navy's deplorable behavior in treating a most serious matter.

U.S. NAVY: PROGRESS OR PANACHE?

April 27, 2010

On April 22nd, 2010, Donna Derasmo and I attended a three-hour Restoration Advisory Board meeting at the Calverton Community Center. In attendance was Suffolk County's Republican Legislator, Ed Romaine. Mr. Romaine could not stay for the meeting but said his peace at the start of the talk. He did not mince words, making it quite clear that the United States Navy, " ...did not catch the [toxic plume] problem...early enough; it was the Suffolk County Health Department that caught it [the toxic contamination] through groundwater monitoring."

Lora Fly, who heads the Navy's remedial project and oversees the federal cleanup efforts at the Calverton site, talked-the-talk, responding that, "There were no environmental laws in the 40's or 50's," and "only in the 70's were there laws to protect the environment." As a reminder, the toxic plume that exists and persists is the result of Volatile Organic Compounds, VOCs, derived from solvents that were used to clean airplanes [parts] at the now defunct Grumman Naval Weapons Reserve Plant in Calverton, almost six decades ago. The VOCs have leached into the groundwater. The Navy certainly had to have known about this when there were laws in place to protect the health of the public and the environment. Not only did the Navy bury their collective heads in the proverbial sand, they arrogantly and unequivocally stated that "the problem will eventually dissipate via natural attenuation."

The only element that was going to go away was the Navy, and stay away, if not for the collective voices of concerned citizens who brought pressure to bear on our politicians who in turn brought pressure to bear upon the United States Navy. Still, it became a stalemate until the powers that be realized that we the people were not going to go away. Senator Charles Schumer had called for the Navy to commence clean-up operations of the Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant in Calverton so as to prevent further contamination of our waterways [the Peconic River and drinking water wells]. To quote from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Schumer's propensity for publicity is the subject of a running joke among many commentators, leading Bob Dole to quip: ‘The most dangerous place in Washington is between Charles Schumer and a television camera.'" President Barack Obama joked that "Schumer brought along the press to a banquet as his ‘loved ones'." Laugh if you will, but Senator Charles Schumer does know how to bring attention to important issues.

New York Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, along with Congressman Tim Bishop, "demanded" that the United States Navy stop insisting that the toxic chemicals found in the Peconic River are simply going to go away. The United States Navy had taken a firm stand well into 2009 that the contamination will eventually disperse. The fact is that the toxic chemicals found in one well was two hundred (200) times the state's drinking water standards. Of the number of wells tested—fifty two of them—all of them contained Volatile Organic Compounds, VOCs.

However, a Navy spokeswoman, Lieutenant j.g. Laura Steghrr, had reinforced the Navy's position stating, "The Calverton site does not present a health or safety risk." The woman went on to say, "Current sampling shows the concentration of volatile organic compounds detected in the Peconic River is lower than appreciable values and ecological values." Additionally, she continued, "Concentration levels in the groundwater have remained steady or decreased over time."

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, along with [then] Assistant Navy Secretary for Installations and Environment, BJ Penn, and Navy spokeswoman Lieutenant j.g. Steghrr, had apparently lost sight of the facts. The truth concerning this horrendous matter is that the toxic chemicals found in the Peconic River [and wells] most definitely posed and still pose a considerable public health issue and an environmental threat. The toxic plume was known to be more than a quarter of a mile wide then was later reported to extend better than a third of a mile. Further analyses and studies revealed that the volatile substances ran a half mile south of the plant and had found their way into the banks of the Peconic River. It was then that the Secretary of the Navy woke up, did a 180, pledging to clean up the toxic plume in the Peconic River, promising to do whatever it takes to rectify the matter and restore the area to the way it was originally.

Lora Fly had said that the Navy's goal with regard to the toxic groundwater "... is to reach levels that are in the [state] regulations. The overall goal is to do that," she continued. "But just like anything else, you're going to have to do it in stages. I'm not saying by tomorrow we're going to have that done, but that's the overall goal, and we will be working toward that goal."

Yet, at a November 5th, 2009 meeting between community members on the Navy's Restoration Advisory Board and the Navy's remedial cleanup project team, procrastination, at the Navy's behest, continued. Advisory board members had requested that the Navy install a "Pump-and-Treat System" in the midst of the extensive toxic plume, which is polluting the Peconic River. However, Lora Fly denied the Board's temporary measure, and the Navy continued to drag its feet.

Two discharge points of VOCs had been found along the banks of the Peconic River. Reporting on the health department's findings, geologist Andrew Rapiejko stated, "We've identified, in this sampling round, two distinct discharge points . . . it [the plume] is getting into the river. It is discharging."

After the start of the April 22nd, 2010 Restoration Advisory Board meeting (a commission composed of Navy personnel and concerned community members), I addressed the group and explained the Gary Berntsen/Ray Mabus connection, the letter that I sent to the Secretary of the Navy, and an Acting Assistant's response to that letter. I finished by expressing both Donna's and my feelings on the matter, briefly stating what we had witnessed over a 13-month period: rhetoric and procrastination personified on behalf of the United States Navy.

As the meeting moved forward, I was pleasantly surprised yet cautiously optimistic to learn that the Navy is making some headway between its analyses and studies. A cleanup has begun. However, the heavy rains we endured this past fortnight have placed matters on hold until the waters recede. It's always something, isn't it? Still, we can't put this delay on the Navy. Although there was a distinct line of demarcation drawn between the two factions that evening, Navy and neighborhood watchdogs, members of the community realized a concerted effort is in effect. Crews of contractors brought in by the Navy have begun excavating and removing toxic earth, it was learned. Hot spots have been identified, and ways to deal with them are being explored. Technical information, questions and answers flooded the minds of the knowledgeable men and women in the group. It appeared to be a productive meeting.

Still, an important point that evening unnerves me. An opinion, based on the current analyses and studies, is that we have three years to nip this matter in the bud. The issue was postulated by an engineer from Tetra Tech, a worldwide consulting and engineering firm. Yet, I wonder if there is literally an end to this plume, or is this the beginning of an inevitable and irreversible disaster. It is my belief that we are at a very critical juncture. The next Restoration Advisory Board meeting is tentatively scheduled for December 2010. Stay tuned.

This is my ninth report on the Peconic River's toxic plume, and I have received supportive comments from across the country—from California and as far north as Canada.

*******


Our Cablevision Channel 20 TV show, Special Interests with Bob & Donna, continues to address the toxic water pollution issues referencing both the upper and lower reaches of the Peconic River; namely, the toxic plume in the Calverton/Manorville areas as well as the dumping of raw and partially treated sewage in the lower region, stemming from the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant. Our shows appear every month, running each consecutive Saturday at 4 p.m. The program reaches viewers residing in Wading River to Orient Point and Eastport to Montauk. If you reside out of area, please ask an in-area friend to tape these shows for you.

Stay tuned.



Robert Banfelder
www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoors Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo
Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater






Bob's nine novels

July 01, 2016

Putting in My 2 Cents Worth, Too

by Bob Banfelder

The Department of Environmental Conservation in conjunction with Riverhead Town had each agreed to put up two cents per pound to help subsidize commercial fishermen seine net the prodigious schools of bunker (menhaden) from the Peconic River so as to avert a noxious fish die-off. Southampton Town had initially declined to contribute their fair share, but its town board finally agreed (after public pressure) to split the cost, each anteing in one cent per pound. The undertaking was initiated to hopefully thwart a repeat of the immense fish-kill of bunker as had happened in 2009 and then again in 2015. I spoke with several commercial fishermen who said that they are hauling, on average, 25,000 pounds of bunker per day, divided among four boats. Two of the larger boats average approximately 10,000 pounds each, while two of the smaller boats average 2,000 pounds each. At the height of the bunker season, these commercial fishermen—if at all even interested—receive a nominal 8 cents per pound for bunker because at that point the market is already saturated. The additional 4 cents per pound, bringing the total to 12 cents per pound, now makes it worthwhile for the commercial fishermen to ply their trade. Collectively, the two towns will cap the removal at a cost of $15,000; that is, $7,500 each.

The point of all this is to see if the experiment will put a dent in stemming the tide of bunker that die and further pollute the Peconic River and its neighboring bays. I say "further pollute" because these bodies of water are subject to pollution derived from the faulty Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant at the lower reach of the Peconic River. The commercial fishermen are telling me that they are hardly making a dent in the many millions of bunker that are schooled up in the river. The big question is will the plan head off the invasion of predator fish (namely bluefish) if and when they arrive on the scene, corralling and bottlenecking the bunker in the narrow stretch of the Peconic River, thus preventing the schools from escaping and winding up dead along the river banks and neighboring bays' shorelines. Note that for several weeks, May into June of this year, the bunker have been slowly dying along both shores of the Peconic River because of low dissolved oxygen levels as the result of high nitrogen output. The major culprit is the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant, operating at half capacity until it is fixed and functional [upgraded, actually], which was supposed to happen back in March of 2016. The new projected date is August, 2016. Don't hold your breath . . . which you may have to do if an invasion of bluefish suddenly happen upon the scene.


May 31, 2016. Commercial fishermen seine netting live bunker from the Peconic River so as to alleviate a massive bunker die-off. These guys should be praised, applauded, and paid top dollar.


June 29, 2016. Even with the efforts of commercial fishermen seine netting bunker from the Peconic River, we're still seeing dead bunker along the shoreline. Admittedly, not like in 2009 and 2015, but still unsightly and unhealthy.

You may recall that the Riverhead Town Cardboard Boat Races were postponed in 2015 until the Suffolk County Department of Health Services deemed it safe for humans to come in contact with what was two months earlier an obnoxiously odoriferous, slimy mess along both shores of the Peconic River and its neighboring bays—all the way out to Mattituck! The entire area was contaminated with bacteria, parasites, algae Gymnodinium (nitrogen assimilation), and more than a handful of other harmful microorganisms—harmful to humans and/or the environment.

Let's continue back in time to my reporting on the pollution of the upper reaches of the Peconic River, which appeared in Red Room, an on-line literary magazine. In the upper reaches of the Peconic River, a toxic plume comprised of heavy metals (Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) was discovered at the United States Navy's former Northrop Grumman Site in Calverton in 2009.

WHO'S ON FIRST

April 15, 2010

If you recall my letter that I mailed on February 23rd, 2010 to The Honorable Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, I had requested that Mr. Mabus respond after speaking with Gary Berntsen, who is running for Congress, Congressional District 1. I had posed the problem to Mr. Berntsen during the launching of his GOP campaign back in February. At the beginning of April, I received a letter, not from Mr. Mabus, but from a Mr. Roger M. Natsuhara (Acting). That is how he signed off: (Acting). The letterhead reads: THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE NAVY (ENERGY, INSTALLATIONS & ENVIRONMENT). A quick check on the Internet verified that he was, indeed, the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Navy. I mention this because assistants and acting assistants seem to change as frequently as folks change their underwear. On March 5, 2010, Jackalyne Pfannensteil was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installation and Environment). That appointment occurred 21 days before Mr. Natsuhara sent his letter to me. Isn't that interesting? Anyhow, here is the man's letter to Donna and me:

March 26, 2010

Dear Mr. Banfelder and Ms. Derasmo:

Thank you for your February 23, 2010 letter regarding environmental investigations and cleanup at the Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant in Calverton, New York. I am responding on behalf on [sic] the Secretary of the Navy. The Navy is taking all appropriate actions to investigate and cleanup [sic] this site as quickly as possible.

The Navy is required to follow specific environmental cleanup laws and regulations and has obtained concurrence from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to conduct investigation and cleanup actions. NYSDEC concurred in the Navy's short-term remedy to protect the drinking water at the Peconic River Sportsman's Club (PRSC), which consisted of groundwater treatment and monitoring. The PRSC well is the only affected potable water supply in the area. The short-term remedy is in place and Navy is working with PRSC to install a new potable water line. NYSDEC also concurred in removal of 21,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil. That project is scheduled to be completed by May 2010. In December 2009, NYSDEC found that all water samples collected to date were well below water quality standards for the Peconic River. NYSDEC requested Navy to collect additional samples for inclusion in the site cleanup plan, which will be submitted to NYSDEC for concurrence later this year.

The New York State Department of Health is the appropriate agency to address your concerns regarding cancer rates in Suffolk County and fish advisories. Mr. Steve Karpinski has indicated he can address these issues for you and can be reached at (518) 402-7880.

Thank you for sharing your concerns regarding this site. For more detailed and technical information on this matter, I encourage you to attend the next Restoration Advisory Board meeting on April 22, at 7:00 pm at the Calverton Community Center.

Sincerely,
Roger M. Natsuhara
(Acting)

*******


As you will note from Mr. Natsuhara's letter, the man says that, "The PRSC well is the only affected potable water supply in the area." The fact of the matter is that of the fifty-two (52) wells tested in the Calverton/Manorville area, conducted by the Navy and the Suffolk County Health Department, all fifty-two were found to have concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)—some as high as two-hundred (200) times the state's allowable drinking water standards. Mr. Natsuhara conveniently limits the testing to a single well and a single property, not the surrounding areas. Be reminded of the Navy's denials and rhetoric that we have heard in the past. The toxic plume in the Calverton/Manorville area threatens the groundwater in the Peconic River here in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. We are dealing with Volatile Organic Compounds leaching into the Peconic River. Mr. Berntsen had stated to me at the launching of his campaign that he knows Mr. Mabus personally and would address the matter with him directly.

I waited two weeks and a day before e-mailing Mr. Berntsen, copying him with my letter to the Secretary of the Navy, in order for Mr. Mabus and Mr. Berntsen to converse with regard to this deplorable situation. I did not receive a reply from Mr. Berntsen. After receiving Mr. Natsuhara's letter, not Mr. Mabus's response, I can only assume that a conversation between Mr. Mabus and Mr. Berntsen never transpired. Nor do I think that Mr. Natsuhara was acting in good faith because of the time frame mentioned above. Is this politics as usual? It's a good bet. Here's my e-mail to Mr. Berntsen. We are on a first-name basis; hence the informality:

Original Message

From: Robert Banfelder
Sent: Monday, March 08, 2010 9:38 AM
Subject: US Navy — Toxic Plume

Dear Gary,

At your campaign kick-off meeting at Polish Hall in Riverhead, I mentioned the toxic plume that is caused by the US Navy's cleaning of aircraft [parts] at the Grumman facility in Calverton. You had said that you would get in touch with the Secretary of the Navy regarding this health-threatening issue.

Below is the letter, which I sent to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, regarding the issue: [Inserted February 23, 2010 letter]

Donna and I wholeheartedly believe in you as the candidate that will bring us forward while honoring the principles established by our forefathers.

Very best regards,
Bob Banfelder
Donna Derasmo

P.S. Finished Jawbreaker (as you may recall); halfway finished with Human Intelligence, Counterterrorism & National Leadership: A Practical Guide; will start Walk-In shortly.

With regard to the conclusion of Mr. Natsuhara's letter to Donna and me, we will most assuredly attend the next scheduled Restoration Advisory Board's meeting on April 22nd, 2010.

*******

Note: Mr. Berntsen is a former CIA officer, CIA Station Chief of Counterintelligence, and the author of the above-mentioned nonfiction books.

Tomorrow, in sum and substance, we'll take a look at what transpired at one of the Restoration Advisory Board meetings that Donna and I attended.

Stay tuned.

Robert Banfelder:
www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoors Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo
Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater








Bob's nine novels—including two award winners

June 02, 2016

Squeaky Wheel Gets a Few Drops of Oil

by Bob Banfelder

Continuing with yesterday's Nor'east report referencing the pollution of the upper sections of the Peconic River, Donna and I had reached out to former key-CIA field commander operation's officer Gary Berntsen. Gary had served in Afghanistan, hunting down Osama bin Laden—literally. Let's examine one of my articles along with a letter that appeared in Red Room, an online magazine serving a community of writers:

RED TAPE

February 24, 2010

After meeting with Gary Berntsen on Sunday, February 21, 2010, the ex CIA operation's officer is seeking the Suffolk County Congressional seat for District 1 in Riverhead, New York. The following is the letter that Donna and I sent to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus regarding the Navy's procrastination in cleaning up the toxic plume referencing the Peconic River. Gary Berntsen knows Ray Mabus personally and said that he would speak to the secretary on a one-to-one. Let's see where this will lead.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus
1000 Navy Pentagon
Washington, DC 20350-1000

RE: Peconic River Toxic Plume, Riverhead, New York

Dear Secretary Mabus:

As Donna and I live on the Peconic River in Riverhead, NY, we are very concerned about the toxic plume that is threatening the Peconic Estuary. We are aware that there exists a commission composed of Navy personnel and community members that has been established to address this matter. However, the Navy is procrastinating in dealing with the issue; that is, a major clean-up. Meetings, studies, more meetings, and further studies all serve to delay what must be addressed immediately. The Navy has been aware of this debacle for at least the past decade.

The Navy's remedial project manager, Lora Fly, who oversees the so-called federal clean-up, denied the Navy Restoration Advisory Board's temporary measure while the Navy continues to drag its feet. Be reminded that tests of wells in the Calverton/Manorville area conducted by the Navy and the county health department have found high concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) to be as high as 200 (two hundred) times higher than the state's allowable drinking water standards. Additionally, two discharge points of VOCs have been found along the banks of the Peconic River.

As opposed to other counties throughout the country, a disproportionate number of Suffolk County folks have developed cancer. The seepage of aircraft-cleaning chemicals used at the defunct Grumman Aircraft facility [Calverton/Manorville, NY area], is of little doubt a direct cause. The Peconic River Sportsman's Club, located in Manorville has had a well closed because of inordinate levels of contamination. Fishermen at the club are told not to eat the fish that they catch. Advisory board members had requested that the Navy take a temporary measure and install a "pump-and treat-system" in the midst of the extensive toxic plume, which is polluting the Peconic River. The Navy has refused. Be reminded that initially the Navy had stated, unequivocally, that the plume was going to dissipate through "natural attenuation." It has not—nor will this egregious issue disperse until the matter is satisfactorily resolved.

I am a novelist and outdoors writer. My credentials may be viewed at www.robertbanfelder.com. In an effort to make people aware of this serious problem, I have written six blogs thus far on the toxic plume matter; they appear on the Red Room Web site, www.redroom/blog.robert-banfelder. I invite you to read them.

Last Sunday, we attended the campaign kick-off for ‘Gary Berntsen for Congress.' I posed the problem to Gary directly, informing him that nothing is being done (apart from P.R. rhetoric) to correct the matter. We are talking Volatile Organic Compounds now leaching into the Peconic River. Mr. Berntsen said that he knows you personally and would address the issue. Donna and I are hoping that the two of you will make positive headway. Suffolk County residents have a grave situation here on Long Island, and the United States Navy needs to act immediately.

As an aside, we are sure you are well aware that as a CIA key-field commander in Afghanistan, Gary's team was thwarted from delivering Osama bin Laden's head in a box back to the United States because of bureaucratic red tape; namely, CENTCOM, Langley (seventh floor), and Washington, DC. Please do not wrap or bury this Suffolk County debacle in red tape. You are dealing with the health and well-being of its residents.

We would appreciate, after your speaking with Gary, a timely response re this matter.

Respectfully submitted,
Robert Banfelder
Donna Derasmo

********


Now, I'm not at all saying that our letter alone to the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, eventually moved the mighty along a corrective path (albeit at glacial speed at best), but I'm sure it didn't impede matters either. Stay tuned for more of this double-whammy debacle as both ends of the Peconic River, once a treasure to behold, is slowly, toxically, being poisoned.

Also, if you want to learn the wherefores as to Long Island's alarmingly high cancer rate—in terms of air, land, and water pollution—read my award-winning novel titled, The Author. Although labeled as fiction, you'll discover eye-opening truths. Please keep in mind that my award-winning novels are based on realities as I weave fact through fiction. You may find it noteworthy that on May 24th, 2016, President Barack Obama sent me the following letter.



*******


The "...hard work of people like you" and "...your words of support" that President Obama is alluding to in his letter to me references my award-winning novel titled The Author. Donna and I will again be reaching out to Governor Cuomo and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, inviting them to appear on our Cablevision TV show, Special Interests with Bob & Donna.



E-book and paperback editions available on Amazon




On May 31st, 2016, CBS2's reporter Jennifer McLogan interviews Bob Banfelder referencing the clean-up operation of bunker (menhaden) in the Peconic River. Google search Jennifer McLogan CBS News and click on "Long Island Fishermen Trying to Prevent Repeat of Last Year's Massive Fish Die-Off."

I had addressed the fact that the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant is a major culprit in the river's poor water quality. Additionally, we discussed the toxic plume in the upper reaches of the Peconic River (Manorville/Calverton area). Ms. McLogan acknowledged the pollution at both ends of the Peconic River; however, she didn't report it in the video, saying that she was sure that ". . . Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter would be very defensive about those statements." A fine example of subjective reporting.

For next month, we'll take a hard look at how Riverhead Town is addressing the bunker die-off issue in the Peconic River, while at the same time turning a blind eye to the chief contributing nitrogen-causing culprit; that is, the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant.

Stay tuned.

Robert Banfelder

Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Co-host Cablevision TV show, Special Interests with Bob & Donna, every Saturday, 4 p.m., Channel 20 for East End of Long Island viewers.

Bob Banfelder's Nonfiction:

The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water



The North American Small & Big Game Hunting Smart Handbook ~ Bonus Feature: Hunting Africa's & Australia's Most Dangerous Game



Bob Banfelder's Fiction:

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist (nine novels to date). Bob weaves his love of the great outdoors through several of his novels.

Note: All synopses and summaries may be viewed on Bob's Web site http://www.robertbanfelder.com. See link for Synopses: Published Fiction & Nonfiction. A listing of Bob's entire works may be viewed under the Publications link on his Web site.




June 01, 2016

Dealing with Bureaucracies' Continued Delays

by Bob Banfelder

Continuing with last month's May 2nd report, I said that we'd continue with addressing the pollution of the upper reaches of the Peconic River in order to show how the United States Navy was handling the pledged cleanup operation of toxic [Volatile Organic Compounds ~ VOCs] chemicals. You'll recall the continued fight against the United States Navy's initial refusal to clean up the toxic plume it created at the former Northrop Grumman plant dating back to the 1950s. In 2008, the plume was discovered in the upper regions of the Peconic River, having leached into the area's groundwater, polluting 27 wells that provided drinking water. Water samples that were taken were found to be as high as two hundred (200) times New York State's drinking water standards! I had the following article published in Red Room (an online magazine for writers):

UNITED STATES NAVY KEEPS POISONING THE WELL

February 5, 2010

There are so many things wrong within this country, and the United States Navy is responsible for one of them: Big Time Pollution. It is criminal, and the Navy is behaving criminally, for it is procrastinating by dragging its feet for yet another year. We are now headed toward the end of 2010 and probably well into 2011 before the Navy completes and releases a study, euphemistically called a Corrective Measures Study. However, nothing is being corrected. The facts are already in and have been brought to light. The Peconic River is being poisoned by the toxic plume. That is a given. There is no justice in this matter. New York State Senator Schumer's warning to the Navy has not fallen upon deaf ears. His words have descended upon ears that refuse to hear. His words have surely seeped into those demented minds, souls, and bodies that simply will not act. It is an act of arrogance and shows a sheer disregard for both the health and environmental issues concerning the residents of Suffolk County.

Until recently, I was a member of the Peconic River Sportsman's Club, on whose property the toxic plume has been greatly evident. I am in touch with community members who serve on the Navy's Restoration Advisory Board. Most recently, I received a rather brusque e-mail from the secretary of the Peconic River Sportsman's Club. I believe it is the firm position and stance that I take on this weighty issue that prompted the secretary's remarks, for the man told me, "We are not fighting with the Navy but working together to obtain a solution to fix this problem." I responded with an e-mail telling the secretary that he couldn't be more wrong.

You can no longer work with a faction (in this case the United States Navy) that has been stonewalling and sidestepping the issue for at least a decade, no more than you should or would negotiate with terrorists who are trying to undermine this nation. Some analogy, you're thinking. Yes? But think a bit harder: Suffolk County is at serious risk. Period.

Being that the secretary of the Peconic River Sportsman's Club and I are on different pages, I felt it necessary to voluntarily resign from the club (as a member in good standing) rather than prove what I feel would be an embarrassment to the board, as well as the members of this fine organization—given my firm convictions and unshakable position.

There is no cleanup of the former Grumman site on the horizon. The so-called Corrective Measures Study will inevitably take years. Delays are the way in which the United States Navy chooses to continue to deal with this situation. This irresponsible force needs to be taken to task today, not tomorrow.

*******

Returning to the moment and back to the lower reaches of the Peconic River referencing the nitrogen causing affect via the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant, you'll note the growing confluence at our dock, which is in proximity to the treatment facility. Not surprisingly, the treatment plant is still not fully operational. You'll recall that the upgrade was scheduled to be completed by the end of March 2016, then April, and then by the end of May. The project is still unfinished, with a new projection date of sometime in August, according to Tim Gannon of the Riverhead News-Review. Meanwhile, the ineffectual treatment plant is still functioning at only half capacity, continuing to dump far-higher levels of so-called treated sewage than normally permitted by the Department of Environmental Conservation.



Our dock along Riverside Drive in Riverhead: May 3rd, 2016; afternoon air temperature 66º Fahrenheit. The water quality has been a soupy, swirly mass of brownish-greenish effluence for several weeks; i.e., mid-April into the first week of May 2016. Zero-depth clarity.

Above and Below Comparisons




By May 22nd (2 weeks later); afternoon air temperature 63º Fahrenheit. You'll note that the water quality is a pronounced pea-soupy, swirly green mass. Zero-depth clarity.

Not surprisingly, after having documented my case to Governor Cuomo referencing several newspaper articles supporting the fact that the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant had indeed discharged raw sewage into the Peconic River, we have not heard back from the governor or Joseph DiMura, Director of Bureau of Water Compliance for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

For tomorrow, concerning the toxic Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) pollution referencing the upper reaches of the Peconic River, you'll learn why Donna and I reached out to former key-CIA field commander operation's officer Gary Berntsen, who had served in Afghanistan—hunting down Osama bin Laden. Back in 2010, we had attended Gary's campaign kick-off for ‘Gary Berntsen for Congress.'


Robert Banfelder

Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Co-host Cablevision TV show, Special Interests with Bob & Donna, every Saturday, 4 p.m., Channel 20 for East End of Long Island viewers.

Bob Banfelder's Nonfiction:

The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water



The North American Small & Big Game Hunting Smart Handbook ~ Bonus Feature: Hunting Africa's & Australia's Most Dangerous Game



Bob Banfelder's Fiction:

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist (nine novels to date). Bob weaves his love of the great outdoors through several of his novels.

Note: All synopses and summaries may be viewed on Bob's Web site http://www.robertbanfelder.com. See link for Synopses: Published Fiction & Nonfiction. A listing of Bob's entire works may be viewed under the Publications link on his Web site.

May 02, 2016

New York State DEC In Denial ~ Can All These Reporters Be Wrong? I Think Not.

by Bob Banfelder

When you make a serious allegation, you had best be ready to support it. We continue with the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant and its contribution to the continued pollution of the Peconic River. You'll recall that Joseph DiMura, Director of Bureau of Water Compliance for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, stated in his letter to Donna and me that the Riverhead WasteWater Treatment Plant (WWTP) "has never discharged raw sewage into the Peconic River." In response, Donna and I sent a second letter to Governor Cuomo, in which I cite example after example to support the fact that raw sewage was, indeed, dumped into the Peconic River on several occasions. We have not yet heard back from the governor or Mr. DiMura. Below is our letter to the governor:


April 2, 2016

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of the State of New York
NYS Capitol Building
Albany, N.Y. 12224

Dear Governor Cuomo:

First off, I want to thank you and the appropriate member(s) of your administration for directing Donna's and my letter to you regarding the pollution of the Peconic River to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation; namely, Joseph DiMura, Director of Bureau of Water Compliance, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Mr. DiMura's reply letter was in response to our letter to you. Mr. DiMura states unequivocally that the Riverhead Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) has never discharged raw sewage into the Peconic River." This is simply not the case. I'll quote verbatim from the second paragraph of Mr. DiMura's letter so that there will be no confusion:

"Regarding the Riverhead WWTP, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has reviewed the operation of the WWTP and has determined that it has been operating and treating sewage on a continuous basis and has never discharged raw sewage into the Peconic River. [The] DEC is aware of several past exceedances of the effluent limitations specified in the discharge permit for the WWTP."

Mr. DiMura is either mistaken or flat-out prevaricating. Giving the man a bit of wiggle room, perhaps he is equivocating semantically, watering down the notion that untreated sewage is not really raw sewage. I have addressed this issue on our Cablevision Channel 20 TV show, Special Interests with Bob & Donna, airing five consecutive Saturdays at 4 p.m. beginning today, April 2, 2016, reaching viewers residing in Wading River to Orient Point and Eastport to Montauk. Also, I maintain a monthly online report for Nor'east Saltwater (www.noreast.com). In both venues, I quoted sources from our local newspapers who stated unequivocally that "raw sewage" "untreated sewage" had been dumped into the Peconic River.

In one newspaper, The Southampton Press, is an article penned by reporter Shaye Weaver on June 3, 2015. The piece is titled Bunker Die-Off Investigated in Peconic River, Reeves Bay, in Flanders [Bay]. In the article, Ms. Weaver refers to an "incident" in which Southampton Town Trustee, Eric Shultz said that ". . . 2.5 million gallons of raw sewage from Riverhead Town's sewage treatment facility was dumped into the Peconic River last November. The sewage was just a mile and a half away from shellfish growing grounds," Shultz continued. The Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant is in proximity to its neighboring Reeves Bay, connecting Flanders Bay, Great Peconic Bay, Little Peconic Bay, and beyond.

This article is in sharp contrast to Mr. DiMura's comment stating that the Riverhead Wastewater Treatment Plant has "never discharged raw sewage into the Peconic River." Additionally, an article appeared in the RiverheadLocal, written by Katie Blasi on December 15, 2015, headlined Peconic River contaminated in downtown Riverhead by sewage discharge, county officials issue advisory. I'll quote directly from that article.

"In one sample of the river water in downtown Riverhead last week collected by the county, coliform levels were four times the plant's permit discharge limit, Riverhead Sewer District Superintendent Michael Reichel said today." Mr. DiMura, in his letter to us, leaves out the fact that those "exceedances of the effluent limitations" were four times greater than what the DEC permit allows.

Earlier in time (December 6th, 2014), staff writer Tim Gannon for the Riverhead News–Review wrote an article titled Riverhead sewer discharge exceeded fecal limits 3x in November. I'll quote Mr. Gannon.

"Michael Reichel, the town's sewer plant superintendent, confirmed Friday the plant exceeded the amount of fecal coliform bacteria it is permitted to discharge into the Peconic on Nov. 26, as well as two other days in November—on Nov. 5 and Nov. 19."

Given the information I have presented here, I would like you to take these specific issues and statements up with Mr. DiMura. A written response from your office that addresses these concerns and discrepancies as stated by Mr. DiMura would be very much appreciated.

Sincerely,
Robert Banfelder
www.robertbanfelder.com

Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
Co-host Cablevision TV show, Special Interests with Bob & Donna, every Saturday, 4 p.m., Channel 20 for East End Long Island viewers.

Donna Derasmo
*******


Our Cablevision Channel 20 TV show, Special Interests with Bob & Donna, will continue to address the water pollution issues referencing the Peconic River, beginning May 7th at 4 p.m., rerunning each consecutive Saturday in May; i.e., May 7th,14th, 21st, and the 28th. The show reaches viewers residing in Wading River to Orient Point and Eastport to Montauk. If you reside out of area, please ask a friend to tape this show for you.

For my June 1st, blog, I'll swing back in time to the upper regions of the Peconic River to show you how the United States Navy was handling the pledged cleanup operation of toxic [Volatile Organic Compounds ~ VOCs] chemicals.

Stay tuned.

We want to see more of this . . .


4- to 16-inch spring (2016) schoolies caught and released on Bob's go-to Kastmaster tin with epoxied-on eyes.

. . . not this.


Dead herring gull next to decaying fish ~ along the North Shore of the Peconic River, April 2016.

Robert Banfelder

Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Co-host Cablevision TV show, Special Interests with Bob & Donna, every Saturday, 4 p.m., Channel 20 for East End viewers.

Bob Banfelder's Nonfiction:

The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water

The North American Small & Big Game Hunting Smart Handbook ~ Bonus Feature: Hunting Africa's & Australia's Most Dangerous Game

Bob Banfelder's Fiction:

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist (nine novels to date). Bob weaves his love of the great outdoors through several of his novels.

Note: All synopses and summaries may be viewed on Bob's Web site http://www.robertbanfelder.com. See link for Synopses: Published Fiction & Nonfiction. A listing of Bob's entire works may be viewed under the Publications link on his Web site.




May 01, 2016

Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant ~ A Continual Source of Peconic River Pollution

by Bob Banfelder

If you have been following my monthly reports, you know that Donna and I are addressing serious water-quality matters referencing both the upper and lower regions of the Peconic River. The Peconic River is the longest river on Long Island, originating close to Brookhaven National Laboratory, flowing easterly toward several bays: Reeves Bay, Flanders Bay, Great Peconic Bay, Little Peconic Bay, and beyond. Concerning the toxic pollution issue relating to the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant, I'm sure you will recall that Donna and I wrote to and received an immediate response from Governor Cuomo, who stated that he would forward our concerns to the appropriate department. It was a signed personal letter from the governor himself.

Well over a month later, Donna and I received a letter from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Director of Bureau of Water Compliance, Joseph DiMura, P.E. (Professional Engineer). The letter was in response to our letter to Governor Cuomo. Mr. DiMura stated unequivocally that the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant [officially referred to as the WasteWater Treatment Plant (WWTP)] has never discharged raw sewage into the Peconic River. Oh, really? Au contraire. I'll quote Joseph DiMura verbatim so that there will be no confusion:

"Regarding the Riverhead WWTP, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has reviewed the operation of the WWTP and has determined that it has been operating and treating sewage on a continuous basis and has never discharged raw sewage into the Peconic River."

On our Channel 20 Cablevision show for April 2016, Special Interests with Bob and Donna, we cited one of several articles to verify that Mr. DiMura's statement is simply not true. In support of that contention, I offer up facts. Example:

The Southampton Press had an article penned by reporter Shaye Weaver on June 3, 2015. The piece is titled Bunker Die-Off Investigated in Peconic River, Reeves Bay, in Flanders [Bay]. In the article Ms. Weaver refers to an "incident" in which Southampton Town Trustee Eric Shultz said that ". . . 2.5 million gallons of raw sewage from Riverhead Town's sewage treatment facility was dumped into the Peconic River last November. The sewage was just a mile and a half away from shellfish growing grounds," Shultz continued.

The Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant is in proximity to our neighboring bays mentioned in my first paragraph. Mr. DiMura is either mistaken or flat-out prevaricating. Giving the man a bit of wiggle room, perhaps he is equivocating semantically, watering down the notion that untreated sewage is not really raw sewage in his view. On our Cablevision show, I quoted several sources from newspapers who state unequivocally that "raw sewage" "untreated sewage" had been dumped into the Peconic River, period. A second letter to Governor Como documenting these facts, along with several pieces of support, was sent to the governor on April 2nd, 2016. As of April 30th, we have had no response. We'll see what happens before we take further action.

For tomorrow's May 2nd blog, I'll share the April 2, 2016 letter that Donna and I sent to Governor Cuomo in response to Joseph DiMura, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Director of Bureau of Water Compliance, in which Mr. DiMura stated that the Riverhead WasteWater Treatment Plant (WWTP) has never dumped raw sewage into the Peconic. I'll cite example after example to support the fact that raw sewage was, indeed, dumped into the Peconic River on several occasions.

In yet another article dated April 7, 2016, Riverhead News-Review reporter Tim Gannon informs the public that the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant upgrade has once again been delayed.

Stay tuned.

We want to see more of this . . .



8- to 10-inch—all-the-action you want—early spring 2016 schoolies (Good Friday), caught and released on the Peconic River . . . prior to a small herring-family fish die-off.

. . . not this:


By the fifth week of spring, we note a small die-off of decaying fish along our shoreline of the Peconic River: one or two decomposing fish spaced approximately every thirty or so yards.

Robert Banfelder

Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Co-host Cablevision TV show, Special Interests with Bob & Donna, every Saturday, 4 p.m., Channel 20 for East End viewers.

Bob Banfelder's Nonfiction Handbooks:

The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water

The North American Small & Big Game Hunting Smart Handbook ~ Bonus Feature: Hunting Africa's & Australia's Most Dangerous Game


Bob Banfelder's Fiction

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist (nine novels to date). Bob weaves his love of the great outdoors through several of his novels.

Note: All synopses and summaries may be viewed on Bob's Web site http://www.robertbanfelder.com. See link for Synopses: Published Fiction & Nonfiction. A listing of Bob's entire works may be viewed under the Publications link on Bob's Web site.






April 02, 2016

The U.S Navy's Stalling, Studying, Waiting Game

by Bob Banfelder

In my April 1st report titled Arrogance at Its Highest Level, we saw that the United States Navy, addressing the toxic plume polluting the Peconic River, did an about-face—verbally. The Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, made promises to undertake a cleanup of the plume. However, action speaks louder than words. Let's take a look at my article covering these events. No one said that it was going to be easy.

JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED: REMEDY VS. NAVY'S RHETORIC

November 14, 2009

As a leopard does not change its spots, the United States Navy, true to form, is not veering from its original position. Its position is one steeped in a stew of procrastination. In my blog for Red Room (an online community for writers) dated August 17, 2009, I had said where I believed this matter was headed. I was not wrong. Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, had pledged to do whatever it takes to clean up the toxic plume in the Peconic River. Yet, at a November 5th meeting between community members on the Navy's Restoration Advisory Board and the Navy's remedial cleanup project team, procrastination, at the Navy's behest, continued. Advisory board members had requested that the Navy install a "pump-and-treat system" in the midst of the extensive toxic plume, which is polluting the Peconic River. However, the Navy's remedial project manager, Lora Fly, who oversees the so-called federal cleanup, denied the Board's temporary measure as the Navy continues to drag its feet. Be reminded that tests of wells in the area conducted by the Navy and the county health department have found concentrations of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) two hundred (200) times the state's allowable drinking water standards.

One member of the Restoration Advisory Board, Bob Conklin, a retired biology teacher, had said: "We've been concerned for years about what's going into the Peconic River. We're not seeing anything concrete and positive toward mitigating the situation. I can't see how putting in one well is going to hurt or cost you a lot of money. We're not asking for a major cleanup [at this point]. Just show something positive . . . instead of talking about it. You get tired of this after a while."

In sum and substance, Lora Fly responded with: "We have to look at what technology is out there and what is the best way to handle this. Until we have a full understanding of what's out there, we can't just go ahead and throw in a treatment system."

Conklin bristled at Lora Fly's dilatory comments. He countered by succinctly concluding: "This could take years and years, and then more years." And Bob Conklin is oh, so correct. The Navy's continued procrastination is altogether evident as it has been well-aware of the situation for at least a decade.

Reporting on the health department's latest findings, geologist Andrew Rapiejko stated: "We've identified, in this sampling round, two distinct discharge points . . . . it is getting into the river. It is [the plume] discharging."

The Navy is criminally responsible for the toxic pollution flowing from the former Grumman property in Calverton, New York, into the Peconic River. The Navy persists in giving us rhetoric instead of remedies. As a leopard does not change its spots, the United States Navy is not even bothering to camouflage theirs. I would have to say that the folks here in the Riverhead area of Long Island are in a proverbial stew of procrastination.
…….

For next month, I'll continue covering the fecal coliform pollution issue at the other end of the Peconic River; that is, the focus on the dumping of raw sewage into the Peconic River at the north foot of the 105 Bridge in Riverhead. We'll examine the prevarication and semantics offered up by the Department of Environmental Conservation, (DEC). Too, I'll continue with my ongoing chronicle concerning the toxic pollution of the upper reaches of the Peconic River as well as the United State Navy's rhetoric and procrastination concerning clean-up of the toxic plume that resulted in exceeding New York State's allowable drinking water standards by as high as two hundred (200) times. Yes, you read that number correctly earlier. Any wonder as to why the cancer rate is abnormally high in both Nassau and Suffolk counties? Quoted below is the initial text referencing the state's Water Quality Standards and Classifications:

"Water Quality Standards are the basis for programs to protect the state waters. Standards set forth the maximum allowable levels of chemical pollutants and are used as the regulatory targets for permitting, compliance, enforcement, and monitoring and assessing the quality of the state's waters. Waters are classified for their best uses (fishing, source of drinking water, etc.) and standards (and guidance values) are set to protect those uses."

I'm sure we all want to see more of this …


Bob with a 14-pound bluefish taken on his hand-tied mantis shrimp fly


Our Cablevision Channel 20 TV show, Special Interests with Bob & Donna, will address the water pollution issues of the Peconic River beginning today, April 2nd at 4 p.m., rerunning each consecutive Saturday in April. The show reaches viewers residing in Wading River to Orient Point and Eastport to Montauk. If you reside out of area, please ask a friend to tape this show for you.
Stay tuned.

Robert Banfelder

Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Co-host Cablevision TV show, Special Interests with Bob & Donna, every Saturday, 4 p.m., Channel 20 for East End viewers.

Nonfiction:
The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water

The North American Small & Big Game Hunting Smart Handbook ~ Bonus Feature: Hunting Africa's & Australia's Most Dangerous Game

Fiction:
Award-Winning Crime Thriller Novelist (nine novels to date)

Note: All synopses and summaries may be viewed on my Web site http://www.robertbanfelder.com. See link for Synopses: Published Fiction & Nonfiction. A listing of my entire works may be viewed under the Publications link on my Web site.








April 01, 2016

Arrogance at its Highest Level

by Bob Banfelder

Referencing my March 2nd, 2016 blog for Nor'east Saltwater, titled Fighting Back & Winning, I said that I would take you back in time to August 17th, 2009 in continuing the fight against the United States Navy's refusal to clean up the toxic plume it created at the former Northrop Grumman plant back in the 1950s. In 2008, the plume was discovered in the upper regions of the Peconic River, having leached into the area's groundwater, polluting 27 wells that provided drinking water. Water samples were taken and found to be as high as two hundred (200) times New York State's drinking water standards! Here it is, folks. Please read, realize, and remember that we as a people can initiate change if we voice our concerns sensibly, loudly, clearly, and persistently.

THE UNITED STATES NAVY DOES A 180—VERBALLY

August 17, 2009

You'll recall in my last blog [Red Room's online community of writers] that Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Assistant Navy Secretary for Installations and Environment B.J. Penn had taken a firm position as conveyed through Navy spokeswoman Lieutenant j.g. Steghrr in declaring that the "Calverton site [the former Northrop Grumman plant] does not present a health or safety risk." The secretary of the Navy has now done a 180, promising to do whatever it takes to rectify the matter.

Senator Schumer said he recently received a pledge from the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus: "The federal government will do all it can to protect those who live and work in Calverton, as well as wildlife in the area, from the pollution," as was quoted in the Riverhead News~Review. But talk is cheap. Let's listen to the language of another Navy spokesperson, Jim Brantley, who now says that the Navy is intent on returning the land around the Calverton plant, as much as possible, to the way it was in the 1950s. "As long as it takes," Mr. Bradley pledged. Yet the Navy has been monitoring the plume since the 1990s, maintaining that the toxic compounds have been dissipating naturally as they flow away from the Grumman property via a process called natural attenuation. The fluid body has been running its course for better than half a century! In less than a week, I've learned that the plume, which was recently reported to be at least a quarter of a mile wide, is now known to extend better than a third of a mile. Additionally, the volatile substances run half a mile south of the plant and have found their way into the banks of the Peconic River. I'm not optimistic concerning the outcome. I see procrastination in the picture. I hear rhetoric. Allow me to illustrate by positing deferred measures that are sure to follow:

The Navy's remedial project manager, Lora Fly, who oversees the federal cleanup efforts at the Calverton site, said that the Navy's goal with regard to the contaminated (toxic) groundwater "is to reach levels that are in the [state] regulations. The overall goal is to do that," she continued. "But just like anything else, you're going to have to do it in stages. I'm not saying by tomorrow we're going to have that done, but that's the overall goal, and we will be working toward that goal."

"Small technical meetings," will follow in the fall, it is reported. That is five weeks away. Why not earlier? When in the fall will these meetings commence (in the middle of the season or at its end)? Of course, meetings will be followed by a Corrective Measures Study—or studies, which will "evaluate the feasibility and potential benefits of various remedial alternatives for the plume," writes an Albany-based Departmental of Environmental Conservation engineer geologist.

And so it shall continue (meetings and studies, compromises and concessions), ad infinitum, is my pessimistic outlook. I truly hope I'm wrong, but I rarely am mistaken, for I've been dealing with federal, state, and local governments for more years than the Navy has been polluting the Peconic River. Action speaks louder than words.
…….


Our Cablevision Channel 20 TV show, Special Interests with Bob & Donna, will address the water pollution issues of the Peconic River beginning this Saturday, April 2nd at 4 p.m., rerunning each consecutive Saturday in April. The show reaches viewers residing in Wading River to Orient Point and Eastport to Montauk. If you reside out of area, please ask a friend to tape this show for you.

In short order, I'll be returning my focus back to the other end of the Peconic River, where raw sewage from the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant, having operated at half capacity, has been dumped into the Peconic River, right beneath the 105 bridge in Riverhead, just 1.5 miles away from our shellfish grounds. Whether we are anglers, boaters, baymen—or anyone connected with on-the- water activities—we, especially, must voice our concerns. Landlubbers, too, must realize that Long Island residents reside atop a water table, a reservoir of aquifers that provides our drinking water. Landfills must be monitored for toxic waste that has the potential to leach into those waters; that is, the Upper Glacial Aquifer, the Lloyd Aquifer, and the Magothy Aquifer.

Donna and I want to see more of this …


First mate Dan with Donna's 16-pound striped bass caught aboard Brooklyn Girl Fishing Charter, out of Orient Point. Let's help support our Long Island captains.

. . . not a succession of fish kills along with a mass of diamondback terrapin turtles that have succumbed to having digested toxic shellfish in the fragile Peconic estuary, comprising both the north and south forks of Long Island, a treasure that is slowly being compromised.

Stay tuned.

Robert Banfelder

Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Co-host Cablevision TV show, Special Interests with Bob & Donna, every Saturday, 4 p.m., Channel 20 for East End viewers.

Nonfiction:
The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water

The North American Small & Big Game Hunting Smart Handbook ~ Bonus Feature: Hunting Africa's & Australia's Most Dangerous Game


Fiction:
Award-Winning Crime Thriller Novelist (nine novels to date)

Note: All synopses and summaries may be viewed on my Web site http://www.robertbanfelder.com. See link for Synopses: Published Fiction & Nonfiction.
An entire list of my works may be viewed under the Publications link on my Web site.




March 02, 2016

Fighting Back & Winning

by Bob Banfelder

On February 4th, 2016, I had sent copies of my Nor'east Saltwater blogs titled Really? (January 4th, 2016) and Playing the Trump Card (February 1st, 2016), respectively, off to the powers that be. Donna's and my letter is for your perusal. It's how we (meaning all of us working together) get things done. If you were to take the time to write to these people, too, voicing your concerns referencing the pollution of our waterways, it would have a powerful follow-up impact.

After reading this letter, you can see how I had begun to address the Navy's initial stand on refusing to address the poisoning of our precious resource, the Peconic River and its outlying bays: Flanders Bay, Reeves Bay, Great Peconic Bay, Little Peconic Bay, and beyond. United we stand, folks.

February 4, 2016

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer
NYS Senator Kenneth P. LaValle
Congressman Lee Zeldin
Assemblyman Anthony H. Palumbo

Dear Sir/Madam:

Enclosed are two articles titled Really? and Playing the Trump Card that I wrote for Nor'east Saltwater (www.noreast.com) regarding pollution of the Peconic River by the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant (of late) as well as the United States Navy's initial defiance and ongoing, long-term Calverton/Manorville toxic plume progress.

Donna and I ask that you read the two articles and address what can be done about these issues because the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the Long Island Regional Planning Council are not approaching these matters pragmatically. These two organizations, through their Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan, are setting their sights solely on residential septic systems and cesspools, purposely ignoring the detrimental roles that the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant and the United States Navy have contributed to polluting both ends of the Peconic River, respectively, and its surrounding bays.

At a February 2, 2016 public meeting in Riverhead, Jim Tierney (DEC Deputy Commissioner for Water Resources) stated that he did not want folks to address any contaminant subject matter other than the nitrogen issue as it pertains to septic systems and cesspools during the Q and A portion of the agenda. That would conveniently shift the onus away from the actual culprits; that is, the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant and the United States Navy.

The following is specifically directed to Congressman Lee Zeldin and Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo because of suitable proximity for discussion: Donna and I host a Cablevision TV Public Access show titled Special Interests with Bob Banfelder & Donna Derasmo, which broadcasts throughout the East End of Long Island. Donna and I, along with our director and host of Cablevision's Off The Cuff, Enzo Magnozzi, would like to come into your office any time after mid-March and tape a half hour show regarding these issues. Our contact information is listed above.

We look forward to all of your specific responses in writing on the actions your office is taking to remedy this debacle.

Sincerely,
Robert Banfelder
www.robertbanfelder.com

Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Outdoor Writers Association of America

Donna Derasmo

.......


As of this writing, we have received a letter from Governor Cuomo, who will forward our concerns to the appropriate department. We'll see.
.......


My earlier writing for an online literary blog referencing the United States Navy's defiance in addressing the toxic plume matter moves from July 31, 2009 to August 12, 2009.

THE NAVY'S NONCOM-POOPS

August 12, 2009

No sooner than I had reported on the United State Navy's firm stance of insisting that the toxic chemicals (Volatile Organic Compounds—VOCs) found polluting the Peconic River will simply go away through "natural attenuation," a Navy spokeswoman, Lieutenant j.g. Laura Steghrr, has most recently reinforced that position by stating, "The Calverton site does not present a health or safety risk." The lieutenant j.g. goes on to say: "Current sampling shows the concentration of volatile organic compounds detected in the Peconic River is lower than appreciable values and ecological values. Additionally," she continues, "concentration levels in groundwater have remained steady or decreased over time . . . ."

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Assistant Navy Secretary for Installations & Environment BJ Penn, and Navy spokeswoman Lieutenant j.g. Stegherr have apparently lost sight of the fact that the toxic chemicals found in the Peconic River are already as high as two hundred (200) times the state's drinking water standards; the toxic plume is more than a quarter of a mile wide. Reaffirming those facts, (former) N.Y. Congressman Tim Bishop has fired back with a response: "I take exception with any notion that the plume ‘does not present a health or safety risk.' The reason that my colleagues and I have called for an advanced remediation plan is precisely because that the full extent of the risk is currently unknown." I believe that the congressman fell just short of insisting that the Navy and its commissioned nincompoops sign up for remedial arithmetic and be decommissioned to the status of noncom-poops.

Once again, fodder for my novels, folks. The truth can, indeed, be stranger than fiction.
.......

A reminder that the above was written for a prestigious online literary site.

On February 25th, 2016, the Riverhead News-Review quoted Governor Andrew Cuomo as announcing ". . . a $6 million plan to study Long Island's water quality problems. Let's find out what's going on," he added.

As I've been continuously reporting, many of us know—especially those of us who live in and fish the North Fork area—exactly what is 'going on' and who is to blame.


In years prior to the fish-kill: Graham Freeman caught this beauty of a weakfish during his visit from Royal Tunbridge Wells, England. We want to see more of this . . .


. . . and this. Donna with a nice striper.



We don't want to see more of this.


My upcoming April 1st 2016 blog will take us back in time to August 17th, 2009, titled, THE UNITED STATES NAVY DOES A 180—VERBALLY.

Stay tuned.


Robert Banfelder

Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Nonfiction:
The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water

The North American Small & Big Game Hunting Smart Handbook ~ Bonus Feature: Hunting Africa's & Australia's Most Dangerous Game


Fiction:
Award-Winning Crime Thriller Novelist (nine novels to date)

Note: All synopses and summaries may be viewed on my Web site http://www.robertbanfelder.com. See link for Synopses: Published Fiction & Nonfiction.
Also, all of my works, including articles, may be viewed under the Publications link on my Web site.





March 01, 2016

Poisoning the Well

by Bob Banfelder

Addressing my blogs titled Really? (January 4th) and Playing the Trump Card (February 1st), we shared twenty-eight back and forth written comments. The majority were from total strangers; very refreshing. That did not count the phone ringing off the hook from friends, acquaintances, and other concerned parties. Water pollution affects us all whether it is the Peconic River and its connecting bays on the East End of Long Island or Flint, Michigan. You'll see in what direction as well as the weight your comments carried in my next blog. But for the moment, I'll continue with where I left off last month.
We move forward with the Peconic River pollution issue from April 1, 2009 to July 31, 2009, staying with local politics. If you've missed a beat along the way, please refer back to my January/February blogs as cited above.

THE UNITED STATES NAVY'S POISONING OF THE PECONIC RIVER

July 31, 2009

A lot has happened since my April 1, 2009 report concerning what started as the United States Navy's four-decade-old initial state of—perhaps—naiveté, but which has (as of this date) culminated to the point of sheer arrogance and gross negligence on behalf of this force. Be reminded that the United States Navy is under the authority of the Department of Defense. Hence, we are dealing with a faction of the federal government. The federal government is not going to yield to either a state's or a local government's demands, not even when United States New York Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, along with Congressman Tim Bishop first "demanded" that the United States Navy stop insisting, as it has done for more than a decade as the plume spread, that the toxic chemicals found in the Peconic River are simply going to go away. The United States Navy has taken a firm stand that the contamination (it loves the use of euphemisms) will eventually dissipate, via "natural attenuation" it emphatically stated.

When will these volatile organic compounds, VOCs, derived from solvents that were used to clean airplane parts at the now defunct Grumman naval weapons plant in Calverton, and that have already leached into the groundwater, trifle away? When hell freezes over? Perhaps during the next ice age as the Navy has moved at glacial speed in order to address the matter seriously. The United States Navy insists on more testing in lieu of an immediate cleanup. How inane is that in light of the fact that the toxic chemicals found are already as high as two hundred (200) times the state's drinking water standards? How irresponsible is the United States Navy? Allow me to answer that last question succinctly. It is criminally irresponsible.

According to recent tests conducted by Suffolk County health department, the toxic plume is heretofore, conservatively, a quarter of a mile wide and 115 feet deep, and that is only because it is as deep as workers can dig. A geologist for the health department, Andrew Rapiejko, said, "Typically, you would like to see the end of the plume; you drill until you get a couple of wells that are clean, and that's when you know you've found the end. We haven't done that yet." All of the wells tested, fifty-two (52) of them, all contained volatile organic compounds.

Want to know where I find fodder for my novels? Look no further than the facts surrounding a story as such. In this way, you can educate your readers as well as entertain. In my novels titled The Teacher and The Author, both of them award-winners for 2006 and 2007 respectively—receiving "Best Suspense Thrillers" recognition—I traverse such territories. The cancer rate for Suffolk County, Long Island, New York, is certainly alarming. On a more personal note, I have locked horns with the United States Navy for over forty years, begging a thorough investigation to correct an egregious wrong, later, demanding such—all to no avail. Let us applaud the three lawmakers cited above and wish them success in toppling a criminal force. I use the term judiciously. One day soon, when I'm on our talk show, I'll elaborate fully, differentiating between factual accounts and fictional prose. Hopefully, official naval heads will roll while their bodies reel.
……



Tom Gahan with a nice catch of all-you-want snappers and cocktail-size bluefish in the Peconics before the fishing did a 180 during the last two years.


Tom Gahan caught this nice 29 inch bluefish on a MadBite ½ ounce Curved Spoon modified with paste-on eyes. This was the norm prior to the last two years. We want to see more of this . . .


. . . not this.


In short order, we'll move onto THE UNITED STATES NAVY DOES A 180—VERBALLY. But for the moment, let's home in on the Riverhead News-Review February 11, 2016 headline titled Fish kills ‘could continue to be the norm' ~ Study by state DEC eyes last year's enormous Peconic River die-off. The article is by Chris Lisinski, Staff Writer. Do you see in what direction this is going and why we have to nip this in the bud, folks?

Robert Banfelder

Outdoor Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network

Nonfiction:
The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water

The North American Small & Big Game Hunting Smart Handbook ~ Bonus Feature: Hunting Africa's & Australia's Most Dangerous Game


Fiction:
Award-Winning Crime Thriller Novelist (nine novels to date)

Note: All synopses and summaries may be viewed on my Web site http://www.robertbanfelder.com. See link for Synopses: Published Fiction & Nonfiction.
Also, all of my works, including articles, may be viewed under the Publications link on my Web site.





February 02, 2016

Separating Fact From Fiction

by Bob Banfelder

Oh, so many of you folks have asked for elaboration concerning the facts as they pertain to the contamination of the Peconic River and its bays. In sum and substance you had asked: "Tell me more about those articles you wrote, Bob." "How do you fight bureaucracy?" "My family and I camp, picnic, swim, and fish at Indian Island Park in Riverhead. I want to hear more about this pollution matter." "Your blog is very upsetting to me because I clam in the Peconics."

Also, a few folks wisely stated: "Although the blog isn't specifically about fishing, it is, because if we don't have clean rivers and bays then we won't have any fish or shellfish to enjoy anymore."


Bunker die-offs are occurring more frequently in the Peconics. This die-off reached all the way out east to Mattituck on both shores. Said Christopher Gobbler, a professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, "I've seen small kills around here but I've never seen anything like this." We also saw a terrapin turtle die-off this past year.


Enzo Magnozzi and Bob with a couple of nice weakfish. We would all like to see more of this—not like the top picture of the die-off.

And so you shall hear more about this debacle.

I'll begin at the beginning. As many of you know, I am a mystery/thriller novelist as well as an outdoors writer. Referencing my fiction, I weave topical facts throughout my works. Eight of my nine novels are of a rather dark nature; they portray serial killers. Two of those novels are award-winners, one of which is titled The Author. I got the idea for the story surrounding facts that you are now somewhat familiar with—the Peconic River plume. Here is how the story came about in a piece that I wrote for a prestigious literary site. What you will read here concerning the Peconic River is sheer fact, not fiction.

A Toxic Plume and A Serial Killer Thriller

April 1, 2009

Back in 1991, Donna and I were very fortunate to find a slice of heaven. We purchased a home situated on the Peconic River in Riverhead, Long Island. A recent article titled Toxic Plume Threatens Peconic River, published in our local newspaper, The News~Review, caught my eye. Donna and I fish the Peconic River and the bays beyond, so this story certainly grabbed my attention. It is quite evident that the defunct Grumman airfield in Calverton, where aircraft for the United States Navy were built, commencing in April of 1954, has significantly contributed to polluting the upper reaches of the Peconic River. The culprits were chemicals used to clean those airplanes. I've been addressing this matter for years. Senator Charles Schumer has called for the Navy to commence a clean-up operation of the site to prevent further damage to the waterways.

Referencing serial killers, I research and delve into the slick, sick mind of the serial murderer. In order to build verisimilitude into my works, I attend trials; for example, the Robert Shulman serial killer proceedings. I have lectured at Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center on Ward's Island, New York, regarding that trial. I had made it my business to interview heads of law enforcement such as Detective Lieutenant John Gierasch, head of Suffolk County Homicide (now retired). Too, I sought out many peripheral players. You may be asking yourself, "But what does a toxic plume have to do with serial killers?" My thriller titled The Author explores an apparent psychopath who is ostensibly obsessed with the pollution of our environment and brutally murders the loved ones of those he deems guilty, while those actually responsible live to suffer interminably. Initially, the police believe they have an eco-terrorist on their hands, but authorities, along with my protagonist, Justin Barnes—a covert operative for Suffolk County homicide—soon discover that they are dealing with a prolific serial killer.

The Peconic River has been in the news many times concerning heavy metals that are harbored in its depths. That is what motivated me to write The Author. I write to entertain, but I also write to educate the reader.

Suffolk County, Long Island is a magnet for cancer. That is a fact. I delve into the issue with devastating documentation. Too many lives succumb to this dreaded disease, which was my impetus for writing The Author. The United States Navy, in its naiveté and neglect, deserves, to a large degree, blatant blame and the shame in polluting the upper reaches of the Peconic River. This is but a facet of cause and effect.
…….
What will follow is a piece titled
The United States Navy's Poisoning of the Peconic River
Fact, not fiction. Stay tuned.



Robert Banfelder
http://www.robertbanfelder.com
Long
Island Outdoor Communicators Network
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Outdoor Writers Association of America
Nonfiction:
Fishing Handbook
Hunting Handbook (available mid February 2016)
Fiction:
Award-Winning Mystery/Thriller Writer (nine novels to date)

February 01, 2016

Playing the Trump Card

by Bob Banfelder

Comments received from readers referencing my January 4th report for Nor'east Saltwater, titled Really? really got me to thinking broadly outside the box. Some folks were totally nonplussed to learn that not only does the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant pollute the Peconic River by dumping raw sewage into her, but that the United States Navy had released toxic Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) two hundred (200) times New York State's allowable drinking water standard. The plume was discovered in 2009. These decades-old heavy metals, dating back to 1954, created a toxic plume in the Peconic River, polluting area ground water wells in and around Calverton/Manorville. The matter was further compounded by the fact that the United States Navy initially refused to do anything about it until push came to shove. Many of us fought indefatigably. Only then did the Navy reluctantly act. I had written ten articles covering this issue for Red Room, a prestigious online literary site. Corrective measures were finally taken, but to date (seven years later) it is still not a fait accompli. Area residents have been handed a double whammy, a two-fold punch hitting virtually each end of the Peconic River. While several concerned folks responded by writing comments on Nor'east Saltwater referencing last month's report, a good-many friends and acquaintances commented via telephone. Issues like these only get resolved when people unite and take action.

In handling such serious matters, some people start the ball rolling by contacting their elected state senators, representatives, and/or local legislators. It's often a long and grueling process before anything—if at all—ever gets done. Trust me. I've battled bureaucracies and have the scars to prove it. Other folks may wait until the penultimate hour and address the matter indirectly by casting their vote at the ballot box, hoping that their do-nothing politician(s) will be voted out of office, praying that their candidate of choice will bring about positive change. This brings me to the next point—voting in general. By way of confession, I'm about to go out on a limb here, but I feel that I must.
Going Back In Time

I have never voted in a presidential or mayoral election [the latter when having lived in New York City]. As a matter of fact, I had never voted locally until most recently (2015). The latter was my vote cast for a Republican challenger to the office of Riverhead Town Supervisor; the councilwoman lost to the incumbent. But she did the right thing by fighting for the right reasons on other important issues for her constituents. Therefore, she had Donna's and my vote.

Referencing my reluctance to vote in a presidential or mayoral election is based on my experiences in having worked on the 1964 Barry Goldwater for president/1965 William F. Buckley, Jr. for mayor (N.Y.) campaigns. Yes, I realize that I'm dating myself. My reasons for not voting were simple. Although both gentlemen were good men and told it like it was, neither stood any chance of winning. As a matter of fact, on the light side, when Bill Buckley was asked what he would do if he was elected mayor, he quipped, "I'd demand a recount." Both men were buried in a landslide victory by their opponents. I, admittedly, was a resigned defeatist. As I continued working in the political arena, it left a veritable bad taste in my mouth. Hence, I avoided voting altogether. I became indifferent.

As to how this brief confession pertains to the pollution of our precious Peconic River relates to its effluence and carries with it a different kind of contamination. That is, defeatism. Many of us have become indifferent on many important issues. Consequently, we allow for the disgraceful and dangerous inaction on the part of our federal, state, and local governments to continue on a perilous course. We allow for the press to suppress important information. For example, you do not bury an important story in the back pages of a newspaper. You do not follow with a brief follow-up piece still obscured within its pages, saying that everything is or will be okay when it is not. The Peconic River and its neighboring bays are treasures that have been and are continually being abused. ‘Keep these matters as quiet as you can until we have things worked out and under control,' is the way this political machinery operates. Only when our voices become loud enough, only when our collective voices are heard as one, will positive action be initiated and jump-start the jarring, rusty bureaucratic gears that impede and gum up the works.

Moving Forward

Allow me a moment of presumptuousness to tell you how to begin to fix anything from a dying river to a failing country, for it will take bold and broad strokes to correct the egregious wrongs that have been done to our nation and its resources. It starts with a single vote. I will for the very first time vote in a presidential election for a man who will initiate great changes sorely needed in this country of ours. I do not know Donald Trump as I knew Barry Goldwater and Bill Buckley. But I believe The Donald can get the nomination, and I believe he can be elected president of the United States. Over the course of years, I've learned to work from the top down; that is, I deal with the head and not the feet.

I truly believe that Trump will not be beholding to anyone, while other candidates, as a matter of course, must. It's the way our system works. I wish for clean waters. Donna and I wish to eat the fish and shellfish that we harvest for our table without fear of contamination.


Bob and Donna with a nice harvest of clams taken from the Peconic Bay


My fishing and clamming buddy, Paul Gianelli, hiding behind his beautiful 22-inch weakfish

While winter, for most of us, is on hold till spring arrives, I ask that you reflect on these issues. I'll conclude by saying that liberal thinking [not necessarily liberals] has put us in harm's way—referencing our airways, byways, and waterways. It's time for positive change. We the people must dramatically change current policy in order for our society to regain its strength as a polluted river must undergo positive change in order for it to return to its former sustaining self.

Important Meeting Notice

Donna and I will be attending the Long Island Nitrogen Action Plan Public Meeting at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, February 2nd at Suffolk County Community College, Culinary Arts Center, 20 East Main Street, Riverhead. This meeting is being hosted by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the Long Island Regional Planning Council.


Robert Banfelder
http://www.robertbanfelder.com
Long
Island Outdoor Communicators Network
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Outdoor Writers Association of America
Nonfiction:
Fishing Handbook
Hunting Handbook (available mid February 2016)
Fiction:
Award-Winning Mystery/Thriller Writer (nine novels to date)


January 04, 2016

Really?

by Bob Banfelder

No sooner than I finished up a six-piece installment for Nor'east Saltwater, reporting on fishing-beach access via Suffolk County's Green Key Card program—ending with Indian Island County Park on the Peconic River—I learn that the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant is dumping raw sewage into the Peconic River. What should have been front page news in our local newspaper, the Riverhead News–Review (December 17, 2015), was a brief article buried on page 26, mentioning that the Suffolk County Department of Health Services said that residents should stay out of the Peconic River. Really? That's a rhetorical question. Water samples taken from the Peconic River showed excessive levels of coliform bacteria. That translates to intestinal human feces, folks!

Donna and I, along with area residents, are very upset in the fact that the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant, in conjunction with the powers that be, allows for raw sewage four times the amount permitted by DEC permit into the Peconic River. At the expense of sounding rather presumptuous, there is a reason why two of my award-winning novels (nine novels in all) have been well-received. One titled The Author, deals with the pollution of our environment and is based totally on facts, explaining the extremely high cancer rates in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. I weave fact through fiction.

This past 2015 season, our outlying area bays (Reeves Bay, Flanders Bay, Great Peconic Bay, Little Peconic Bay—through which treated waste water flows from the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant) experienced both a serious fish die-off as well as the discovery of many dead terrapin turtles. The turtles are suspected to have died after eating toxic mollusks in those bay areas. Suspected. Really? The Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant has been getting away with dumping untreated sewage water into the Peconic River for many years.


Dead Bunker from Riverhead Town to those Outlying Bays

That covers one end of the Peconic River. Let's take a look near the other end. Let's travel back west, back in time as well to the Calverton/Manorville areas of Long Island, right along the Peconic River. A toxic plume was discovered in March of 2009 at the U.S. Navy Grumman location in Manorville. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs ~ highly toxic chemicals) were found to exceed 200 times the state's drinking water standards. No, this number (200) is not a misprint. We see a most serious pollution matter having reared its ugly head. Donna and I will be discussing this past plume issue as well as the current Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant fiasco in detail on our Cablevision show (going into its fifth year) titled, Special Interests with Bob & Donna.

By the time the show airs, it will be old news and most likely forgotten. As a matter of fact, the following week, buried on page 14 in the Riverhead News–Review (December 24, 2015), referencing the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant, was a brief piece titled Peconic River water comes back clean. Really? Backing up to the toxic plume debacle of 2009, which the United States Navy's spokespeople initially assured the public was going to go away via "natural attenuation" before caving and installing an Operating Pump-and-Treat System, is still not there yet. According to officials, let's look at the time element involved. I'll quote from a Riverhead News-Review piece dated April 17, 2014:

Staff writer Tim Gannon reported that according to officials, "The pump-and-treat system now operating at the southern end of EPCAL [Enterprise Park at Calverton] is removing 99 percent of the contaminants in the water being treated, good for 19 pounds of dangerous chemicals so far. Installed October 2013, the $4.6 million system that is remediating a plume headed toward the Peconic River will be in operation for at least another two to four years — assuming all goes as planned."

Really?

That would take us, on the outside, "assuming all goes as planned," to October 2017.

On the other end, referencing the Riverhead Sewage Treatment Plant, the antiquated system, receiving upgrades, is still operating at half efficiency because one of its two vats [tanks] are inoperative. This was reported to be remedied by January of this year.

Really?

As serious fishing folks concerned about our environment, we have a responsibility and the ability to address these matters. Stay tuned.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
http://www.robertbanfelder.com


January 03, 2016

A Mid-Range Quality Spinning Combo

by Bob Banfelder

Penn CLA Clash 5000 Spinning Reel ~ Penn Carnage II Rod ~ SpiderWire's Stealth Blue Camo-Braid Line



As I stated in my December 1, 2015 Nor'east Saltwater report, I'd be covering the elements of the above titled piece. What better way to bring in the start of 2016 with a review of a complete and perfectly balanced medium- to medium-heavy action spinning outfit? As a reminder, I spent virtually the entire 2015 season with this combo in hand: reel, rod, and line. Let's examine the award-winning Penn CLA Clash 5000 spinning reel along with its integrally matched Penn Carnage II rod, followed up with a spool of SpiderWire's Stealth Blue Camo-Braid line. Why? Answer: It is a solid package that delivers quality performance while fitting within the framework of most folks' price range. Whether you are new to the game and simply want an all-around high-caliber combo, maybe looking for a serious backup outfit, or merely wanting to add to your mid-range arsenal—this triad (reel, rod, and braided line) covers all bases while offering great value.

At the 2015 International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) event, held annually, the Penn Clash CLA 5000 spinning reel won the "Best of Show" award. Referencing new gear technology is the reel's machined aluminum main drive gear and brass pinion. Also featured in Penn's Clash CLA 5000 are 8 high-grade oversized sealed stainless steel ball bearings plus 1 instant anti-reverse bearing, designed to protect and perform smoothly in a harsh, unforgiving marine environment. Too, the reel bears a heavy-duty aluminum bail wire, which Donna noted immediately as she opened the box before I did. These are but a few of the virtues that underscore this quality spinning reel.

New for 2016 is Penn's Carnage II series of spinning rods. My 7-foot wand matches the Clash 5000 reel perfectly. The rod is built from state-of-the-art SLS3 components comprised of layers of graphite and glass. Not to get too technical, SLS3 construction is spiral wrapped carbon fibers running along longitudinal fiberglass and carbon, creating both an inner and outer spiral wrap. This process translates into a very strong, lightweight, thin diameter blank.

Top-of-the-line Fuji K guides with Alconite inserts (a breakthrough ceramic blend) are "made for braid." I dedicate this rod and reel to combing the beach or fishing from a boat with braided line. More on braided line in a moment.

A super lightweight but durable EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) foam foregrip and butt section are covered with a non-slip textured rubber top coat, right on down to an aluminum gimbal and butt cap. You'll note that the rod's foregrip is fashioned with sculpted grooves for your fingers, making for comfortable casting and especially when fighting large fish. The rod's reel seat is a machined aluminum Pacific Bay model.



The Carnage II 7-foot spinning rod is designed to handle 30–65 pound test braided line. However, for a perfectly balanced setup with the Penn Clash CLA 5000, 300 yards of 30-pound test SpiderWire's Stealth Blue Camo-Braid line fills the reel's spool capacity precisely. According to Penn's line specifications, 30-pound test braided line offers twice the strength and a third more yardage than monofilament line. Keep in mind that there is no industry standard for braid versus monofilament. PowerPro rates their .011-inch diameter 30-pound braided line the equivalent of 8-pound test monofilament. Don't make yourself crazy with the math. Simply realize that given a specific diameter, braided line is considerably stronger than monofilament. Thirty-pound test braided line is generally plenty for our inshore waters, and so is a spool capacity of 300 yards. Braided line is sensitivity personified. Let's see what SpiderWire Stealth Blue Camo-Braid is all about.

For either saltwater or freshwater species, SpiderWire Stealth Blue Camo-Braid is a winner. Introduced at the 2015 ICAST show, it was made crystal clear that SpiderWire Stealth Blue Camo-Braid presents no problem blending within ultra-clear waters and surrounding vegetation. A varying blue/white/black color pattern not only breaks up the profile of the line but of a straight line that cuts across the water column. Blues are the colors that are least seen deep in the water column. Fish are not color-blind as some folks believe. Therefore, Blue Camo-Braid was developed. SpiderWire is not new; SpiderWire Stealth Blue Camo-Braid is, indeed, brand-new. Consequently, the jury is still out. It will be interesting to see what truly develops. SpiderWire braided line is made from Dyneema, the world's strongest fiber that stands up to abrasion.

This mid-range spinning combo is an absolute winner. As many of you know, from October through December of 2015, I plied and reported on the six beach-access areas via Suffolk County's Department of Parks, Recreation & Conservation Green Key Card program. I'll be covering other areas in the near future with this consummate combo in hand. In the meantime, have a happy and healthy New Year. Too, here's wishing our friend, fishing fool fanatic, Tom Gahan, a speedy recovery and that he will soon be walking the beaches with Donna and me.


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com



December 02, 2015

Indian Island County Park

by Bob Banfelder

This is the final report in a six-series installment referencing Suffolk County beach access areas. Indian Island County Park in Riverhead offers RV trailer and tent campsite accommodations, picnic tables, grills, playground, and good fishing. Among angling opportunities, set your sights high for striped bass chasing anything from peanut-size (baby) bunker to nineteen-inch adult-sized prey. Stripers love bunker (aka menhaden). During the height of the season, it is not uncommon to take 40-plus inch linesiders by live-lining bunker, tossing tins, poppers, or any number of lures. Big blues in the 12- to 17-pound category may also be found in the mix. Fluke, although mostly shorts, are caught periodically. Of late, nice weakfish ranging from 3 to 5 pounds for the past three years have invaded these waters. So, too, have blowfish made a nice comeback. Porgies have always been around the area; however, jumbo-sized scup have also been a tasty treat for the past few years.


Bob trying for striped bass or bluefish off the beach at Indian Island on an unusually warm autumn day. The beach overlooks Flanders Bay.


Donna walked down the west end of the beach to fish the marsh area.

Indian Island County Park is a 275-acre gem located at the estuarine mouth of the Peconic River. From the campground, you can carry in your own kayak or canoe and travel these waters westerly, upriver, or easterly to the bays. Directly across from the park to the south is Reeves Bay. Heading a short paddle east will put you into Flanders Bay. Continuing east will take you into Great Peconic Bay. These three bays, including the Peconic River, depending on the time of year, hold the aforementioned species. As Donna and I live on and have fished the Peconic River for over a quarter of a century, we know the area quite well. Admittedly, most of our fishing is done from a powerboat, canoe, or kayak rather than from the shoreline. However, for Indian Island County Park, a small craft such as a kayak or canoe is the perfect vessel for the Peconic River and especially Reeves Bay and Flanders Bay. I should mention that canoe, kayak, and paddleboard rentals are available at Treasure Cove Marina, located next to the Hyatt Place Hotel, 469 East Main Street, 727-8386 and the Peconic Paddler, 89 Peconic Avenue, 727-9895.

It is, of course, not unusual to find folks engaged in other activities aside from—strictly speaking—fishing the park's beach. You'll perhaps see a person employing a seine (net) in order to catch baitfish for a later hour's angling outing, an individual combing the sand for treasure with a metal detector, or a family walking out to the sandbar at low tide, digging up clams.


At low tide, the east end of Indian Island beach reveals a sandbar; a favorite fishing spot.

However, it's not every day you spot a man picking, prodding, and probing the shoreline with a stick, searching tirelessly before carefully selecting several empty conch shells! Donna and I met up with Sean who collects them for his jewelry-making hobby. Sean uses the inner part of the shell to make necklaces—chipping, cutting, sanding, and polishing. Sean says it's a long and painstaking process, but he enjoys it and wishes that he had more time to devote to his hobby. Yes, there is almost always something new to explore and learn while traveling our local Suffolk County beach access parks as covered in this six-series installment: Cupsogue Beach County Park, Shinnecock East County Park, Meschutt Beach County Park, Montauk County Park, Cedar Point County Park, and Indian Island County Park.


Sean displays one of the conch shells he collected for his jewelry-making hobby.


Sean uses a handcrafted walking stick while wading and searching for conch shells.

Within the beach area, you will see a park bench lovingly dedicated to Caroljane Munzel. Caroljane was an avid walker and was often seen strolling the area's Sound and bay beaches. She especially enjoyed walking Indian Island Park and taking in its natural, peaceful environment.


Park bench dedicated to Caroljane Munzel.
Rod & reel setups: Donna wielded a Shimano spinning reel on an Ugly Stik with a Shimano Waxwing lure. For the entire season, I carried and will soon review a Penn Clash Model 5000 reel on a Penn Carnage II rod, spooled with Stealth Blue Camo-Braid SpiderWire.


I hope that you have enjoyed reading the six Suffolk County beach-access areas that I covered. Get out there and explore these waters while the weather is still cooperating. Before long, we all will be armchair anglers via books, magazines, and videos—unless, of course, you're off to warmer climes.

Directions:

Take the Long Island Expressway (495) east to Exit 73 (last exit). Continue straight to County Road 105 then make a right. Go approximately a quarter of a mile and exit at the County park entrance. You will see the office parking area to the right. During the in-season, you will need to register prior to driving into the park proper. Maps are available to lead you to the closest parking area for access to the beach.



Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com




December 01, 2015

Cedar Point County Park

by Bob Banfelder

Suffolk County's Cedar Point County Park in East Hampton offers camping, boating (boat rentals), picnicking, hiking (with splendid nature trails), hunting (in season) and fishing. Striped bass, bluefish, and weakfish are predominantly the name of the game from the shoreline. Six hundred-plus acres comprise the park with a view of Gardiners Bay. An eight-minute drive from the parking area along a sandy beach trail is permitted with a Suffolk County Park recreational vehicle beach permit. Four-wheel and all-wheel-drive vehicles enable you to reach the park's historic decommissioned lighthouse, originally built in 1839. Now owned by the government of Suffolk County, the lighthouse is presently undergoing renovation. As Cedar Point County Park does allow hunting, access to the beach is limited Wednesday through Sunday until noontime during hunting season. As you drive or walk out to the lighthouse, you will note several duck blinds along the way.




Bob wetting a line while working his way toward the lighthouse at Cedar Point Park.

Enlightening Info:

Lighthouses have fascinated me for as long as I can remember. When Donna and I moved from Queens to Long Island in 1991, I read up and truly appreciated what historical and traditional roles lighthouses played in the area of commerce. The Cedar Island Lighthouse had been a beacon for mariners entering Sag Harbor since 1839, when Sag Harbor was . . . "home port to 29 whaling ships and 20 ships used for fishing and transportation." The original lighthouse was replaced in 1868. Sag Harbor had become one of the most important ports on the East Coast of the United States. Whaling ships and other vessels depended upon the lighthouse when sailing from Sag Harbor to all areas of the world and back again.

The Cedar Island Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1934, having passed through private hands and, as mentioned initially, is now part of Suffolk County's Cedar Point Park since the late 1960s. The hurricane of 1938 created a sandbar connecting Cedar Island to the mainland of East Hampton, which is now known as Cedar Point.


The strip of land connecting to the lighthouse, where you will notice duck blinds along the way during hunting season.


End of strip leading to Cedar Island Lighthouse.


Inside the park, signs lead to various fishing, boating, hiking, and camping areas.

There is a method to my madness for pointing rod and reel at the above County sign. If you have been following my Suffolk County Parks beach-access blogs through these five reports thus far (the sixth and final shortly on the horizon), you may have noticed that I have been toting (and now touting) Penn's new Clash 5000 Model spinning reel paired with a Penn Carnage II 7-foot spinning rod. The reel is spooled with 300 yards of Stealth Blue Camo-Braid SpiderWire. Having spent the entire season fishing with this outfit, working shorelines, jetties, inlets, and bays, the combination is a winner—holding up to a harsh marine environment. I used this setup primarily for casting 1 ½- to 3-ounce lures. Incidentally, yet importantly, the Penn Clash 5000 Model spinning reel won Best Saltwater Reel at the 2015 ICAST (International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades) show. This all-around tool-combo belongs in your arsenal of fine weaponry. I will be talking extensively about this rod/reel/line setup in the near future.

Over the course of time, the Cedar Island Lighthouse's granite facade has been severely weathered. Additionally, vandalism has taken its toll on the structure. In1974 a fire gutted the interior of the lighthouse. Hence, the building was closed as it is currently. As time dragged on, the Long Island Chapter of the United States Lighthouse Society raised funds to restore the Cedar Island Oil House, the small structure next to the lighthouse where oil to light the original beacon was stored. After almost fifteen years, Suffolk County Parks has given the Society the go-ahead to restore and "Relight the Lighthouse."

Directions to Cedar Point County Park:

Traveling east on Sunrise Highway (Route 27), take Montauk Highway east. Turn left onto Stephen Hands Path in East Hampton. Continue straight to Old Northwest Road. Turn left at Alewive Brook Road. Take the first right into the park.




Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com




November 09, 2015

Montauk County Park

by Bob Banfelder

Suffolk County's Montauk County Park in Montauk offers outer beach access and camping (with permit), canoeing, kayaking as well as both freshwater and saltwater fishing, especially for serious surfcasters who fish from rock retaining walls at the base of a cliff in front of the oldest lighthouse in New York State. The one-hundred-foot tower has been part of the seascape for the past 220 years.

Tom O'Keefe was about to try his luck surf fishing as Donna and I arrived. In truth, it has been a strange season out east in that baitfish have been abundant. Menhaden are everywhere—peanuts to thirteen-inch adults. Birds, too, are prolific, hovering above the gulls and gannets. So where are the bass? Back west, but of course. Elias Vaisberg, a fellow Team Eposeidon angler, is killing them from his kayak back in Jamaica Bay, Queens. Out east we're hearing the same story from many surfcasters. "Birds, bait, but no bass except for a short every now and then." Boaters, of course, are faring a bit better, but not knocking them dead for this time of year. Yeah, I know: "That's why they call it fishing." The all-around outdoorsmen are singing virtually the same song: "Can't wait till deer hunting season opens." Tom was to call us if he caught anything worth mentioning. No call. I'm hoping that by the time you read this that the surf fishing has turned around for the better.


Tom O'Keefe setting out for some surf fishing

In-season activities abound at Montauk County Park. They include outer beach camping (with permit), picnicking, canoeing, hiking trails, bridal paths, seasonal hunting, freshwater fishing at Big Reed Pond—located in the northwestern corner of Theodore Roosevelt County Park (New York State fishing license required) — and the list goes on. As Theodore Roosevelt County Park is part and parcel to Montauk County Park, your Green Key card will give you access to the pond. Freshwater fanatics will delight in fishing the 45-acre pond for largemouth bass, bluegill, pumpkinseed, and white perch.


In addition to your Green Key card, an outer beach camping permit for Suffolk County residents is $75 annually plus $12 per night. For nonresidents, the fee runs $200 plus $20 per night. Only self-contained 4-wheel drive campers are allowed. A self-contained vehicle for outer beach access is defined as a unit that contains a built-in flushable toilet with a built-in holding tank for a minimum five-gallon black water capacity; a built-in sink with a minimum five gallon potable (fresh water) tank; and a minimum five-gallon gray water holding tank. A maximum of seven consecutive day stays is permitted. No tenting is allowed. For further information, go online at www.suffolkcountyny.gov.


Entrance to the RV parking area

Directions to Montauk County Park:

Take Sunrise Highway (Route 27) to Montauk Highway east to East Lake Drive on the left. Access to the outer beach is at the end of East Lake Drive. For Green Key card holders, there is a parking area just past East Lake Marina on the right. Additionally, there is a parking lot at the end of East Lake Drive; however, you must have an East Hampton Resident parking permit to park there. Not to worry. It is only a 0.2 mile walk from the ‘Green Key' area parking lot to the end of the second lot for a more direct, unencumbered approach as beach access from the first (legal) parking area was awash from heavy rains. It was doable but downright vexatious. From this second lot, you can easily walk down to the jetty as pictured below.


Tom O'Keefe on the jetty at the end of East Lake Drive


The Dock Bar & Grill




While in Montauk (humorously dubbed as a "Quaint little drinking village with a fishing problem"), a visit to The Dock Bar & Grill at Montauk Harbor is a must. It's Montauk's local haunt. In his early years, George Watson, the owner, was a professional boxer and certainly has a sense of humor as you will note by various quips that are sign-posted both inside and outside the establishment. Donna always wonders why I take so long in the men's room—returning to the table with a big smile. "Take a peek," I tease. On a more serious note, ask George for a look at the book referencing his boxing career; informative and quite interesting.



Donna and I recently stepped in for a light lunch. I ordered a bowl of the Montauk Clam Chowder $7; Donna ordered a cup $6. We shared orders of Baked Clams and Clams Casino; $9 each. A glass of draft Budweiser is $2.50; pint $4. We've been there many times, so trust me when I tell you that the fare is fine—actually, fantastic.

Directions to The Dock Bar & Grill:

Take Sunrise Highway (Route 27) East to Montauk. Continue through the town village, heading east to the Montauk Lighthouse. Take a left onto West Lake Drive. Turn right at the Montauk Harbor intersections, which is at Flamingo Road and West Lake Drive. Make the last right just before the main entrance to Gosman's Dock.


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com


November 08, 2015

Meschutt Beach County Park & the Shinnecock Canal

by Bob Banfelder

Suffolk County's Meschutt Beach County Park in Hampton Bays offers swimming, picnicking, snorkeling, windsurfing, and sailing. During the off-season (post Labor Day), saltwater fishing is permitted. Along its 1,000-foot stretch of very rocky shoreline on Great Peconic Bay, just east of the Shinnecock Canal, good striped bass and blue fishing can be had. If the bite is off, beautiful sunsets will serve as the area's redeeming quality to close out the day. Ostensibly, this seven-acre tract is somewhat limited when compared to other Suffolk County Parks with beach access, yet this seemingly confined shoreline is certainly doable. And things get better, for beyond the County Park's boundary to the east, one may continue walking and fishing the shoreline until reaching a distant inlet in Southampton, near the Lobster Inn Grill. That's certainly a good stretch; about a mile of beautiful beachfront to keep you busy for a spell. Additionally, there is a far shorter distance for anglers to explore just to the west of Meschutt Beach County Park, as you will soon note.


Meschutt Beach County Park shoreline, walking toward Shinnecock Canal jetty

First off, Donna and I drove to the easterly end of the parking lot, placed our Green Key card atop the dashboard then worked the beach, fronting the bay in both directions. First, easterly for approximately 350 yards, turning around and heading west toward the Shinnecock jetty, which is 642 yards from where we parked. There is your approximate 1,000 foot of rocky shoreline along the county park's Great Peconic Bay. I mark these distances with a range finder no differently than I would if I were on a boat charting a course with navigational aids. As a matter of fact, my Bushnell Legend 1200 range finder, purchased primarily for bow and gun hunting, is a great tool for marking distances and combing our beaches. Are we not hunting for fish on foot in lieu of boat?


Fishing the Shinnecock Canal jetty

From the Beach Hut Restaurant, just to the west of where we parked, I recorded precisely how many yards away I spotted tailing bunker activity. Although we had no luck after throwing out Shimano Waxwing lures, I inadvertently snagged a 16-inch bunker and decided to set up live-lining the menhaden while Donna persistently stayed, played, and plied the waters with her shallow subsurface Waxwing. I silently prayed for a keeper bass. As the tailing action continued for a good fifteen minutes, I told God that I'd even settle for a nice big blue. Oh, well. No takers to report. I released the bunker, which appeared to be no worse for wear, and switched to a silver Kastmaster with eyes that I epoxy to the silvery tin. It is usually my go-to lure; one in which I have a lot of confidence.


Donna tries her luck using a Shimano Waxwing lure at the canal's barrier wall

From the Beach Hut Restaurant, it was a leisurely walk, casting and retrieving and making our way toward the jetty. In the past, Donna and I have taken a few weakfish right along the barrier wall paralleling the Shinnecock Canal. A good many anglers fish the wall and the jetty and forego that stretch of beach along Great Peconic Bay for one of two reasons: 1) it is not open to the public for fishing during the regular season; 2) anglers generally forget that it is, indeed, open to the public after Labor Day. It's a 10-minute streeeetch to the end of the long jetty. Be careful as those boulders can get slippery wet.

Directions to Two of the County Park's Parking Areas:


Meschutt Beach and the Shinnecock Canal


Meschutt Beach ~ Take Montauk Highway east, crossing over the Shinnecock Canal. Make a left onto North Road. Go straight then turn right onto Old North Highway. Take the first left onto Canal Road.

Shinnecock Canal ~ Driving from Meshcutt Beach, it is 0.2 miles from the far end of the parking lot to the second lot at the Shinnecock Canal. Head down Canal Road and make a right onto Old North Highway. The lot is located just before the left turn onto North Road. As the sign below indicates, the lot is part and parcel to the Suffolk County Parklands, so, yes, you may park there. Again, leave your Green Key card in plain view atop the dash.



A Nearby Treat Awaits You
The Canal Café

As the Beach Hut eatery is closed after Labor Day, discover a small but fabulous nearby waterfront café that will positively delight you. It is open until Christmas then reopens in early March. It is truly a find; a gem of special note. Donna and I were looking for a light lunch. I could not believe my appetizer portion: thirteen steamed littleneck clams (actually, many were of topneck size; better yet) steeped in a savory saffron, wine, clam broth — loaded with leeks, tomatoes, and chorizo (sausage), served with delicious crusty hot bread to sop up that flavorful liquid; $16 — a meal in itself. Two beers [designated driver sitting across from me] along with that hearty appetizer, and I was replete. Donna thoroughly enjoyed her generous portion of Prince Edward Island mussels steamed with white wine, garlic, and butter — also with delightful crusty hot bread. That was our light lunch. We couldn't even handle dinner at home that evening. Donna and I can't wait to return to try their entrées. So be warned. Come to Canal Café with a serious appetite. Additionally, there is seasonal outdoor dining. And please say hello to our amiable and most affable server, Tatiana, as well as the café's most attentive staff. Open from noon till 9 pm; closed on Tuesdays.

Directions to the Canal Café:

The Canal Café at 44 Newtown Road is 1.2 miles from Meschutt Beach. Make a right onto Montauk Highway, heading west to Newtown Road. The Café is located within the Hampton Watercraft Marina. Don't stop or you may wind up buying a boat. Proceed through their parking lot, making a sharp right into the café's own parking area.


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com


October 15, 2015

Fishing Shinnecock East County Park

by Bob Banfelder

On October 1st, I covered Cupsogue Beach County Park on Dune Road in Westhampton Beach. Several phone calls and e-mail replies from friends and acquaintances prompted me to continue writing about the six other Suffolk County Park beach access areas for those who purchase a Suffolk County Green Key card. Refer back to my October1st blog concerning general information referencing a Green Key card for residents, nonresidents, seniors, et cetera. For specific seasonal information regarding each of the seven Suffolk County beaches, it is best to call the park ahead of time. Shinnecock East County Park's phone number is (631) 852-8899. To get to the park, go east on Montauk Highway to Halsey Neck Lane. Make a right and continue to Dune Road. Make a right turn onto Dune Road and head west to the park entrance.

Donna and I have learned that regulations vary from county park to county park. A set of regulations at one park does not necessarily apply to another. For example, at Shinnecock East County Park, you are required to leave your Green Key card on the dashboard. However, at Cupsogue Beach County Park, it is not required. Also, rules and hours may change according to the season, so be sure to not only call but to carefully read posted signs on arrival as they apply to the activity you are considering. You'll note the ATTENTION sign below as instructions not only pertain to displaying your Green Key card but information referencing hours and night fishing (by permit) as well. Googling respective beach information is not always accurate, so be sure to check out those regulation signs upon entering the park, especially if the entrance booths are unmanned.



Flanking the eastern border of the Shinnecock Inlet where it meets the Atlantic Ocean, this rugged, undeveloped barrier beach park includes both ocean and bay beach recreation areas. Shinnecock East County Park in Southampton offers good fishing. One hundred campsites along the outer beach are available to those with self-contained campers and a valid Outer Beach Recreational Vehicle Permit; those vehicles must park on the beach. No tent camping is permitted. A small parking lot is available for Green Key card holders who do not have an Outer Beach Recreational Vehicle Permit. The walk from the parking lot to a midway point along the jetty is approximately 360 yards. This is where you'll find anglers lined all along those boulders, especially when the bite is on. Bait, spin, and fly fishermen abound. Bluefish, black fish, black sea bass, and stripers are the main attractions. "Ah, but you ‘should've been here yesterday' for the bonito and albies!" were the sincere sentiments sounded by angler after angler we spoke to whose only catch of the day was limited to skates and sea robins.







Navigating those boulders that form ocean jetties can be treacherous when wet. For warmer weather, a pair of cleated sandals as shown provides safety and comfort



For those colder months ahead, either boots offering interchangeable sole technology or overshoes with threaded or push-through carbide spikes (cleats) is a good choice. Whatever style you select, stay with a winner whose name has stood the test of time for fifty years: Korkers. As I already have pairs of general footwear for virtually all seasons and reasons, but not those jetties, a pair of cleated overshoes was a good choice for keeping me safe on those slippery, mossy surfaces. Referencing this arena, one has to decide among three Korkers' models; namely, CastTrax ($100), RockTrax ($70), or RockTrax Plus ($80). The main differences concern the threaded versus push-through carbide spikes; also, the number of spikes per pair. The RockTrax overshoe model has threaded spikes whereas the other two models have the push-through spikes. That is why you are paying more for the CastTrax model. However, the CastTrax model only has 18 spikes per sole, whereby the RockTrax Plus model has 26 spikes per sole. The lower price RockTrax model has14 spikes per sole, but it comes with 12 additional spikes and receptacles for you to customize the overshoe. Therefore, I elected to go with the RockTrax $70 model (which is on order) for its customization feature. To my way of thinking, fifty-two carbide spikes per pair translate to better traction on those slippery boulders. Yes, I'd be sacrificing threaded spikes in lieu of the push-through type, but the RockTrax model, unlike the RockTrax Plus model, allows for customizing the toes, heels, and balls of the soles.

All three models come with easy/off release buckles and strap system, extra strap, and spare spikes. The overshoes are constructed of rubber soles and wall surrounding the toe, heel, and sides for a secure fit. Check out Korkers online at www.korkers.com. Depending on the season, determine what type of footwear is best for you, sandal or overshoe, then get out there for some rock-solid fishing.



Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com

October 01, 2015

Fishing Cupsogue Beach County Park

by Bob Banfelder

At the extreme west end of Dune Road in Suffolk County, Long Island is Cupsogue Beach County Park in the town of Westhampton. In a morning's jaunt, the beach offers the best of three worlds for anglers: ocean, inlet, and bay fishing. It is also a perfect area for RV trailer campers, scuba divers, and surfers. With rod and reel in hand, Donna and I were ready for a long walk, about to learn the lay of the land. We first stopped and chatted with a woman and her son referencing the fishing scene as well as inquiring about RV trailer camper information. Trailer campers, like the one shown below, are allowed to stay for a seven day period; reservations are to be made well in advance. But for a morning of fishing, taking in ocean, inlet, and bay, Cupsogue Beach County Park is most enjoyable. From the parking lot, it is a forty minute westerly walk to the ocean jetty, which one can see in the distance on a clear day.



Along the way, we spoke with an angler who had inadvertently caught and released a sea gull that hit one of his lengthy plugs in the surf.



Near the jetty, we chatted with another man who said he had a nice bass on the other day but lost it. A fair size sea robin was but his only catch of the morning. The fish was quickly released and it was back to the business of bass for the fellow. The tidal action was especially powerful that morning, and you'll note the size of the sinker. It did not hold bottom but traversed the sea floor at breakneck speed. With the far lighter spinning outfits that Donna and I carried, it would first be a walk to the jetty then around Moriches Inlet to the calmer waters of Moriches Bay, just to the north.



Continuing along the ocean side, we reached the ocean jetty and waved to a young lady who had passed us earlier on a steady run from the parking lot, out along the boulders, then up the 38-foot privately maintained jetty marker. No, I did not ask her to keep an open eye for birds or baitfish. After Super Storm Sandy (October 22–31, 2012), half of that triangular sign you see just to the left of her was missing. Mariners are advised to obtain local knowledge before navigating this waterway due to frequent shoaling issues. As a matter of fact, from the RV trailer park camper area, a sandy roadway just to the right, running between the ocean side and the Moriches Bay side, is still closed to vehicles at a distant point because of Super Storm Sandy.



A resident three-year Suffolk County Department of Parks, Recreation & Conservation Green Key Card costs $11. Additionally, seniors (60 years and older) pay $8 on weekends, free on weekdays. Under 60 years of age, residents pay $24 for three years. Non-residents pay $40 for one year. Be advised that on weekends the beach is extremely crowded during summer months. The park opens at 8:30 a.m. Get there early or you may not be able to get in at all, for there have been days that the parking lot was filled by 11:30 a.m.

There are many Suffolk County Parks that your Green Key covers; however, I'll list seven of those with beach access.

South Shore ~ East to West:

Montauk County Park, Montauk; Cedar Point County Park, East Hampton ; Shinnecock East County Park, Southampton; Cupsogue Beach County Park, Westhampton; Meschutt Beach County Park, Hampton Bays; Smith Point County Park, Shirley.

North Shore:

Indian Island County Park, Riverhead.

Donna and I continued around the inlet, heading east and back toward the parking lot while fishing Moriches Bay. With our lighter spinning outfits, we covered the water column, casting tins, shallow-water divers, and poppers. I did see a small fluke along a rocky shoreline, but that was it. As anglers have more excuses than a pregnant nun, we blamed a late start and heavy boat traffic for getting skunked. More importantly, we had a great time and learned a good deal about the area. So get out there and try one our area beaches, especially now that the weather is turning cooler.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com






September 20, 2015

Lethal Versions of the Celebrated Muddler Minnow Part IV of IV

by Bob Banfelder

Fine-Tuning Your Muddler Minnow

Obviously, a heavily dressed Muddler Minnow fly will prove more buoyant in the water column. Keep in mind that a Muddler Minnow is a streamer fly. Therefore, you want it swimming somewhere below the surface. I control depth, somewhat, by the shape of its head. A cone-shaped head will allow it to sink a bit then bob back up as you strip in line. A big rounded head will keep closer to the surface. In any event, you want the fly to push water so as to invite a strike. To reiterate, this is a proven deadly streamer fly. Rather than have one or two in your fly box, I'd suggest tying several in different sizes for different applications such as still waters, slow-moving water, or fast currents. Once you gain confidence in tying this fly, you will only be limited by your imagination in creating your own variation(s).

Fooling Fish in Sweet Water & the Suds

Here is a short list of freshwater fish that Donna and I have fooled with my raccoon overwing variation of the Muddler Minnow: trout (brook, rainbow, and brown), bluegills, crappie (both black and white), pumpkinseed, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, rock bass, pickerel, and pike. I vary stripping speeds and pausing times, for nothing is written in stone. When one technique does not work, try another.

In the saltwater column, I have caught any number of fish that swim in our local Long Island waters—mainly bluefish, striped bass, weakfish, and even fluke. I tie a larger variation of the classic Muddler Minnow, attributing its success to a bushier raccoon underwing. Again, a Mylar tinsel rib is optional. In lieu of Mylar tinsel ribbing material, I use several wraps of .035 lead wire solely to help weigh down the fly in the saltwater column. Simply tie and secure one end of a short length of wire directly in front of the raccoon underwing (see Part III step-3 recipe). Wrap the thread back to its forward position. Wrap the wire forward to meet the end of the thread and secure with a few half hitches. Cut the wire with a pair of wire snips (not your good scissors) and secure. Continue with step-4 in Part III. I generally use a long shank 3/0 or 4/0 O'Shaughnessy style stainless steel saltwater Mustad hook. A package of 25 3/0's will run approximately $10.


Saltwater Version of Muddler Minnow on 4/0 Hook

Raccoon Tails & Pelts

Buying traditionally tied quality Muddler Minnow flies from reputable companies can easily cost several dollars each because those flies are more involved to tie. Give yourself the added edge and tie my Muddler Minnow variation by using raccoon tail hair in lieu of squirrel hair for the underwing. This added step is the magic in the water column; ostensibly innocuous yet a powerful attractor. Tie a variety of sizes and save considerably. An assortment of effective freshwater and saltwater flies is not only tied with hair from raccoon tails but with furry zonker strips from their pelts. Quality raccoon tails run $3.50 on average. Raccoon zonker strips run about $7.00 for a narrow 14-inch length. Caliber raccoon pelts range between $16 and $20 dollars. You might find it interesting as to how I obtained my supply of raccoon material:

Donna and I had some pesky raccoons bordering our property, several actually residing under the back deck, creating nightly havoc ranging from ravaging vegetable and flower gardens to somehow getting into supposedly critter-proof cans of garbage. Those pesky critters became the bane of our existence. We went from pest control by employing a Have-a-Heart trap to the more serious pursuit of vermin elimination.

Out-of-the-box accuracy with a quality pellet air rifle was the ticket. Namely, a German made RWS Diana 34 T06 .22 caliber precision Classic. It was a wise choice. With open sights, shooting RWS Superpoint Extra Field-Line lead projectiles, I sent three 14.5 grain pointed pellets through virtually the same hole on paper at 35 yards! Although my group was as tight as a swollen tick, I needed to drop down and over to the right several inches in order to put lead through the very center of the black bull's-eye. Two fingertip adjustments of the elevation knob put the next shot parallel to the edge of the black center. A fingertip adjustment of the windage knob moved me into the black, but not its very center. A second adjustment put me dead center into the bull's-eye. Happy–happy. Now, was I lucky, or could I widen the same hole with two more pellets as I had done initially? I did. As a matter of fact, at first appearance, it seemed as though only two pellets found their mark. However, on careful examination, I could see that all three pellet holes embraced one another. Hence, those pesky creatures would not and did not suffer, for they were humanely dispatched.

This


R & R: Rifle & Raccoon Result

Plus This


Muddler Minnow on Sage #8 Weight Fly Rod & Pflueger Trion Reel

Equals Fish Like This


30-inch Striper


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com

September 15, 2015

Lethal Versions of the Celebrated Muddler Minnow Part III of IV

by Bob Banfelder

At this juncture, you should be ready to proceed with tying the celebrated muddler minnow. If you missed Part I and II, go back to my blog posts published on August 1st and August 15th, 2015. Let's continue. For those new to pinch wrapping, flaring, and spinning deer hair, we'll simply employ a larger long shank 3/0 saltwater hook.

Procedure for Tying the Muddler Minnow:

1. Wax a one-foot length of thread from the spool of Danville's 4-strand rayon in order to keep the strands from separating. If you had selected either the 4-strand or Danville's 210 Denier Flat-Waxed Nylon thread (another fine choice), let's begin. Starting fractionally forward of the middle of the hook shank, wrap the thread rearward to the bend of the hook then half hitch.

2. From the narrower sides of a pair of matched turkey quill feathers, cut approximately two ¼-inch wide by 1¼-inch long segments to form the Muddler Minnow's tail; dull sides facing each other (i.e., shiny sides facing outward), pointed ends aligned and facing downward. Tie in atop the bend of hook and half hitch to lock the tail in place.

Note: It is important that you do not wrap beyond this point, which I'll explain momentarily.

3. From the tail of the raccoon, cut a small bunch of both the light and dark hairs. Atop the hook shank, place and tie in this section in front of your last wrap (fine tips extended halfway toward the tail, butt ends facing forward) to form an underwing. Do not allow the clump to roll to one side or the other. The pinch-wrap will prevent this. Traditionally, squirrel hair is used. However, in lieu of squirrel, the blondish/blackish color mix of raccoon hair blends rather nicely. This underwing will aid in supporting and giving a nice profile to the topwings explained in the next step.



4. From the pair of turkey quill feathers, cut one segment from each wider side, making them slightly wider than the strips you made for the tail, approximately 3/8-inch. Place the two segments together, dull sides facing each other (i.e., shiny sides facing outward), pointed ends aligned and facing downward to form a pair of perfectly matched wings. Employing the pinch-wrap, tie in along both sides of the hook shank, right alongside the raccoon hair underwing. Half hitch to secure.



5. Atop the bare hook shank, cut a clump of deer hair approximately the diameter of a pencil; remove the underhairs with your thumb and forefinger. Employing the pinch-wrap, tie in the stack. The length of the bunch will depend on the size of the fly. You want the fine tips reaching at least the halfway point of the Muddler's wings. Atop the middle of the stack, loosely make one wrap and gently pull downward. You will see the deer hair begin to flare. Working the thread through the flared hair, make a second loop and, once again, pull down gently but with a bit more torque. The hair should flare even further. With a third loop around the flared hair, pull downward with a bit more torque while you slowly and carefully loosen your pinch-wrap. The deer hair should begin to spin easily around the hook shank. It is why I had you initially wind your thread just forward of the middle of the hook shank and not behind the eye of the hook. Otherwise, you would not have had the room for continued stacking. It is a common, cumbersome mistake many flytiers make when flaring and spinning deer hair. Push the section of clear flexible tubing over the eye of the hook and rearward in order to tightly pack the deer hair. Half hitch (over and off the end of the tubing) several times to secure the fibers. The tubing serves as a terrific tool.



6. Continuing stacking, wrapping, torquing, flaring, and spinning clumps of deer hair in the same fashion until you reach a point 1/8-inch behind the eye of the hook. Three or four clumps of deer hair should do nicely. Remove the tubing. Wrap the thread to the eye of the hook and tie off with a series of half hitches—either by hand or the whip finish tool.



6a.) You may leave this Muddler Minnow fly as is, or you may shape its head to your liking.



7. A pinpoint of Wet ‘n' Wild Crystalic Nail Color upon the thread directly behind the eye of the hook (top and bottom) gives a nice iridescent, buggy appearance.

Curved scissors and a double edge razor blade bent into the shape of a U, or broken in half lengthwise, make great grooming tools for forming round, conical, or bullet-shaped collars and heads. Whether you tie this Muddler Minnow streamer fly for fresh water on a –3 ex long shank number 6 hook, or a long shank 3/0 saltwater hook, you have a deadly imitation. Tie them as small as you can manage for sweet water, and as large as you dare for the suds. The important thing is that you fill your fly box so as to "match the hatch."



In my final Part IV piece, I'll discuss Fine Tuning your Muddler Minnow ~ Fooling Fish in Sweet Water & the Suds ~ Raccoon Tails & Pelts. So please stay tuned.


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com


August 15, 2015

Lethal Versions of the Celebrated Muddler Minnow Part II of IV

by Bob Banfelder

At this juncture, you should have on hand all of your materials and tools that we covered in Part I, published on August 1, 2015 of Nor'east Saltwater. Let's continue.

Threads


I think of thread as more of a tool than a material. It is your key to success for flaring and spinning deer hair around the shank of the hook. For both freshwater and saltwater applications, I recommend those new to flaring and spinning deer hair to start with a 10-yard spool of Danville's 4 strand rayon thread. I use all four strands for flies tied on hooks larger than a number 6. For smaller flies, you could split and separate one, two, or three strands, or simply use a size 3/0 thread from another manufacturer. Note that the standard numbering system of thread size does not pertain to Danville's Denier codes, so don't let it throw you. Olive thread, light olive, worm green, orange, red, black, and white are good color choices. You may want to familiarize yourself with threads from manufacturers such as Gudebrod, Griffith, and Uni. Stay away from threads made of Kevlar. Although Kevlar has undeniable strength, it will, in time, play havoc with your bobbin and scissors.

Also, an excellent all-purpose thread for both freshwater and saltwater applications is Danville's 210 Denier Flat-Waxed Nylon. The beauty of this thread is that it can be worked flat, or it can be slightly twisted so as to pinch down when flaring and spinning deer hair. Some shops may suggest spools of size "A", lightly waxed and round-twisted Danville's Fly Master Plus, sold specifically for flaring and spinning deer hair. However, Danville's 210 Flat-Waxed Nylon does double duty, thereby eliminating the need to purchase other size threads. As a matter of fact, the two threads are approximately the same diameter.


Pinch-Wrapping for Practice

Practice this pinch-wrapping procedure, which will save you considerable frustration if you have never flared and spun deer hair. Knowing how to pinch-wrap is essential to properly placing materials on the hook and locking them in securely, be it atop the shank of the hook or off to either side. Similarly, pinch-wrapping is vital to locking, flaring, and spinning deer hair around the hook shank.

Let's first practice with a small bunch of deer hair slightly less than the diameter of a pencil.



Assuming that you are right-handed, a pinch-wrap begins when you employ the thumb and forefinger of your left hand to hold the material precisely where you want it before securing it in place. However, rather than simply wrapping the thread tightly around the stack, first make a small, loose wrap over and around the material, catching the thread between the pinch, creating tension before slowly torquing down upon the clump of deer hair, then over and back around again, each time catching the thread between thumb and forefinger so as to flare the material around the hook. Now, release the pinch, torque down, and allow the deer hair to spin completely around the shank of the hook. Work the thread through the hair, careful not to mash the hairs. Work the thread forward then push the entire bunch rearward with the tips of your right hand. Half hitch several times or whip finish to lock in place. Practice this step until you are proficient. I can assure you that this procedure will prove priceless. The amount of pressure required for the pinch-wrap, as well as the tension needed to torque down, flair, and spin the hairs, will become second nature to you with a bit of practice. It is this dexterity that is required in order to manipulate the material.


Confusion Personified



In selecting turkey feathers for the Muddler Minnow tail and wings, here is where a good deal of confusion lies. You will read recipes and view videos that call for a matching pair of turkey quills [one from a right wing of the bird and one from a left wing]; or you will read and view videos that instruct the tier to simply form the tail and wings from a single quill. Referencing the latter, the instructor may go on about cutting and perfectly matching components from the narrow side of the quill for the tail and the wider side for the wings. Words and phrases such as concave, convex, shiny side out, points aligned and facing downward, et cetera, might follow. And there you are trying to "match" these components perfectly, but you will not and cannot match them no matter how hard you try. Why? The answer is because you would need a matching pair of turkey quills [one from a right wing of the bird, and one from a left wing], as stated initially. However, you could wing it (pun intended) to form a pair of wings that will suffice but will not be perfectly matched. The choice is yours. You'll catch fish with either procedure, which we'll continue in Part III.


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com


August 01, 2015

Lethal Versions of the Celebrated Muddler Minnow Part I of IV

by Bob Banfelder

Fact: In the water column, for freshwater and saltwater applications, the fur from a raccoon has the lifelike action of marabou feathers and is a fantastic material for fly tying. The bonus feature is that raccoon fur is far stronger than marabou feathers. We will use raccoon fur (hair) for recipes in lieu of squirrel hair when tying the underwing of the traditional Muddler Minnow as well as the Marabou Muddler Minnow.

One of the deadliest flies in a streamer pattern for freshwater fishing is the popular Muddler Minnow. The fly was created by Don Gapen of Minnesota in 1937 and originated to imitate the small but big-headed spined sculpin. Therefore, to say that the Muddler Minnow has a long history is an understatement. This streamer pattern is doubtlessly found in most anglers' fly boxes in one form or another. However, I'd venture to say and even wager that they won't be found in notable numbers. And there is a very good reason for this. Actually, there are two explanations, for the flies are rather expensive to buy (especially when compared to simpler streamer patterns); also, Muddler Minnows can be somewhat difficult to tie, which brings me to an age-old adage: "Everything's easy once you know how."

What I have done over the course of years is to take the very best recipes and procedures for tying many variations of Don Gapen's original Muddler Minnow and incorporate them into a single, simplified whole. Well, simplified, that is, in the sense that I'll clearly point out the general confusion and then, together, we'll eliminate the problems that plague many flytiers when it comes to flaring, spinning, and shaping deer hair in order to form the overwing tips, collar, and head of this remarkable imitation.

First, let's consider the many possibilities in learning to work with deer hair in terms of the innumerable number of flies that this material can come to replicate. Stemming from the original model, which mimicked the sculpin, you can eventually learn to imitate a variety of aquatic and terrestrial forage. For example, stoneflies, leeches, crickets, grasshoppers, even mice. I say this with utmost confidence because once you learn the proper procedures for tying variations of the Muddler Minnow, you will be able to tie any number of the aforementioned deadly imitations. You are soon to learn several tricks of the trade for making fly tying (with that troublesome material) far easier and, therefore, more enjoyable.

The correct tools, materials, and procedures are most important for tying the Muddler Minnow as well as other flies that require the flaring, spinning, and shaping of deer hair. I'm sure you're anxious to begin tying the new variation of the Muddler Minnow. However, there is now a new program at Nor'east Saltwater where we writers will be limiting the length of our articles, writing shorter pieces over the course of the month or splitting up longer articles over a period of time. This new company policy is actually very good timing at this juncture because it gives you time to collect these needed materials.

Bob B's Variation of the Muddler Minnow
Freshwater Application


Materials:

Hook No. 6 Mustad-Sproat –3 ex. long shank, bronzed
Fly-Tying Wax Overton's Wonder Wax is an excellent choice
Thread Danville's 4 strand rayon, or Danville's 210 Denier Flat-Waxed Nylon–color choice is yours
Pair of Matched Turkey Quills [one from a right wing and on from a left wing]; either mottled light or dark for tail and topwing
Mylar Tinsel rib (optional) not used in this recipe
Raccoon Tail for the underwing
Deer Hair Preferably from the belly section; natural color from the whitetail deer to form the overwing tips, collar, and head.

Note: mule-deer hair flares and spins more easily than whitetail deer hair because its western North American cousins' fibers are thicker; but not to worry. Whether you select deer hair from a bucktail or the belly of either species, we'll flare and spin the material most satisfactorily.

Wet ‘n' Wild Crystalic Nail Color for finishing the thread head–or another iridescent nail polish

Tools:

Straight Scissors
Curved Scissors
Double Edge Razor Blades
Clear 1/8-Inch Inside Diameter Flexible Tubing
2-inch length.



To be continued. Until next time, stay cool.



Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com



July 01, 2015

Update on Field-Testing Eposeidon's Reels & Lines—Also Alluring Lures

by Bob Banfelder

If you have been following my articles referencing Eposeidon Outdoor Adventures Inc., you know a bargain when you see one. Under the company's banner are the Ecooda (Royal Sea) spinning reels. Under the same umbrella is the Eposeidon KastKing label: KastKing's Copolymer blue-green line, KastKing's Copolymer clear line; Eposeidon's Superpower yellow braid.

I had reviewed the Ecooda Royal Sea ERS 3000 spinning reel along with the copolymer/braided lines in the July 1, 2014 issue titled Eposeidon ~ Professional Fishing Tackle: Affordable Pricing. Having had time to test these lines thoroughly for a year and report back to you as I said I would, they are, indeed, great reels and cost a fraction of what the competition charges. In the same blog, I urged you to log onto www.eposeidon.com and discover lures that will lure you with both their hard and soft baits, and at unbelievable savings. For example: tins, plastic frogs, single and jointed crankbaits, buzzbaits, spinbaits, umbrella rigs, et cetera. The lures that I tested boast VMC hooks, rattles, and fine action. I'll focus on a few that I highly recommend in a moment, but first I want to expand on an article I wrote for my December 1, 2014 blog titled Shimano's Flagship Stella SW Spinning Reels Versus Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet for Surf Fishing. The Ecooda 6000 is one hell of a deal of a reel. Not unlike the Ecooda Royal Sea ERS 3000, the Ecooda 6000 is a sweet tool for the suds. Both these reels offer quality at a fraction of the cost of the company's competition. I believe that folks believe that when I put my name to a particular product, the item has been utterly tested. I'll go you one better referencing field-testing. With regard to these two spinning reels, they have been exhaustively put to the test in an environment that shows no mercy; that being, the harsh marine environment of a pounding surf. Allow me to elaborate.

In terms of saltwater fishing, Donna and I are now pretty much relegated to fishing our local Sound beaches because we can no longer safely launch our boat from our property, situated along the Peconic River. Super Storm Sandy made sure of that. We have been spoiled, having enjoyed access to neighboring bays for twenty-one years. It's a rather long and sad story, for we can neither legally rebuild nor even repair a wooden ramp over a former in-place concrete ramp. The Department of Environmental Conservation gave us their blessing and a green light to do either; that is, to rebuild or repair. But the Riverhead town supervisor and town attorney said, "No" to either approach—even after councilwoman/town board member acknowledged the debacle and fought on Donna's and my behalf. Too, the town would not even accept the DEC's recent survey. It's the town's money-grabbing game. The story has been addressed in our local paper, the Riverhead News-Review, and will be covered in further detail on our Cablevision show titled Special Interests with Bob and Donna, along with other media venues. The point of mention is that virtually all of our saltwater fishing is now concentrated on surf fishing, whereas before we did the majority of angling from our boat. Therefore, our surf equipment (reels, rods, lines, and lures) are being put through the rigors of a severe marine environment as opposed to moderate field-testing. The two Eposeidon Ecooda reels (Royal Sea 3000 and Hornet 6000) have received some serious workouts: severe salt spray and lashes of wind-swept sand. Like a quality spinning reel should, they kept right on spinning, smoothly applying the brakes against big blues, fair-sized striped bass, and some nice weakfish. Of course, a good cleaning and lubrication followed these unfavorable conditions.

As an added note, the Peconic River and its neighboring bays have recently had an influx of tens of thousands of menhaden (bunker), lining both shorelines in a decaying smelly mess. "This was the result of a bunker kill brought about by marauding bluefish compounded by algal blooms," [referred to as the mahogany tide], said marine biologist, Chris Paparo, manager of the Marine Science Center at Stoney Brook–Southampton. Just prior to that event, hundreds of diamondback terrapin turtles washed ashore, believed to be impacted by the algal bloom, a biotoxin absorbed in shellfish, a food source consumed by the turtles. Riverhead Town officials see no connections to pollution such as 2.5 million gallons of raw sewage from Riverhead Town's sewage treatment facility that was dumped into the Peconic River toward the end last year, which is only 1½ miles from our shellfish grounds [as reported in Riverhead News-Review, 12/06/2014]. One might conclude that Riverhead Town stinks, both figuratively and literally speaking. Note that the Hudson River recently had a menhaden kill, but no turtles washed ashore. I invite you to read one of my award-winning thrillers titled The Author, which covers the issue of irresponsible polluting of our environment (air, land, and water) as it pertains to the alarming cancer rate in Suffolk County—thoroughly researched and explicitly expounded upon in startling detail.

Eposeidon places new equipment into angler consultants' hands for field-testing. Comments are sent to the company and products never hit the market until they pass muster. One such item was a baitcasting rod and reel combo that showed great potential. Back to the drawing board it went for fine tuning. As a team, that's how Eposeidon operates. I can't wait until that reengineered baitcasting rod and reel is put back into my hands with refinements set in place for additional field-testing. I believe it's going to be an absolute winner. I'll keep you posted when this ultra-lightweight gem of a reel with its unbelievably smooth drag and matching rod is reevaluated.

Focusing on the lures that produced for Donna and me along shorelines, estuaries, and inlets are MadBite lures, once again under the Eposeidon banner.



The MadBite Mad Pop 90 Floating/Topwater Popper is available in five color models: Blueback, Airbrush, RedHead, Fire Breather, Hot-Chartreuse. All five models boast #4 VMC hooks. I field-tested the Blueback, 3½ inches, 11/16 ounces, floating/topwater popper. This topwater popper was one of my favorites in the popper lineup, rattling its way into first place. A great value at $4.49 each.



For a super soft, virtually weedless topwater killer baits, give MadBite's Big Bully 55 Topwater Hollow Body Rattle Frog a shot. Available in nine color patterns: Leopard/Chartreuse, Bruiser (a black/yellow pattern), Tan Toad, Yellow, Mutant (yellowish/light-green pattern), Skid-Mark (a darker green/yellow pattern), Natural, Freaky (an orange/chartreuse pattern), and Green/Yellow. My Big Bully rattling Mutant design pattern proved deadly in both salt and sweet water situations. The lure's overall length is 4-1/8 inches, inclusive of a 2-inch trailing skirt (simulating the lure's froggy legs); weight is approximately ½ ounce. The body is constructed of a softened but durable plastic, sporting three-dimensional eyes (not painted-on orbs). The lure is equipped with a 4/0 double hook and sells for $5.68 each. It is a must for those areas covered with thick vegetation.



MadBite's Break Down 130 Versatile Swimbait is a rattling, floating, jointed minnow measuring 5¾-inches from tip (lip) to tail, weighing in at 13/16th of an ounce. It can dive to depths of 4–5 feet. MadBite states that it may be worked as a jerkbait, swimbait, or crankbait. Hum. There are arguably different definitions among the three body types, whether sporting a lip . . . no lip . . . jointed . . . not jointed . . . hard body . . . soft body, et cetera. Definitions may even be derived regionally. Here are my general definitions regarding the trio: jerkbait (imitates a wounded fish by utilizing short twitches of the rod tip), swimbait (a natural, realistic swimming action created by a steady retrieve), crankbait (worked more than less in a straight line, yet somewhat erratically). Body design determines action; no one body style does it all. I utilized MadBite's Break Down 130 Versatile Swimbait as described by its model name; that is, a RedHead Shimmer swimbait. Period—end of story. It works well and is offered in seven colors: Blueback, Green Tiger, Shocker, Air Brush, RedHead Shimmer, Red Tiger, and Gold Dot. VMC #2 hooks. $6.69 each.

Referencing the three lures, consult Eposeidon's web site at www.eposeidon.com for precise coloring and shades thereof.


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com





June 01, 2015

Just Plugging Along

by Bob Banfelder

Sébile's Action First Swingtail Minnow

Has Sébile built a better mousetrap?



Sébile's Action First series Swingtail Minnow is a shallow floating freshwater killer for a wide variety of species that inhabit our ponds, rivers, and lakes—especially for small and largemouth bass. Work a shoreline near structure and connect. Work the banks of a shoal and watch the water suddenly explode. Ply an inlet and allow this 4-inch plastic imposter with its extended 45-degree angled lip and jointed, rattling body to dive, wobble, and dart to depths of 4 to 6 feet before the bite is on and the battle begins. I suggest 10 pound test line. Cast, retrieve, alternate speeds between slow and moderately fast, stop and allow the floating lure to slowly return to the surface, pause for a moment, pick up a pace and develop a definite overall pattern rather than an erratic helter-skelter recovery. It seems to me that bass like to see an orderliness that they can anticipate and ambush on the next go-around. Of course, I could be all wet, but I don't think so. Only after you have thrown out half a dozen or so times, without success, experiment by changing your pattern, perhaps simply keeping to a slow retrieve and eliminating the moderately fast recovery. Continue this new pattern for another half a dozen casts. This approach is simply not limited to Sébile's Action First Swingtail Minnow lure, but for virtually all crankbaits I toss.

Patrick Sébile designed this minnow with the shallow freshwater angler in mind. However, the lure's versatility will eventually lead you to troll it at slow speeds through the upper part of a brackish or salty water column. Ideally, the 4-inch model is trolled at 6½–9 foot depths with 20 pound test line.

The lures are also available in 3¼- and 2¼- inch lengths and comes in nine colors: Silver Shad, Barred Golden Shiner, Ghost Ayu (sweetfish), Rainbow Trout, Breeding Bluegill, Cracked Firetiger, Greenback Ghost, Smokin' Black Shad, and Black Shad. The lure you see pictured is a 5/8-ounce Breeding Bluegill with two 3/0 VMC treble hooks.



Unlike casting a torpedo-like shaped plug toward a target, a jointed lure, because of its configuration, wobbles through the air and therefore thwarts pinpoint accuracy. This is not the case with Sébile's Action First Swingtail Minnow bait. With its Xternal Weight System placed strategically beneath the front section of its belly, it is perfectly balanced for optimum, dead-on accuracy. This design is unique to a jointed crankbait. Therefore, you can flip it or pitch it with true precision. This is easily accomplished by the lure's lower center of gravity, resulting in higher buoyancy and greater tracking ability. Before Donna and I take a lure out on a trial run to our fishing grounds, I first cast it from the high vantage point of our pier so that I have a bird's-eye view of the lure's performance in the water column. Sébile's 4-inch Action First Swingtail Minnow is aptly named, for its tail action is fantastic. Its extended bill and conjoined body work together to preform anything from a deliberate slow-paced motion to an "I'm outta here" attitude and action.

Without getting too technical referencing matter and motion, the lure's weighted front section coupled to what is termed mass transfer (the net movement of mass from one location to another), in this case, the lure's tail section, makes for effortless distance casting. With an internal rattling bead in the tail section, the lure's decibel level is "off the charts," says the company. Simply toying with it in hand tells you that this is one noisy minnow. In the water column, it is certainly going to grab a predator's attention.

This minnow is a whale of a deal at $7.95 each in all three sizes. Although designated for fresh water, give it a try for stripers—that is, if you can keep it away from a blast of chopper blues.

Sébile's Action First Flat Belly Walker

Sébile's Action First series Flat Belly Walker slayer is also fashioned with an Xternal Weight System, placed strategically beneath the belly and is perfectly balanced for optimum performance. The 4¼-inch, ¾-ounce topwater ‘walk-the- dog' lure is killer in the suds for virtually all species. The lure's flat-angled nose allows you to use it as a popper, too. In a stationary position, the front section of the lure rises two fifths above the surface; the rear section rests three fifths below the waterline, simulating a stunned or wounded baitfish.

Available in two lengths and weights, the smaller 3½-inch lure weighs in at ½ ounce. Both lures come in ten colors: Silver Shad, Barred Golden Shiner, Cracked Gold Chrome, Cracked Blue Chrome, Cracked Firetiger, Greenback Ghost, Smokin' Black Shad, Smokin' Shad, Spotted Bone, and Yellow Shad.



The 4¼-inch, ¾-ounce lure you see pictured here is the deadly Greenback Ghost with two 3/0 VMC treble hooks. Patrick Sébile's lure design of the Flat Belly Walker was inspired by the hydrodynamic construction of a surfboard. A twitch of the rod tip while retrieving will easily create a realistic, wide, side-to-side sliding motion that fish find hard to resist. Also, free-floating beads give stability to the lure while producing a loud knocking sound to help attract your favorites for a fight. When the clarity of the water is poor, the element of sound can be your savior. Two painstaking years went into the planning for the development of Patrick's series of Action First lure designs. Both the man and his products are in a class unto themselves.

When casting the 4¼-inch, ¾-ounce Flat Belly Walker, I work a medium- action rod and a spool loaded with 15-pound test line. Of all the lures I own and have tested, when exercising the ‘walk-the-dog' type technique, Sébile's Flat Belly Walker is, by far, the easiest to handle. To prove this point to a stubborn elderly neighbor who rarely uses this method, I handed him a rod with a wooden ¾-ounce favorite of mine. He had to work hard to keep the action's rhythm moving smoothly and at a steady pace. Next, I took the rod back, removed the wooden lure, fixed the Flat Belly Walker in its stead then handed him back the rod.

"Give this pup a try," I said with a smile.

The man casted the lure a good distance then effortlessly ‘walked-the-dog' back in wide, steady, smooth, side-to-side sweeps.

"Wow," was his response. "How much?" he added, casting the lure anew.

"Two sizes: 3½-inch, ½-ounce; 4¼-inch, ¾-ounce. $6.99 each, MSRP."

"Can I just rent this from you?" he questioned with a great big grin.

"Nope. Gotta get your own."

"Sébile?"

"Sébile."

"Good stuff they make."

"I know."

"Can I just borrow this?"

"Nope."

"All the things I taught you over the years, I can't just borrow this?"

"Well, look at what I just taught you."

"What! How to walk-the-dog?"

"Of course not."

"Well, then what?" he demanded with a sour expression written across his deeply wrinkled face.

I smiled mightily. "Simply that one can teach a really old dog new tricks."

"Meaning?"

"Meaning I know that you're going to have half a dozen in your tackle bag before the week is out."

"That's right. So why can't I just to borrow this until then?"

"Because it's the only one I have."

"Tell you what."

"What?"

"You let me borrow this, and when my order comes in, I'll return it and give you one for teaching an old dog how really shifty you are. How's that?"

"Deal. Silver Shad."

"Huh?"

"The color I'd like in a 3½-inch, ½-ounce Flat Belly Walker."

"And how do I home in on exactly that color, length, and weight?"

"Come on inside; I'm going to show you how to use the computer, old-timer."
"Ugh."
*******

Inside the home, I had my good friend and neighbor simply Google and type in Sébile flat belly walker, click on, then scroll down the pages for true color representations of each lure.

"Pretty dang cool, Bob, I have to admit."

"Just wait till you see the accuracy and action of my new Swingtail Minnow."

"You know, I think I've been hooked."

I believe that Sébile has, indeed, built two better mousetraps.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com




May 01, 2015

Good Things Come in Small Packages

by Bob Banfelder

Shimano's Stradic 1000 FJ

Shimano's Stradic 1000 FJ freshwater spinning reel is but one example that "Good Things Come in Small Packages." The FJ 1000 is the lightest of the 1000 through 8000 series. This bantam weight winner absolutely belongs in your arsenal of light freshwater equipment. Handling monofilament line strengths of 2- 4- and 6-pound test, the angler equipped with the model FJ can easily tackle the most tenacious of small- to mid-size fighters. But I wouldn't draw the line of demarcation just on the sweetwater side by limiting yourself to pan fish or pond trout. No, sir. Donna and I have targeted more than our fair share of cocktail blues in the suds, from the Peconic River out to our neighboring bays: Reeves Bay, Flanders Bay, Great Peconic Bay, east through the South Race, Little Peconic Bay, Hog Neck Bay, and right to the western shore of Shelter Island Sound. Why would we do this with such a lightweight reel when we have others that would handle the job more easily? The answer is that we wanted to put this freshwater small fry through rigorous workouts, and not just for a season or two but for several seasons of serious field testing.


Shimano's Stradic FJ 1000 with Ugly Stik SPL 1102 ~ 5-foot Ultra-Light Spinning Rod

Actually, if properly maintained, a quality freshwater reel can stand up to the punishment of a harsh marine environment. Simply washing, rinsing, and drying the reel on your return from fishing is the first step. But washing the reel does not mean blasting it with hose water, believing that you are removing salt accumulation. What you are doing in effect is forcing salt deposits into openings around the face and body of the reel. Instead, gently hose the reel (and rod), rinse, and wipe dry, especially around the bail arm and line roller. This will contribute to longevity. It takes less than two minutes. Mid-season, without having to take the reel apart, I put two drops of oil through the easy access maintenance port to lubricate the inner mechanism. At the end of the season, I preform annual maintenance in order to keep the reel in top condition.

Although I do not suggest employing Shimano's bantam-size Stradic FJ 1000 for the suds, especially when targeting cocktail-size blues, it did manage to get the job done nicely. Snappers, of course, are a snap. Moving up in model size, say to a Stradic 4000 FJ, would ensure a better battle with larger fish in salt water. But for freshwater species such as bluegills, perch, brookies, and bass, the Stradic FJ 1000 is the perfect tool. Here are some specs:

30-inch line retrieve per crank ~ monofilament line capacity (pound # test measured in yards) 2#/270 yd., 4#/140 yd., 6#/110 yd. ~ 7 pound maximum drag ~ 5 stainless steel ball bearings ~ 1 roller bearing ~ 6.0:1 gear ratio ~ paddle-type handle ~ 7.5 ounces ~ with an MSRP of $179.99.

I married Shimano's Stradic FJ 1000 spinning reel to an Ultra Light Action (UL) Shakespeare Ugly Stik, SPL 1102 model ~ five-foot spinning rod ~ rated for 2–6 pound test line. It is a perfect reel/rod combination for light-duty angling. After what both Donna and I put that outfit through by working our local bays for cocktail blues weighing up to three pounds, with the proper care, this ideal spinning outfit should last you many years.

Soft Plastics for the Suds
Berkley/Havoc

As important as fine equipment is to the art and enjoyment of angling, your bait—be it live or artificial—is, of course, paramount. Otherwise, you're just exercising your arm and spinning your spool. Great for practice, but not for the intended purpose of producing satisfactory results. The difference between fishing randomly and catching constantly is all about the lure. Since the theme of this article is titled Good Things Come in Small Packages, let's examine closely several bait packages that promise to produce the desired results. And that promise has not been broken by the Berkley and Havoc line of soft plastics. If fish are in the area, Berkley PowerBaits, Gulp! and Havoc Pro Designed Bass Baits will produce for you regularly.


Berkley PowerBaits, Gulp! and Havoc Soft Plastics

Unleash Havoc's 6-inch Boss Dog (a Gary Klein lizard design), and you'll soon be on the bite. Many of us know that chartreuse is a killer color for fish. Joined to a black-red flecked body and legs, the reptile's elongated chartreuse tail action comes alive in the water. Using either a straight or offset-shank 3/0 hook, rig this winner either Texas or Carolina style. These weedless rigs will help you avoid many a headache. What's neat about the Boss Dog is that it has a unique channel running along the length of the lure's underbelly for water to stream past, creating agitation while inviting a strike. Additionally, the top of the lure has an indented cavity with ribs running horizontally across its back to help conceal the hooks barb. Although available in fourteen colors, give this chartreuse/black-red flecked color combination a try for openers; also, the Boss Dog in Motor Oil Red Fleck/Chartreuse. MSRP for a package of ten is $3.49.

Berkley's PowerBait logo shows an Erlenmeyer flask, a test tube, and a Florence flask, all scientific laboratory glassware. Very clever, for it is telling you subliminally, Fishing Made Better Through Chemistry. I relate to this because I used to have a laboratory in my parent's home while growing up in New Jersey. I would cut neighbors' grass and rake leaves and spend virtually every dollar on laboratory equipment purchased from Scientific Glass in Morristown, New Jersey. I even wore a lab coat for the full effect. Experimentation was short-lived because I would concoct smelly secret formulas by extracting oils from the fish I caught, reducing liquids in a retort for powerful concentrations that I then applied to the hairy materials of Mepps' spinner lures. Mom and Dad did not encourage my endeavors. The laboratory was soon disbanded, and I was relegated to the breezeway between our home and the garage; that is, until odors permeated the entire area. I was ordered to pack up the works, which wound up in the attic. All was not for naught, however.

Many years later, I passed an interest in chemistry on to my young son. One of the Christmas gifts Santa had brought my precocious five-year old was a Gilbert chemistry set. I assisted Jason initially, leaving him with the understanding that he was not to deviate from the manual's prescribed list of experiments. Not wanting to discourage creativity as Jason's interest had grown exponentially, I gave him lots of latitude. He went on to become a chemical engineer. Thank goodness Jason never decided on developing fish scents and flavors as I once had. And to this day, Donna says, "Thank goodness that Berkley spends considerable resources on research and development and can produce these proven scents and flavor products—PowerBait and Gulp!—at such affordable prices, Bob. Otherwise, I might have become a fisherman's widow had you set up shop again."


Jason Banfelder at age five

Here are thirteen other soft baits I have tried, and with good to great success: Berkley's PowerBait 6-inch Slim Shad ~ chartreuse; PowerBait 5-inch Jerkshad ~ pearl watermelon; PowerBait 4.5-inch Rib Shad ~ blue shiner gold; PowerBait 4-inch Mullet ~ chartreuse pepper/white; PowerBait 3.5-inch Fight'n Bug ~ Alabama craw; Berkley's Gulp! 6-inch Bloodworm ~ natural; Gulp! 4-inch Doubletail Swimming Mullet ~ natural shrimp FS; Gulp! 3-inch Shrimp ~ natural; Gulp ~ 3-inch Shrimp ~ new penny; Gulp! 3-inch Hollow ~ new penny; Gulp! 2-inch Peeler Crab ~ natural; Gulp! Bloodworm [straight body, tiny nubs along each side of worm, no specific length, packaged as 35 grams total] ~ bloody; Havoc's 4.5-inch Money Maker ~ Junebug, purple/green flecked worm (a Brandon Palanuik design).

Yes, good things do come in small packages. Better Fishing Through Chemistry.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com

April 01, 2015

The T.C. Sling's the Thing

by Bob Banfelder

A serious surf fisherman can easily tire when carrying around 12- 10- or even 9-foot poles married to some heavy-duty reels. Let's first look at some light surf spinning outfits and weigh the situation carefully. Example: a 23.7 ounce Stella SW (Salt Water) model STL 8000; a lighter 20.4 ounce Eposeidon ~ Ecooda Hornet model 6000; and an even lighter Stella SW series, a 14.3 ounce Stella SW model STL 5000. These three fine surf spinning reels coupled to some Heavy- to Medium-Heavy Action Ugly Stik surf poles can wear a guy or gal down, especially when traipsing along miles of sandy or stony beach for half a day. Working your way among boulders or along an extended rock jetty can cause a person pause. On a stormy, devilish day and well into evening, no warning sign is there or even needed to caution you to take heed: CAREFUL. SLIPPERY WHEN WET. You know the deal before you ever get to your destination. Sure-footedness and a balancing act with your cherished equipment and gear are the necessary requirements.

Walking the picturesque Long Island Sound beaches of Wading River, Reeves, Iron Pier, as well as South Jamesport Beach on the Peconic Bay side can eventually slow you down. Searching and casting a number of spoons, plugs, and Uncle Josh's Pork Rind jigs will sooner or later make a body weary. But what if you had an item, a featherweight aid to help support the load of a hefty surf outfit? Well, I recently discovered such an aid. I use the word discover because the item is actually used for entirely different purposes.

The T.C. Sling started out as a cross-shoulder strap with which to comfortably carry a camera or a pair of binoculars. The sling features a single-point snap clip that slides freely up and down a one-inch wide black web strap. From there, Mr. Rock Wilson designed an accessory strap (also, one-inch wide) that wraps snugly around the butt of a handgun. The strap has a nylon D-ring that attaches to the snap clip. As I will be back to target shooting this spring with a handgun, as well as hunting with it in the fall, the adjustable T.C. Sling is the ticket, for it will help steady my off-hand/support hand position via a very solid anchor point. Subsequently, from that firing stance, you can simply clear and lower the weapon to a safe position anywhere along the front or rear of your body, such as a shoulder, hip, or rear pocket holster. The T.C. Sling, with its handgun accessory strap, is the next best thing to shooting from a rest, enabling you to make precise shots. After ordering and receiving the item as a handgun aid, I wondered (apart from binoculars and cameras) for what other use this sling strap could be adapted . . . maybe something along the fishing front. Let's see how this all came about.


The T.C. Sling for a camera.


The T.C. Sling with handgun accessory strap for straight shooting.


Donna and I were suffering from cabin fever as I'm sure most of us have this wintry season. A friend happened to call and tell us that Long Island Sound was frozen over. I wondered how that could possibly be. The Peconic River, right off our property, was mostly ice, but a current had eventually cut a swath clear up its middle. But sure enough, the Sound was iced over to a good degree. Then came more snow and lots of shoveling. Actually, we had to be dug out by a payloader on the first go-around. We weren't going anywhere anytime soon. Lots of time to write, read, and ruminate. I lived with Rock's T.C. Sling Strap wherever I roamed. Mostly around the rooms of our home with handgun in hand, adjusting its strap, wearing various layers of clothing, making sure the adjustable sling was long enough for all occasions. It certainly is. As a handgun support aid, Rock should, perhaps, think about renaming the item to read: Rock's T.C. Rock-Solid Handgun Platform. Just as a point of information, the T.C. stands for Traverse City, Michigan, Rock's home. Not Thompson/Center of Thompson/Center Arms, which is America's finest firearms manufacturer in the world when it comes to MOA (Minute Of Angle) accuracy and versatility via its interchangeable barrel system. Such reflections were suddenly interrupted when I was struck by another thought.

It was a freezing February morning, and I was surprised that I could even think at all. Why not use the Velcro handgun accessory strap, attached to the T.C. Sling, to aid in carrying rod(s) and reel(s) for endless walks along those aforementioned beaches? Brilliant! Speculation is one thing; putting an idea to practice is another. Well, I tried the sling/strap combination every which way I could think of: carrying one hefty rod and reel; two rods and reels; camera; binoculars. Good to go. Where? Practically anywhere. Effortlessly. What a godsend. What a pleasure to walk about with the weight of the reel(s) and rod(s) distributed either across my body or upon a shoulder.


The T.C. Sling with accessory strap makes carrying heavy surf rods a breeze.

You may recall my December 01, 2014 Nor'east monthly report titled Shimano's Flagship Stella SW Spinning Reels Versus Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet for the Surf. In the article, I had mentioned that I put my 12-foot surfcasting rod to rest, wielding in its stead a lighter, 10-foot Medium-Heavy action, two-piece Shakespeare Ugly Stik, remarried to the Stella 8000 SW reel. Well, that's all changed now. It was lugging around the 12-foot outfit in lieu of the lighter 10-foot that initially put the kibosh on matters. It wasn't a question of casting the heavier outfit so much as it was carrying it around for half a day. If I were fishing alone, of course, I'd only be carrying one rod. But being that Donna is always with me, I carry hers and mine until we get to our distant, secret spot(s). Piece of cake with the T.C. Sling Strap. This way, Donna has her hands free to carry my beer. Only kidding, folks. Only kidding. She has camera equipment to lug around for those special fishy moments and fantastic sunsets.

With regard to you shutterbugs toting around a camera, be it a compact or video type, the T.C. Sling Strap has a two-way attaching system. A split ring attaches to the camera's strap or ring then simply attaches to the sling's snap clip. The system also includes a tripod ring-mount adaptor with a neoprene washer that stays firmly in place so you won't lose it. The adaptor screws securely into the base of your camera, providing another way to safely transport your camera. All four pieces are included with the T.C. Handgun Sling Strap: handgun strap, tripod ring-mount adaptor, neoprene washer, and split ring.

Focusing in on comfort, the T.C. Sling's adjustable nonslip rubber shoulder section is 5½-inches long, by 1½-inches wide in its center, and 1¾-inches wide at its ends. Strapped within its center is a 1¼-inch metal accessory D-ring. A quick-release, plastic [male-female] strap-clip buckle makes removing the sling from across your body a snap. Or simply unsling it off a shoulder.

Some quick arithmetic for an even clearer picture referencing my heavy-duty outfit recently put back into full operation. Shakespeare's 12-foot Ugly Stik BWS 1100 Heavy Action two-piece rod weighs in at a mighty 27.7 ounces. That's 9.4 ounces heavier than my 10-footer. As mentioned, the Stella SW (Salt Water) model STL 8000 weighs in at 23.7 ounces for a grand total of 51.4 ounces. That's 3¼ pounds. It doesn't sound like much. But with a gear bag, waders, and other paraphernalia, it adds up quickly while traversing sand and stone beaches. Plus, on the way back, I have to carry all the fish that Donna's caught as she's suddenly a self-proclaimed prima donna. Why? Because she usually catches the first, the most, and the biggest fish. That's why. Just ask those with whom we fish with—from boat captains to other consummate, salty souls.

As some of you younger folks wield far heftier outfits for the surf, let's weigh in on the Stella SW 20000 model spinning reel [30.2 ounces] combined with the same Shakespeare's 12-foot Ugly Stik BWS 1100 Heavy Action two-piece rod [27.7]. That's 57.9 ounces—right in between 3½ and 3¾ pounds. An outfit loaded with a 2-ounce plus lure puts you well past the 4-pound point.

As a combo weigh-in, seeing as how I tote around two surf outfits to a point as explained a moment ago, the 10-foot Ugly Stik rod weighs in at 18.3 ounces; coupled to the 20.4 ounce Eposeidon ~ Ecooda Hornet model 6000; bundled to my coming-out-of retirement 12-foot rod/reel outfit totaling 51.4 ounces, for a grand total of 90.1 ounces or 5.63 pounds! A walk in the park with the T.C. Sling and accessory strap.

The T.C Sling's the thing, guys and gals. Google T.S. Handgun Sling Strap, and click on the YouTube video. To order, contact Rock Wilson at 231-313-2084. The item is a bargain at $29.95; free shipping. Tell him I said to consider its new use as the Angler's E-Z Carry All.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com


March 01, 2015

Four Essential Kitchen Tools: For Fish, Fowl & Meaty Favorites

by Bob Banfelder

Four indispensable pieces of equipment that positively belong in your kitchen are a food slicer, meat tenderizer, meat grinder, and vacuum sealer. Through the years, I have prepared many fine meals by utilizing these essential machines. I could not have done nearly as neat or as efficient a job without them. They go hand in hand to not only help produce gourmet-quality fare, but to also aid in eye-appealing presentations upon the finished plate. But to merely mention these four items rather than specifically elaborate on the important elements to be considered before selecting such equipment for home use would be foolish of me because you'd likely be wasting your hard-earned money in the long run. So let's home in on what's important before purchasing these items.

Pictured below are three Cabela's machines that are employed in our kitchen: an electric food slicer with tilted stand for easy cleanup, stainless steel blade (left); an all-important commercial-grade vacuum sealer, which is a godsend for preserving foods for extended periods (middle); a heavy-duty electric meat grinder (right). As you pretty much get what you pay for in this world of ours, of the three Cabela's machines shown, I'd strongly suggest purchasing the best model of the commercial-grade vacuum sealer that you can afford because of its importance. If you are an angler/hunter, planning to put up both fish and game through the four seasons, you want a top-quality machine that will last many years. During the fishing season, I fillet and freeze a fair amount of fish for our family to enjoy over those cold winter months (like this past January and February): striped bass, fluke, porgies, blackfish, black sea bass, (one of my favorites), eel, mackerel, shad, tuna, and—yes—even bluefish. Keep in mind, too, that you can take advantage of fish, poultry, and weekly meat sales offered at your local supermarkets and specialty shops throughout the year. Simply seal, freeze, and savor for a later date. A top-quality vacuum sealer is of paramount importance. You can easily keep fish for a year without the threat of freezer burn; meat for two years. Amazing.


Cabela's Electric Slicer, Vacuum Sealer, and Meat Grinder

Next is Cabela's meat grinder, which I not only use for making venison sausage and burgers in the fall and winter months, I also operate the machine to produce fresh, flavorful fishcakes through the spring and summer. With that kind of a four-season workout, you would not want to purchase just any meat grinder; you'd want to purchase a heavy-duty electric meat grinder for all occasions: fish, fowl, and meaty favorites. This will facilitate matters and ensure the unit's longevity. With an eye on heavy-duty quality equipment for home use, do not envision machinery that is going to break the bank and send you to the poorhouse, for companies such as Cabela's offer different grades of heavy-duty/commercial equipment.

Pictured below is a bowl of freshly mixed seafood for the finest fishcakes this side of Riverhead, Long Island. Its ingredients are comprised of fresh and/or fresh-frozen cherrystone clams, blue claw crabs, bluefin tuna (all from our local waters), herbs, vegetables, and secret seasonings. Cabela's heavy-duty meat grinder includes a 3mm (fine), 4.5mm (medium), and an 8mm (coarse) stainless steel grinding plate to allow for desired consistency. The unit includes other accoutrements for additional uses.


Grinding Fish for Fish Cakes

Last but not necessarily least in the Cabela's kitchen-trio lineup is a stainless steel electric food slicer. Apart from slicing meats, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and hard breads, the machine comes in very handy for preparing sushi and/or sashimi. One process begins with thick, frozen fillets, slightly thawed for a semi-firm consistency, as the section will now easily pass through the slicer. Your prep work is cut [key word] dramatically. You can make thin slices for sushi rolls, thicker pieces for sashimi, slice precise cuts of fresh cucumber, avocado, asparagus, carrot, et cetera. I make delectable sushi rolls but with one caveat. I'll explain in a moment.

Last weekend we were invited to our good friends' home, Chris and Candy Paparo, to chow down on some fantastic sushi rolls and sashimi. The couple has their act down pat and work together as a team. Chris had caught the fish in Alaska this past July; namely, rockfish and salmon. He had done the prep work before we arrived. Candy put the rolls together like a pro. Retraction. She is a pro; an artist at work. I stood over her shoulder in their kitchen, asking a question every now and again, making sure she wasn't holding back on any secret(s): Asian condiments to be shared. Cutting the rolls, too, is an art; believe me. Chris worked deftly with a sharp, wet knife, arranging the fare on a platter before we all sat down to a satisfying sushi/sashimi feast as pictured below. By the way, if you enjoy nature photography, follow Chris on Facebook/Instagram at Fish Guy Photos and visit www.fishguyphotos.com.


Splendid Sushi and Sashimi

Although my own sushi rolls are delicious, they are just not up to par when compared to Chris and Candy's presentation; therefore, Donna and I do not put ours out for company—just yet. As Chris and Candy reside just across the Riverhead town line, I can still hold firm to the fact that I make the finest fishcakes along with, well . . . fair to middling-looking sushi rolls this side of Riverhead.

Lastly, I would like to introduce you to a marvelous tool that is worth its weight in mako meat. The Jaccard. It is a must-have implement for the kitchen. Billed as a meat tenderizing machine, it is an invaluable piece of equipment with which to brine or marinate red meat, poultry, and fish for the smoker. It will cut your brining and marinating time by forty percent; cooking time by half. For expediency, I wouldn't be caught preparing fare without this handy-dandy tool. For example, whereas whole cocktail-size blues or fillets ordinarily require approximately six hours of brining time (twelve hours for very thick fillets or larger whole fish), you can cut that curing time nearly in half by first using the Jaccard. The Jaccard is available in two models: a mini Jaccard with one row of sixteen blades; the larger model has three rows of sixteen blades; i.e., forty-eight blades. Donna and I elected to purchase the larger model and are certainly glad we did.


Jaccard Meat Tenderizer

Check out Cabela's Outfitters at www.cabelas.com for the aforementioned units as well as www.jaccard.com for this handy tenderizing device. Detailed methods for brining and smoking fish, in addition to several gourmet seafood recipes, can be found in my book titled The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water, available online at www.amazon.com.




Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com



February 01, 2015

Not All Fly Lines Are Created Equal ~ Not By A Long Shot

by Bob Banfelder

Through the years I have tried many fly lines. Trial and error is one way to ascertain which fly line is best for you and—more specifically—your rod. However, that approach would be a counterproductive proposition because quality fly lines are costly. You cannot try before you buy one fly line after the other until you are satisfied. What are you left to do? You could of course, and you should, visit your local fly-fishing pro shop to inquire about a particular line that you have in mind or one that the proprietor recommends for a specific application. The problem here is that you will probably be handed a shopkeeper's fly line already spooled and dedicated to a particular reel suited to a specific rod solely for the purpose of demonstration, not necessarily the best fly line for the business at hand. Once again, what to do?

I wish I could tell you, precisely, what fly line for a particular rod would best suit your individual needs. The fact is I can't. Not without first knowing the answer to at least half a dozen questions. Otherwise, the right church, wrong pew type of scenario would likely prevail. The simple reason being is that line selection can be complicated in that there are a myriad of variables to consider, which tend to compound matters and therefore cloud reasoning.

Of course, there are certain guidelines to follow, and professional fly shop personnel will certainly steer you in the right direction. For example, your fly rod will indicate what weight line to use. The problem is that not all rods and lines are created equal. Then again, there are rules of thumb. "Go up two line weights; especially with that shooting head," you'll hear folks suggest. "That Redington rod can handle it." Huh! Is that well-meaning person aware that you're casting a looped component five-foot slow-sink mini-tip, a twelve-foot intermediate section, or perhaps a twenty- to thirty-foot integrated speed-cast shooting taper? Are the terms shooting heads, sinking shooting-heads, and traditional shooting or speed-cast tapers used interchangeably? Should they be? Do the grain weights of fly lines accurately correspond to their sink rates in inches per second? Is the timing and casting technique employed with lengthy sinking lines or speed-sink/floating lines the same as with conventional weight-forward floating lines? Should I even bother with level or double-taper fly lines in saltwater applications? The answers to those six questions are, respectively: probably not; quite often; no; no; no; and lastly (in my opinion), absolutely not.

Keep in mind a single truth, and you'll begin to understand the complexity of the above. There is no industry standard in matching the grain weight of fly lines to unilaterally correspond with its sink rate. Each manufacturer applies its own rating system—at best, placing a particular line within a category to cover a range of rod weights. For example, a Teeny TS-Series 450 sinking line has a sink rate of 8 ips (inches per second). That translates into the sinking portion of the line; in other words, the first 30 feet, weighing 450 grains, covering a range of rod weights from 9 through 12. Realize too, that it's the density (compactness) of that sinking section that dictates sink rate—not overall weight.

Can we somehow muddle through this mass of confounding information, bringing all this murky business of lengths and weights of line out into the light? Is it possible? It is, indeed, and we're going to deal with that in a moment. First, if you're new at this game, forget all about the vast variety of fly lines out there from which to choose. It's simply mind-boggling. For openers, focus on matching a weight-forward fly line to what the rod manufacturer states. Just focus. Do not buy anything just yet. Next, determine where in the water column you want to be. For example, are you fishing a streamer fly in shallow water? Fine. Consider a two- or three-foot leader attached to a weight-forward 8 floating line, abbreviated as WF-8-F, to match your 8-weight rod. Wish to fish several feet farther down in the water column? Great. Move up the scale to an intermediate sink-rate line, a fast sink-rate line, or an extra fast sink-rate line determined by inches per second. Select a name brand line such as Rio, Teeny, Orvis, Scientific Anglers, or Cortland.

Want to add distance as well as get down into the water column where the fish generally are? Fantastic. Assuming that you've had some fly-casting indoctrination and realize that shooting tapers (full sink or speed-sink/floating sinking lines) are executed differently than conventional weight-forward floating lines, let us move up the scale in terms of both line and rod weight to an intermediate Teeny Series T-400 24-foot sinking/58-foot floating section with a sink rate of 8 ips. You are now covered quite nicely for bass, blues, weakfish, false albacore, et cetera. Why the Teeny T-400? Three answers, basically. One: because the 10-weight is right in the middle of the recommended rating for rod weights of 8 through 12. Two: because I have worked with a T-300; that is, one down from the T-400—the T-300 still within the recommended 7- through 10- weight rods; a great line for a lighter 8- or 9-weight rod. Three: because I worked with a T-500—one up from the T-400—the T-500 still within the recommended 9- through 14-weight rods; a great line for a heavier 11- or 12-weight rod.

Unfortunately, experimentation between rod and line weight is the only way to personify precision. Joining a fly-fishing club, too, where you can ask questions is a good place to start. Clubs are an excellent way to glean information. Some clubs, prior to meetings, offer the opportunity to receive professional casting instruction—many times at no charge—from a certified casting instructor. Here, you have more of an opportunity to try before you buy.

With regard to shooting tapers, especially for beginners, why purchase Teeny fly lines over another brand—initially? Answer: In part, because Jim Teeny, president of Teeny Incorporated, is the innovator of integrating the floating section to the sinking portion of the line. All one piece. No knots. No splicing. No hinging. Two colors determine the line's sweet spot; the perfect balancing point. There is no guesswork in determining when to shoot the line. When the second color extends approximately one foot past the rod tip, it's the magic moment. And when it comes to cutting the wind, which is the bane of many a saltwater fly-fisherman, shooting this type of line through a blow is simply a breeze. The lines mentioned above retail from $48 to $65. Check Teeny's Web site, www. jimteeny. com, for more information and great videos.

Although Teeny carries a wide assortment of fly lines—both single color and the two color system—for the beginner I'd suggest the two-color system for optimum casting results. Give yourself that added edge. I had purchased a couple of Teeny weight-forward 90-foot floating lines under their Supporting Project Healing Waters program: specifically a 5-weight and an 8-weight. The front section (sinking) is blue; the back section (floating) is gold. Those two lines are terrific. Also, I purchased a Teeny 60-foot First Cast 7 weight-forward floating fly line for Donna, along with a Teeny 90-foot 8 weight-forward floating fly line for moi. We use them both in fresh and saltwater. Fortunately, we have many fly rods with which to experiment. Again, trial and error are key factors. However, you can obtain near perfection by following the general rules of thumbs mentioned earlier.

A book on saltwater fly-fishing that I highly recommend is aptly titled Fly Fishing in Salt Water by Lefty Kreh. You want the latest edition, published by The Lyons Press ~ $19.95. It is an invaluable source for the new recruit as well as serving as a great reference book for the veteran. As it is a poor dog that can't wag its own tail, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my new book titled The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water, endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso, veteran fly fishermen. The book covers all aspects of both saltwater and freshwater fishing: Spinning, Baitcasting, Fly Casting; Rods, Reels, Lines, Leaders Tippets & Hooks; Fly-Tying Tools & Materials; Fly -Tying Recipes; Baitfish; Lethal Lures & Live Baits; Kayaking/Canoeing; Seafood Recipes; Smoking Fish.

For the intermediate to the more advanced fly-fishing angler, Rio fly lines are hard to beat. Think Rio, and the recent World Cup matches of 2014 may pop into your mind. Think ahead to 2016, and the Summer Olympics may conjure up the second largest city in Brazil, where the events are to be held in Rio de Janeiro. Ponder its name, and history buffs will be quick to tell you that Rio de Janeiro's English translation is "River of January," when on January 1st, 1502, Portuguese explorer Gasper de Lemos navigated into what he thought was the mouth of a rio (Portuguese word for river), which actually turned out to be the entrance to Guanabara Bay. As I'm not a spectator sport's enthusiast, RIO has a whole other meaning for me. Perhaps it was the same for Jim Vincent, founder of RIO, who had guided for anglers fishing the Rio Colorado in Costa Rica after noting similarities to a river in his home state of Idaho. Hence, the name RIO, which was firmly planted in Jim's mind as in mine.

Far Bank Enterprises is the parent company of Sage, Redington, and RIO fly-fishing products. RIO Products International is a manufacturer and distributor of high quality fly-fishing lines, leaders, and tippet material for over 20 years. RIO Gold WF8F (Weight Forward #8 Floating line) is one of 7 different lines sizes to choose from in the RIO Gold Freshwater Trout Series; that is, WF3F through WF9F. The combination color in that range is Melon/Gray Dun. Other colors offered are Moss/Gold, Orange, and Lumalux, a glow-in-the-dark color that can be charged with a bright light source. Consult RIO Products' website, www.rioproducts.com, for not all colors are offered for the above-stated line sizes.

The RIO Gold Weight Forward #8 Floating line is 100 feet long, consisting of two basic sections. The rear section of the line (running line) attaches to your backing. The length of its running line is 50.5 feet. That leaves a 49.5 foot length of front section, called the head. There's your 100 feet. It's the 49.5 feet with which I want you to concern yourself. The question is can you keep it, or most of it, in the air on your first or second false cast? If you are a beginner, this 49.5 foot head (weighing 315 grains) will likely be too much for you to handle. You need to select a line that you can handle comfortably.

Donna, whom many of you may have come to know through my extensive writings, selected a RIO Grand (not RIO Gold) Trout Series WF7F (Weight Forward Floating) line. Let's examine the basic difference between our two fly lines. Donna's line is also 100 feet long; however, its total head length is 43.2 feet, a difference of 6.3 feet, which translates into 21 grains less than mine as its total head weight is 294 grains. The point is that Donna can comfortably handle this fly line whereas my heavier line would be too much for her.

If you are a beginner, I strongly urge you to select a fly line (be it for freshwater or the suds) with a total head length of no more than a mid-thirty-foot range whether it is a weight forward line, full sinking line, floating/sinking mini tip, et cetera. Casting distance (which concerns many an angler) should be second to accuracy. Greater distance will positively follow through continued practice. Again, work with what you can comfortably handle before moving up to a longer, heavier head. Timing and technique is what it's all about.

The RIO Grand Trout Series fly lines are designed for modern, fast-action fly rods. Too, these weight-forward lines are designed with more weight distributed toward the front of the line in order to easily load the rod. The line incorporates their new MaxCast and MaxFloat Tip Technology. RIO's ultra-sophisticated line coating, and I'll quote, "actively repels water for higher floatation, longer casts and greater durability."

The RIO Gold Trout Series fly lines boasts, and I'll paraphrase, "a revolutionary taper design that offers incredible loop stability, a unique profile that allows a rod to load quickly and crisply, and a front taper design that delivers perfect presentation of flies ranging from sizes #22 to #2. The RIO Gold is the ultimate all round, floating line for the trout angler." I can cast that long 43.2 foot head-length, along with a fair amount of running line, like a breeze.

What I also like about RIO fly lines is that both ends have welded loops. No need to whip-finish and worry if your connections are secure or knot (yes, pun intended). $74.95 each for these and other top-quality sweetwater trout series fly lines is, well, sweet. There are 31 different fly lines in the RIO Gold and RIO Grand series from which to choose: that is, 19 and 12 selections, respectively. Therefore, all that glitters may indeed be both Grand and Gold. Reach for RIO and see for yourself. Additionally, there are many other fly lines from which to choose, serving several applications.

Rio's Saltwater Coldwater Series Outbound and Outbound Short fly lines are fantastic lines for delivering large and heavy flies long distances. The lines are designed to deeply load modern, fast-action rods. Too, RIO's XS technology (a reformulated conventional chemical combination) provides super-slick performance, making the line a breeze to cast. For Donna, I ordered the Outbound Short fly line with a 30-foot shooting head for the simple reason that she can handle it easier than my Outbound fly line with its 37.6-foot shooting head. They are both WF9 F/I (Intermediate) lines, 375 grains, 100-foot lengths, with sink-tip rates of 1.5- to 2-ips. The Coldwater Series is constructed with a distinctive coating to ensure that lines remains tangle free. A great deal at $79.99. Again, RIO's fly lines are looped and welded at both ends. Very nice.

So as not be accused of blatant advertising, I've pictured (below) several brands of fine fly lines that have served Donna and me well over the years. They are quality lines that offer the consumer a high level of performance at a price that won't send purchaser to the poorhouse. They have been put through the rigors of a marine environment, subjected to many a field test on numerous fishing trips by experts in the field as well as yours truly. They have been placed into the hands of veterans and novices alike. No, this account is not akin to a Consumer Reports so much as it is a serious attempt to narrow the playing field in selecting quality fly lines for the newcomer as well as the intermediate fly angler looking for today's added edge. Technology in this arena is growing by leaps and bounds.



Left: Teeny
Middle Top: Scientific Angler
Middle Center: Cortland
Middle Front: RIO
Right: Orvis


For those shying away from what they believe to be an arcane art, fly-fishing is as simple or as complicated as you wish to make it. The information set forth is based on a single principle. KISS: Keep It Simple System. Once we start making things too complicated, we wind up omitting an important ingredient from the recipe of success, if not life in general. So let's not forget to factor in what fly-fishing is really all about. Fun. If we have to be convinced and told this twice, thrice or more times, then we must reinforce that solid principle by reminding ourselves and adhering to equation number two. KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid. I think you get the drift. The rewards of fly-fishing are phenomenal.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com

January 01, 2015

Three Fine East End Eateries

by Bob Banfelder

Now that fishing has pretty much cooled down for the winter season, except for those die-hards who'll brave the elements whether aboard open boats heading out for cod and ling or ice fishing their local areas. The lucky few may grab a flight to the Florida Keys. So what are you and I left to do to other than count the days until springtime? Well, for openers, we can count on our favorite fresh fish meals being served at a handful of fine restaurants on the East End. Here are three that will not disappoint.


A Lure Chowderhouse & Oysteria
62300 Main Road
Route 25
Southold, New York 11971
(631) 876-5300



If it's a Tom Schaudel-owned and/or operated eatery, it's sure to be a winner. A Lure Chowderhouse & Oysteria in Southold is exactly that. Fantastic, in fact! As a bonus, the view is grandiose as the restaurant is located in the Port of Egypt Marina on Southold Bay. When Tom was chef de cuisine at Jedediah Hawkins in Jamesport, the restaurant became first rate. The emphasis on Alure Chowderhouse & Oysteria is alluring, for as the name denotes, the main focus is on seafood. There are, of course, steaks and ribs and burgers for landlubbers as well as at least three tempting and delectable salads from which to choose for the vegan.

Donna and I started off with beverages and shared two blow-away appetizers. We ordered and divvied up a bowl of Prince Edward Island mussels in a Thai red curry, coconut, and lime sauce. [$13] Superb. Too, their baked clams presentation (more or less along the lines of a clams casino offering rather than your customary presentment) are truly peerless: eight breadcrumb and herbed morsels splashed with white wine and lemon. [$11]

For Donna's entrée, she ordered Alure's macadamia-coconut crusted flounder dish that was lightly topped with a key lime beurre blanc. Few of us know the work that goes into preparing this sauce unless you are a foodie with a flair for French cuisine. This gourmet plate was portioned with properly seasoned fresh tiny French string beans and a creamy sweet potato puree. [$27]

I delighted in devouring a generous portion of excellently prepared (meaning marvelously moist and most flavorful) crusted and grilled Scottish salmon, ratatouille (a traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish), with olive tapenade (puréed or finely chopped olives, capers, anchovies and olive oil), and lemon oil. [$26] Wow!

We finished the meal with vanilla ice cream (three scoops) and flourless chocolate cake.

CowFish Restaurant
258 Montauk Highway
Hampton Bays
(631) 594-3868

Holy cow! Here is another fine restaurant in the Indian Cove Marina on Shinnecock Bay, just south of Montauk Highway. Dine and enjoy fantastic views of the canal, bay, with boats coming and going from Spellman's and Jackson's Marinas. Blue skies would be a bonus; sunsets will sooth your soul and frame a picture-perfect evening.

Donna and I started off with beverages and appetizers, sharing individual orders of Jumbo Buffalo Shrimp with Danish blue cheese and chives. As ‘jumbo shrimp' is often jokingly referred to as an oxymoron (two words put together that mean opposite things, no different than the classic example of ‘military intelligence'), it is no joke when an appetizer of CowFish's Jumbo Buffalo Shrimp arrives at your table. The shrimp are, indeed, jumbo! And that's no bull. These crustaceans were plump, succulent, and savory. [$12] Oysters Hamptons was the second appetizer we divided up and devoured, comprised of Parmigiano Reggiano, creamed spinach, garlic aïoli (lemony mayonnaise sauce), sriracha (a paste from chili peppers). Wonderful. [$12]

For our entrées, we both ordered NOLA shrimp; short for (New Orleans, LA) Louisana-style cuisine. I had heard earlier from friends and neighbors that this dish is positively a winner. The shrimps are reduced (no, not in size) in a Worcestershire sauce, jasmine rice (a rice with a nutty aroma and a subtle pandan-like sweet flavor), and served with a most tasty, toasted French bread. Friends and neighbors were quite right; this Cajun/Creole creation (if I may be so bold as to use the two cuisines interchangeably) is the best I've had. [$25]

For dessert, we somehow indulged our sweet tooth and managed to finish our Iron Skillet Cookies, served with whip cream and rum (yum) caramel. [$10]

CowFish is once again offering their seasonal five course winter wine-paring dinner extravaganza. If you haven't quite figured out the significance of the restaurant's name, meat and fish should surely give you a helpful hint; hence, an immediate clue as to what will be served during these three hour feasts. Another hint so as to narrow the field, poultry will not be presented, period.

First Course: Braised pork over corn cheddar pudding, apple demi glacé, pickled shallots.

Second Course: Pumpkin dumplings, brown sage butter, braised cabbage, sugared pecans.

Third Course: Pan-seared scallops, Andouille sausage and corn risotto, mushroom demi glacé.

Fourth Course: Grilled NY Strip, herbed potato Au gratin, fried leeks, beet reduction

Fifth Course: Bacon sugar cookie, rum caramel dipping sauce.


Palmer Vineyards will be pairing and explaining their wine selection accompanying each course. As you will be reading this review during the month of January, having missed the November 13th, 2014 wine-dinner event, call or e-mail the eatery at cowfishrestaurant.com for future dates and menu(s).

Touch of Venice Restaurant
28350 Main Road
Cutchogue, New York 11935
(631) 298-5851


Touch of Venice is an old favorite of ours, previously located at the Matt-A-Mar Marina in Southold. After relocating to Main Road in what was formally was the Fisherman's Rest Restaurant, business boomed for the family-owned and operated eatery. The setting is no longer on the water; however, chefs Ettore Pennacchia and his son, Brian, brought forth the flavors of a vintage European background via a marvelously major renovation project—both inside as well as outside the establishment. The new Touch of Venice is vicariously portrayed through tastefully appointed furnishings, photographs, posters, and other artwork. From floor to ceiling and wall-to-wall the theme is casual and comfortable. Not so much rustic as it is provincially relaxing.

Of course, the fare that followed from Southold to its relatively new location in Cutchogue is steeped in traditional recipes that the family has been preparing and perfecting for two decades. It is one of only a few establishments where you can order a seafood combination that is cooked to perfection. A medley such as clams, calamari, shrimp, and say a fish fillet require different cooking times and temperatures. Try ordering this dish in an eatery where they do not have their act together (most do not) and you'll be disappointed in discovering rubbery clams, overcooked shrimp, et cetera. Not so at Touch of Venice, for they've had over twenty years of culinary experience under their aprons. They do things right.

Dinner always begins with an unannounced treat brought to your table: slices of toasty-warm and crusty grilled Italian bread, a trinity of individual portions of pesto, roasted red pepper, and grated Parmesan cheese: symbolic colors (green ~ red ~ white). A bottle of inviting olive oil is already sitting on your table, waiting for you to spread the pesto and roasted red pepper then sprinkle cheese upon those fantastic bread slices . . . finally to dip that delight into a light bath of olive oil you'll carefully pour upon your plate. An introduction appetizer—gratis—to appetizers listed on the menu. Wow!

Donna and I then selected and shared two additional appetizers. One of the restaurant's specialties is their sizable stuffed artichoke offering—not to die for but rather to live for till the day we die! It is stupendous. The labor of love that goes into preparing this dish would simply be considered laborious for most of us. Picture a great open flower with a burst of prodigious buds. Breadcrumb, garlic, herbs, and melted Pecorino cheese adorn virtually each leaf, the cluster bathed in a light flavorsome broth. Savor each coated morsel, right down to the center of the globe's heart, and you'll think you died and went to heaven. [$13] Our second appetizer was big bowl of wild, plump Maine mussels prepared in olive oil, butter, white wine sauce, Parmigiano Reggiano, and lemon gremolata (lemon zest, garlic, and parsley). [$14]

Ordinarily, those three appetizers and a glass of wine (of course), would make an adequate meal for the two of us. However, we brought along our appetites, for we are reviewing this fabulous restaurant. For a main course, Donna ordered a pasta dish of Tagliatelle (traditional long, flat ribbons of pasta from Emilia Romagna and Marche regions of northern Italy) loaded with shrimp and scallops prepared in olive oil, preserved lemons, mixed olives, and capers. [$26]

For my main course, I decided on veal Sorrentino, a classic dish from Sorrento, basically comprised of sumptuous red sauce (gravy, if you will), thinly sliced and pounded veal, eggplant, prosciutto, wine, mozzarella cheese, et al. There are few things worse than ordering veal that arrives at the table tough and/or chewy. Good cuts of veal, such as scaloppini, are expensive. I never had a veal dish at Touch of Venice that disappointed. Another specialty dish that I often order is their signature veal rollatini, prepared with prosciutto de Parma, mozzarella and pecorino cheese, porcini mushrooms, Marsala wine sauce, and risotto. [$29]

For dessert we shared giolitti (Italian ice cream) and tiramisu (coffee-flavored Italian dessert). We asked to be wheeled out to our vehicle.?

*******

There are several fine restaurants on the East End of Long Island. Donna and I have seen many eateries come and go over the years. Here are a couple of tips to restaurant entrepreneurs who wish to remain in business rather than close their doors after a few years. Tip number one: Be consistent in your fare. Folks who shell out hard-earned dollars for a great dinner then return and are disappointed with a mediocre meal are not likely to return. Tip number two: Wine prices are out of sight today. Donna and I like to dine while enjoying a nice bottle of wine. Offer customers a bottle of decent wine for a moderate cost and watch your business grow, even if you make that offering only one day a week.


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com

December 01, 2014

Shimano's Flagship Stella SW Spinning Reels Versus Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet for Surf Fishing

by Bob Banfelder

Comparing a pair of Shimano's high-end spinning reels to Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet series model 6000, but for a fraction of the cost, proved no contest. All three spinning reels offered ultimate performance for the suds this season. However, if price is a serious consideration, weigh the following information most carefully.

Weighing in at 20.4 ounces, Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet 6000 falls between the Stella 5000 SW at 14.3 ounces and the Stella 8000 at 23.7 ounces. Weight can tire you out quickly while walking and working the surf, yet the serious surf angler needs a stalwart outfit that can deliver top performance. Hence, I found a happy medium among three winners. Shimano's two lightest reels in the Stella SW flagship series are by no means lightweights when it comes to getting the job done, for they can tackle virtually anything that swims in our waters. So, too, does Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet 6000, but at a remarkable savings. Donna and I cast these three winners wielding a 10-foot rod with the Stella 8000 SW model, a 9-foot rod with the Ecooda Hornet 6000 model, and an 8-foot rod with the Stella SW 5000 model.


Top to Bottom: Shimano Stella SW 8000, Eposeidon Ecooda Hornet 6000, Shimano Stella SW 5000

By way of analogy, so as to give you some idea of how age slowly takes its toll, I went from shooting a compound bow for many years with a draw weight of 70 pounds, down to a bow of 50-pound draw weight. Consequently, on the fishing front, I put my 12-foot surfcasting rod to rest, and now wield a 10-foot medium-heavy action two-piece Shakespeare Ugly Stik married to a Stella 8000 SW. Donna swings her medium-heavy action two-piece 9-foot Stik coupled to a Hornet 6000. Both rods handle 12- to 30-pound test monofilament line. When we're out there on the beach long enough that Donna does finally tire, she switches to her BWS 1100 medium-action SIGMA two-piece, 8-foot rod favorably fashioned to a Stella SW 5000.

Point of info: Shakespeare Ugly Stik rods are tough as nails and very affordable. Through the years I have told folks that the money they save by purchasing Ugly Stik rods should be to put toward buying top-quality Shimano spinning reels; namely, Stella SW, other Stella models, Sustain, and Stradic—and in that order. Now, I'm strongly suggesting that you give some serious thought in considering Epoiseidon's Ecooda line as I review them. You'll have a better understanding as we move ahead, together, through this report.

First, let's have a look at the many features Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet model 6000 spinning reel has to offer:

O-ring sealed waterproof body and rotor to prevent saltwater intrusion; certainly needed protection against a pounding surf.

Computer-balanced aluminum rotor.

Lubricant service oil port so that you don't have to break down the reel in order to properly maintain the reel through a busy fishing season. And, of course, the reel comes with an adequate supply of lubricant (oil) in a tube to take you through several seasons. Soft reel case also included.

A beefy bail wire with a ceramic bail bushing—not a stainless steel bushing that would still be subject to a harsh marine environment, which could become marred through pitting and corrosion.

Seven precision shielded stainless steel ball bearings and one anti-reverse roller bearing.

Its gears and shaft are all machined stainless steel; that is, pinion gear, drive gear, and main shaft.

A curvilinear-type lip of the anodized spool is probably best described as a ball-shaped edge in lieu of a flat plane and is specifically designed to launch line for long-distance casting. This technological configuration is found on high-end spinning reels such as Shimano. The Hornet reel's specifications indicate that its spool holds 260 yards of 40 lb. test, 185 yards of 45 lb. test, and 140 yards of 50 lb. test braided lines. For the surf, Donna employs 20-pound test monofilament line, so specs should be close.

The Hornet 6000 reel's drag is comprised of a series of carbon fiber washers that exert 44 pounds of serious fish-stopping power. These washers are sealed and protected from water intrusion by a hefty rubber O-ring. Carbon fiber drag washers offer state-of-the art performance because they are not subject to distortion caused by heat buildup. Inferior drag washers do, indeed, warp, resulting in poor performance if not line breakage. A great drag system is of paramount importance in fish-fighting ability. When you are into a good-size denizen of the deep, you want the ultimate of smoothness found in a dependable, high-quality drag system. The Ecooda Hornet model 6000 is smoothness personified. Carbon fiber material is used in brake rotors for aircraft, high-performance race cars as well as clutch plates. Need I say more?

A one-way clutch system.

Double backup anti-reverse locking.

A gear ratio of 4.9:1


Eposeidon Ecooda Hornet Model 6000 Completely Disassembled

I spent a fair amount of time this season comparing two of Shimano's flagship Stella SW [Salt Water] series spinning reels (that I designate for the surf) to this salty newcomer; that is, Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet 6000. It is one fantastic spinning reel for an unbeatable price. Let's compare prices:

Shimano's Stella SW 8000: $829.99
Shimano's Stella SW 5000: $729.99
Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet 6000: $169.98

The latter would inarguably make a great backup reel for the money. For someone just getting their feet wet, so to speak, this would be a great entry-level reel for the suds. What I've done here, of course, is present a very nice reel, size-wise and otherwise, between two fantastic flagship favorites for the surf. Generally speaking, most of us realize that we get what we pay for. There are, of course, exceptions. For example, Shakespeare's Ugly Stiks are unbeatable for the buck. I could have certainly compared the Ecooda Hornet 6000 to a Shimano Sustain or Stradic model; however, I chose to compare spinning reel models that Donna and I use in the surf.

In terms of top-of -the-line features that the Shimano's Stella series is certainly known for, such as Propulsion Line Management, Paladin Gear Durability Enhancement, SR Concept Design, et cetera, the Ecooda Hornet series holds its own says Tom Gahan, Eposeidon's Director of Marketing. In my July 1st, 2014 report for Nor'east Saltwater, I had asked Tom how the company was able to sell quality reels and many other fishing products at such unbeatable prices.

"Well, Bob," Tom had explained, "we do not have fancy corporate offices. We do not run full-page color ads in prestigious magazines. We do not engage in lavish get-togethers. We eliminate the middlemen. Any idea how many people take a piece of the pie before the product reaches a store like, say, Dick's Sporting Goods? These savings are passed on to our customers because we sell direct. Additionally, we strive to assure customer satisfaction. In short, at Eposeidon, we make fishing fun and very affordable."

You can read my review of the company and the Ecooda (Royal Sea) ERS 3000 spinning reel titled Eposeidon ~ Professional Fishing Tackle: Affordable Pricing on www.noreast.com ~ July 1, 2014 report. Affordable is certainly an understatement when compared to the prices commanded for high-end spinning reels. But will the Ecooda spinning reels I reviewed in July and December of this year stand the test of time? Let me say this. Both Donna and I have put both the Ecooda (Royal Sea) ERS 3000 as well the Ecooda Hornet 6000 through some serious punishment this season. Actually, it was several nice bass and an excess of big bluefish that received the punishment. Because the Peconic River and neighboring bays did not produce for us as well as they had in past years, Donna and I hit our Long Island Sound beaches. Of course, readers want to know what lures we threw at those challengers with our three weapons of choice. The bullets we fired were one-ounce Kastmasters with epoxied eyes as well as Charlie Graves' three-quarter ounce tins, also with epoxied peepers. Those were our two tickets this season.



Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com



November 01, 2014

Fishing for a New Outdoors Vehicle

by Bob Banfelder

Donna and I are dinosaurs in that we had driven both our family sedan and 4-wheel drive pickup truck for many, many years. We bought those modes of transportation new in 1991 and 1992, respectively, maintained them properly while having used the latter extensively for outdoor activities; namely, our fishing ventures as well as my hunting endeavors. Seeing that we were to extend these activities to include the mountainous areas of the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York on a regular basis, and in all kinds of weather (I'm talking snow and ice), a new truck to replace the old one was on our short list. Actually, we wound up replacing and giving both age-old vehicles to the kids. A good deal of research had gone into deciding what new vehicles we would select. We knew we needed an all-wheel drive vehicle that would carry loads of fishing and hunting equipment simultaneously because our game plan was to combine the two outdoor activities throughout the entire year; call it our semiretirement. When the bitter cold turned lakes to ice, ice fishing would be on the agenda as well.

We had originally ordered a Honda Ridgeline; however, the deal fell through mainly because of corporate headquarters' poor policy. They were horrible to deal with, but that's another story. On a more positive note, Dale Cha of the Nardy Honda dealership in Smithtown was absolutely wonderful to work with, a great guy. We had ordered and purchased a 2014 Honda Accord to replace our 1991 family car at the same time we ordered the Ridgeline. Donna was quite sad when the latter deal was dead, believing that it was the only truck out there that suited our outdoor needs. "Yes, the only truck, but not the only vehicle," I had insisted. In retrospect, the fiasco turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We had known from the onset that the Ridgeline received poor grades for gas mileage: 15 city/21 highway. What we hadn't realized at the time was that there was a vehicle out there that far exceeded our expectations.

We needed a vehicle that would dependably traverse secondary mountain roads twelve months out of the year; that is, elevated terrain and tracts of land that are generally advisable to avoid from December 1st to April 1st. That is because these unpaved roads, becoming narrow pathways in some instances, are not maintained during this period of time. Since our extended trips of three weeks to a month at a clip would involve transporting a combination of angling and hunting gear, clothing, and many ancillary items, we had to have a vehicle that would safely carry all of it—and in a single shot. After we received delivery of the new vehicle (won't say what just yet) that replaced our 4-wheel drive truck, we packed up for our first outdoor venture to the southern tier. Keep in mind that we were transporting gear re the angling scene that included spin, bait casting, and fly-fishing setups, boots & chest waders, fly-fishing vests, nets, creels, foul weather gear, tackle boxes, and proper clothing for two. On the hunting front, it's solely me and my equipment—loaded for bear in a manner of speaking: shotgun, rifle, compound bow, arrows [all in their respective hard cases], tree stands, ammunition, gunning belt and bow pouches, packs, boots, game hoist/gambrel, field dressing and butchering paraphernalia, binoculars, range finder, cooler, related outdoor and civilian fall apparel. We had packed (actually overpacked) for the three-week stint in the Finger Lakes area.



On top of transporting both of us and all the above-mentioned items, we wanted a vehicle that would do so fuel efficiently. Tall order, yes? Unless you're a contractor or the like, needing to haul 4 x 8 sheets of plywood and/or masonry board within the body of the vehicle, ask yourself if you really need a pickup truck to transport your fishing and/or hunting equipment. We discovered a vehicle that would more than carry what we needed to enjoy the great outdoors in virtually any weather Mother Nature might throw at us, and in a wagon/crossover (call it what you will) that boasts 73.3 cubic feet of cargo area with the rear seats folded down; 35.5 cubic feet behind the rear seats. If you needed more cargo volume, the 2015 Subaru Outback (there, I've said and shown the vehicle) comes standard with a roof rack incorporating a crossbar system that conveniently converts the rails perpendicular to the roofline as well. Very neat, indeed. New for the 2015 model are metal tie-down brackets located in each corner of the rack. Safely securing a luggage carrier, canoe, or racks for kayaks poses no problem.






Now, what if I were to tell you that we received 40.2 miles to the gallon for the 415.2 mile trip while transporting all those items over hill and dale as enumerated? Would you be delighted and surprised as we were? Bet you would be. The mileage was read off the computer screen as shown here as well as corroborated arithmetically at the gas pump during fill up.



Our 2015 Subaru Outback, a go-in-the snow virtually anywhere vehicle, is the perfect crossover for the outdoorsman. When not packed to the rafters, the retractable cargo cover conceals and protects your gear within the vehicle, not outside its body. Considering enclosing a pickup truck will cost you thrice: price of a cap, added weight, and consequently extra dollars at the gas pump. Why not enjoy fishing, hunting, and exploring (along with your other outdoor activities) in style and comfort? I could go on about the many, and I do mean many, features that come standard with the new 2015 Subaru Outback. However, both space and protocol do not and should not allow for it, lest I be accused of blatant advertising. Therefore, I'll head for the finish line, and in a moment, with big money-saving advice. Many of you know that for the past four years, Donna and I have our own monthly Cablevision TV show titled Special Interests with Bob and Donna [Channel 20] that airs 4 p.m. on consecutive Saturdays. During October, we covered our new 2015 Subaru Outback as it related primarily to fishing and hunting. The response was overwhelming.

As the theme of my article writing for Nor'east Saltwater is to educate and often save readers considerable dollars in the bargain, I'll conclude by telling you to shop carefully when considering your next vehicle. If it's a Subaru you seek, see Andrew Mongru, Sales Consultant at Competition Subaru of Smithtown for the absolute best pricing. Believe me; I've been around the block and can tell you firsthand that Andrew and members of the team (Lisa Sessa, Sales Manager), et al, are the best of the best. Having shopped quite carefully, receiving over half a dozen so-called "best-price quotes," Donna and I saved over two thousand dollars by purchasing our vehicle from Competition Subaru of Smithtown! They ought to change their name to No Competition Subaru of Smithtown.

Additionally, Donna and I were up in Ithaca and had several questions regarding our new vehicle. Remember, we are dinosaurs, not having purchased vehicles in practically a quarter of a century. David O'Neil, Sales Consultant for Maguire–Family of Dealerships–Subaru in Ithaca, knowing he wasn't going to make a dime in realizing from the onset that we had purchased our Outback in the Smithtown/St. James area, still spent a good half hour with us, thoroughly answering all our question while physically going over each bell and whistle in detail—not that Andrew hadn't; it's just that there was lots of information for two old souls so close to retirement to digest. These are the kind of folks you're dealing with at Subaru dealerships. Top-notch professionalism.

Finally, here's a tip for those of you in the car-buying market. Generally speaking, the bigger the dealership, the greater chance you have of getting a far better price. Why? These larger companies deal in volume and can afford to give you the best possible price. So don't be afraid to shop around. The two thousand-plus-dollars $avings can buy you plenty of outdoor gear.

Hitch your wagon to a star. Safe driving, folks.


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com




October 01, 2014

Wooden Lures & Fine Wine ~ By Way of Analogy

by Bob Banfelder

In my December 1st, 2013 monthly report for Nor'east Saltwater, I compared wooden lures to plastic classics. Nine months later, having field-tested several new cedar conquerors manufactured by Phase II Lures of Westport, Connecticut, I've come to a definitive conclusion that wood is indeed good and that five quintessential shapely configurations positively belong in your angling arsenal. Try the suggested quintet for openers then decide what you need in terms of size in order to "match the hatch." What is the key to selecting the proper pick from a plethora of wooden lures being offered, which can certainly be overwhelming? Where does one begin? Well, by way of analogy, I apply the same basic formula for selecting fine wine as I do to lure preference; neither of which (lure or libation) will put you in the poorhouse.

There are literally more than five thousand kinds of grapes used in making wine; likewise, there are literally thousands of lures out there of every conceivable size, shape, and color. Novice anglers—whether they be fly fishermen, spin fishermen, or anglers sporting conventional rods and reels— chucking lures in lieu of bait, generally grab whatever catches the eye from display racks hanging in box stores. Similarly, folks selecting wine in their neighborhood liquor stores often choose their vin via the graphic design depicted on the label, much as if they were selecting a greeting card, cost notwithstanding. Even if these customers were to ask the salesperson for his or her advice in deciding on a special wine for dinner, more often than not, that local shop isn't going to be carrying the really ‘good stuff' at the ‘right price.' Truly high-quality wine at a great price is a rarity to come by locally. Similarly, finding top-quality custom-made wooden lures in a big-box retailer such as Walmart is unlikely, too. You are not going to frequently find the best wine or the best wooden lures in your local retail outlets. There is a very good reason for this. Whether we're talking finely-crafted wine or custom-crafted wooden lures, the best of the best are made in limited quantities. Also, when a real deal does come along, it is usually scooped up by employees, collectors, and other insiders quicker than you can say "Fish On!" or "Cent'anni." Join a wine-of-the-month club whose company experts scour the world to bring its customers the finest vin that they wouldn't find elsewhere, at unbeatable prices (ranging between $10 and $15 dollars), and you're in like Flynn. No different than following the writers at Nor'east Saltwater who eat, sleep, and breathe fishing to bring you shared knowledge and money-saving advice; for example, top-quality lures averaging $10 to $15 that catch fish and not necessarily fishermen; also, high-end reels along with up-and-coming top-notch rods that will save you hundreds of dollars when weighed against what the competition is commanding.

So, be it wooden lures or fine wine, let's break down this overwhelming dilemma of endless selection into something quite simple and affordable from which to choose. For instance, out of the thousands of grapes used to make wine, only nine are heralded as truly exemplary. Four are red wines; five are whites. The four red vintage selections are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. The five whites are Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Semillin. Out of the many thousands of wooden and plastic lure configurations, there are only six that are truly classics of a kind: bottle-style poppers; traditional striper poppers (resembling the standard Creek Chub in design); needlefish imitations ~ single or jointed (mimicking sand eels and the American eel), which are positively deadly imitators for big bass and bluefish; both flat- and round-nosed, metal-lipped swimmers; pencil poppers, and bunker-shaped bass blaster lures (ranging from peanut to adult size).

Phase II Lures breaks the above high-quality crafted cedar timber travelers into four main categories, covering the entire water column: Darting/Dipping Swimmers, Floating Poppers, Jointed Needlefish Swimmers, and Top Water Needlefish. Of the five lures I selected from those four groups, the one ounce, 4-inch (8" overall length including trailing hook and bucktail), Bunky wooden wonder lure did it for Donna and me, having murdered many marauding blues along with a few respectable bass.

Under the Darting/Dipping Swimmer's grouping, you'll find seven lures from which to choose. Give Bunky (simulating bunker, of course) a try. This bunker lure comes in five different color combinations: black/silver, blue/white, green/white, white/red, and yellow/red. It was the black/silver pattern that massacred the bluefish. After the blues chomped the bucktail to shreds, it was a simple matter of tying on small amount of brown and white bucktail. Good to go, and the price is right at $11.25 each.

In addition to Bunky, there are six other cedar lure configurations in this grouping to consider, ranging from ½ ounce to 2 ounces. Under the Darting/Dipping Swimmer's category, you'll note such other names as Jayfin, Dipper, Bucky, Junior, Poppy, and Surf Dawg. The latter four lures may be fished as pencil poppers simply by reversing the hook(s). Consult Phase II Lures' website: www.phaseiilures.com for a complete description and pricing.

Under the Floating Popper's category, I selected a ½ ounce, 3-inch Skeeter in yellow/red. The lure also comes in black/red, chartreuse/red, silver/black, and white red; $8.75 each. Also available are the Scooter and Skipper poppers; 4-inch and 6-inch, ¾ and one ounce, respectively.

Covering the Jointed Needlefish Swimmers, I selected the Mongo 7½-inch, 2 ounce, yellow/red/white bucktail, evenly weighted torpedo; $18.35. No trouble slicing through a gusty wind with this missile. A 5½-inch, one-ounce Wiggler, and a serious four-section 13½-inch, 3-ounce Cedar-eel are also available.

Lastly, under the Topwater Needlefish group, I selected two of four styles from which to choose. One is a blue/white, 6-inch, 2-ounce Skimmer; $14.50. The other is a 6-inch, 1.5 ounce Dancer in green/red and trailing a white bucktail; $17.00. Other choices include a 10-inch, 2 ounce, BigT for $25.00, and a Stubby 4-inch, ¾-ounce for $11.75. Again, consult Phase II Lures' website for complete information.


Phase II Lures: Bunky, Skeeter, Mongo, Skimmer, Dancer

Of the five wooden lures that I selected, all caught fish and some very nice fish at that. However, for whatever reason, that bunker pattern was the constant winner. If you are to select but one new wooden lure to add to you arsenal, give Bunky (not to be confused with Bucky in the same lot) a shot. If you are short of these classic configurations in wood, especially bottle-style poppers, traditional striper poppers, needlefish imitations, and bunker replications, give them a try. Referencing my blog of December 1st, 2013, Wood vs. Plastic Lures, comparing wooden lures to plastic, will help explain the reasons why.

I went from purchasing lures constructed of kiln dried northern basswood to selecting lures by Phase II Lures fashioned from cedar. Coupled with carefully selected color combinations, the five lures that I elected to field-test proved themselves worthy. In truth, they are not as nicely finished as my basswood beauties, but in terms of fish-catching ability, they outperform them by a good margin. Is it the cedar construction? Is it purely the lures' design coupled with color? I don't rightly know. Some folks seemingly in the know say it's the distinctive and natural smell of cedar. Others insist that perception is flawed. I try to be fair and balanced in imparting such information. What I do know for certain is that five of Phase II Lures' cedar soldiers mentioned above are to be commemorated. If the company's other lures referenced above are an indication of my fabulous five, well, I think I'll soon have an army for all seasons. At that point, I believe only color and size will be the name of the game in order to "match the hatch." Does this mean that I'll retire my basswood beauties or plastic counterparts? Absolutely not. What it does mean is that I'll have several more seasons of field-testing under my belt to give you a solid overview. Wood is good, and Phase II (cedar) Lures definitely need to be added to your arsenal. Like a fine wine, a fine lure is a remarkable thing.


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com


September 01, 2014

RIO: Selecting Weight Forward Freshwater Floating Fly Lines, Leaders & Tippet Material

by Bob Banfelder

Think Rio, and the recent World Cup matches of 2014 may pop into your mind. Think ahead to 2016, and the Summer Olympics may conjure up the second largest city in Brazil, where the events are to be held in Rio de Janeiro. Ponder its name, and history buffs will be quick to tell you that Rio de Janeiro's English translation is "River of January," when Portuguese explorer Gasper de Lemos navigated into what he thought was the mouth of a rio (word for river), on January 1st, 1502, which actually turned out to be the entrance to Guanabara Bay. I guess because I'm not a spectator sport's enthusiast, RIO has a whole other meaning for me. Perhaps it was the same for Jim Vincent, founder of RIO, who had guided for anglers fishing the Rio Colorado in Costa Rica after noting similarities to a river in his home state of Idaho. Hence, the name RIO, which was planted firmly in Jim's mind as it is in mine.

RIO's Freshwater Fly Lines:

Far Bank Enterprises is the parent company of Sage, Redington, and RIO fly-fishing products. RIO Products International is a manufacturer and distributor of high quality fly-fishing lines, leaders, and tippet material for over 20 years. We'll begin with my fist selection of a RIO Gold WF8F (Weight Forward #8 Floating line). It is one of 7 different lines sizes to choose from in the RIO Gold Freshwater Trout Series; that is, WF3F through WF9F. The combination color in that range is Melon/Gray Dun. Other colors offered are Moss/Gold, Orange, and Lumalux, a glow in the dark color that can be charged with a bright light source. Consult RIO Products' website, www.rioproducts.com, for not all colors are offered for the above-stated line sizes.

All fly lines are not created equal. All weight forward floating lines are not created equal. Therefore it is important to have a basic understanding of these fly lines. Keeping what can be a complicated subject simple is the key to understanding. Let's examine the nomenclature of my RIO Gold Weight Forward #8 Floating line. It is 100 feet long, consisting of two basic sections. The rear section of the line that attaches to your backing is called the running line. The length of my running line is 50.5 feet. That leaves a 49.5 foot length of front section, which is called the head. There's your 100 feet. It's the 49.5 feet with which I want you to concern yourself. The question is can you keep it, or most of it, in the air on your first or second false cast? If you are a beginner, this 49.5 foot head (weighing 315 grains) will be too much for you to handle. You need to select a line that you can handle comfortably.


RIO Fly Lines, Leaders & Tippet Material

For Donna, whom most of you know by now through my writings, she selected a RIO Grand (not RIO Gold) Trout Series WF7F (Weight Forward #7 Floating) line. Let's examine the basic difference between our two fly lines. Her line is also 100 feet long; however, its total head length is only 43.2 feet, a difference of 6.3 feet from mine, which translates into 21 grains less than mine as its total head weight is 294 grains. The point is that Donna can comfortably handle this fly line whereas my heavier line would be too much for her.

If you are a beginner, I strongly urge you to select a fly line, be it for freshwater or the suds, with a total head length [be it a weight forward, shooting taper, floating/sinking mini tip, et cetera] in the mid-thirty-foot range. Casting distance (which concerns many an angler) is not to be measured, initially, by the size of the line, but rather by continued practice. Again, it's what you can comfortably handle before going up to a heavier head. Timing and technique is what it's all about.

The RIO Grand Trout Series fly lines are designed for modern, fast-action fly rods. Too, these weight-forward lines are designed with more weight distributed toward the front of the line in order to easily load the rod. The line incorporates their new MaxCast and MaxFloat Tip Technology. RIO's ultra-sophisticated line coating, and I'll quote, "actively repels water for higher floatation, longer casts and greater durability."

The RIO Gold Trout Series fly lines boasts, and I'll paraphrase, "a revolutionary taper design that offers incredible loop stability, a unique profile that allows a rod to load quickly and crisply, and a front taper design that delivers perfect presentation of flies ranging from sizes #22 to #2. The RIO Gold is the ultimate all round, floating line for the trout angler." I can cast that long 43.2 foot head-length, along with a fair amount of running line, like a breeze.


The author fly-fishing the Cayuga Inlet in Ithaca

What I also like about our new fly lines are that both ends have welded loops. No need to whip-finish and worry if your connections are secure or knot (yes, pun intended). $74.95 each for these and other top-quality sweetwater trout series fly lines is, well, sweet. There are 31 different fly lines in the RIO Gold and RIO Grand series to choose from: that is 19 and 12 selections, respectively. Therefore, all that glitters may indeed be both Grand and Gold. Reach for RIO and see for yourself. Additionally, there are many other fly lines to choose from to serve several different applications.

RIO's Fluroflex Tapered Leaders:

RIO's fly-fishing leaders had its beginnings when Jim Vincent and his wife Kitty toured North America in their Airstream trailer. Today, RIO's Fluorflex tapered leaders are 100% fluorocarbon and boast tough abrasion resistance along with knot and tensile strength. These leaders have long butt sections which turn flies over facilely for that perfect presentation.

When a virtually invisible presentation is desired and required for spooky trout in crystal-clear water, my RIO 9 foot, 5X, 4-pound test fluorocarbon freshwater tapered leader is the ticket to success. For a bit more finesse, Donna's RIO 9 foot, 6X, 3-pound test fluorocarbon freshwater tapered leader is perfection personified.

From 0X (12-pound test) down to 7X (2-pound test), you have your choice of 8 nine foot, deadly, freshwater fluorocarbon tapered leaders to fool the wariest of fish. Don't even think of fishing for finicky freshwater species, especially trout, with general purpose monofilament/copolymer (nylon) leaders. Why? Because you want to give yourself the added edge. Nylon leaders are generally fine for the suds, but you want to lead with a leader that surpasses all others. Yes? So why settle for less? RIO tapered leaders, with their hand-tied perfection loops at the butt end for quick rigging, are the very best of the best. Period.

Now, let's be candid. These nine-foot fluorocarbon leaders are not cheap. They will run you $12.95 each as opposed to $4.95 a pop for RIO's nylon saltwater selections. However, you will be giving yourself the added edge with fluorocarbon over nylon material. You want a tapered leader material that is practically indiscernible in the water column. Think about your outlay for a quality fly rod and reel. Why would you shortchange yourself when it comes to the terminal end of your outfit? Why indeed?

RIO's Fluoroflex Freshwater Tippet Material:

To top off Donna's 9 foot, 6X, 3-pound test fluorocarbon freshwater tapered leader as well as my 9 foot, 5X, 4-pound test leader, we selected, of course, corresponding 30 yard spools of RIO's Fluoroflex freshwater tippet material; $12.95 each. Approximately 2 feet up from the end of my 9 foot, 5X leader is the discernable point where the tapered diameter changes. Therefore, when I lose a couple of feet of leader material due to changing flies, et cetera, I add about 2 feet of tippet material. Good to go.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com


August 01, 2014

The Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum: Fishing the Willowemoc

by Bob Banfelder

The Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum is located on a 35-acre parcel in Livingston Manor, New York, along the banks of Willowemoc Creek. Acquiring additional acreage through the years has increased the property to 55.66 acres along a mile of accessible, prime, No Kill, trout water. The Center also holds title to Junction Pool, which is the headwater of the main stream of the Beaver Kill. In other words, the area is an angling mecca just this side of Paradise for freshwater trout, especially brookies and browns. Having toured the museum, walked the Center's nature trail, and spoken at length with Jim Krul (executive director) and Erin Phelan (executive assistant), Donna and I are ready to wet a line in Wulff Run, which is situated in the middle section of Willowemoc Creek. The middle section of the Willowemoc flows from the village of Willowemoc to Livingston Manor. Its banks are lined with beautiful hemlock and spruce.




Jim Krul, Executive Director, The Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum, talking with the author

The Catskill Fly Fishing Center and Museum is all about preserving, protecting, and promoting fly-fishing—period. It is the world's largest fly-fishing center, recognized internationally and the home of the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame, the Demarest Rodmakers Gallery, the Poul Jorgensen Golden Hook Award, the Catskill Rodmakers Gathering, the Hardy Cup, the Wulff Gallery, and The Catskill Rodmakers Workshop and Arts of the Angler Craft Center. Also, it is the sister museum to Italy's International Museum of Fly Fishing in Castel di Sangro, dedicated to Stanislao Kuckiewicz. Wow!


Sculpture titled: Soon To Be Released by Bob Wolf portrays Lee Wulff, The "Father" of Catch and Release, about to release an Atlantic Salmon

The Willowemoc is 26.7 miles long and flows westerly through Livingston Manor to Roscoe; there it joins the Beaver Kill at the famous Junction Pool. In 1983 the museum first opened as a storefront in Roscoe before relocating to its present location. The lower section of the Willowemoc ranges from 40 to 100 feet wide, with many pools averaging between three to five feet deep. By comparison, back home on Long Island, our three gems, the Carmans, Nissequogue, and the Connetquot Rivers, would have to be deemed brooks when compared to Willowemoc Creek. Everything is relative.

Willowemoc Creek in Region 3 (Southeastern New York), Sullivan County, is stocked annually with over 18,000 brown trout, while brook trout thrive well on their own. Rainbow trout do fair to middling. The section of Willowemoc Creek, 1,200 feet above the mouth of Elm Hollow Brook to 3.5 miles downstream to the second Route 17 Quickway Bridge east of Roscoe is catch and release only, year- round, artificial lures solely.

In the Willowemoc Creek Region 3 (Southeastern New York), Sullivan County section, from Iron Bridge at Pakston, downstream, trout season opens April 1st and runs through November 30th. An angler may take 5 trout daily, which must be a minimum length of 9 inches.

Mayflies, caddisflies and stoneflies appear to be the preferred ‘match-the-hatch' patterns for Willowemoc Creek. Blue Quills, Quill Gordons, Blue-winged Olives, Gray Drakes, Hendricksons, March Browns, miniature Midges (which may sound oxymoronic ~ more on midges in a moment), and Red Quills head the list in alphabetical order. Yet I can't wait till Donna and I introduce Jim to the gray nymph Gimp Fly that I tie. The fly was originated by Lacey E. Gee and highly praised by his friend Erwin D. Sias, who later wrote an article published in Outdoor Life (November 1950 issue), titled "They Go for the Gimp." It is my go-to fly for the four seasons and for one reason. The Gimp fly catches trout: brooks, rainbows and browns. Too, it is a great fly for bluegills and crappies. I have been using this deadly fly since the late sixties. The Gimp is presented in my new book titled The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water. I tie a saltwater pattern for the suds. Pictured below are a number of trout that fell for The Gimp while fishing the Nissequogue, Carmans, and Connetquot rivers of Long Island through the years. However, I'll be sure to have on hand a good selection of the above mentioned patterns for the Willowemoc . . . just in case.



Selecting flies to cast at random can prove to be a complete waste of time, kind of like employing them alphabetically as cited above. Therefore, knowing what fly to tie to your tippet during a particular time of year will dramatically increase the odds of hooking and landing a prize. For example, specific to the Willowemoc from the middle of March to the end of May, select a Blue-winged Olive for openers. Blue Quills and Quill Gordons would be a good choice for around mid-April. Around the third week in April to mid-May, Hendricksons and Red Quills would be a good choice. Around the fourth week in April to the middle of May, Gray Drakes appear on the scene and would be a smart choice. March Browns emerge around the middle of May and well into June. Those midges, mentioned earlier, can be fished all year. And don't overlook terrestrials; that is, insects that are born and spend their ephemeral existence on land but inadvertently fall prey to hungry trout via heavy winds and torrential rains. Ants, beetles, crickets, and grasshoppers patterns are a few of my favorite imitations. Moving from small patterns to bigger flies, streamers, but of course, immediately come to mind, for the thinking is that a big fly will catch a big trout. But keep in mind that midge patterns fool many big trout as well. And as for my Gimp fly, I tie them on hooks ranging from sizes 16 to 6. Most of my bigger trout, namely browns, were taken with hook sizes ranging somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.

My son and I have fond memories of the Catskill area, having fished, of course, the Beaver Kill, fueled body and soul at the Roscoe Dinner, and overnighted at the Antrim Lodge. Donna and I will be fishing the Finger Lake region, with special attention initially beginning with Cayuga Lake. Lake trout and salmon are on our minds and will be most definitely on the menu, not to mention mixing it up with a bit of deer and small game hunting. Andrew Burns of Dick's Sporting Goods in Ithaca was a wealth of information, pointing us in the right direction relating to newcomers fishing and hunting the area. On the way home, Donna and I made a nostalgic stop at the Roscoe Dinner; wholesome food, as always, and plenty of it. As Donna and I love Italian food (and who doesn't?), we'll be making it a point to dine at Raimondo's Restaurant on our next trip to Roscoe, after visiting angling shops in the area.

The two fly-fishing shops that are a must visit are The Beaverkill Angler, www.beaverkillangler.com, 52 Stewart Avenue, and Catskill Flies www.catskillflies.com, 6 Stewart Avenue (right across the street, under the green awning), both in the village of Roscoe. Local angling knowledge along with a wide selection of flies and equipment are what you will uncover within these two well-stocked shops pictured below.


One of the Many Displays at The Beaverkill Angler


Catskill Flies


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller/Mystery Author & Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Co-host, Cablevision TV, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com





July 01, 2014

Eposeidon ~ Professional Fishing Tackle: Affordable Pricing

by Bob Banfelder

Review: Ecooda ERS 3000 Spinning Reel

Under the Eposeidon Outdoor Adventure, Inc. label, the Ecooda (Royal Sea) ERS 3000 all metal, aluminum body spinning reel is a real deal. It is designed and engineered by Ecooda, and, yes, it comes with an extra spool; that is, a second aluminum alloy (not plastic) spool. I filled one spool with Eposeidon's Superpower 12-pound test braided line, and the other with KastKing's Copolymer 12-pound test. KastKing is Eposeidon's own brand of fishing tackle: Whatever line you choose to fill your spools on the Ecooda 3000 Max Drag Power spinning reel, mustering up to a whopping 22 pounds of stopping power, you will experience ultimate smoothness. Why? Well, the reel's drag system is comprised of carbon fiber washers while the reel itself boasts 8 shielded stainless steel ball bearings plus one instant anti-reverse roller bearing. Carbon fiber drag washers are an important element found in quality reels because they do not distort from excessive heat buildup. Comparable reels of this caliber cost many times more than the ERS 3000. I repeat—many times more. More on pricing in a moment, for I want to first bait you. You might and should be asking yourself how the company can do that inexpensively? Note that I didn't say cheaply, for there is nothing cheap about this reel.

Let's examine this reel further: A precision machined stainless steel gear shaft along with a brass pinion gear drives this workhorse. A specifically designed PLS (Power Launch Spool) spool lip allows for longer, tangle-free casts. Two of those eight stainless steel ball bearings support the spool and offer super-smooth retrieves. What if I told you that the angler shall receive this precision packaged product, plus an extra spool, for under a hundred dollars? What's the catch, you're certainly wondering. Well, there is a catch. The catch is that you're going to cast, retrieve, hook, and catch far more quality fish with this capital reel in hand than you would with a low-end reel costing about the same amount of money. Here you're getting an excellent reel at a fraction of the cost. How does $95.98 with free shipping grab you? Remember, the reel comes with a second spool. And how about an extra 5% off a second Ecooda spinning reel? That's it, folks. There truly is no catch other than landing that keeper.

Delving into the workings of this fine tool, let's consider other important aspects with which I concern myself. In addition to the number of shielded stainless steel ball bearings housed within the body, which translates into the reel's smoothness, gear ratio and weight are to be regarded, too. The ratio for the ERS 3000 is 5.1:1. The reel's weight is 10.6 ounces. This simply means that you can cast and retrieve for hours on end without fatigue.

Line capacity is another consideration. Here is the ERS 3000's spool rating referencing monofilament line for 10-, 12-, and 14-pound test line: 10 lb./220 yds. ~ 12 lb./140 yds. ~ 14lb./110 yds. Their corresponding capacities, measured in millimeters and meters, respectively, as the company utilizes the metric system in lieu of U.S. Standard, are forever etched upon the spool: 0.286/200 ~ 0.33/130 ~ 0.37/100. Huh? Live with it. Of course, you will fill the spool with greater yardage when utilizing braided line of equal strength. Although the company is new to the United States, its products are well-known and very popular in Australia, Europe, as well as making headway in Canada. Hence, the utilization of the metric system.

Let's review as well as consider a long list of added features:

Flex-free aluminum alloy side plates.

Extra flex-free aluminum alloy spool.

Specially designed Power Launch Spool (PLS) lip for longer, tangle-free casts.

A super-strength micro-balanced aluminum rotor.

Eight (8) precision stainless steel shielded ball bearings.

One (1) instant one-way clutch roller bearing.

Easy access to anti-reverse switch.

Close tolerance machined stainless steel gear shaft and brass pinion gear.

Direct-drive handle with nonslip T-grip for solid hook-ups.

Max Drag Power carbon fiber washers.


The Ecooda (Royal Sea) ERS 3000 aluminum alloy body spinning reel comes in purple, red, and gold trim. Shown here is the purple trim model. As either your mainstay or as a backup reel, you won't go wrong with the Ecooda (Royal Sea) ERS 3000 spinning reel.




ERS 3000 inner workings

I am currently field-testing rods, reels, lines and lures along with others who are part of the Eposeidon Professional Fishing Tackle Team. Only when we are completely satisfied with a product, after having rigorously field-tested each item while offering both negative and positive comments, will that article move from the prototype stage and brought to the point of refinement. Only then will it be placed in your hands. Stay tuned for future reviews.

Review: Copolymer & Braided Line

Let's examine the types of fishing line offered under the company's umbrella; namely, Eposeidon's Superpower Braid, and KastKing's Copolymer Line. Years ago monofilament line was a single filament line, whereas today copolymer is a two or more filament line. It is my understanding that most monofilament lines are now, actually, copolymer lines. KastKing's copolymer lines boasts high tensile strength, superior castability, low stretch, and high abrasion resistance—and for a fraction of the price that you would normally spend for quality mono. I've noted, too, that Kast King's copolymer lines have a smaller diameter for a given pound-test rating than the competition. Interesting.

I'm presently working with KastKing's 10- and 12-pound test line: blue-green and clear copolymer, respectively. They cast a country mile. I'll need the rest of the 2014 season to fairly judge their overall performance and will certainly follow up with comments at a later date. Meanwhile, compare 330 yards at $6.99.

Additionally, I'm field-testing Eposeidon's SuperPower Braid Line in 12- and 15-pound strengths: Hi-Vis Yellow and Moss Green, respectively. Again, I'll need the remainder of the season to judge their overall performance. The company boasts high tensile strength, great abrasion resistance, virtually zero stretch, ultra-sensitivity, round and smooth construction for superior castability, and a special coating to limit water absorption. Several more trips to the porgy grounds with a by-catch of blowfish, kingfish, and trigger fish will give me a good indication of the braids' performance; 328 yards for $11.98. Compare big name brands ranging from $17 to $25 for only half that yardage.


Pictured left to right (foreground): Spools of KastKing Copolymer blue-green line, Superpower Eposeidon green braid, Superpower Eposeidon yellow braid, KastKing Copolymer clear line
(background): pouch, box for ERS 3000 spinning reel, extra spool, reel lube


Once again, it's interesting to note that these reels and lines sell for far less money than the big name brands. How are these two companies able to do this? In answering the question, I contacted Eposeidon's Director of Marketing, Tom Gahan. "Well, Bob," he began, "we do not have fancy corporate offices. We do not run full-page color ads in prestigious magazines. We do not engage in lavish get-togethers. We eliminate the middlemen. Any idea how many people take a piece of the pie before the product reaches a store like, say, Dick's Sporting Goods? These savings are passed on to our customers because we sell direct. Additionally, we strive to assure customer satisfaction. In short, at Eposeidon, we make fishing fun and very affordable."
*****

Some of you may be thinking that this sounds like familiar rhetoric, short of solid substance. But I know better. I say this with utmost confidence for the simple reason that I know Tom Gahan both professionally and personally. If Tom were in Athens, circa 365 B.C.E., Diogenes (with lantern in hand during daylight hours to further the philosopher's point), searching for an honest man, would not have had to wander far nor wide if Gahan were in proximity. Tom also addresses the issue of brand loyalty. What it comes down to is this; I'll paraphrase. When you realize that an off-brand reel, rod, line or lure can do a job equally as well as your name-brand favorite, but at less than half the price, brand loyalty often takes a bow and a backseat to the educated consumer.

Will the Eposeidon and KastKing series of reels and rods hold up over the years? Don't rightly know; only time will tell. And hopefully I'll be around to tell you like it is. Ostensibly, however, we have a winner on our hands with the Ecooda (Royal Sea) ERS 3000 spinning reel. At this juncture, I strongly advise and urge you to log onto www.eposeidon.com. You'll discover lures that will lure you with both hard and soft baits at unbelievable savings; for example: tins, plastic frogs, single and jointed crankbaits, buzzbaits, spinnbaits, umbrella rigs, et cetera. I was delighted to see that the lures I'm field-testing boasted quality VMC hooks. You can thank me later with your comments after you save a small fortune on reels, lines, and lures. Remember, too, that those rods we're field-testing are just a short cast away from production.
Eposeidon was most recently named the exclusive Ecooda Distributor for North America. I'll also be looking forward to reviewing one of the company's low-profile bait casting reels in the very near future. Once again, stay tuned.


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller Novelist, Outdoors Writer & Creator of a Unique Writing Course Guide
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com

June 01, 2014

Traveling Long Island for Trout

by Bob Banfelder

From Freshwater Rainbows & Browns to the Suds for Weakfish ~ a.k.a. Sea Trout

Laurel Lake for Rainbows & Browns:

Getting a late start this season, Donna and I grabbed our Mad River Canoe on April 3rd, heading for Laurel Lake to wet a line. People ask me, "Where is Laurel Lake, exactly?" It sounds a bit confusing when you try and explain it to some folks, for Laurel is a CDP; that is, a Census-Designated Place; a hamlet of Laurel, located mostly within the town of Southold, but with a tiny section situated in the town of Riverhead. To confound matters, Laurel Lake is considered to be within the boundary of Mattituck, as it lies within the Mattituck-Cutchogue Union Free School District. Huh? As convoluted as these lines of demarcation are so deemed and mapped, a moment of lucidity shines through in the realization that, "Yes, you can get there from here." From Riverhead, take Route 25 heading east for approximately six miles to the town of Laurel. A DEC access sign to the town park will be on your left; drive to the back parking area.

It was good to be back out on the water after such a cold and snowy winter. As we portaged along the 200-yard path leading from the parking area to the shoreline, I couldn't help noticing deer sign—everywhere: rubs, scrapes, and excrement. For a moment, I was back in a hunting mood, Donna having to remind me that we were here for fishing, not pursuing whitetails. Laurel Lake Preserve and Park is a 480-acre parcel teeming with wildlife. Laurel Lake, itself, is a 30-acre gem.


Laurel Lake DEC Access & Information

Twice in April, the DEC first stocks the lake with 240 rainbow trout then later in the month, 260 brown trout, both species initially ranging between 8½–9½ inches. Come fall, these freshwater fishes of the Salmonidea family reach 14 inches on average. Lunkers lurk in this lake, too.

Not only will the angler find rainbows and browns ranging through this kettle hole (in this case formed by a retreating glacier eons ago), he or she will encounter both largemouth and smallmouth bass, bluegills, brown bullheads (catfish), chain pickerel, pumpkinseed, and white and yellow perch. Now, if that's not a sweetwater smorgasbord found in our own neck of the woods and water, well, let me tell you that it just doesn't get any sweeter than this. If you're a freshwater fanatic, you're going to fall in love with Laurel Lake.

The lake has no inlet or outlet stream, which means that there is virtually no runoff, resulting in one of the cleanest, clearest small bodies of water on Long Island. It is 47 feet deep in its center. Knowing where, how, and when to fish this honey hole is the key to success. A small hand-carry craft such as a canoe or kayak (no motoring), will give you an edge over shoreline anglers for obvious reasons. This is not to say that Donna and I haven't caught keepers from the shoreline.

Spinner baits trailing night crawlers will work wonders for the majority of species mentioned. Of course, if you're a purist, a fly rod employing a streamer fly such as a Muddler Minnow or a deadly dun-colored Gimp will stay the course. I have taken more trout with the Gimp fly than Carter (no not Jimmy) has little liver pills. Since the mid-sixties, it is my go-to fly for all seasons. In my new book, THE FISHING SMART ANYWHERE HANDBOOK ~ FOR SALT WATER & FRESH WATER, I discuss discovering this fantastic freshwater fly, present a brief history, as well as offer a tying recipe for both sweet and saltwater, the latter of which is my own creation. Also, a book that should become your freshwater bible is Tom Schlichter's Long Island's Best Freshwater Fishing, covering streams, ponds, and lakes throughout the Island, and then some. If you are a freshwater fanatic, this book belongs on your shelf if not in the glove compartment of your vehicle.

Nissequogue River for Rainbows & Browns:

Heading west on April the 14th, Donna and I had signed up for the late morning 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. session on sections (beats) #4 and #5 of the Nissequogue River. That section of water, eight beats in all (#2–#9), is run by Caleb Smith State Park Preserve in Smithtown. Fly-fishing only on that stretch of the Nissequogue River is available from April 1st to October 15th. A New York State freshwater fishing license and reservations are required. A four-hour session (7:00 to 11:00, or 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. is $20. Years ago, they had an evening session, too. It would not be unusual for me to sign up for all three sessions, bring lunch, and fish for brookies, rainbows, and browns the whole day through. The permit fee was only $5 back then. The cost, of course, went up as times certainly do change. What has not changed, however, is the beautiful, serene setting. Give this north shore wonder a shot. Although designated a river, the section of water covered here (beats #2–#9), may arguably be considered a stream; unarguably, stream-like. Hey, I didn't say a brook. Anyhow, if you're not into wading this relatively shallow flow in hip boots or waders, the area has pond platforms #10–#14 on Vail Pond. Donna and I have taken good-sized pan fish from those platforms. Stick with the Muddler Minnow for some serious fun on the pond.


The Gimp Does its Duty for Dinner

Selecting the aforementioned Gimp fly, then later the Muddler Minnow that mid-April day, Donna had a ball with a series of rainbows measuring 13 inches and 13½ inches. I stayed with my Gimp and nailed a few nice browns, also in the 13-inch category. A 19-inch rainbow appoints a wall in our home, taken on the Gimp from days gone by.

The Peconics (river and bays) for Weakfish:

Moving from the freshwater scene at Laurel Lake and the Nissequogue River to the briny side of the Peconics (namely, its river and bays), Donna and I launched our boat in mid-April. With the water surface temperatures above 50º Fahrenheit, it was prime time. Striped bass season had opened on the 15th; however, the big boys and girls were not in our area as of yet. Schoolie bass were the name of the game from the 105 Bridge area and eastward. Big bluefish were being taken out at Shinnecock. Schoolie-sized bass to eighteen inches gave us action through the third week of May. Then, suddenly, members of the Cynoscion regalis family, namely weakfish (a.k.a. sea trout, tide runners, gray trout, yellowmouths), entered the area in numbers, whereas the action had been rather spotty and sporadic in 2012–2013.

We went from targeting schoolies (all you wanted, truly) with our go-to lure for most species (Kastmasters with eyes that I epoxy upon the tin), to breaking out our arsenal of pink deceivers for the prettiest fish that swims in our waters—the venerable weakfish. Our go-to lure (a lead head teaser rig) for those prize-worthy swimmers was tied for me by Nick Posa, one of finest fishermen for virtually all species in the northeast. Nick is the proverbial "walking encyclopedia" of angling, be it fresh water or the suds. On top of that, he is one of the nicest people on the planet. What more can I say about Nick than to share with you the basics of a special rig he ties, which is an absolute killer for weakfish.

Secure a Spro Prime or Spro Prime-type ¾ ounce lead head jig with a 3/0 hook tied with pink bucktail atop the shank, white bucktail tied along the bottom; same basic color pattern as the lead head. Secure a Spro Prime or Spro Prime-type ¼ ounce lead head jig with a 1/0 hook tied with just darker pink bucktail for the smaller lead head; silver iris with black pupils for both pairs of eyes. Study the photograph. Note the modicum of flash material along its skirt.




Nick Posa's Deadly Lead-Head Tandem Rig for Weaks

As I haven't tied this deadly duo in tandem as yet, I'll simply give you the general specs. You'd begin the procedure with approximately 48 inches of 20-pound test monofilament line. Eighteen inches down from the top of a barrel swivel is a 2-inch dropper loop tied to the Spro Prime-type ¾ ounce lead head jig. Twenty-one inches down from the dropper loop, is the ¼ ounce lead head jig. You should wind up with a three-foot tandem rig. Good to go.

As of this writing, that is, right on through this last day of May, Donna and I are nailing these beauties. As my reports appear on the first of the month, in this case, June 1st, don't lose a second by waiting till the 2nd; get out there today and get in on this great action. Grab anything pink for openers. No, I don't mean pants and/or shirt, fellas; people will talk. Set your drag slightly lighter than you normally would because these fish have tissue paper-thin mouths that will easily tear a lip when setting the hook; hence, they're aptly named weakfish. Finesse that fish. Oh, and have that landing net handy. Also, when you unhook the fish, be careful of those sharp fang-like teeth at the top of its jaw. I've seen veteran anglers forget . . . Ouch!

See you out there.


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller Novelist, Outdoors Writer & Creator of a Unique Writing Course Guide
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com


May 01, 2014

North Fork's Fresh Fish & Loaves of Fine Breads

by Bob Banfelder

Last month's report referencing the Riverhead Farmers' Market in downtown Riverhead received a good deal of attention. Therefore, I allowed it to mushroom (pun intended) into a second foodie article covering the month of May. You'll recall that I wrote a piece for April highlighting the Long Island Mushroom Company, Inc. of Cutchogue, abbreviated LIM, which is owned and operated by John Quigley and Jane Maguire.

This month's report shall feature two specific booths at the Riverhead Farmers' Market, offering items near and dear to many of our hearts: local fresh fish and wholesome fresh baked breads for the multitude of folk. Just add your favorite wine for a worthy repast. But before you subliminally conger up Christ-like images or perhaps wonder if I am going to proselytize and/or launch my own ministry, take solace in that I but solely plan to put you on the path to fine fare. As a matter of fact, the path is short in that both stalls are adjacent to one another; that is, fish and breads. You may purchase these fresh and delectable products on Saturdays from 11a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Riverhead Farmers' Market, located at 117 East Main Street in downtown Riverhead. After being open for only a month, the market became so popular that the town plans to expand as well as extend the operation past the projected May 17th date—on through November.

The indoor Riverhead Farmers' Market opened in February of this year at the former Swezey's department store on East Main Street. In addition to the purveyors who take pride and part in the indoor market, organizer Holly Browder said the market expects to add a few more local vegetable farms for the summer season, including Garden of Eve, Mar-gene Organic Farm, and Invincible Summer Farm. The current level of 35 vendors will increase to 50 in the summer. Browder said that after November the market may move into a different location and larger storefront on the same street.

First off, let's go fishing for fine seafood at the downtown Riverhead Farmers' Market. Easy parking is accessible at the rear of the building, which is set along the beautiful Peconic River. Be sure to take a stroll along the boardwalk before or after shopping. As you enter from the rear, you will find Meredith Daniell and her display of fresh fish and shellfish to your immediate left.



Merken Fisheries boasts a proud family-owned and operated commercial fishing business that provides sumptuous seafood from their decks to your lunch or dinner plate, not that I haven't chowed down on a seafood omelet at 6 a.m. before hitting the surf, river, or a trout stream. Whether it is breakfast or brunch, lunch or dinner, fish and shellfish have a place at your table. Meredith Daniell of Merken Fisheries in Hampton Bays brings to Riverhead the company's fresh-caught seafood from our local waters, including sea scallops just off the boat at 8 a.m. By 11 a.m., you will find Meredith purveying a tasty selection of seafood.

The commercial vessel F/V Lady J is out of Shinnecock, and captained by Captain Kenneth Jayne. His first mate (when she's not busy with other responsibilities) is Meredith Daniell. Meredith's helper at Riverhead Farmer's Market is Kaitlyn, pictured here with Meredith. What you can expect to find during the season are locally caught cod, yellowtail flounder, fluke, monkfish, ocean perch, swordfish, clams and sea scallops. Included are tuna, wild salmon, and shrimp brought in from other areas.



Among several meanings of name and origin, I guess it would be apropos to pigeonhole Meredith (taken from Welsh) as Guardian of the Sea, or at the very least, master of all she purveys. Good to go. Fine product, Meredith.

****************

Adjacent to the fish concession at the Riverhead Farmers' Market, you will find Renée Duarte, an employee representing the Blue Duck Bakery Café. Donna and I have been dealing with Renée at the Riverhead store since December of 2012, which is located at 309 East Main Street. The company's owners are Nancy and Keith Kouris, also with stores in Southold and Southampton. So if shopping at the Riverhead Farmers' Market does not fit in with Saturday's11a.m. to 3 p.m. schedule, you have a few options. Check them out at their three locations.



The only item shy from your fish, bread, and wine repast would be a nice cheese. Well, the Riverhead Farmers' Market has virtually everything you need to prepare a fantastic spread, including wonderful cheeses. This is one-stop shopping under a single roof: fish, bread, wine, cheeses, salad greens, vegetables, gourmet spreads, preserves, Italian delicacies, ad infinitum.

Blue Duck Bakery artisan breads are truly fantastic; the selection is wonderful: ciabatta, baguette, brioche, pain pugliese, semolina, Tuscan, et cetera. There are positively no preservatives, stabilizers or dough conditioners added. Hence, these loaves are to be eaten soon after purchase. What these breads do contain are unbromated, unbleached flour, water, sea salt and natural leavenings. Rather than lecture you on the positive aspects of unbromated, unbleached flour in baking bread, let me succinctly state that the United States FDA is more concerned about special interests than it is consumer interests. Bromated flour has been banned in the United Kingdom. Of course, lots of TLC is the not-so-secret added ingredient alluded to on the Blue Duck Bakery Café's web site. Allow me to excerpt from their web page regarding what is quite germane so that you will enjoy their genuinely fresh baked breads, cakes, cookies, pies, and pastries:

[Artisan breads are created by hand in the centuries old tradition of European bakers. The technique and observation of sensitivity of the artisan baker produce distinctive and personalized loaves. Artisan bread may differ from day to day and loaf to loaf with variations in shape, color and texture due to human touch and the breads' organic nature. Each loaf is formed by hand, assessed by the eye and subject to the baker's judgment at every step.

The Blue Duck Bakery Café bakes our own signature line of artisan breads as well as the finest quality pastries and cakes. Our bakery products are made fresh daily on premises, under the expertise and direct guidance of Keith Kouris, master baker with over 25 years of experience and a graduate of the French Culinary Institute's International Bread Baking Program.

Storage for our breads: Artisan breads should be eaten as soon as possible for the best flavor and texture. After slicing and if you will be eating more bread the same day, you may store the bread cut-side down on the counter. Moisture is a crusty bread's worst enemy, so if you must store your bread, place it in a paper bag and then inside a plastic bag sealed tightly. Do not refrigerate. You may freeze it stored this way for up to one week. After defrosting, refresh your bread by wrapping it in foil and placing it in a 400 degree oven for 6-8 minutes.]

There you have it, folks. North Fork's one-stop shopping on Saturdays from 11a.m. to 3p.m. at the Riverhead Farmers' Market. Two suggestions to make life easier: bring a tote bag and arrive a half hour earlier for best selections.

Ah, just when I thought I was finished with this report, Tom Schlichter, outdoors columnist for Newsday, arrives at the door for a taping of Special Interests with Bob & Donna, our monthly Cablevision (Channel 20) show. Tom turns up with treats before we get started taping: a nice piece of salmon seasoned with cHarissa, an "authentic" Moroccan-influenced spice. cHarissa comes in powder as well as liquid form; package (3 oz., $6) or jar (9oz., $12). Too, both items are offered either mild or hot. I've been hearing a great deal about this spice. It is indeed versatile in that it may be used on virtually everything! For example, fish, meat (great on game), vegetables, pasta, and cheese. The seasoned piece of salmon that Donna and I greedily shared was absolutely fantastic. Vegans are in for a special treat as cHarissa when added to humus or mayonnaise will pleasantly surprise your palate. This is a condiment that positively belongs in your kitchen, for it is a winner.



And guess what? These package and jar spices are also featured at the Farmers' Market, midway on the left as you enter through the rear of the building. Look for Liz Clayton and be sure to say hello.

For further information about cHarissa, Google Tom Schlichter's Web Site: www.outdoortom.com.


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller Novelist, Outdoors Writer & Creator of a Unique Writing Course Guide
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com








April 01, 2014

North Fork's Fleshy Fungi for Seafaring Foodies

by Bob Banfelder

The Long Island Mushroom Company, Inc. of Cutchogue, abbreviated LIM, is owned and operated by John Quigley and Jane Maguire. They will soon be open to the public; however, you may purchase their gems on Saturdays from 11a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Riverhead Farmers' Market, located at 117 East Main Street in downtown Riverhead. After being open for only a month, the market had become so popular that there is talk of expanding and extending the operation past a projected May 17th date to year-round.



There are three types of mushrooms sold at the market: blue oyster, shiitake, and maitake.

Unlike the blue oyster and shiitake mushrooms, maitake mushrooms have no gills; therefore, they may be frozen whereas the shiitake and blue oyster mushrooms cannot. All three types can be kept seven (7) to ten (10) days on a center shelf, uncovered, in the refrigerator. They are packaged by the half pound in slit-wooden cartons for good air circulation; hence, do not place them against a wall of the refrigerator.

As the mushrooms are grown fresh and handled by the company in a controlled environment, they need not nor should they be washed. Everything has been done for you. Simply remove the cellophane wrapping from the top of the carton when you get home, refrigerate as explained above, and you are ready to prepare sumptuous fare—I'm talking gourmet quality. In a moment we'll look at a gourmet mushroom/seafood soup recipe I created that will wow your guests, but first a modicum of information referencing these marvelous mushrooms. It will help us to appreciate the efforts involved in cultivating this trio as well as justify cost, which, ostensibly, may seem pricey.

blue oyster mushrooms take five (5) to seven (7) days to grow. [$10 per ½ pound.]

shiitake mushrooms take seven (7) to ten (10) days to grow. [$10 per ½ pound.]

maitake mushrooms (also called hen of the woods, sheep's head, and ram's head) take seven (7) weeks to grow! Consequently, they command a higher price. [$15 per ½ pound.] In Japan they are referred to as the king of all mushrooms. Maitake literally means Dancing Mushroom, so named because locals who would find them growing in clusters at the base of trees would Dance for Joy. They are our favorite, not only for taste but because, as mentioned, you can freeze and use them as needed. Donna and I freeze them in individual snack-sized 6-5/8 inch x 3-¾ inch Double-Lock Glad Zipper Bag quantities to be used later in soups, salads, gravies, casseroles and stews. No need to vacuum seal and freeze them in our household because they fly out of the freezer in no-time flat.

The shiitake and blue oyster mushrooms may be dehydrated (dried) then rehydrated as needed by simply adding warm water. If you have your wood-burning stove cranked up this time of year, cut the mushrooms into narrow one-inch strips and place them on a raised open rack set atop the stove, monitoring them until they are dry—not dried out. After a couple of evenings, you may put them in an open glass jar so as to dry for an additional day. Then seal the jar with a lid and store in a cool dry place.

Another method is to spread the cut strips of mushrooms on kitchen paper (paper towel) placed within a roasting tray, allowing them to dry in an oven set on low heat. Again, the key is monitoring these morsels so that they are dry. If they are not dry, they will rot when stored. If they are too dry, they will crumble.

If you are leery about experimenting with the above methods, then keep things simple by planning to use your refrigerated blue oyster and shiitake purchase within seven to ten days. Again, keep in mind that you can achieve longevity by buying fresh maitake mushrooms and freezing these cluster gems for later use. Whatever you decide, you will convert an ordinary meal into an extraordinary repast.

In John and Jane's Cutchogue facility (or is it Jane and John's :o)), maintaining constant room temperatures along with humidity controls are vital for a favorable bloom. One type of mushroom may require a lower temperature and greater humidity than another. Quality control is key to suitable production.

Ready for my gourmet mushroom/seafood soup recipe? Here goes:

You can cheat by starting with a lobster bisque base put out by Legal Sea Foods, sold at BJ's. It is the best that I've tasted of the ‘already prepared lot' and is always available in the store's refrigerated section (dated with a "Use Or Freeze By" date approximately one month out). The bisque comes in two 20 oz. 2-packs. I usually prepare one container immediately and freeze the other. One container will net four servings after I doctor up the bisque.

Bobby B's Deceitfully Delicious Lobster Bisque
Serves Four


Ingredients:

(1) 20 oz. container of lobster bisque
12 top-neck clams
12 jumbo shrimp
1 cup diced maitake mushrooms
1 cup chicken broth
¾ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon cream sherry ~ [deluxe quality] Savory & James
1 tablespoon butter
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
dash of ground gourmet-style peppercorns (black, green, white, pink) adds a nice touch
4 teaspoons chopped parsley
4 heaping tablespoons sour cream at room temperature

Procedure:

Shuck the clams as you generally would. However, for an added super presentation and ease in eating, I like to cook the clams so that each is wholly hinged by a single muscle. This way, they do not get lost in the broth when both cooking and serving. You can either follow this simple and appealing presentation or pass on it, handling the clams as you normally would. Your choice.

The flesh of each clam is attached by four adductor muscles; two on each side of its shell at the four corners. We'll shuck them so that only one of the four muscles holds the whole of the clam in half of its shell. If you're right handed, this is easily accomplished by holding the clam upright in your left hand with the narrower dimpled side facing downward and within the palm of that hand. You will note that there is a somewhat wider gap on the dimpled top side of the shell, making it easier to open. Open the clam by running the blade straight down from top to bottom. Disconnect two adductor muscles from the back half of the shell by cutting through them with the blade of the clam knife flat against the two corners of that shell, gently allowing the flesh to fall forward and lay into the front half of the shell. Discard the now empty back half of the shell, which will facilitate cutting one of the two adductor muscles from either side of the remaining front half of the shell. If you did this correctly, the whole clam is hinged together and held but by a single adductor muscle. This will stay together nicely, and your guests will see what they are getting.

Peel the shrimp down to the tail section. Bend and break back that sharp, pointed appendage at the base of the tail (telson). Gently pull upon the fantail-shaped flipper (uropods). This will facilitate in removing the remaining shell without breaking off the tail. It makes for a more pleasing presentation, especially in dishes where the whole section is being utilized. Here, however, we will be carefully slicing the shrimp lengthwise and removing the two so-called veins: one on top (its digestive track); one on the bottom (its nerve cord). Use a small, sharp paring or fillet knife. I love my Marttiini 4-inch fillet blade from Finland. Extremely sharp, so be careful. Wash the shrimp in cold water and set aside.

In an 8-quart pot, heat the bisque at a low temperature. [In just a moment, you'll understand why we're using such an oversized pot.]

Add the mushrooms, chicken broth, wine, sherry, butter, cayenne, ground pepper, and parsley. Stir well until the butter has melted.

Raise the heat source to medium. Do not allow the bisque to bubble. Stir constantly.

When hot, carefully place your clams into the liquid, stacking them in two layers. Keep spooning on the bisque broth until the clams are nearly cooked—not overcooked. Approximately three (3) minutes.

Add the shrimp and continue cooking for approximately one (1) minute more. They will have a slight twist to them. Shut the heat source.

Divide and evenly spread the sour cream into the bottom of the four soup bowls.
Upon the base of sour cream, carefully spoon out the clams with the attached shells. Three (3) per person.

Spoon out and add the shrimp. Six (6) halves per person. Better count evenly and meticulously as our guests squawk if they feel that the person sitting to either side of them has more shrimp or clam.

Ladle out the bisque into each bowl and serve immediately.

Accept all appreciative but garbled comments most graciously as your guests greedily spoon-feed their faces. :o)

[Next time, experiment with all three types of mushrooms for a special treat. I didn't want you to spoil your guests this first time around. Trust me in that you'll be doubling and tripling the recipe once word gets out.]

Bon Appétit.

A final word about the mushroom mavens, John and Jane: The two were once childhood sweethearts who rediscovered one another then reunited after thirty-two years.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller Novelist, Outdoors Writer & Creator of a Unique Writing Course Guide
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
[www.robertbanfelder.com]

March 01, 2014

Selecting Caliber Surfcasting Rods and Matching Reels

by Bob Banfelder

One of last month's responses to my February blog convinced me of the necessity to scribe a piece on selecting quality surfcasting rods and reels, specifically spin-type gear. There came a point in time that my older equipment was just that: old; not necessarily dated—but old in the sense that I hadn't purchased high-quality tackle for openers. Those items became worn and tired sooner than later. Most folk settle, I think, somewhere in the middle of a wide price range when selecting fishing tackle. I quickly learned to select most of my rods and reels (and Donna's) in the middle of the top-of-the-line price range as manufacturers tend to cover a broad spectrum of pricing so as to reach all markets. I don't have to tell you that a hundred dollar reel is not going to perform or last like a thousand dollar reel. Not that you should run out and spend that kind of money for starters. What you should do, however, once you know that you like—a lot—the fine sport of fishing, be it spin casting, bait casting, or fly casting, is to go middle-of-the-road at the top-end of a model series. Quality is what you are after, especially in a saltwater environment. If you have truly become a fanatic, then I strongly urge you to reach for the best of a top-shelf series. Top-shelf in the Shimano spinning reel series lineup are the Stella SW, Stella, Sustain, and Stradic series—and in that order.

Looking at a catalog is fine for gathering information referencing a particular model. Ah, but holding the item in your hot little hands is quite another matter. A box store will probably have a limited selection, if at all, of these high-end reels. A well-stocked tackle shop is your best bet. Don't feel funny asking a salesperson to set up a reel and rod that you're considering; that is, after you've spent a good amount of time waving several wands around to determine the action you're seeking. Is the rod too stiff to your liking, like a fishing friend of mine mentioned in response to last month's blog? Had my buddy held the 9-foot BWS Medium-Heavy Shakespeare Ugly Stik in one hand and the company's 8-foot BWS 110080 Medium wand in the other, he would have immediately noted a world of difference between the two rods. Such a person might have selected the latter and saved himself $125 compared to the cost of my friend's St. Croix Tidemaster Inshore rod; MSRP $180. That savings could have gone to one of Shimano's Sustain models, one step up from his Stradic model.

You generally get what you pay for. In the case of Shakespeare's Ugly Stik rods, you get a whole lot more than you bargained for. They're the best rod out there for the money, affording you the biggest bang for your buck.

To keep matters simple re last month's blog, I had addressed, in a general sense, 8', 9', 10', and 12' Ugly Stik rods for the surf. Although not specifically classified as a surfcasting rod, Donna's model BWS 110080 two-piece, 8-foot Medium-Action Ugly Stik is designed to handle ¾- to 3- ounce lures with line ratings running between 10 to 25 pounds. It's the lightest of Shakespeare's three BWS 8-foot Ugly Stiks. It's perfect for her ($54.95). As I'm getting several calls and responses about downsizing, referencing these wonderful rods as well as others, I figured I'd best elaborate, moving from general to more specific information. I'll continue with two additional 8-footers and work my way on up to even a 15-foot Ugly Stik surfcasting rod, to be placed only in the hands of gorillas, of course. Ah, I just can't resist this: Where along the beach does a guy wielding a 15-foot Ugly Stik rod fish? Answer: Anywhere he wants. :o) :o) All right, so I'm not a Jay L. or a Jimmy F. Get over it, folks.

Now, on a more serious note, don't fall into the trap of ruling out an 8-foot Ugly Stik simply because it may not be strictly classified as a surfcasting rod. First off, we are going to examine the trio of 8-foot BWS Ugly Stiks before moving on to the 9-foot bona fide surfcasting wand. If you recall my advice from last month's report titled Scaling Back As We Get Older, I'm sure most of you would agree that it's better to be out there casting and covering a good amount of waterfront property over several hours than having to pack it in early due to sheer exhaustion. Remember, we're supposed to be out there having fun, not attempting something amounting to a test of endurance.

Moving one step up from Donna's magic wand, while remaining in the same 8-foot category, is Shakespeare's 8-foot BWS 110180, also a Medium-Action Ugly Stik but designed to handle 1- to 4-ounce lures with line ratings running between 12 to 20 pounds (also $54.95).

Advancing yet another step up the ladder is Shakespeare's two-piece, 8-foot BWS 110280 Heavy-Action Ugly Stik, designed to handle 1- to 6- ounce lures with line ratings running between 12 to 30 pounds (also $54.95).

As we move into the 9-foot realm, matters become less involved because Shakespeare offers but a single surfcasting rod. That is, a model BWS110090 Medium-Heavy Action Ugly Stik, designed to handle 1- to 4- ounce lures with line ratings running between 12 to 30 pounds (also $54.95). The single selection two-piece rods will hold true as we cover Shakespeare's lengthier Ugly Stik surfcasting rods.

The 10-foot BWS 1100100 Medium-Heavy Action Ugly Stik rod is designed to handle 1- to 6- ounce lures with line ratings running between 12 to 30 pounds ($64.95).

The 11-foot BWS 1100110 Heavy Action Ugly Stik rod is designed to handle 2- to 8- ounce lures with line ratings running between 12 to 40 pounds (also $64.95).

The 12-foot BWS 1100120 Heavy Action Ugly Stik rod is designed to handle 2- to 12- ounce lures with line ratings running between 12 to 40 pounds ($69.95).

The 15-foot BWS 1100150 Medium-Heavy Action Ugly Stik rod is designed to handle 2- to 12- ounce lures with line ratings running between 12 to 40 pounds ($89.95).

Unless you have unlimited funds to purchase any number of the rods covered here, it is my suggestion that you select one rod of a single length that you can comfortably handle and, if you are so inclined, select a second of a different length. For example: one rod from the 8-foot group, and either a single 9- or 10- foot pole. Instead of selecting a second rod from the 8-foot category, I'd rather see a surfcasting angler select a longer length, provided, of course, that he or she can handle it. It could serve as a backup rod and/or one with a bit more backbone if needed. After you know the length of rod that you can comfortably handle and are happy with the wand's action, determine the weight of the lure(s) that you will be casting. Rest assured that line rating will affect a lure's distance performance, so be sure to have an assortment of lures on hand. Too, this additional (generally heavier) rod choice will serve for a wider range of fishing conditions such as a heavy wind playing havoc with your lighter outfit, whereby you might need a weightier lure and added power to get beyond those breakers. This heavier piece of artillery will, indeed, wear you out quicker, but at least you'll be back in the game after you catch your breath. A backup rod has on more than one occasion saved the day for us.

Pictured below is Donna fraught with cabin fever, pushing the season on February 20th, 2014. No, I did not hear, "Fish on!" She's geared up and anticipating spring action with her 8-foot Ugly Stik coupled to a Shimano Stella 5000 spinning reel. Good to go.



A sound word on Shimano's top-of-the-line spinning reels for the brine: When I wrote my fishing handbook The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook For Salt Water & Fresh Water [covering a host of other on-the-water related activities such as kayaking and canoeing, clamming and crabbing, smoking fish and preparing gourmet seafood recipes], published in 2013, the MSRP for Donna's Stella SW 5000 spinning reel was $729.99. Today it is $1,059.99. My Stella 8000 SW spinning reel was $829.99. Today it is $1,159.99. Are they worth it? For the most serious saltwater anglers, they are wise investments both in terms of longevity and lasting love. They are Shimano's newly designed flagship series; hence, the added costs; six model sizes from which to choose, ranging from $1,059.99 to $1,259.00. After heading to the bank for a hefty withdrawal or maxing out your credit card to secure these superb reels, don't leave home for the shoreline without them. If those price tags are tantamount to swallowing horse-sized pills, consider Shimano's Stella (not to be confused with Stella SW), Sustain, and Stradic models. They are high-caliber quality spinning reels, too, for considerably less money.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller Novelist, Outdoors Writer, "Gifted" College Instructor & Creator of a Unique Writing Course Guide
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
[www.robertbanfelder.com]


February 01, 2014

Scaling Back As We Get Older: From Surf Rods to Ship-Sized Fishing Vessels

by Bob Banfelder

Donna and I are not getting any younger. In fact, we are at a point where we're slowing down a bit. Consequently, scaling back has become a necessity and for more than a single reason, everything from fair-sized fishing vessels to surf rods. Most recently, I went from wielding a 12-foot Shakespeare Ugly Stik for the surf, down to a more manageable 10-footer. Similarly, Donna went from a 10 down to an 8; no, we're not talking dress sizes. Today, we walk the beach and cast our respective wands for half a day without fatigue whereas two seasons ago we were wiped after only a couple of hours. Although admittedly casting a few yards less, we still nail those stripers and blues. Ask yourself the following question while keeping this picture firmly in mind, for I know you've been there: How many times have you seen a fishing boat with anglers trying to cast as far inshore as possible while you were onshore with the suds at the top of your chest waders trying to rocket that lure several yards farther out? Here's perhaps an even better example if you'll pardon the hyperbole: How many times have you ripped your shorts trying to cast from the Long Island Sound side to the Connecticut shore only to discover that a school of bass were knee-deep in back of you?

Permit me to take a step back from the fishing forefront for a moment in order to further illustrate the need to downsize equipment in other areas of our outdoor world as we get older. I could quite candidly practice shooting my 70-pound Mathews bow in the backyard in 70 degree temperatures for half a day—and did—until the years along with cold weather atrophied those muscles while I was perched in a tree stand with the mercury plummeting into the low teens. Time to own up I had realized, so I dropped down to a Mathews 50-pound Z7 Magnum Solocam. No problem whatsoever, having taken a nice fat doe that season. Keep in mind that it's all about shot placement for openers; no pun intended. That 50-pound compound easily gets the job done.

Next, my Remington 11-87 semi-automatic12-gauge rifle-barreled slug gun has now become a backup piece as I hunt with a much lighter Remington 11-87 semi-automatic 20-gauge for wily whitetails. And for shooting skeet, Donna shed 2.6 pounds (yes pounds) by packing in her gas-operated 12-gauge Winchester pump for the far lighter inertia-driven system 20-gauge semi-automatic Franchi, imported by Benelli, USA.

Now, back to the fishing arena concerning far bigger pieces of equipment: Even our boats have gotten smaller and consequently lighter as time marched on. We downsized from a 25-foot cruiser, to a 22-foot pilothouse, to an 18-foot center console. Yet, Donna and I still cover the North Fork and beyond. We're just a bit more prudent in picking our days. Consider, too, the fact that downsizing made far less work for this Mom and Pop team, both in terms of preparation and maintenance, not to mention a significant fuel savings. So don't let weight and/or size of equipment put a damper on your outdoor activities as you're getting up there in age, for we all are headed in that direction . . . sooner or later. Just realize that whether you're male or female, big or small, or seventy-plus years young, you have viable options.

Let's take a closer look at those Ugly Stik rods mentioned at the beginning of this report, that is, the 12-, 10-, and 8-foot lengths. Specifically, let's note what these wands weigh in at so that you have a basis of comparison when shopping. You won't find this information listed on Shakespeare's Ugly Stik specification sheet. I had left a message for Mike Walsh, Ugly Stik Product Manager, a really nice young man who got back to me in a flash with precise rod weights. Too, I'll address two compatible reels that Donna and I use with the 10- and 8-foot rods for the surf, creating a lightweight package that does not shortchange us in the long-run. For I'm sure you would agree that it's better to be out there casting and covering a good amount of waterfront property over several hours than having to pack it in early due to sheer exhaustion. Remember, we're supposed to be out there having fun, not attempting something amounting to a test of endurance.


Shakespeare's 12-foot (3.60m) Ugly Stik BWS 1100 Heavy Action two-piece rod is designed for 12–40 pound test line. The rod weighs in at a mighty 27.7 ounces. That's 9.4 ounces heavier than my 10-footer. Just like my 12-guage Remington, the 12-foot stick is now my backup rod should I run afoul. In its stead is the far lighter 10-foot Shakespeare Ugly Stik, which I wield indefatigably.


Top to Bottom: 12-foot Ugly Stik
10-foot Ugly Stik coupled with a Shimano Stella SW 8000 reel
8-foot Ugly Stik coupled with a Shimano Stella SW 5000 reel

Shakespeare's 10-foot (3.05m) Ugly Stik BWS 1100 Medium-Heavy Action two-piece rod is designed for 12–30 pound test line. I couple the rod to a Stella SW model STL8000, spooled with 185 yards of 20-pound test monofilament line. This fantastic reel can put the brakes on with a whopping maximum drag setting of 55 pounds! The reel tops the Toledo at 23.7 ounces; the rod weighs in at 18.3 ounces for a total of 42 ounces in lieu of wielding 51.4 ounces. Shedding 9.4 ounces makes a world of difference.

Shakespeare's 8-foot (2.40m) Ugly Stik BWS 1100 Medium Action two-piece rod is designed for 10–25 pound test line. Donna couples her rod to a Stella SW model STL5000, spooled with 136 yards of 14-pound test monofilament line. This precision reel applies the brakes at a maximum drag setting of 29 pounds; nothing wrong with that kind of stopping power. This beauty comes in at a bantam weight of only 14.3 ounces. The rod weighs in at 11.8 ounces for a total of a mere 26.1 ounces. Donna could probably handle a 9-footer, weighing in at 14.6 ounces, but that 6.5 ounce drop from a 10-footer made her happy, so why argue with success. With a 9-foot rod, we'd only be talking a difference of 2.8 ounces anyway. And believe me when I tell you that Donna doesn't catch less or smaller fish from the surf.

Shimano's Stella SW flagship spinning reel model series also come in three larger sizes: STL 10000, STL 18000, and the STL 20000. Unless tackling bluefin tuna from a boat, these larger capacity reels are really not needed for the surf. The Stella SW models STL 8000 and STL 5000 are more than adequate for the suds. Smooth? All Stella SW models boast 14 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing. Yes, they're positively smooth. Of course you'll pay a premium for these top-of-the-line reels: $1,159.99 and $1,059.99 respectively. Are you still with me? In many an article, I try and convince readers to justify (if not rationalize) the cost by realizing that you are purchasing the best of the best when you acquire Shimano's high quality spinning reels, which are Stella, Sustain, and Stradic models. For the surf, you want a bullet-proof spinning reel, and the Stella SW series is the ticket. Offset your cost by marrying these reels to a nominally-priced, quality Ugly Stik wand, and you've got a bargain in your hands. Why? Because you'll spend two and three times the amount of money for a comparable rod that will give you a bit—and by a bit I mean a tad—more flexibility. Compare Shakespeare's Ugly Stik prices with other manufacturers, and you will see this to certainly be the case.

Let's look at the cost of several Ugly Stik rods. A 12-foot will run you $74.95; a 10-foot Ugly Stik $59.95; 9-foot Ugly Stik, $54.95; 8-footer, also $54.95. Put these rod savings toward precision Shimano's Stella SW spinning reels, and you'll thank me in the long-run. Again, when it comes to serious surf fishing, you want the best equipment. The lightweight surf outfits I suggest here will not disappoint.

Aging does not have to mean hanging up your rods and reels, bows, guns, fishing vessels then retiring to a rocker. It simply means scaling back a bit. Again, the options are many for the outdoorsman and outdoorswoman.


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller Novelist, Outdoors Writer, "Gifted" College Instructor & Creator of a Unique Writing Course Guide
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com

New for 2013-2014


January 01, 2014

Covering Your Ice-Eater Investment: Literally

by Bob Banfelder

De-Icers, or ice eaters as they are also commonly called, are basically cylindrical units with an electric motor and propeller. The units are designed to prevent ice from building up around such structures as docks, pilings (aka pylons), stanchions, piers, ramps, in-water boats, marinas, et cetera. The way the unit works is that the propeller circulates the warmer geothermal subsurface water from below, flowing upward and thereby keeping an area open and free from ice formation. Set up your unit(s) early enough with the proper output (horsepower) and you won't have to worry about initially breaking up a barrier as the units do little in the way of actually melting ice that has already formed. If you are a last-minute Charlie and wait until Mother Nature's penultimate hour when the ice has already taken hold, you may have a difficult time.

My original unit was and still is a ¾ horsepower Kasco Marine Inc., Water Agitator (De-Icer) with a The Power House, Inc., thermostat, both purchased in the early 90s. Following instructions, I had placed the unit in various positions (angles) in order to cover the greatest surface area possible. The unit worked adequately, except during extremely cold and continuous weather conditions. Case in point:

I awoke one morning during a low tide to find my floating dock not floating but actually suspended three feet above an ice-covered surface. The piling's horseshoe hoops had frozen and locked the docks solidly in place. I had to wait until the tide rose anew in order to safely free the dock. Another time, I waited too long to place the ice eaters and had to smash 3- to 4-inch thick ice with a heavy-duty sledge hammer all along the periphery of the floating docks; that's 44 feet of unnecessary laborious work. What I hadn't realized at the time was that the snow-covered dock was actually suspended a good foot off the surface and came crashing down at one end when it released. I was thrown forward but managed to grab a ramp railing. How many times one has to be hit over the head with a stupidity stick is perhaps an excellent gauge of one's IQ. In my case, it was but twice. It was clear that I needed an additional unit working in concert with the first in order to protect the entire dock and pier area.

I had purchased a new ¾ horsepower The Power House Ice Eater with a K-Kontrol thermostat, strategically placed and set in a timely fashion, meaning before Mother Nature once again took her tenacious hold. Let's examine the area I had to cover and how I went about nipping well-below freezing January and February temperatures in the bud:

I have two floating docks, each measuring 16-feet in length. Another 8 feet separates the end of one floating dock from the pier (of which a 14-foot ramp joins the two structures). We're already up to 40 feet in length x 6 feet in width that warrants protection for the dock area alone. Next, I had to take into account approximately another 36-foot length of stanchions supporting the pier to where it connects land during a mean low-water and a mean high-water mark. That's a total length of 76 feet of required protection times 6-plus feet in width. I suspended one unit off the end of the floating dock, closest to and angled toward the pier. The second unit I centered and suspended along the westerly edge of the outboard floating dock, angled outward as this is the side most susceptible to ice buildup because of severe winds blowing northeasterly.



Suspending the top of the unit(s) approximately two feet below the water's surface, at a point where the water churns and bubbles and barely breaks the surface, is the threshold you want to achieve. If the water bubbles up well above the surface, it will harden into ice in a continuous freezing wind. Set too low in the water column, the unit(s) will not work effectively either, and you will find yourself having to chop ice along the periphery, especially on those consecutive days when the mercury plummets well into the teens. Also, I adhere to suspending the lines and positioning the unit at its sharpest angle for an elongated rather than a circular pattern. I have been experimenting with different depths and angle suspensions for twenty-three consecutive years and find the above procedure to be the most effective. Consult the unit's instructions for ancillary but important information.

Once you have satisfactorily protected the area from freezing over, giving yourself a comfortable margin to completely surround your dock, pilings, stanchions, pier, boat, et cetera, only then would I start adjusting the thermostat(s) for ambient temperature control in order to conserve energy. Do not try to be penny wise initially because you are likely to wind up being pound foolish sooner than later.

Important: Now, here's the kicker. You're all set up and ready to attack Old Man Winter. You even remembered to install a new sacrificial zinc (which may or may not come with your new unit, but should) so as to thwart electrolysis and not damage the ice eater. Therefore, what unforeseen calamity awaits you? Answer: Plastic bags and/or other debris floating about can bring that unit to a sudden halt and a slow death, burning out the motor in the bargain.
If memory serves me, the initial Kasco ¾ horsepower De-Icer ran me in the neighborhood of $400 (twenty-three years ago), not including thermostat. Certainly not cheap, but worth its weight in gold in terms of insurance against losing your dock, pilings, boat, and so forth. Likewise, the additional The Power House, Inc., Ice Eater ¾ horsepower unit that I purchased, perhaps a year or two later, cost in the same neighborhood. A plastic bag had lodged itself into the unprotected top opening of the unit and seized the motor. Not that this couldn't happen to the Kasco unit of smaller diameter, for both units are open and unprotected at the top. The Power House unit is well-protected along its cylindrical wall. The Kasco unit is but semi-protected by thin ribs running vertically along its sides. Again, both units are open at the top and invite trouble. At a repair cost of practically three quarters the price of a new unit, I remembered a quote coined by Plato: "Necessity is the mother of invention." I nipped this issue in the bud pronto, need I be hit over the head thrice.



1. Purchase a small roll of plastic garden mesh with 1- inch squares; not 1½- inches as found with snow fencing.
2. With a black marker, outline the periphery of the top of the unit.
3. Using a pair of strong serrated scissors or wire cutters, cut out the shape of the unit's circumference.

If screening The Power House unit, you should find five predrilled holes along the top of the unit. Space out and drill five smaller (13/16) additional holes along the periphery in order to securely screen the top of the unit with cable ties. For added insurance, you may want to screen the bottom of the unit as well.

If screening the Kasco unit, simply follow steps 1– 3, then attach screen to the top frame with cable ties (no drilling necessary).

4. Cut the excess tags.

In contacting The Powerhouse Inc., Company, their Venturi design has remained unchanged since 1978. They offer an optional screen for $20. I suggest making your own. Kasco Marine, Inc., too, has remained virtually unchanged. The Kasco unit does not offer an optional screen. Also, you may want to screen Kasco's cylindrical frame as 5-inch x 2-inch vertical slits surround the unit. This simple and inexpensive procedure will give you piece of mind and could save you a considerable expense. I haven't had another issue in all these years. However, I have found plastic bags that wanted to wend their way inside the screening but to no avail. So check those units periodically through the season. I will admit that I live in an area surrounded by three marinas and am therefore prone to debris. If you're a fisherman and/or boater, you know you can find those troublesome plastic bags and other debris anywhere in the water column. In making a final decision on which unit to choose, there are several consideration: size of the unit(½, ¾ or 1 horsepower for the area you want protected; weight of the unit; ease of screen instillation; and, of course, cost. Shopping the Internet will save you money—just weigh the shipping charge into the equation.

At the end of the wintry season, it's a simple matter of carefully cutting a few cable ties holding a section of the top screen in order to remove the old zinc anode, replacing it with a new one (approx. $20). Check for any fishing line and such on propeller and shaft.

The Kasco ¾ horsepower De-Icer is available at [www.iboats.com] for $538.99; shipping is extra. The Kasco C-10 Thermostat Controller costs approximately $100.

The Power House ¾ horsepower Ice Eater is available at [www.starmarinedepot.com] for $525.95 with free shipping. The Power House Ice Eater thermostat, under the name K-Kontrol, is $67.95 from [www.starmarinedepot.com].

If I were to amortize the cost of a $600 investment today; that is, a ¾ horsepower ice-eater and thermostat over a 20-year period, that would come to $30 a season ~ $60 for two units (exclusive of zinc anodes and electricity). That's pretty cheap insurance, provided they last as long as my units have, which I'm sure they will if you heed my advice. As I don't wish to be hit over the head again, I store a spare unit and thermostat because you never know what can happen when dealing with Mother Nature, or that unpredictable law called Murphy's.

Have a happy and healthy New Year, guys and gals.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller Novelist, Outdoors Writer, "Gifted" College Instructor & Creator of a Unique Writing Course Guide
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
[www.robertbanfelder.com]

NEW FOR 2013-2014


December 01, 2013

Wooden vs. Plastic Lures

by Bob Banfelder

There exists a bit of controversy regarding wooden plugs versus their plastic counterparts. Some folks maintain that wooden lures, per se, offer a softened, toned-down, subdued sound that is more likely to attract rather than spook fish. These folks also hold to the belief that wooden lures present better action than plastic poppers and/or swimmers. I believe that lure design along with how and where you present the artificials are what dictates these conditions. For example, all things being equal, a wooden lure hitting the surface upon a calm body of water such as a tranquil bay may, indeed, produce more of a softened, toned-down, subdued sound than the plunk of a hunk of plastic. However, in the surf I wouldn't imagine it making much of a difference—that is, wood or plastic—as those lures relate to either sound or action. I believe this matter intrinsically boils down to the following.

Those who prefer wood lures over plastic, in general, are more than likely those who enjoy the quintessential essence of a time gone by, no different than the traditional fly-fisherman/flytier might find it difficult to break with the past and use synthetic fibers, epoxies and silicone compounds in lieu of time-honored thread and feathers. With this understanding in mind, the preference of wooden vs. plastic lures lies at the heart of the matter. What more needs to be said? You could simply take me at my word and shun either the traditionalist for the use of wood or the conventionalist for employing more modern-day materials. Or you can do what I did and discover for yourself the benefits of both wood and plastic lures. I began by purchasing a few wooden bottle-style poppers, traditional striper poppers, along with a couple of needlefish imitations. But please don't do that . . . yet. By way of segue, allow me to elaborate.

Dorothy Parker (short story writer, poet and satirist)—well-known for her wit and wisecracks—said: "I hate writing but love having written." I have several friends and acquaintances who confess that they hate reading but love having knowledge and know-how. Is this not a good analogy? You bet it is. Therefore, read on and feel confident in the knowledge and know-how that will up your ante throughout the water column in our backwaters, rivers and bays.

Generally speaking, handcrafted wooden lures are expensive. Lemier's Plugworks, manufacturers of fine wooden lures for salt and fresh water, will cost between $20 and $30 dollars for the aforementioned bottle-style, traditional striper poppers, and needlefish imitations. Salty's, another fine manufacturer of wooden lures, will run you about the same amount. However, I recently discovered a treasure trove of handcrafted wood lures ranging from 3 inches on up to 7½ inches, and for approximately half the cost. For example, the following lures (with added promotional store discounts) were heavily discounted 18½ per cent at Dick's Sporting Goods, one of their new stores that just opened on October 25th in Riverhead.

4½ inch Bottle-Style Popper weighing 1½ oz. MSRP $12.99–discounted $10.59
5½ inch Bottle-Style Popper weighing 2¼ oz. MSRP $12.99–discounted $10.59
7½ inch Needlefish weighing 1¾ oz. MSRP $12.99–discounted to $10.59
3 inch Striper Popper weighing ¾ oz. MSRP $12.99–discounted to $10.59

Additional store incentives resulted in the purchase of eight (8) fantastic custom-crafted lures in an assortment of colors—as pictured— for approximately $10 each. Now, that's a bargain for custom, handcrafted, high-quality timber travelers.

These wooden wonders are from the Tsunami Timber Lure Series, manufactured by Bimini Bay Outfitters LTD., Mahwah, New Jersey. The bodies are constructed of kiln dried, prime northern basswood, which is then finished with three coats of epoxy to ensure durability. The hooks are top-quality, VMC Cut Point 4X Strong Permasteel (carbon steel) O'Shaughnessy style treble hooks on the two types of poppers described below; a treble and single hook on the Needlefish. The split-ring components are made of heavy-duty stainless steel. All lures are comprised of extra heavy-duty stainless steel thru-wire construction.

Tsunami's Timber Lure Bottle-Style Poppers cast like guided missiles, fashioned very much like Don Musso's (founder of Super Strike Lures) LittleNeck Poppers. The Timber Popper's versatility lies in the fact that as a swimmer it is also an awesome surface-wake bait. A slow retrieve will cause the lure to wobble, so stay awake and focused. At rest, it will float at a 45-degree angle with its nose breaking the surface for feigned helplessness. Stop-and-start pulls, pops, and splashes promise to produce plenty of powerful strikes. Pop it, stop it, and swim it, then stand by for some serious action.



The Bottle-Style Poppers presently come in eight colors: White; White~Yellow Body; Blue~Pink Flash/White Belly; White~Pink Flash/White Belly; Blue Mackerel; Pink~White/Belly; Bunker; and Blue~White Belly. The lures are available in two lengths: 4½ inches and 5½ inches.

Tsunami's Timber Lures's 7½ inch Needlefish, weighing in at 1¾ oz., casts extremely well. Mimicking sand eels and the American eel, these lures are deadly imitators for big bass and bluefish. Although somewhat similar to Don Musso's Super ‘N' Fish lure of the 1980's, the Tsunami Timber Needlefish is not tapered at both ends, but rather narrows from back to front, noticeably so just forward of its eyes. Unlike other needlefish lures that I have used, Timber's Needlefish, on a slow retrieve, has a deadly side-to-side action. Allow it to rest, and it will slowly sink, tail down, imitating a wounded baitfish. Cast it, work it slowly through a water column, pause it for a few seconds, then retrieve in a laggardly fashion.



The Needlefish lures presently come in six colors: White; White~Olive/Black; Black~Black/Purple; Black~Silver Belly/Red Eye; Blue~White Belly; and Blue~Pink Flash/Blue Black. They are available in three lengths: 6½ inches, 7½ inches, and 9 inches.

Timber Lure's Tsunami's Striper Poppers, resembling the standard Creek Chub in design, cast remarkably well for a 3-inch, ¾-ounce popping plug. Contrary to the packaging description, the Striper Popper does not "float slightly nose-up," but rather lies perfectly flat while at rest; nor does it wobble on a slow retrieve. What it does do is pop its way quite nicely through the water column, creating enough of a wake and commotion to attract game fish. What I believe happened is that the company somewhat confused the ‘at rest' descriptions between their Bottle-Style Popper and Striper Popper, for it is the Bottle-Style Popper that floats with its nose breaking the surface. No big deal because they're both great lures. Just be aware of that age-old adage: Don't believe everything you read; unless, of course, you're reading it here in Nor'east Saltwater. :o) :o)



These Striper Poppers presently come in three colors: Chartreuse~Black/Silver; Dawn Herring; and Gold with Black Spot. The lures are available in three lengths: 3 inches; 5 inches; and 5½ inches.

Now, I'm not suggesting that you set aside or sell off your array of plastic plugs and opt for wood instead. Certainly not! Each has their place and time. What I am suggesting is that you pick up a traditional striper popper, a bottleneck-style popper, and a needlefish lure—all in wood. Try them out on stripers in calm waters, and I'll bet you'll wind up with fewer schoolies, hooking up instead with keeper bass. Save your plastics, for they can surely take a beating from those monster, chopper blues. Toss a wood to an ambushing behemoth lying behind that boulder on your Fish-Finder screen and score big. You'll cull the keepers from the schoolies more often than not. That's been my experience.

Additionally, Bimini Bay Outfitters has a wide selection of other wooden models from which to choose, and in many colors, lengths and weights: flat nosed, metal-lipped swimmers; round nosed, metal-lipped swimmers; pencil poppers; jointed eels; and the ever-popular Danny-style lures.

Also, Bimini Bay Outfitters has a vast selection of both hard and soft plastics and tins. These lures, too, come in a myriad of shapes, sizes, weights and colors: Top-Water, Walk-the-Dog ( K-9) lures; Floating-Talkin' (rattling) poppers; jigs; skirted trolling lures; Ballyhoo Rigs with Chugger heads; Sabiki rigs; teasers and float rigs to name but a few. The company's website, [www.biminibayoutfitters.com/tsunami.htm], will indicate the many other items, apart from tackle, that Bimini Bay Outfitters offer. The kick is that they do not sell directly to the consumer, but only to the retailer such as Dick's Sporting Goods stores. The Tsunami Timber Line Series wooden lures that I grabbed were the only ones on display. Therefore, if you see a particular item(s) that you would like, either from their website or mentioned in this report, but not carried by the store, ask to speak to the manager, Mike in Sporting Goods in the Riverhead store, and have him order for you. Next time I'm in Dick's Sporting Goods, I'm going to see if they have the Tsunami's jointed eels, along with those proven Danny lures—all in wood—for our backwaters, rivers and bays.

Wood is good and definitely has its niche.


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller Novelist, Outdoors Writer, "Gifted" College Instructor & Creator of a Unique Writing Course Guide
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com

New for 2013: Bob's The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook For Salt Water & Fresh Water available from www.amazon.com


November 01, 2013

The Best of Big and Small

by Bob Banfelder

With a length of 935.6 feet and a beam of 105.8 feet, the MS Eurodam is a cruise ship for Holland America Line. We left Manhattan on October 2nd, 2013 under clear skies, setting out for a full ten day Fall Foliage voyage through New England and on up to Canada. The ports of call we visited included Boston, Massachusetts; Bar Harbor, Maine; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Sydney, Nova Scotia; Saguenay, Quebec; and Quebec City. Along the way, between Sydney and Saguenay, we were to have stopped at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; however, 50 mile an hour winds prevented us from safely landing there. It was our prudent captain's call. Better to have spent an additional night at sea aboard the vessel than in life boats, I'm sure you would agree.



It was Donna's and my first cruise. I had promised her that I would not bring any work with me as I am a workaholic, writing mystery and psychological thrillers. Too, I write many outdoor articles, the majority of them geared toward fishing. Therefore, I decided to clandestinely channel my downtime into some surreptitious research. In Bar Harbor, I had picked up a copy of the Bangor Daily News, turning to the OUTDOORS section, in which its staff writer, John Holyoke, covered two new Old Town Predator fishing kayaks for this and the coming year.

"Wow," in a word says Luke LaBree, marketing communications manager for Johnson Outdoors Watercraft (parent company Old Town Canoe, Old Town , Maine), referring to the new 12-foot Predator MX Tri-hull design as well as the 13-foot Predator kayak. Wow, is my response to readers after having followed up with further research once back home. These two yaks have been designed with a single purpose in mind: Fishing.

The Predator MX model has an overall length of 12 feet with a width of 34 inches.



The Predator model 13 has an overall length 13'2" with a width of 33.5 inches.



Both yaks are stable fishing platforms, with the 12-foot Predator MX model being the more stable because of its Tri-hull design. LaBree boasts that he can stand with both feet on its gunnel without tipping it. He has not only tested the Predator MX, he owns one. One can walk fore and aft and even turn around. Wow, is right! There is no question that you can stand and fish from it as seen during a photo shoot in Veazie, Maine, as well several promotional videos. The men featured were not ninety-eight pound weaklings fighting and pulling in two-pound fish—quite the contrary.

The seat is a well thought-out design that can be set in three different positions: low for "lawn chair class comfort" when paddling; a higher four- to six-inch position for better visibility; or a fold-out-of-the-way position, which allows the angler to stand comfortably. Also, there is what is termed the Exo-Ridge deck, a design that carries water through it and out via one-way scuppers. Hence, no more sitting or standing in a puddle as experienced on many a yak—most, actually.

The basic cost for the Predator MX is $1,200, while the Predator model 13 runs $1,300. In choosing between the two yaks, there are important considerations: speed, maneuverability, and the fact that the MX does not have a built-in transducer scupper. The model 13 does, which provides for built-in mounting to accommodate Humminbird Side Imaging technology (unit optional, of course). I have a Humminbird GPS/Fishfinder unit on my Ocean Kayak Big Game Prowler, which I bandy back and forth between yak and center console. This, I feel, is a must-have accessory for the serious angler as it offers important information such as surface water temperature, depth, thermoclines, bottom structure, speed, lat./lon., compass bearing, waypoints, routes, tracking and fish symbols—to name but a few of the functions this system performs.

In addition to these three considerations referencing the Predator MX and Predator 13, their weight, 82 and 86 pounds, respectively, should be of paramount importance. For example, my hefty Ocean Kayak Big Game Prowler weighs 69 pounds. That's a heavy vessel when thinking in terms of transporting. The Predator MX and Predator are 13 and 17 pounds heavier, respectively. Seriously consider where you are going to be using either behemoth. If weight is not an issue, meaning that you won't be car-topping or portaging these weighty platforms very often over unconscionable distances, you may want to consider these serious paddling-power fishing machines.

Both the Predator MX 12- and 13-foot models come in three different colors plus a camo pattern: grayish (called urban), yellow, tan, and camouflage. For fishing, I'd opt for yellow for safety's sake as it offers high visibility; the fish won't mind. They just love my yellow plastic plugs and other yellow lures. Perhaps my yellow yak serves a prodigious attractor. Of course, for waterfowl hunting, what could be better than that camo pattern? Wingshooting waterfowl from the Tri-hull model, for better stability, would be the way to go. Try before you buy are words to the wise.

The two models come loaded with standard features such as six removable mounting plates (which means not having to drill into the hull of the vessel) that accept rod holders, GPS/Fishfinder, et cetera; retainer bungees to secure rod and reel, in addition to rod -tip holders; large capacity tank well; side-mount paddle storage holder; additional molded paddle rest for prompt, hands-free placement; large bow hatch and click-seal cover; duel tackle holders; center console pod cover with drink holder and molded in ruler [Predator model 13 only]. These features will cover most of your angling needs.

Walking back to the ship with the Bangor Daily News newspaper in hand, opened to that kayak photo shoot, those sizable yaks were suddenly dwarfed as I lifted my eyes to the 935.6-foot, 11 passenger-decked, 86,700 ton vessel! I smiled up at her, torn between October fishing back home on Long Island and my new experience of cruising from port to port and dining in lavish style. I knew it would be futile to try and convince the captain to reduce his average speed of between ten and seventeen knots down to two so that I might try my hand at trolling off the stern . . . perhaps shoot skeet in order to hone my skills for ducks and geese when Donna and I returned home. I assume that after 9/11 all bets were off in that latter regard. Anyhow, I made it my business to ingratiate myself with the captain of the MS Eurodam, Captain Henk Keijer.



But all was certainly not lost concerning a daily outdoor dose as harbor porpoises, eagles, snow geese, eiders and gadwalls filled the seascape en route. In fact, our shipboard cabin stewards, Hairul and Anto, added to the evening mix with fresh towel-folding creations of fish and animals set out on our turned-down bed, nightly: stingray, sea robin, octopus, crab, lobster; rabbit, turkey, elephant, hippo, duck. Of course, local markets displayed their catch-of-the-day, too.

,,, ,,,,,,,,

And when we weren't eating, which is very difficult to do on a cruise, Donna and I attended virtually every single seminar given by culinary hostess Samantha (Sam) and Chef Michael, who whet your appetite by preparing dishes (predominately seafood) before your very eyes—dishes to die for—then handing out samples. Talk about eating between meals!



From Quebec City, Donna and I traveled by train to Montreal, where the fall colors peaked in full splendor. Upon return home, I heard that the bite was a bit off for keeper bass, although monster blues kept the action going. My friends from Riverhead, Tom Gahan, beached his first keeper bass; Larry Epps and his cousin, veterans that they are, had no trouble bringing albies, bass and chopper blues over the rail this fall. To close out the month of October, Donna caught and released an 18½-inch schoolie, while at the same moment I took an 28-inch—on the money—keeper from our center console using Kastmasters on which I epoxy eyes.



Whether angling from a bantam kayak or canoe in a nearby river or bay, to fishing from the largest ocean-going Viking vessel in the Montauk fleet, or anything in between, remember that we live in an outdoor mecca, folks. Take advantage.

Meanwhile, I've got to work on how to convince the captain of the MS Eurodam to slow down his mega-vessel to two knots so that I might troll those northeastern waters as well as others on our next cruise. Yes, I want the best of both worlds. Yes, I want to lead a charmed life. Yes, I wish to push the envelope. :o) :o) :o)

See you on the water this November.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Mystery/Thriller Novelist, Outdoors Writer, "Gifted" College Instructor & Creator of a Unique Writing Course Guide
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
[www.robertbanfelder.com/]

New for 2013: Bob's The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook For Salt Water & Fresh Water available from [http://www.amazon/]


October 01, 2013

Bags, Boxes, Buckets and Cages for De-Bait

by Bob Banfelder





Shimano's Bristol Bay Portable Live-Well Bag with Rod Holders

Approximately four years ago, Shimano sold a Bristol Bay Bag with optional live-well and rod-holder kits, which unfortunately are no longer in production today. Today the company sells only the Bristol Bay Dry Tackle Bag in two sizes: medium and large. Supposedly, the large size bag may (with the emphasis on may) be converted into the original Portable Live-Well bag. However, the company no longer carries the live-well kit for this conversion. Rather than play around with maybes and possibilities such as installing pump, spray-head aerator, overflow drain and drain plug, hose, on/off switch, clamps and gaskets, I'd strongly suggest searching the Internet for the original, complete, setup. This battery-operated Bait-Tank System, kit and caboodle, is intended to carry some serious-sized baitfish. The unit is perfect for most kayaks and small watercraft. I find it to be a truly indispensable item for the serious angler with limited space aboard his or her craft.



Made of a mustard-yellow, heavy-duty water-resistant tarpaulin material, its outer shell measures 15¾" long x 143/8" wide x 12" high. Its insulated inner case, constructed of solid polypropylene, is 15" long x 13" wide x 10½" high and holds 6¼ gallons of water. The unit will certainly accommodate scores of minnows or up to three to four adult mossbunker. When I purchased this unit new from Shimano, the MSRP ran $120 for the Portable Live-Well Bag, $100 for the Live-Well Pump and Drain Kit, and $30 for the Rod Holder Kit. This will help you determine a fair price for a pre-owned model.

Keeping baitfish alive, small or large is no problem because the live-well kit pumps 360 gallons of H20 per hour. The original kit includes a Rule bilge pump, pressure adjustable spray-head aerator, overflow drain, drain plug, 3-foot clear hose and hose clamps, gaskets, a totally waterproof Rule on/off toggle switch and boot, wiring and cable ties.

The bag is intelligently designed with an outer pocket to house the battery (sold separately). My suggestion is to purchase an Enercell sealed 12-volt/7-amp lead-acid battery from Radio Shack, which fits perfectly into the front water-resistant zipped compartment. This power source rests nestled neatly in its natural upright position. Its dimensions are 5.95" long x 2.56" wide x 3.84" high and sells for $38.99.

A few of the original bag's many design features include a removable heat-sealed top lid; a solid insulated main compartment; a clear PVC, splash-guarded, easy-access hatch cover; pre-made holes for live-well drainage; intake and discharge fittings; detachable shoulder strap; side-carrying handles; heavy-duty buckles; non-skid, non-slip PVC bottom with drain hole; and four integral rod holders to accommodate four white plastic rod tubes.

The Bristol Bay Live-Well Bag fits solidly in my Ocean Prowler Big Game Kayak; no wiggle room whatsoever. Accompanying D-rings on the bag also allow it to be lashed to the yak. Additionally, the craft's stringer bungee cords re-ensure that the unit is not going anywhere, even under rough conditions.

For small craft with a higher gunwale than found on say a sit-on-top (self-bailing) kayak, simply purchase the necessary length of flexible 1½-inch diameter swimming-pool vacuum tubing and attach it to the overflow drain elbow. Note the 3-foot blue/black length I use for my inflatable, canoe, or larger rented craft; e.g., rowboat/skiff, when I travel out of area. Just hang the tube over the gunnel for automatic discharge. For salt or fresh water, this item is a winner.

Note: As of this writing, there is a complete bag, kit and caboodle (less battery), posted and pictured on www.KayakFishingStuff.com. Good photos will give you a bird's-eye view. If it is still available, grab it before it's gone. If it is gone, good luck hunting. This bag is worth your time and effort, so keep searching.



Frabill Min-O2 Portable Bait Station Cooler
8-Quart Model with Aerator




For keeping minnows alive and kicking, I often carry a Min-O2 Portable Bait Station Cooler manufactured by Frabill. The Min-O2 is aptly named, for it is intended to carry minnows; nothing considerably larger. This is one of the handiest bantam items for crafts with truly limited space aboard. Compact and easily accessible, this 8-quart, 15" x 7½" x 8" portable bait station comes with attachable aerator.

Too, the portable aerator includes a built-in night-light. Two Duracell D-cell alkaline batteries power a high-volume diaphragm-drive air pump to ensure an oxygenated environment for approximately eighty (80) hours. Frabill claims that their 8-quart Bait Station Cooler "effectively sustains two to three times the volume of bait kept in standard minnow buckets." Quite important is its non-kink air hose feature. Bend or twist an ordinary line back upon itself, and kiss that bait good-bye.

The unit's features include a hard shell, double wall with molded-in poly foam insulation that keeps both H20 and live bait at a constant temperature. Its tight lip around the lid reduces spills. The unit boasts a lift-out net liner, which allows you to quickly secure a baitfish without taking a bath. You know the time wasted in trying to secure that one particular fat killifish you're after. Lift and promptly pick the winner and be done with it. No need to hunt for that minnow net that you probably misplaced to begin with. MSRP is $54.99. Redsgear (www.redsgear.com) has it for $46.29.

Frabill Flow Troll Bucket

The Frabill Flow Troll Bucket is the original design and still America's number one selling minnow bucket. I've had mine for close to fifty years. It is designed to be pulled behind a slow-moving vessel, especially one propelled by paddle, pedal or oar; for example, a kayak, canoe or rowboat. Too, it may be used when wading. Its hydrodynamic shape is weighted and balanced to keep the bucket floating with the bait door facing up. For peace of mind, I tie a short length of line between the self-closing, spring-loaded door and the top handle because I wouldn't want a crashing wave to slap against the door and inadvertently release any baitfish—although this has never happened to my knowledge. It's just a precaution I take. Newer models have an eye ring for security. Pulling the bucket through the water constantly aerates the bait. At a cost of less than $9 for this 6-quart container, it is a bargain and a very simple way to keep your killifish alive and kicking. On returning from your fishing trip, I would recommend hosing the entire unit, particularly its spring hinge, especially if used in the suds. Although the unit is made of virtually indestructible plastic, its spring is still subject to the elements of a harsh marine environment. Suffice to say, I've never had an issue with the unit in all these years. Amazing!



Minnow Traps
Galvanized Cages

The easiest and least expensive way to catch baitfish is with a minnow trap. Pictured adjacent to the Frabill Flow Troll Bucket is a lightweight two-piece, torpedo-shaped, galvanized mesh-wire unit. In short order, you will have all you need for an outing. Within the minnow family, mummichogs are a favorite of mind, especially for fluke—big fluke. But whatever I find in that trap, sometimes even an eel, I'm pretty much assured of a productive day, or evening, on the water. Live minnows create mania. The first thing I do with that two-piece minnow trap is to join one half of the section with a cable tie, functioning as a permanent hinge. This facilitates ease of handling. Next, I make sure that I purchase and have several clips on hand, for they rust out rather quickly, even after a thorough rinsing with a hose subsequent to sitting in salt water. They're the same crappy clips that attach to your chum pot, of which I've lost a couple over the years because I failed to check the clip's condition. I've tried to hunt them up in stainless steel, but to no avail. Anyhow, I change those clips at least once a season.

A trick that I use to keep attractors like bread, dog food, bacon bits, corn meal, liver, et cetera, from dispersing too quickly through the wire mesh is to place such contents in a small plastic jar with its lid top drilled with 1/8th-inch holes, then placing the container within the cage. Works like a charm. This approximate 16" length by 9" diameter trap will cost you in the neighborhood of $12.

Invest in and employ these four items, and you'll be considerably more productive—promise.


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Thriller Novelist, Outdoors Writer, "Gifted" College Instructor & Creator of a Unique Writing Course Guide
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com

New for 2013: Bob's The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook For Salt Water & Fresh Water available from www.amazon.com


September 01, 2013

Selecting High Quality Light & Ultra-Light Action Spinning Reels Paired with Matching Rods

by Bob Banfelder

There are an overwhelming number of rods and reels on the market today; many manufacturers and models from which to choose. The problem of selection can be overwhelming. How does one begin to sift through a mountain of information in order to make an intelligent decision? A good deal of research and extensive field-testing were conducted before Donna and I arrived at definitive conclusions. We don't just simply field-test a rod and reel model series for a single outing or weekend; Donna and I own and, therefore, fish with those tools extensively. Consequently, you can count on the fact that such products have been thoroughly handled.

Addressing spinning reels, there are three companies that I recommend within a competitive price range—Shimano, Daiwa, and Penn—and in that order. For that reason, let's stick with my first pick: Shimano. Too, I suggest ordering their catalog or logging onto their Web site at www.fishshimano.com for further information.

Premier rod and reel manufacturers invest big bucks in Research and Development. Such products are constantly being improved upon as new technology is garnered. Accordingly, a model's lettering and/or number designation may change from year-to-year, but not necessarily its appellation. For example, Shimano's Stella, Sustain and Stradic are high-quality spinning reels that I wholeheartedly recommend as featured in several of my articles for Nor'east Saltwater, as well as my new fishing book titled The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook For Salt Water & Fresh Water, covering Medium/Med-Heavy Action and Light to Medium/Med-Heavy Action spinning reels.

In this month's September report, I am going to drop it down a notch and cover strictly Light Action and Ultra-Light Action spinning reels, pairing them with lightweight and ultra-lightweight quality rods (not necessarily Shimano's). These bantam combinations shall prove themselves ideal for light saltwater situations such as targeting snappers, blowfish and porgies. As these latter two species are growing both in terms of numbers and size during the past few seasons in our area, consider a lightweight combination in lieu of the ultra-light weight outfit for starters, keeping firmly in mind that the ultra-light featherweight focus shall be geared mainly for small fry (children) fishing for panfish such as sunfish, perch, fingerling trout, et cetera. Also, keep in mind that ultra-lightweight rod and reel combinations are not solely limited to freshwater fanatics.

Within a model series, you should concern yourself with important considerations such as line retrieve per crank (measured in inches), line capacity (measured in pound test/plus yardage), maximum drag setting (measured in pounds), number of ball bearings and roller bearings, gear ratio, grip shape, weight of the reel (measured in ounces), and price (MSRP). Do not concern yourself with that last entry just yet. I know—easy for me to state—perhaps hard for you to do.

The Stella FE series boasts 14 ball bearings plus one roller bearing; four models from which to choose. However, we'll concern ourselves with light-duty performance for openers. Shimano's Stella STL 1000 FE, weighing in at only 6 ounces, might seemingly be the ticket. But with a price tag of $699.99, which is totally unnecessary to spend for most lightweight applications, I strongly suggest that you opt for the Stradic 1000 FJ. It is the lightest of the FJ series, weighing in at 7.5 ounces, housing 5 ball bearings and 1 roller bearing, a maximum drag of 7 pounds, a 6.0:1 gear ratio, a line retrieve of 29 inches per crank, and for a fraction of the cost of the Stella STL 1000 FE. The MSRP for the Stradic 1000 FJ is $179.99. There is nothing wrong with 5 ball bearings; the reel is positively smooth.


Stradic 1000 FJ



If you wish to go ultra-light, the new Stradic CI4+ 1000 FA has a MSRP of $219.99, housing 6 ball bearings plus 1 roller bearing. The CI4+ 1000 FA model has a gear ratio of 6.0:1, weighing in at mere 6 ounces while exerting a maximum drag setting of 7 pounds. These new reels should be on the shelves or ready to ship this month.



Important Note: The Stradic CI4+ 1000 FA is designed for either braid or monofilament, whereas the Stradic CI4+ 1000 FAML (Microline) is strictly designed for braided line. It is one of the reasons why I suggest the FA model in lieu of FAML.

Shimano continually redesigns their entire line of spinning reels, especially in three key areas: gear durability, casting performance, and line management. So, what is CI4 construction, and what is its advantage? CI4 (Carbon Infusion) construction is a reinforced carbon fiber material that is stronger than steel and lighter than magnesium. The new Stradic CI4+ (plus) replaces CI4 construction in that CI4+ is even lighter and more rigid than its CI4 predecessor.

With Donna's older model Shimano ultra-light action Stradic 1000 MgFB spinning reel, fashioning 1/12 and 1/8 ounce Kastmaster lures, she had landed a 3-pound largemouth bass in sweetwater; a 4-pound bluefish in the suds—not to mention a ton of snappers. With my older model Shimano light action Sustain 1000 FE, using 1/4 and 3/8 ounce Kastmasters, I have tackled scores of schoolie-sized stripers and cocktail-sized blues in the brine, along with my fair share of walleyed pike, pickerel and a bounty of both small and largemouth bass in warm water.

Yes. Light can, indeed, be might.

For preeminent performance, there are three high-end models to keep in mind when selecting any of Shimano's spinning reels: Stella, Sustain, Stradic. Stay high-end and you'll thank me in both the short and long run. Still can't justify spending the kind of monies mentioned? Here's something running along the lines of a rationalization, but one that just may convince you otherwise. It rests in your selection of a lightweight or ultra-lightweight spinning rod to match one of Shimano's finer lightweight or ultra-lightweight spinning reels.

Matching Spinning Rods to Reels

Time and again, I see folks paying way too much for fishing rods, whether it is a fly rod, bait casting rod, or spinning rod. Quite frankly, you're wasting your money if you spend more than $30 to $40 on a spinning rod for the reels just covered for light and ultra-light duty. Shimano, Okuma and Ugly Stick (spelled Stik) rods are rated as the best spinning rods—but not necessarily in that order. However, they are priced in that order from the highest to the lowest cost: Shimano's Cumara–$210; Okuma's Guide Select–$90; Shakespeare's model SP 1100 Ugly Stik–$30 to $40. As you generally get what you pay for, folks automatically get talked into and/or simply reach for the more expensive rods. The fact is that the Ugly Stik is tougher than the other two rods that cost considerably more. Granted, you will gain a bit more sensitivity and wield slightly less weight with the Okuma Guide Select; however, the rod is simply not as strong as an Ugly Stik. The Shimano Cumara is a high-end wand that is also a tad more sensitive and lighter in weight. But it does not have the backbone of the Ugly Stik.

Shimano's Stradic ST 1000 FJ and the Stradic CI4+ 1000 FA spinning reels, coupled to matching Ugly Stik rods, are the two outfits that I recommend for light and ultra-light angling.

Matching Lightweight and Ultra-lightweight Shimano Spinning Reels with Shakespeare's Light and Ultra-light Ugly Stik Rods


Shakespeare's two-piece Ugly Stik SPL 1102 6'6" (1.98m) Action: Light (4–10 lb. Line) 01B12CM ~ matched with Shimano's Stradic ST 1000 FJ spinning reel.

Shakespeare's two-piece Ugly Stik SPL 1102 5'0" (1.52m) Action: UL (Ultra-Light) (2–6 lb. Line) 01K11CM ~ matched with Shimano's Stradic CI4+ 1000 FA spinning reel.

These Ugly Stik rod blanks feature the Howald-Built Process, consisting of graphite for strength and E-glass for flexibility. Blank-through-handle construction wedded to its signature Clear Tip design offers both strength and sensitivity from butt to apex. Super lightweight but durable EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) foam grips add a measure of comfort to every cast. Graphite twist-lock reel seats are standard on these two rods. Guides and tip are constructed from black stainless steel with aluminum oxide inserts. For further information on Shakespeare's Ugly Stiks, log on to www.shakespeare-fishing.com. Consider these two spinning rod/reel combos for light and ultra-light action; you're good to go.

Whether fishing in salt water or fresh water, remember to lightly wash and rinse your equipment (rods, reels and lures) upon return. If those reels are properly maintained, oiled and lubricated from season to season, they may very well outlast you. In the meantime, let's hear that stentorian cry: Fish On! Keep in mind, too, that these light and ultra-light outfits are for kids from six to sixty-plus.

Robert Banfelder is an award-winning thriller novelist and outdoors writer. He is a member of the Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network and the New York State Outdoor Writer's Association. Autographed and personalized copies of his newest book, The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water, are available for $14.95 plus $3 shipping from 141 Riverside Dr., Riverhead, NY 11901.


August 01, 2013

Hooked on Hook Keepers

by Bob Banfelder

Every once in a while a product comes along that truly grabs my attention, saving me time, money, frustration and/or aggravation. The CATCH fishhook keepers, manufactured by AdamsWW, Incorporated, do exactly that. As safety should be everyone's primary concern, it often fails to be put at the very top of the list. How many of us even think about such an insignificant item as a rod hook keeper? It is either there on a fishing pole when we purchase it, or it is simply not included. However, whether it is there or not, you want a hook keeper that not only holds your hook but safely secures it, too.

If you are reading Nor'east Saltwater, you are probably a serious angler. If you're a serious angler, I'd venture to say that you have several fishing rods if not many. If you are a very serious angler, you probably have a plethora of fishing poles. And if you are a fishing nut, euphemistically called a fishing aficionado, well, you absolutely have surf poles, boat poles, conventional casting and trolling rods, spinning rods in at least three different lengths for specific line and lure weights, designated jigging sticks, salmon/steelhead/musky rods, fly-fishing rods for virtually all species found in both fresh and salt water, four–five–and/or six-piece travel rods, and perhaps even the ‘reel-less' tenkara rod(s), ad infinitum.

I fall somewhere between the poles of a very serious angler and a fishing fool, for I have some three dozen rods in order to cover a variety of situations. Many of these rods, even some of the expensive ones, do not have hook keepers. What to do? Well, you have a few options. You can carefully place the point of the hook into the cork handle of the rod (certainly not an EVA foam handle), but surely you will be sorry because sooner than later you will not only damage the cork, you will eventually dull the point of the hook. Next, you could place the exposed point of the hook on the frame of the guide (never in the diamond polished, ceramic, Silicon Carbide ring); however, the point of the hook is still exposed. My point being is that it will one day catch you, a family member, pet or guest. Even after I instruct folks not to place the hook in the ring of the guide, they forget. You can't have your eyes everywhere at once. But what you can do to make life simple and safe is to initially incorporate hook keepers on those rods that do not have them. Later, you may want to install them on all your rods, even wands that come with those standard thin wire keepers. Why? The answer is because they do not hold the hook completely out of harm's way. You want hook keepers that shield and therefore protect. You need and want The CATCH lightweight hook keepers, which are available in three different sizes: The CATCH (small), the CATCH-BIG (big) and the CATCH-MEGA (large).

Besides having an appointed slot to hold the hook, these handy plastic bodied items house an integrated high-strength magnet, securing and protecting both hook point and barb—from a midge-size 22 to a 9/0 hook—protecting you, your gear, clothing, et cetera. There is another big name company out there that manufactures hook keepers. I've ordered, examined, and used "the other brand" before dealing with The CATCH line of hook keepers. Save yourself a lot of time and trouble. You want hook keepers manufactured by AdamsWW. Let's examine these three winners closely.

The CATCH shields both points and barbs of a size 22 up to a size 1 hook. It is ideal for fly rods and other light-duty rod applications. Available in orange, blue, or black. Pictured below is the Gimp Fly tied on a Mustad-Viking number 12 hook.



The CATCH-BIG shields points and barbs up to a 4/0 hook. Available in black. Pictured below is Storm's Wild Eye Swim Shad with an approximate 4/0 hook.



The CATCH-MEGA shields points and barbs up to a 9/0 hook. Available in black. Pictured below is Shimano's 6½-inch, 4.4 ounce Waxwing with a whopping heavy-duty single 8/0 siwash-style hook.



All three hook keeper sizes (small, medium, large) easily attach to your rod in a nanosecond via a single ozone and weather resistant neoprene o-ring; two o-ring sizes per package are included to accommodate different tapered rod diameters. The hook keeper may be placed on the rod precisely where you want it. For example: atop, to the side, or below the butt section. Hence, there is no chance of the hook keeper interfering with the line when casting.

I own a pretty expensive rod with one of those tiny, thin wire hook keepers fancily wrapped; however, it will not allow the point and barb of a 6/0 hook to pass through it. Hence, the CATCH-MEGA keeper resolved this issue. In a heartbeat (no tools needed), I simply attached the new hook keeper, slid the hook within the top slot, and I was good to go. For lures with treble hooks, I merely slide one of the hook points into the keeper then slide the appropriate size tubing onto the other two exposed hooks, especially with kids aboard.

Additionally, the CATCH hook keepers can do double-duty as line holders. On a trout stream while fishing with a fly rod, it's most convenient to place the tippet between the hook keeper and rod in order to hold the thin material when changing flies. For those who fish with tenkara rods, the AdamsWW company asks that you make mention of this when ordering their hook keepers. When aboard a vessel, after unhooking a fish then deciding to fuss with lures, bait or whatever, you can temporarily hang the line and hook out of harm's way. If you wish to grab a sandwich and a beverage, secure the hook back in the slotted magnetic holder and take a break. Too, you could momentarily place the hook anywhere along the hook keeper and it will grab, apart from the weight of a sinker. Therefore, I prefer placing the hook within the slot for safety's sake. Furthermore, you could have a high-low rig set up and be ready to go, safely, by incorporating a second hook keeper. These products are, indeed, versatile.

In the near future, for those of you who are into rod building, AdamsWW, Inc. will be coming out with The CATCH-ROD hook keeper and components (arms to attach to each end of the hook keeper). I believe that some rod manufacturers are going to seriously consider this item. For openers, AdamsWW, Inc. will introduce this keeper to accommodate hook sizes ranging from a size 22 (midge) up to a size 1 hook, same as its original CATCH hook keeper.

For further information concerning these fantastic hook keepers, log on to www.getthecatch.com

Note: In addition to safely transporting fishing rods from vehicle to vessel or shoreline via hook keepers, I'll offer a simple tip for toting these outfits without the hassle of having lines and leaders catch onto boughs and branches while maneuvering through woodlots and brush on your way to a secluded fishing spot. I trail the rods rearward, not pointed out in front of me where they are certain to poke, catch and cause considerable trouble. Moreover, I secure those lines and/or leaders as pictured below. The small piece of yellow yarn you see is shown solely to indicate the line and its abbreviated distance between spool and rod.



For spinning rods, bring the line directly beneath the rod, not bowed out like a bow and arrow. You can accomplish this easily by reeling the line snugly like you normally do at day's end. However, if the line is not wound directly beneath the rod, pull on it to engage the drag a couple clicks at a time until the line is directly beneath the rod. Now, grab the line that is attached to the hook in the keeper (not the line running from the guide to the reel's bail), and wrap it either clockwise or counterclockwise over the top of the rod, bringing it completely under and around the large guide, locking the line in place. You now have a streamline section of line held securely against the rod that will not latch onto this, that, and the other thing. Ready to fish? Unwrap in the opposite direction by simply grabbing the line that is outside the guide, not the one within.

For fly rods, simply eliminate the distance between the reel's line and the rod's handle by bringing the line at the base of the reel rearward while carefully wrapping it around the frame from a six o'clock position to a 12 o'clock position. Gingerly reel in any slack.

The alignment of line on conventional baitcasting rods and reels pose next to no problem. Good to go.

Bob Banfelder is author of the newly released The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water, endorsed by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso. Bob is a member of the Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network and the New York State Outdoor Writers Association. He is also an award-winning thriller writer; his novels include Trace Evidence, The Author, The Teacher, Knots, and No Stranger Than I. Visit www.robertbanfelder.com; follow on Facebook @ Robert Banfelder and Twitter @RBanfelder.




July 01, 2013

Perseverance Pays Big Dividends

by Bob Banfelder

On the afternoon of June 27th, shortly after proofing this piece for publication, I witnessed an event that fittingly reinforced the theme I put forth in this very title. Perseverance pays big dividends—both in terms of personal pride as well as character growth. So back to the drawing board I went to begin the blog anew:

As I walked down to our dock, I saw a young man in a small boat, megaphone in hand, instructing two students—one male, the other female—rowing their respective sculls; that is, those light, narrow racing boats. One sculler was unaware that he was getting too close to a line of boats docked at a nearby marina and was immediately made aware of the situation as Eric, the instructor, called out to him. The other sculler was warned that she was too close to a buoy, River marker "16" on the Peconic River. Eric's attention was directed back to the male student when suddenly the young woman hit the buoy and capsized. As the water's surface temperature was eighty-one degrees Fahrenheit, the situation was far from dangerous. Apart from taking a dunking, she was fine. Eric first made sure of that, then asked her if she remembered how to upright the scull and get back aboard.

Long story made short, the young woman managed to upright the vessel. Getting back aboard the scull, however, proved to be a struggle. Good-natured laughter on her part put nearby observers at ease. She listened carefully to Eric's instruction. Try as she might, she couldn't get the lower part of her body back into the boat. There came a point when Eric said that he would get into the water with her and assist, to which she protested with an emphatic, "No!" This woman was determined to get back aboard by herself. This woman was going to persevere.

After an inordinate period of time, the woman finally managed to get back aboard that craft, seemingly no worse for wear as she rowed off in a westerly direction, smiling victoriously. I called out, "Way to go, girl! Fantastic. You didn't give up." To which she smiled, laughed and good-naturedly said that she was at least everyone's entertainment.

"Not at all," I replied. I didn't have a chance to tell the woman that I had hoped every observer learned a valuable lesson, too, that afternoon, for surely she realized that one day she might have to reenact that scene—perhaps with no crowd around to watch and be ready to rescue her.

As a safety precaution, I'd like to see all scullers wearing those rearview mirrors that attach to the brim of a cap or eye/sunglasses, especially while rowing on a narrow river lined with boats and boat traffic.

Not nearly as dramatic as Thursday's afternoon occurrence, I'm still reminded of Donna's perseverance whenever we fish, for patience goes hand in hand with perseverance, and Donna is positively patience personified. In my writings I often mention that Donna will invariably catch the first, the biggest and the most fish. The fact that she catches the first fish can easily be explained because I am busy putting the boat and, consequently, Donna into position. The fact that she perpetually catches the biggest I attribute to dumb luck. Ah, but the inescapable reality that Donna catches the most is because she unquestionably perseveres. My excuses for coming in as a close second are that I'm frequently busy recording important information for my fishing log, considering ideas and jotting down notes for an article, grabbing a sandwich and a drink, or chatting with boating guests rather than paying strict attention. Donna, however, is focused . . . right up to and including the penultimate hour. Case in point:

Orient Star II ~ June 12th, 2005

The fishing trip had been arranged by the board of directors of the New York Sportfishing Federation, of which I was a member. The vessel was Captain Bill Russo's Orient Star II out of, of course, Orient. The group was comprised of board members as well as our families and friends. It was a spectacular afternoon, both in terms of fellowship and fishing fun. Everyone caught fluke.

Bill, a retired high school teacher who had taught marine biology and answered many related questions that morning, seemed omnipresent: standing within the wheelhouse manning the helm, busy at the railings untangling lines while unassumingly suggesting certain tactics and techniques, assisting his son, Mike (acting as mate), both men netting fish for their customers as the action grew hot and heavy. A most knowledgeable and patient gentleman, Bill and his family made the charter most interesting.



As most everyone was finishing up the day, ready to gather their gear, the captain's wife, Myra, unquestionably had the pool winner—that is, until Donna did her thing during the last five minutes, taking an 8.2 pound fluke over the rail, which officially ended the outing. It was Steve Sekora's Glow Squid lure and special rigging that won Donna top honors. The complete story, rigging process and baits used to nail big fluke may be read in my newly released book, The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water, which covers rods and reels selection for spinning ~ conventional (baitcasting) ~ fly casting; tried-and-true methods for novice and veteran alike, plus innovative tactics and techniques; lethal lures and live baits; kayaking/canoeing; seafood recipes and smoking fish ($14.95 plus S&H).The book is available through Amazon or by contacting me directly: e-mail (robertbanfelder@verizon.net). Too, you could contact me through this blog or message me on Facebook @ Robert Banfelder, or call directly (631-369-3192). Five thriller novels to date (two of which are award winners) and a new, eclectic fishing book took a bit of perseverance. Yes?



I'm quite proud to add that the fishing book has been endorsed by such notable folks as Lefty Kreh, international master fly fisherman, instructor, photographer and prolific book author; Angelo Peluso, regionally recognized newspaper and magazine columnist, author, photographer, lecturer and consummate fly fisherman; Chris Paparo, marine biologist and director of the Marine Science Center–Stony Brook University–Southampton, magazine columnist, photographer, and fisherman personified. Donna calls Chris the fish whisperer, for she is often upstaged by the man's angling abilities, regardless of the species targeted: bass, blues, porgies, et cetera.

Many years later while heading to the Orient by the Sea Restaurant, Donna and I saw Captain Bill Russo standing alongside his vessel. I asked the man if he remembered me. He looked hesitantly, smiled, then with a mischievous wink declared that he did not, immediately stating, "But I sure as heck remember her," he pointed. "That's the lady who beat my wife out and won the pool in the last five minutes of that trip!" he exclaimed.

"We call her Ms. Perseverance," I explained.

Donna and I chatted with Bill for a spell before heading to that wonderful restaurant for a great meal.

Last month on June 8th, Donna and I took our fishing buddy, Paul Gianelli, out for some action, hoping maybe we'd hook into a bass or blue. Nada. The action had slowed down considerably. Paul and I decided we'd pack it in; however, Donna wanted to give it a final go on the way back. The two of them trolled Kastmasters while I handled the boat. Keep in mind that I'm moving along at two knots and that the ¾ ounce lures were high up in an eight-foot water column.

Bang! Donna hooks up with a 17-inch fluke, just two inches shy of a keeper and in waters that never-ever before produced summer flounder for us. I've inadvertently caught fluke on Kastmasters while jigging for other species, never while trolling. Once again, Donna had persevered and caught the first fish, the biggest fish and, of course, the most fish because Paul and I caught no fish at all. Later in the day, after we finally called it a morning and Paul left for home, feel rest assured that Donna and I thoroughly worked the area while properly rigged for fluke. Nada. We came to the conclusion that Donna's fluke that morning was—well—a fluke.

Believing that I was finally finished with this month's blog, having added the finishing touches to the piece on Saturday evening, I was woken shortly before 7:00 am on Sunday to sounds coming from downtown Riverhead, along the Peconic River. Not long after, a surreal view of the river through sleepy eyes revealed prodigious orange balls and bodies propelling through the water. A long line of geese floated parallel to the swimmers. I then realized that this was the kickoff of the ‘Riverhead Rocks Triathlon,' beginning with a 1.5 kilometer swim, which would be followed by a 40K bike race and a 10K run. How could I not conclude this blog where I began, with yet another example of perseverance—this time with triathletes of all ages, befittingly and initially beginning their event on the Peconic River?

Once again, my attempt is interrupted because Donna wanted to know if there was such a thing as a fishing triathlon for the first fish, the biggest fish, and the most fish caught in a single day, explaining that she'd be a shoo-in if she could somehow keep Chris Paparo from entering. "No," I told her. "However, the British have a competition comprised of fly-casting, horseback riding and trapshooting events," I elaborated factually. As we both fly-fish and occasionally shoot trap and skeet, Donna then wanted to know when and where we could "saddle up—and soon." "Hold your horses," I countered. "I feel that you take this perseverance business just a bit too far sometimes."

Donna hasn't spoken to me since Sunday morning, except to remind me to wish you guys and gals a wonderful and safe Fourth of July holiday. Ditto.


Bob Banfelder is author of the newly released (April 2013) The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water, with blurbs by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso. He is a member of the Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network and the New York State Outdoor Writers Association. Bob is also an award-winning thriller writer; his novels include Trace Evidence, The Author (two-volume set), The Teacher, Knots (e-book), and No Stranger Than I. Visit www.robertbanfelder.com; follow on Facebook @ Robert Banfelder and Twitter @RBanfelder.

June 01, 2013

A Powerhouse of a Baitcasting Reel in a Small Low-Profile Package

by Bob Banfelder

Let's take a look at a relatively new addition to Shimano's low-profile baitcasting lineup. The Curado E 300 Series, offered in either left- or right-handed models, is a high-performance reel boasting an ultra-smooth and powerful maximum drag setting of 15 pounds! That's some stopping power! Dartainium drag material offers a wider range of settings. The reel can easily handle lightweight to large baits effortlessly.

Several features and specs include Shimano's High Efficiency Gearing (HEG); a lightweight but strong aluminum frame that houses an extra-deep aluminum spool capable of holding 240 yards of 12-pound test monofilament (50 pound equivalent braid), which gives you a good idea of line capacity; 5 Shielded Stainless Steel Ball Bearings; 1 S A-RB (Anti-Rust Bearing) Shielded Stainless Steel Ball Bearing; 1 A-RB Stainless Steel Roller Clutch Bearing (for a total of 7 bearings); 6.2:1 Gear Ratio; and 28 inches of line retrieve per crank. The reel weighs in at a mere 10.5 ounces, carrying an MSRP of $250. Please bear in mind that when I write up a product review, it is not simply field-tested over a weekend or two. All equipment is put through a vigorous trial by ordeal in which Donna and I own and work these workhorses hard through the seasons. Flawless would sum up this gutsy Shimano Curado bait caster.

Can't justify spending $250, even for a fine powerhouse in a lightweight package? Seeing as how I am not in bed with Shimano, I can suggest having you purchase a top-notch rod to match that first-rate reel:

Matching Baitcasting Reels to Rods

Time and again, I see folks paying way too much money for fishing rods, whether it is a fly rod, baitcasting rod, or spinning rod. Quite frankly, you're wasting your money if you spend more than $50 on a baitcasting rod for the Curado 300E (right hand) or 301E (left hand) model. Shimano, Okuma, G. Loomis, St. Croix and Shakespeare Ugly Stik wands are rated as excellent baitcasting rods—but not necessarily in that order. However, all things being equal, the former four rods are priced far higher than the Shakespeare Ugly Stik that I'll be suggesting. We're looking at double, triple and quadruple the price for a comparable Ugly Stik rod. As you generally get what you pay for, folks automatically get talked into and/or simply reach for the more expensive rods. The fact is that the Ugly Stik (again, all things being equal) is tougher than the other rods that cost considerably more. You may gain a bit more sensitivity and wield slightly less weight with those more pricy rods, but they generally do not have the backbone of Shakespeare Ugly Stiks. Different strokes for different folks. Perhaps you can now justify putting the money that I hopefully saved you toward a superior Shimano Curado 300E/301 baitcasting reel.

In selecting a medium- medium-heavy action Ugly Stik baitcasting rod for the Curado E, look for double-footed, chrome-plated stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts and center bridges for extra ring support. Ugly Stiks simply can't be beat in terms of strength and durability. For the price, you will not likely find these superior type guides on other rods that command significantly higher price tags.



I couple the Curado reel to a single-piece Shakespeare BWC 1120 7' (2.13) MH Medium Heavy Action Ugly Stik rod (12–20 lb. Line Test). At the expense of mixing metaphors, I'm spooled with 120 yards of 20-pound test monofilament—loaded for bear.



Let's take an even closer look at some of the reel's other outstanding features. On the sideplate is a flip-key that easily accesses Curado's Variable Breaking System (VBS) in order to quickly change weight adjustments and/or spools. The reason that the angler can cast extremely lightweight lures is in the design of the Magnumlite Spool. Creative construction coupled with innovative drilling techniques produces a light, thin-walled yet super-strong spool that offers ". . . the lowest startup inertia ever in a Shimano reel," claims the company. With Curado's VBS friction adjustments, cast control is always under control. If you are experiencing a backlash with a particular lure, simply make the fine adjustment via the Variable Breaking System, comprised of six brake weights, which can be changed by switching all or combinations of the weights. Easy to follow instructions come with the reel. I can flip or pitch virtually weightless worms (artificial or otherwise) with great accuracy because of this noteworthy system.

Opposite the access plate is the Cast Control knob to lessen or increase spool friction. Between the two friction control systems (the Variable Breaking System and the Cast Control knob), backlashes [overruns] are eliminated. If a backlash happens at the beginning of the cast, it is cleared by the Variable Breaking System. If a backlash happens at the end of the cast, it is cleared by the Cast Control knob.

For instant hook-setting power, Super Stopper II anti-reverse employs a one-way stainless steel roller bearing to prevent backplay. Additionally, the Curado E 300 series features a backup system, Assist Stopper, utilizing an anti-reverse pawl and ratchet to positively eliminate failure. To paraphrase the company's claim, "Should the Super Stopper roller bearing fail to engage as the result of cold weather or over-lubrication, the Assist Stopper kicks in to provide a solid hookset the instant the roller bearing begins to slip. Most often, the angler will not even realize when this feature engages. By immediately stopping the backward rotation of the roller bearing, the Assist Stopper greatly reduces the chance of permanent damage to the Supper Stopper, allowing the feature to continue to function as designed."

The QuickFire II Clutch (thumb) Bar gives you control of both spool and clutch with the touch of your thumb by either disengaging the spool or reengaging the gearing.

Curado's handlebar knobs are comfortable, made of Septon CPD, a thermoplastic elastomer that offers an appealing tactile feel. A round-headed five spoke star drag is perfectly positioned behind the handlebar.

Note: An important word on right- or left-hand retrieve handles. On most fly and spinning reels, it's a rather simple procedure to convert from either right- or left-hand wind modes. On most fly reels, it's a matter of repositioning the pawl. Instructions generally cover this conversion. On most spinning reels, one can easily switch the handle from one side of the reel to the other. However, concerning all baitcasting reels, one must decide on either a right- or left-handed model from the onset, for there is no conversion option. Some reels only come right-handed. Occasionally, within a model series, several right-handed reels are offered whereas a left-handed option may be limited to a single choice. A word to the wise; be very careful in your selection.

I'm right-handed; yet, I purchased Shimano's Curado CU301 E left-hand model because I'm more comfortable cranking the handle with my left hand. All my fly reels and spinning reels are set up for left-hand retrieve. Our Penn 930 Levelmatics—along with a pair of ancient Penn Senator baitcasting reels—came with right-hand retrieve. Fine for dropping a line over the rail or trolling, but for continual casting performance, I do not like changing hands in order to retrieve a lure. That's just me. It's all a matter of preference.



May has been a fabulous month for stripers, blues, porgies, blowfish and weakfish in the Peconics: Little Peconic Bay and Great Peconic Bay. Referencing weakfish, many folks claim that when it comes to fine fare, they find weakfish to be mushy and therefore return them to the waters. This is not the case if you follow my recipe to a T. Here's the trick: Dredge them with flour, egg and bread crumb. Refrigerate for a couple of hours. Next, flour, egg and Panko them. Back into the refrigerator for another couple hours. Get your pan hot with Crisco, a little butter, a little olive oil; 3:1:1 ratio, respectively. Using strictly olive oil will be absorbed into the batter, making it—guess what? —mushy. Add thin-sliced garlic to the pan moments before the fish is done. Cut into the thickest section of flesh, finishing off the fish the moment the meat goes from gray to white. You want the fish flaky, not underdone nor overcooked. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. The dish is fabulous; not at all mushy. Enjoy!

Note: Although I cook virtually all my fish with wine, I do not cook this dish with vino. However, a glass is close at hand. :o) :o)


Bob Banfelder is author of the newly released (April 2013) The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water, with blurbs by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso. Bob is also an award-winning thriller writer; his novels include Trace Evidence,The Author (two-volume set), The Teacher, Knots (e-book), and No Stranger Than I. Visit www.robertbanfelder.com; follow on Facebook @ Robert Banfelder and Twitter @RBanfelder.

May 01, 2013

Along with the Sound of Music, These are a Few of My Favorite Things

by Bob Banfelder

For freshwater fishing, the Gimp is my favorite fly for trout. Donna and I have caught brooks, browns and rainbows as well as a variety of panfish such as bluegills and perch with this fantastic wet fly pattern. I duped this 19-inch rainbow taken from Suffolk County's Connetquot River State Park in Oakdale, Long Island.



Pictured across the top of the following photo are one half-dozen Gimps ranging in hook sizes #16, 14, 12, 10, 8 and 6. Right below the set of hooks is my original mantis shrimp imitation (left corner), which initially turned out to be a bit too heavy for a fly but worked well with a light- to medium-action spinning outfit. To its right is my Green Grabber for saltwater applications. It was inspired by Erwin D. Sias' creation of his original Gimp fly. Adjacent to the Green Grabber is my Big Bull's-Eye fly. As what started out as a bit of tomfoolery, since I affix eyes to virtually every lure imaginable, my big-eyed pattern proved to be a venerable winner, taking nearly everything that swims in our bays.

The next four bunker patterns (adults and peanuts), ranging between 3- to 9-inches, have netted Donna and I some truly nice stripers, blues and weakfish. Two of the four patterns are a variation of Lefty Kreh's world-renowned Deceiver fly. The 4-inch bunker fly [pictured immediately above my 8-inch Dissembler streamer/bunker fly] is fashioned after Enrico Puglisi's Peanut Butter Family of flies. The materials that the man manufactures as well as the flies he ties and markets are absolutely awesome, accounting for some of Donna's biggest fish—along with bragging rights.

In the lower left corner is my significantly lighter 8-inch mantis shrimp fly that casts and tracks well. I managed to double the length to 8 inches while shedding 25 grains off its original weight; that is, 111.5 grains down to 85.5 grains. Tell me that's not an interesting weight reduction program. It took a while to come up with the materials to make this fly doable. Donna has also taken some respectable stripers and blues with this lighter variation as depicted in my March 1st, 2013 blog. With the exception of the original weightier mantis, these eight flies pretty much cover the gamut of both our fresh and saltwater fly-fishing applications for which we've enjoyed continued success.



With two exceptions, articles pertaining to the aforementioned patterns and their recipes are noted on my website under Publications at the top of the home page: www.robertbanfelder.com. Scroll the articles listed for the recipe(s) you're interested in, note the date of the magazine or blog publication, then log on to Nor'east Saltwater, www.noreast.com and search their magazine postings and/or my blog postings.
For example:

Nor'east Saltwater, January 2013. "Mantis Shrimp Recipe for 7-inch Fly (Squilla enpusa) New & Improved" 1,900 words.

Nor'east Saltwater, May 1, 2012. "Gimp Gone Green: Transition from Freshwater to Saltwater Fly Recipe" 740 words.

Nor'east Saltwater, April 7, 2009, Volume 20, Number 4. Fly-Tying Series: Part III of a three-part series – "Fly Tying for Beginners" [Includes Bob B's Baby (peanut) Bunker Fly ~ Bob B's Black & White Big Bull's-Eye Fly] 3,300 words.

Nor'east Saltwater, September 3, 2008, Volume 19, Number 20. "Tying sizable Flies with Sythetics: Materials, Tricks of the Trade, Tools & Tactics" Eight-inch Sand Eel recipe. 2,250 words.

Nor'east Saltwater, March 1, 2005, Volume 16, Number 3. "Mantis Shrimp Fly Recipe" Tying instructions for the heavier (111.5 grain) mantis; better suited for light- to medium-action spinning outfit. 1,867 words.

Here is the recipe for my New & Improved 8-inch Dissembler Bunker/Streamer Fly—deadly as in a coffin nail.

Materials for Bob B's Lethal 8-inch Dissembler Fly

Note: Because some materials may be more readily available than others, I'm presenting a range of materials from which to select.

Hook: O'Shaughnessy Style 3/0 or 4/0. Gamakatsu and Owner hooks are quite popular.
Thread: White, 3/0 Orvis Saltwater/Bass Thread, Danville's flat waxed nylon, or Gudebrod Kevlar.
Weight: Lead wire (optional): .020, .025, or .030. Any brand name will do just fine.
Underbelly: White bucktail.
Throat: Red Supreme Hair by Wapsi, or red Fluro Fibre by Raymond C. Rump & Son, or red marabou, or dyed-red bucktail is also suitable.
Body & Tail: Wavy or crinkly synthetic fiber strands of eight, ten and fourteen-inch lengths, such as Wapsi's Supreme Hair, Orvis' Marabou Hair, or Spirit River's Slinky Fibre, or Cotton Candy fibers by Mirror Image, Polyfibre, or Enrico Puglisi's fibers; i.e., EP-Fibers, EP-Fibers 3-D or EP-Ultimate Fibers (available only in 8-inch, 10-inch and 12-inches—not 14-inches. Therefore, substitute 14-inch lengths with one of the above mentioned fibers). Try to obtain an assortment of colors such as light and dark shades of white, yellow, blue, green, brown, and gray.

Note: Enrico Puglisi fibers are not wavy and crinkly but work extremely well with this fly, too.

Flash: Copper.
Back: Peacock herl.
Eyes: 10-millimeter doll eyes; hollow or solid.
Epoxy: Five-minute, two-part Z-Poxy resin/hardener is my first choice. Any other two-part plastic epoxy should work well.

Procedure for Bob B's 8-inch Dissembler Fly ~ New & Improved

1. Behind the eye of the hook, approximately 1/8 of an inch, take several turns and tie in a section of lead wire (optional—depending where in the water column you wish to be), wrapping the weight neatly to the bend. Follow with the thread, back-and-forth, covering the wire and ending at the bend of the hook.
2. Take an eight-inch length of approximately ten strands of white fiber, wrap the thread around the middle of the stack at the bend of the hook, fold up and back onto itself; secure tightly in place.
3. Repeat the procedure with a fourteen-inch length of approximately ten strands of yellow fibers, wrapping the stack in front of the last section, folding it up and back onto itself as before; secure firmly in place. Note that from the front of the wrapped lead wire to the tail, the fly is approximately eight inches long.
4. Repeat step 3 with a ten-inch length of about ten strands of dark blue fiber. Wrap and secure as before, working fractionally forward, alternating among the long and short lengths of approximately eight, fourteen, and ten-inch strands until you reach the halfway point of the wire weight, moving through shades of green such as olive (back to eight-inches), light gray (fourteen-inches), to brown (ten-inches), perhaps a misty green (eight-inches). I finished with light blue (fourteen-inches) fibers. Most magically, you will see the streamer take shape.

Note: Experiment. Be creative. Learn what big baitfish are cruising your waters and when. The important thing is not to dress your fly too heavily. You want to achieve a profile of the baitfish with light refracting and reflecting off and through the materials. You do not want to present a mop head nor a brush that could be used to paint a barn.

5. Atop the last stack of fibers, tie in six strands of copper flash, about six inches in length. Trim.
6. Repeat the last step using peacock herl.
7. Rotate the vise 180 degrees (nice if you have a rotary) and tie in fifteen to twenty strands of three-inch long white bucktail at the center of the wrapped lead, extending the deer hair rearward along the bottom of the shank.
8. Tie in a small amount of blood-red throat material for the gills—beneath but only fractionally beyond the bend.
9. Again, rotate the vise. Wrap the thread forward to form a gradually tapered cone shape, working toward the eye of the hook. Whip finish and trim.
10. Epoxy the back of both doll eyes then press together on each side of the hook shank at a point just rear of the tapered head. Wait until the epoxy sets up then fill in the gaps along the circumference of the eyes. Epoxy the cone-shaped nose, making the Dissembler virtually bulletproof. Now, hold the fly broadside up to the light. Can you practically see through it? You're in business.



The only issue remaining, since I'm into sizable flies, is that I need something just short of a valise in which to carry them. However, I'll continue to sing the same refrain: These are a few of my favorite things.



Hope to see you at the Port Jefferson Maritime Festival this weekend May 4th and 5th. I'll be giving a talk both days at 2 p.m. re writing articles for the great outdoors, and Donna will address getting published. I'll have copies of my new fishing book The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water available along with my award-winning thrillers.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Novelist, Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com

April 01, 2013

Barrier Epoxies & Ablative Paints: The Bottom Line

by Bob Banfelder

Donna and I have been bottom painting fiberglass hulls for some twenty-six years. We have used hard paints in the past with satisfaction but have recently switched to ablative (soft) paints for overall superior performance. Depending on where you boat, each method has its specific advantages. Fishing and boating in the northeast, namely Long Island, Donna and I have come to learn that ablative antifouling bottom paints are your better choice for fighting any number of culprits; namely, barnacles and algae; that is, marine growth and slime. Avoid paint buildup resulting from hard paints applied over the course of years and the unnecessary sanding that will eventually have to be addressed.

A few seasons ago we downsized, purchasing a new center console. I paid top-dollar for superior bottom painting. However, the boatyard had not properly prepared the craft; hence, virtually all of the paint peeled away by the end of the first season. The consensus from professionals was that the hull had not been thoroughly dewaxed or properly sanded. An old familiar saying states, "No scratchy, no sticky," referring in this case to protective barrier and top-coat antifouling paints not adhering properly to the hull below the waterline.

The boatyard was located out of state; therefore, it was not cost effective to return the boat for the crew to start anew. Needless to say, it was cost prohibitive for a boatyard here in New York to undo what had been done and to start from the beginning. We received blow-away estimates. What to do? Donna and I decided to do the entire bottom from scratch, each and every step of the way. Suffice it to say, the boatyard reimbursed us for the materials—not our time. The two of us spent innumerable hours prepping, scraping, dewaxing, scouring, washing, sanding, etching, priming and painting. Skip a step and you're wasting your time. Working with the boat sitting on a roller trailer, having to reposition the vessel by employing a come-along in order to reach all areas, proved grueling. However, we were determined to do things right.

Going down life's path, I've learned to turn negative situations into positive experiences. I'd do the necessary research, experiment then write an article or two on the results. We started out by asking professionals who worked in boatyards in our area precisely what applications they suggested (hard versus ablative paints), as well as their reasons why. As already stated, ablative won out for fighting barnacles and other marine growth, coupled to the fact that there would be less work to be done in the long run.

The next questions I addressed were specifically what name-brand primers and paints professionals preferred. The two names that kept resurfacing were Pettit and Interlux. Once again, I asked their reasons why. One fellow answered those questions rather well. "Because only the best will do," he stated with assurance. Three coats of 2-part Pettit Protect Epoxy Primer for barrier protection was clearly the preferred choice.



$88.99 per gallon MSRP


Two additional coats of either Pettit Ultima SR 40 Dual Biocide or Interlux Micron CSC were patently the preferred ablative topcoat antifouling paints.

After applying the recommended three coats of Pettit's Protect Epoxy Primer barrier (applied by brush in lieu of roller), Donna and I decided to paint one half of the hull bottom with two coats of Pettit's Ultama SR 40 ablative paint, and the other half with two coats of Interlux's Micron CSC ablative paint. The first coat was brushed on; the second coat was applied with a roller. The results were remarkable. In twenty-six years of boating, we've never had such a cleaner bottom after hauling the vessel at the end of the season. I could not determine which ablative worked best; they both appeared equal in terms of performance. Both sides of the bottom were clean and required only a light power washing. Think of ablative antifouling paint as a bar of soap that wears away after many showers. Ablative paints wear and remove marine organisms from your hull as a bar of soap would remove dirt and grime from your body.

Straight from the companies' mouths are their advertising blurbs:

"Pettit's Ultima SR-40 combines a high copper load (40%) with Irgarol, an algicide, to offer outstanding dual biocide, multi-season protection. Its ablative surface minimizes coating build-up while providing a continuous supply of fresh biocides. It [the boat] can be hauled and re-launched without repainting. Formerly sold as Ultima SR and Horizons Pro, this formula has a proven track record as one of America's premium ablative bottom paints."



$189.99 per gallon MSRP


Interlux states that, "Micron CSC is a great multi-season ablative bottom paint with a copper-copolymer formula that provides controlled release of antifouling biocides at the paint surface. The longevity of the coating depends on the amount of paint applied. CSC retains its effectiveness even when the boat is removed from the water for extended periods (winter storage, for example). To reactivate come springtime, use a stiff brush or power wash lightly."



$194.99 per gallon MSRP


Our boat stays in the water a good seven months out of the year, generally from April to the end of October; we use it regularly. As the boat's bottom is white, the primer coats gray, and both ablative topcoats are black, it is easy to monitor how our job is holding up. Since there is no white hull visible as well as very little gray primer showing, I could proceed with a single coat (to be applied by a roller in lieu of brush), of either Pettit's Ultima SR-40 or Interlux's Micron CSC at the beginning of the new season and see how that works out. However, I'm going to continue the way we were going, experimenting with both ablative paints in order to see which one holds up better with a single rolled on coat for the new season. I'll report the results to you folks next season.

I was strongly advised early on that when priming a new boat, it is best to apply three coats of epoxies with brushes, not rollers. When applying ablative topcoat paints, it is best to brush on the first coat; subsequent coats may then be applied with a roller. For protective barrier coats, remember that Pettit is spelled with three T's. This will help you remember that Pettit is the 3-coat primer preferred by professionals.

Do things right the first time by purchasing the best primers and paints available. Pettit and Interlux top-of-the-line products are superior. Do not hunt around for bargain primers and paints, for they will cost you more in the long run, both in terms of money and time spent laboring.

Enjoy a great boating/fishing season, guys and gals.

My thanks to the Parts Department at Lighthouse Marina, Aquebogue, re photographs. Lighthouse Marina has a complete line of the aforementioned primer and paints.

[http://www.robertbanfelder.com/]

March 01, 2013

Fly-Fishing & Fine Fare ~ Recipes for Success

by Bob Banfelder

A decade ago, on a beautiful summer morning, Donna and I took a fishing trip along the Peconic River to a spot just southeast of the 105 Bridge in Riverhead. I paddled our sixteen-foot canoe along the bank before putting a 9' #8-weight Scott rod coupled to a Super 8 Abel reel spooled with 100' of Teeny TS 350 Speed Sink/Floating Line (for rod sizes #8–10) into the anxious angler's hands. Anxious because she could cast well enough to send line and lure out to distances of forty to fifty feet, thanks to Dan Eng's tutelage. Dan was and still is the venerable fly-casting instructor at Eastern Flyrodders of Long Island. Dan had worked with Donna and me during pre-meeting sessions. Later, we continued with private lessons, having improved our casting techniques. Such clubs are fortunate to have talented folks like Dan as members.

I had tried several fly lines and am sold on Teeny Line, especially for beginners. The magic is in the marriage of a floating line matched to a sinking head. All one piece. No knots. No splicing. No hinging. Two colors determine its balancing point, so there is no guesswork as when to draw and shoot the line. When both colors extend approximately a foot past the rod tip, it's magic time. And talk about cutting through the wind; it's simply a breeze. I could easily sail an imitation out to eighty feet. But at that point in time, Donna was holding the goods. I had the paddle.

After a dozen casts toward and perpendicular to the shoreline, my better half spotted a swirl several yards out toward the center of the river, excitedly instructing me to "swing this banana about!" so that she didn't have to contort her body into position. Quite candidly, it's a tippy canoe, designed for cruising, not serving very well as a solid fishing platform—not by any stretch of those sixteen rockable feet. Not about to argue, I executed a powerful draw stroke, pivoting the craft parallel to a promising seam and another swirl.

Two false casts and Donna sent the six-inch bunker imitation several feet past yet another swirl. The first 30-foot section of 7-ips (sink rate) green-tipped sinking line hit the water and immediately disappeared. Thirty feet had been a lot for her to keep airborne, but she managed. Seconds later, on a moderate retrieve, five yards or so of red floating line suddenly tore across the bow of the banana as Donna set the hook. The canoe was headed toward a piling. The drag on an Abel is about as able as you're going to get. Smooth as silk and satin. The 8-weight Scott rod performed flawlessly.

"Rod up! Let him run," I hollered.
"It's making a beeline for the piling," she protested.
"Good. Maybe it'll knock itself out," I half-kidded. "He's turning."
"So's the boat," she brayed.

I knew Donna had hooked into a good size fish, maybe more than she could handle on a fly rod. "Stay with him," I commanded, like she really had a choice. Donna fought the denizen for a good two minutes.

"I can't hold him much longer."
"Oh, but you can and you will, or there won't be any supper for you."
"Then we'll go to Danowski's or Gallo's fish market," she threatened.
"That's not exactly what I meant."
"Oh, my God!"

The big fish jumped and splashed. Bigger than the cocktail blues she'd been getting on spin-casting lures. Bigger than schoolie bass, too. It wasn't a monster, but I knew it would break five pounds; that is, if it didn't first break the leader. The fish jumped again. A good-size blue I believed, although I wasn't really sure at that point—maybe a bass. Forty-five of seventy feet of red running/low profile floating line was now stripped from the spool, I guesstimated, totaling seventy-five feet in all. Slowly, Donna was gaining on him.

"He's getting tired," I offered encouragingly.
"Then he's winning the battle because I'm getting exhausted. Correction. I am exhausted!"
"Look! He's on his side," I offered encouragingly.
"Look! I'm practically on my knees."
I had net in hand. "Maneuver him toward the center—I can't reach him from here."
"I can't."
"You can."
"I hate you!"
"Take it out on the fish when you bring him alongside. Do it!"

[Note: We have this conversation every time Donna catches a decent size fish, except on charter boats where there are witnesses around. Fighting thirty to thirty-five pound stripers with conventional tackle, Donna simply hollers, "Whoa!" at the top of her lungs. Of course, she'll get a little help from a mate who'll repeatedly tell her, "You call out 'Fish on!' not 'Whoa!' You're fishing, lady, not horseback riding."]

The fish splashed and thrashed then dove for a final time before Donna had him alongside the canoe and I was able to scoop him neatly into the net. It flapped and pounded the floor of the canoe to the powerful pounding of Donna's heart, I'm sure. A beautiful twenty-four inch, five and three-quarter pound blue.

"Do we return him to the water or keep him?" I asked.
"My first real fish on a fly rod? Are you crazy? I caught him. I'll cook him. And we'll eat him tonight."
"Would you like to fillet him, too?"
"No, that's your department."
"Happy?"
"I'm hooked. When can we do this again?"
"How about right now?"
"I need a breather. Besides, we've got to get this fish home now because you forgot to bring ice. How about tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow it is."
"I love you."
"A moment ago you hated me, you said."
"I did not."
"You did, and I'm going to record it in an article."
"I'll deny it! Folks won't believe you!" she declared.
"Sure they will. For all fishwives are liars, everybody knows."
"Listen."
"I'm listening."
"We'll go tomorrow, but we're not fishing from this tippy canoe. Alright? We'll take the pilothouse. Okay?"
"Okay. But you'll use a different line and lure; the fly I'm working on."
"You mean your mantis shrimp imitation."
"Yep."
"Fine."
"Are you going to make my favorite bluefish recipe tonight?"
"Done," she swore.

And she did. Here it is—the great irony being that Donna had at one time truly hated bluefish and anchovies before landing this marvelous recipe. It was given to us by Bev and Bob Johnsen of Southold; a dynamite recipe for any oily fish. I pass this on to you in memory of those two folks with whom we boated for many years.

Bluefish Bake


Ingredients:

2 bluefish fillets (cocktail blues or larger are fine; amounts below are for the larger fillets—adjust accordingly)
5 anchovies
1½ cups of Hellman's Real Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preparation
:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place fillets in a baking dish. Drizzle olive oil on both sides of the fillets.
2. Bake fish for about 15 minutes or until flaky.
3. While fish is baking, mash the anchovies with a mortar and pestle and add the mayonnaise, mixing the ingredients well.
4. Remove dish from oven. Switch oven to Hi broil.
5. Smear the mayo/anchovy mixture over the top of the fillets. Place under broiler. The mayo/anchovy mixture will begin to bubble. Remove the fillets when the mixture is golden brown.

Bon appétit.

As a postscript, Donna did not take another nice fish on a fly rod the following day. However, with a bit of persistence, she did manage to nail an even bigger blue sometime later with my mantis shrimp design, but with a different fly rod and line set-up: a 9' #10-weight Temple Fork Outfitters, Lefty Kreh Signature Series 1, coupled to the same Super 8 Able reel, spooled with 100' of Teeny's 8 ips (sink rate) T-400 (Yellow/Brown) Speed Sink/Floating Line (for rod sizes 8–12). The T series 24-foot sinking section was a lot easier for Donna to handle than the TS 30-foot section, especially when casting a heavier 7-inch imitation.



Of course, I had to deal with Donna's continued abuse aboard Write On, having to constantly remind her that I am in command as the captain of our pilothouse vessel, which certainly carried a lot more authority than trying to convince anyone that I was the captain of the aforementioned canoe.

You can locate my mantis fly recipe in January's 2013 online magazine issue of Nor'east Saltwater. The article is titled Mantis Shrimp Recipe for 7-inch Fly (Squilla empusa) New & Improved.

www.robertbanfelder.com

February 01, 2013

Extraordinary Ordinary Folks

by Bob Banfelder

If I were to flash the name and face of Frank Mundus, and not just to devotees confined to shark fishing circles, Frank's name and face would certainly be recognized. Case in point: On July 7, 2008, Donna and I were having a dinner party on the back deck at our riverfront home. Among those invited were members and their families of Eastern Flyrodders of Long Island. I did not mention to the group that a world famous shark fisherman, Frank Mundus, might be attendance, for Frank had said he would try to come by after he finished up some business at Atlantis Marine World (since renamed Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center) in Riverhead. Shortly after everyone's glass was filled, a figure could be seen in the distance, steadily heading from the dock at Riverside Marina to our home. Several heads raised and stared in the man's direction.

"Jesus," one of our guests declared.

Not even close, I wanted to announce through a wry grin.

"He looks like . . . . Nah, it can't be!" another said.

"That's Frank Mundus!" said an old-timer with certainty.

"It certainly is!" exclaimed another.

I made the introductions all around, and Frank found himself a spot at a nearby table.

One of the fellow members, Nick Posa, knew quite a bit about Frank Mundus and his adventures through the years, especially relating to Carcharodon carcharias, the great white shark. Frank had been the template for Captain Quint in the movie Jaws. Frank loved the limelight, and the evening turned out to be a wonderful get-together.

Marvelous stories, jokes and laughter marked the occasion. Although Frank was the center of attention, he had to be on his toes with this group. It turned into a genial interplay of one-upmanship. Jokes turned from downright funny to absolutely hilarious. And it wasn't from the effect of any libations. Stories among all those present transited from stimulating to awe inspiring; the common denominator, the simple attraction?

Fishing.

It didn't matter if you threw flies at brook trout, albies, or chummed for serious sized sharks. The camaraderie among anglers is something most magical. Water is the medium; the mystery lies within.

When it comes to serious fishing, Nick Posa is one of the most knowledgeable folks I know. He's a member of Eastern Flyrodders, North Brookhaven Fishermen Club, and the Suffolk County Woodcarver's Guild. Nick is in his element and at the top of his game when discussing fish and fishing techniques. He is a man given to great detail, which I believe stemmed from his career in banking to his expertise both in wood carving and chip carving. Chip carving is an intricate style of sculpting, employing knives and chisels with which to cut away and remove tiny chips from a flat surface within a single piece of material, namely basswood, tupelo, mahogany and butternut—no, not the switch plate seen in the background—thereby creating unique ornamental designs as shown below, along with a couple of Nick's spinner baits.



Let's see how this carries over into his artistic ability as it relates to fly tying. But first I should mention that Nick is not a world famous figure like Frank Mundus. Nick is certainly recognized by his circle of close friends and acquaintances referencing those aforementioned clubs. However, he would not stand out in a crowd of anglers from around the country and be identified like Frank. Nevertheless, Nick's knowledge of fish, pan sized to pelagic species, is remarkable. Discuss manner and method with Nick, and he is at his personal best. Example:

When I was doing research for an article on Shimano's tackle systems during the early stages of development, specifically their Lucanus, Waxwing and Butterfly jigging systems, even before they became popular here in America, Nick was right up to speed. When he comes over for dinner occasionally, small talk soon takes a turn to terrific tales about fishing locally from his kayak, or fabulous stories after having returned from his friend's property upstate and the group with whom he fishes.

"So, Bob. What's going on around those docks by Atlantis?" he inquired one evening before dinner.

"Not much," I responded truthfully.

"No weakfish?"

"Nope," I added, shaking my head in the negative.

At which point Nick reached into a bag then handed me a 9-inch big-eyed spinner bait inclusive of a colorful trailer skirt that he had fashioned, tested and refined over a period of time, telling me precisely how to work the lure from my own kayak.

"Troll this at a knot to a knot-and-a-half along those dock pilings by the marina. They're there. They've got your name on them."

I wanted to politely tell Nick, "Been there, done that," but I didn't. I didn't because I had learned early on from this man that he spoke with great knowledge. That and the fact I hadn't given Nick's spinner bait its due.

Dinner had turned into a late night; however, I couldn't wait to give Nick's lure a try early the next morning. Not too many boats sat tied to those dock pilings as it was still pretty early in the season. Both dusk and dawn proved to be quite productive. Not only did I pick up several weakfish that entire week, I nailed several nice bass with Nick's lure. Many of us know to work in and around pilings, pitching or flipping all sorts of artificials. I would occasionally score. Trolling from my kayak with, admittedly, shorter spinner baits and leaders did not produce for me as consistently as Nick's lure and lengthy leader had and still does. The man was right. Those weakfish were surely there.

When Angelo Peluso's book came out in 2006, titled Saltwater Flies of the Northeast (photographs by Richard Siberry), I looked up three of Nick Posa's color presentations and basic recipes for tying: Gold Bead Albie, Lil Poppa, and Night and Day. Keep in mind that Nick is an artist. Keep in mind, too, that Nick is a detailed technician. There are certainly a lot of colorful presentments in Angelo's illustrious work; 369 of them in fact. Generally speaking, there are many patterns that catch fisherman. Angelo's array captures the work of 109 consummate fly tiers from 15 states. Nick Posa is one of them. Long Island is his home. Nick is an extraordinary ordinary folk. Pardon the oxymoron; I'm sure you get my drift.

Captain Frank Mundus was a colorful character—extraordinary in his own right. Frank reinvented himself to make a living for his family. He was loved by many, maligned unfairly at times by others. He was Donna's and my friend. Nick Posa is loved by everyone. In that sense alone, the man transcends the ordinary into the world of the extraordinary. He is most assuredly our friend, too.

I proudly wear a tooth taken from the jaw of a great white shark that Frank Mundus and his crew had bested. Too, both Donna and I proudly display our chip carvings crafted and bestowed to us by Nick Posa. For me, Frank's great white shark's tooth represents the world of water. Nick's chip-carving designs are symbolic of the woods. Woods and water make up most of my world, for I love to hunt and fish. When I'm not hunting or fishing, I'm doing what I'm doing right now: writing. Woods – Water – Writing. That's me.

Let's now take a look at Nick's black and white go-to fly illustration along with its recipe, in Nick's own words.



Hook: Eagle Claw #254 – #154 – 2/0 w/lg. eye

1. Wrap hook shank with mono thread.
2. At hook bend on top, tie in med. gray bucktail.
3. Tie in 6 strands of Glitter; two on each side; two on top.
4. On top of previous tie, at bend, tie in 3½ inch strand of dark green Ice chenille.
5. Wind chenille forward and tie off 3/16 inch behind hook eye.
5a) Trim chenille flat on top w/scissors so hackles can lay flat.
6. Using 3 black hackles, 3½ inches long, tie in behind the hook eye; one on each side; one flat on top.
7. Using red Kip Hair, make a small red beard behind hook eye on bottom.
8. Make head on fly w/red or black Mylar thread.

Note:
Can vary colors and size.
Can add red feathers, palmered at step #7.
Can use 6 hackles to add bulk to fly; two on each side; two on top.

I have copies of several black and white drawings and sketches Nick made of not only his own flies but of those he illustrated for other members of Eastern Flyrodders of Long Island; e.g., Dan Eng, Carlee Ogeka, and Richard (Doc) Steinberger. I treasure those illustrations as I do the chip carvings and tooth.

Below is a photograph of a tooth taken from that powerful pelagic; a 3,427 pound great white shark caught on rod and reel by Donnie Braddock aboard Frank Mundus' famed Cricket II, captained by Frank. When Frank passed away, I purchased the tooth from his wife Jenny, then had it crafted via a tapered shield with rivet and ribbed-tapered bale by Robert's Jewelers in Southold. Wonderful job! Wonderful objet d´art for display or to where as a necklace.



I have written several articles on Frank Mundus, Jeanette Mundus, the Cricket II and its new owner, Jon Dodd of Rhode Island. It is of interest to note that Jon is looking to donate or sell this most celebrated sport fishing vessel. I wonder where this boat will resurface. Perhaps Montauk. For Donna and me, Frank Mundus will always be in our minds and hearts as will all of our Extraordinary, Ordinary fishing friends and acquaintances such as Nick Posa.

January 01, 2013

Preparation & Organization

by Bob Banfelder

It's that time of year again when I start replacing worn monofilament and braided lines from the spools of Donna's and my spinning and bait casting reels, inspecting and wiping clean our weight-forward fly lines and shooting heads, reversing (if necessary) our double-taper fly lines, which we use strictly for stilly freshwater presentations.

Next, I thoroughly attack those respective reels with a degreaser and mild detergent, inside and out, adding new grease and reel oil. As Donna and I own several rods and reels in each category—spin, bait and fly outfits for light, medium as well as heavy-duty action—needless to say, we're pretty busy this time of year getting ready for next season. I handle the reels and lines; Donna cleans the rods.

First, a word of advice: If you're not familiar with taking your reel(s) apart and putting them back together, bring or send them to an authorized dealer. Don't be a last-minute Charlie or Charlotte, because these guys get pretty busy as we approach March. If you insist on doing the job yourself, have your owner's manual beside you in addition to a pad and pen to jot down a particular sequence if those instructions and/or diagrams aren't up to par. Also, work on a surface where you won't likely lose a tiny screw or a shooting spring.

Following the complete overhaul of that equipment, I launch into refurbishing or replacing lures: poppers, spoons (tins), crankbaits, jigs, spinners, et cetera. In virtually all cases, it's simply a matter of sharpening or replacing hooks. Having on hand an assortment of the appropriate style and sized single hooks, treble hooks, split rings, clips, spinner blades, clevises and other materials will make life easier in the long run. This will also afford you the opportunity to become a bit creative, tying in your knowledge (quite literally perhaps) of fly tying combined with said lure alterations. A favored modification of mine is epoxying a pair of eyes and tying feathers as trailers to Kastmaster tins. They're absolutely deadly when retrieved on either a horizontal or vertical (jigging) plane. Too, converting a freshwater Hula Popper into a saltwater version by removing its deteriorating rubber skirt and restoring it with a silicon replacement skirt and trailers used for Shimano's Lucanus Jigs is positively explosive. These inventive combining possibilities are endless. Alteration, creation and experimentation are the hallmarks of a successful angler. If you have convinced yourself that you're not the creative type, think again. Simply realize that the germ of an idea is the seed carried to the very next level. Say to yourself, "Yes, there is a method to my madness!"

I have a newfound friend who lives down the block. He tells me that I created a monster by reintroducing him to fishing. I had casually mentioned altering lures, explaining how I modified the Kastmaster and Hula Popper. It wasn't a week or two later when he went into his garage and started turning out wooden plugs, adding all the necessary hardware. He had made a jointed swimmer similar to the black Bomber model #16-J–Magnum Long "A" that I went on about in last month's blog. Tom Gahan then apologized for his lure's crudeness, for it wasn't turned on a lathe but simply whittled with a paring knife then sandpapered, epoxied and painted. However, we both knew that the lure would take fish come springtime. "So then why the apology, Tom?" I had asked the man. Confident now, Tom smiled, disappeared then returned in a moment with a squid that he had also created, complete with ingeniously spawned tentacles so unique that I stood in awe. He has an idea for a book titled The Frugal Fisherman; therefore, I'm not at liberty to give too much away, except to say that the guy's really on to something.

By the end of January, Donna and I will be ready for the spring: rods, reels, lines, lures and terminal tackle will all be in order. The Preparation part will be complete. Let's move on to the Organization segment.


As both Donna and I have a lot of fishing gear to contend with, organization is the key. I have a place for everything, and everything is in its place. At a moment's notice, we must be able to grab, not search for, the equipment we need to cover a certain application be it spin, bait or fly-fishing; fresh water or salt water; light, medium or heavy-duty action. It is no time to be searching through the corners of a shed, garage or closet for a specific rod and reel, or looking high and low for last season's go-to lure stowed away in that other tackle box. As a matter of fact, when we hit the water, we are not carrying a gigantic tackle box or bag filled with every conceivable lure designed for fish-fry size to heavyweights.



Based on what's running, or what we believe to be running, Donna and I simply target a species and set up as much as we can beforehand for a given application. Heading for the basement, I go to a wall designed to display an assortment of artificial lures—our most productive and therefore proven attractors: bucktails, spinners, jigs, poppers, tins, soft plastics, flies and such. I have backups packed neatly away. I'll simply take what we need for the moment and fill in at a later time with what needs to be replaced. On ceiling racks and along walls, specific rods, reels and lines are rigged and at the ready with several of our favorite lures such as properly sized and altered Kastmasters, from 1/12 ounce to 1 ounce plus.









Moving into my office, the workspace is divided in two sections: computers/printers terminal station and a fly-fishing/fly-tying area. Better than a dozen fly rods and reels line the walls and ceiling. As the room is running out of room, other outfits lay atop and between deer antlers. Where else am I going to set these additional outfits so that they remain at the ready? This room is where I write my novels (thrillers), outdoors articles and ruminate upon the next assignment or project. The fly-rod setups have our most productive and proven patterns at the ready. We merely grab and go with our go-to abridged arsenal.

Whatever he situation calls for (spin, bait or fly), Donna and I carry no more than a half-dozen lures for a half day's outing. Those items, along with paraphernalia such as leaders, several hooks, Power Fast Clips and the like, pretty much cover the gamut and compel us to give each tactic and technique a fair try. We're rarely disappointed.



Come spring, be thoroughly prepared by getting your equipment in fine working order way ahead of time; be organized by whatever means and method possible. You'll spend more time fishing instead of fussing and being frustrated. If you recall last month's blog, I had that 7-inck black Bomber model #16-J–Magnum Long "A" tucked away and forgotten in my surf bag. That eel-like swimmer is now at the ready. Hey, I didn't say that I was perfect. It's just something that we should all strive for. It makes life easier in the long run. Trust me on that.

Happy New Year, guys and gals!

Award-Winning Thriller Novelist, Outdoors Writer,
Creator of Unique Course/Guides,
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
www.robertbanfelder.com
Follow on Facebook & Twitter @RBanfelder

For BigFish79, here are some redressed tins.


December 01, 2012

Black Beauty ~ Clearly a Crankbait Winner

by Bob Banfelder

Post Hurricane Sandy left our westerly North Fork area bays high but shy of bunker. Hence, the bite was off. The ospreys had left for better hunting grounds, and an American Bald Eagle took its place, sitting perched upon the fish hawks' vacant nest along Colonel's Island, just east of the 105 Bridge in Riverhead. Christopher Paparo (marine biologist, fisherman, columnist, hunter, falconer and wildlife photographer) put aside rod and reel, grabbed his kayak and camera then headed east along the Peconic River with high hopes of capturing photos of our nation's emblematic treasure. Chris got a quick shot or two as the eagle was suddenly spooked by a fisherman with a cast net in hand, looking for any sign of bunker. No great shot of the bird of prey for Chris, no bunker for the fisherman, and no fish around for the eagle or any angler—or so I had thought.

I was ready to pack it in for the season. The 18-foot center console had been put to bed the day before the storm. In its stead sat my 7-foot, 9-inch inflatable, just in case I saw some action or heard some positive reports. I had gone out a few times but with very little luck—and that is after having thrown out everything I could muster in the hope of hooking up. I made offerings of tins, bucktails, jigs, soft plastics, spinners, poppers; flies both large and small; clam bellies and frozen bunker strips. I was targeting anything with significant shoulders with which I could proudly close the season. Nada. Needless to say, I felt a bit frustrated.



What to do?

I figured I'd try the complete opposite of what Donna and I usually do. I'd invert the process. What did I really have to lose? As I had already fished the early mornings and late evenings with not so much as a touch or a tap, having purposely picked a mid-tide with the flow of water moving along nicely, I now decided to fish the early afternoon during a dead-calm low. Both my experience and logbook tell me that moving water and/or dusk to dawn pursuits are best for big bass. Therefore, if I were going to purposely do things wrong, I might just as well get it right. Right?

After repeating the program described above, once again exhausting my arsenal, I selected a long black jointed lure that I had forgotten about for several seasons. The color black I usually reserve for nighttime fishing. However, in keeping with my nonsensical plan of action, I set up a Shimano Sustain 5000FE reel coupled to a Shakespeare SP 1101 7-foot Medium-Heavy action rod, then clipped on the lure: a 7-inch jointed black Bomber model #16J-Magnum Long "A". It is a deadly lure for stripers and blues. Too, it has proven lethal on pike, pickerel as well as large and smallmouth bass. Therefore, it was my go-to plug pick for both sweetwater and the suds. But with all the new crankbaits I've experimented with over the course of years, I had passed over this winner. It had been tucked away in my surf bag.



I started out trolling the south shoreline of Flanders Bay, rowing the inflatable while running the lure through a stretch of shallow murky water, the artificial minnow alternately diving between a foot and eighteen inches. Suddenly, the rod tip bent. I released the oars, grabbed the rod, and reeled in a submerged branch with several leaves attached.

Maneuvering the craft about, I headed for deeper water, trailing the red-eyed, black-bodied crankbait through a 3-foot column. Suddenly, came another bend in the rod. I reached for it and felt the fish grab then let go of the lure; enough trolling for the moment. I sent the one-ounce body sailing, watching the lure splash and settle before retrieving it slowly, wiggling lifelike as it neared the surface. My third twenty-five-yard cast resulted in a solid hit. A minute or so later, I landed a nice fat 20-inch sideliner.

Within the first hour, I released two more stripers—20 and 23 inches. No keepers, but I was pleased . . . somewhat.

I thought a lot about that tapered streamlined lure, hanging there before me at the ready as I rowed to another corner of the same shoreline. Seven inches long when you figure in its hardware: hangers, split rings and ¾-inch clear plastic front-fixed lip, configured to run shallow on a slow and steady retrieve—made to dive deeper into the water column with an aggressive reeling action set against the short-nosed diving plane. Two #1/0 treble hooks: one positioned at its furthermost rear section; the other placed just forward of center of the front section. Over the course of years, the plug proved to be sheer dynamite—from Gananoque along the St. Lawrence River, through Maine and other New England waters, right on down along our coastline. Salt water or fresh, it repeatedly took nice fish.

At $9.00, the lure is a bargain that is hard to beat—hard being the operative word. The body's polycarbonate modulus tensile strength rating is 350,000, which translates into 1,200 pounds of hydraulic pressure being applied before the lure would shatter. That's some serious force. Muskies may certainly make their mark upon those Bombers, and big bluefish will absolutely batter them, but you cannot kill that lure. What can happen is that you can lose the crankbait in the heat of battle if you're not careful, so I advise using a wire leader, especially when tackling those toothy predators. I don't always follow my own advice, but I pass it along anyway.

The wounded artificial baitfish swimming action of the Bomber 16J– Magnum Long "A" is long on performance and short on patience in attracting predators. During the next hour, I had caught and released three more of those sideliners in Flanders Bay, for a total of six shorties.

If there is a lesson to be learned from all of this, and there most certainly is, it's to try and not get locked into a regimented approach but rather to experiment with what may even be considered an unorthodox reach. Initially, nothing was working for me. Not even fresh frozen bait such as clam and bunker. Go figure. I had worked several of my favorite proven lures and patterns during a tide that had almost always produced for me; that is, maximum current. But by inverting the whole ball of wax, so to speak, I worked the black-colored crankbait usually set aside for nighttime fishing, fished it during daylight hours in lieu of the preferred dust to dawn approach for targeting stripers, then hooked into, landed and released a half dozen sideliners in a couple of hours. It was the only lure in my assortment that produced. I'll remind you of that age old adage, and that is: "That's why they call it fishing."

Admittedly, I was a tad disappointed that I didn't come away with dinner. A couple of fillets would have been nice for the table. I'll just bet that beautiful American Bald Eagle had no trouble scoring a meal spied from its outpost. Of course, those birds of prey have no restrictions other than the weight of what they can carry away in their talons; an awesome sight to behold!

I'll be back on the water soon after proofing and putting this blog to bed. Just so long as freezing water and/or heavy snow do not thwart my attempts, I'll be at it till the close of the season. Perhaps I'll see you out there. Dress warm and remember to bring your camera.


Award-Winning Thriller Novelist, Outdoors Writer,
Creator of Unique Course/Guides,
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
www.robertbanfelder.com
Follow Robert Banfelder on Facebook

November 01, 2012

Eau de Bunker

by Bob Banfelder

From the middle of this October, right up until the moment Hurricane Sandy threatened then hit our coastline not two weeks later, our westerly North Fork bays were replete with ¾-inch peanut bunker as well as 13- to 14-inch adult bunker. You could ostensibly traverse our westerly North Fork bays upon the backs of those adults. The influx of menhaden initially seemed reminiscent of the spring bunker kill of 2008. Thankfully, it didn't come to that. Still, with the number of bunker around our area bays, Donna and I did not score as well with big blues and bass as we had in past seasons, but not for a lack of trying. We tried several methods: live-lining, chunking, sending down clam bellies well into the water column, finally plugging and tossing tins. Too much bait for those predators was listed as one of a number of excuses.



An occasional monster blue was landed, such as marine biologist Chris Paparo's 17-plus pounder, headed for the smoker. However, we were all targeting big bass. "That's why they call it fishing," was the rhetorical lament repeated when those behemoths were not cooperating.



The forewarning of news reports referencing Hurricane Sandy prompted Donna and I to haul our boat early this season. Better safe than sorry. I changed the oil and pulled our center console. As Sandy takes her leave, Donna and I will be relegated to our kayak, canoe and inflatable. Not a problem as we've caught many a prize in the late fall and even into winter with those smaller crafts. You have to, of course, dress properly. If the heavy rains do dilute the salinity and drive the bunker south, we'll go to plan B: the downstairs chest freezer is one-fourth filled with fresh frozen menhaden for any holdover blues and/or bass. As I'm putting this November 1st blog together on October 29th, a full moon in the bargain coupled with already high tides and the threat of "The Perfect Storm," we pray we don't lose electricity. Otherwise, I'd be cooking up a storm for friends and boating neighbors at our nearby marina: venison harvested during Calverton's 2012 bow and arrow season, goose breasts from last gunning season, along with this year's abundance of porgies, blowfish, sea bass, a few weakfish and several striped bass steaks—we do not freeze bluefish, although you certainly can.

Back to that malodorous bunker kill of 2008. Immediately following the onslaught seen in our area bays—that is, Reeves Bay, Flanders Bay, Great Peconic Bay, and Little Peconic Bay—I would fish while wearing a bandanna stretched across my nose. I swore that if the river still reeked in weeks to come, I might place a temporary name across the stern of my vessel: EAU DE BUNKER. Anyhow, the event prompted me to thoroughly research menhaden and compose an ode, which I'll share with you shortly after relating this experience.



I awoke early on the morning of May 1st 2008 to a sight and smell I won't soon forget. I wouldn't have needed a weighted treble hook to snag bunker. I could have scooped them up with a bucket from the shoreline. Three hours before high tide in the a.m., as far as the eye could see—east and west and across the entire area—the dorsal fins of a guesstimated tens of thousands of fish were swimming erratically in all directions. Many of the menhaden were floating or flapping upon the surface, dead or half dead, oxygen starved after the bluefish in the thirty-inch plus category had driven them upriver and corralled them in downtown Riverhead off of East Main Street. As it turned out, local experts had estimated that hundreds of thousands of bunker entered the river and its tributaries. My neighbor from up the block had nailed nine monster blues the evening before, excitedly telling me that one of those brutes stood end-to-end with several inches of its tail sticking beyond the rim of a thirty-two gallon galvanized container. The man's home is literally a stone's throw from the river; he witnessed scores of folks catching these choppers on virtually every cast.

East of Route 105 Bridge in Flanders and Great Peconic Bays, Donna and I caught several tackle busters on poppers, Kastmasters, and Deadly Dicks. Next, I wanted to give myself a challenge, and so I set up a fly rod with a serious 9-inch bunker fly that I tie. Four more beasts succumbed to that deadly pattern before I was wasted. I brought gigantic fresh fillets to friends and neighbors who truly appreciated my first significant catch of the season while we patiently awaited those coveted bass to arrive en masse.

There is no question that live bait such as bunker draw big blues and bass. Few folks realize just how important those bunker are to not only to the marine fisheries but to several other industries as well. Let's note just how important they are by way of this ode, keeping firmly in mind that I'm a novelist and an outdoors writer, not a poet.


ODE TO MENHADEN

By Robert Banfelder

Menhaden are an oily fish,
Members of the Clupeidae class,
Unquestionably a bony dish,
Alas—as table fare, I'll pass.
Monikered as bunkers,
Mossbunkers and pogies, too,
Best served up whole for choppers and lunkers,
Or ladled as chum by a crew.

Man-eating sharks shall follow,
This slick in search of a meal,
And if their stomachs prove hollow,
Shall swallow—hook, line, sinker and reel.
So, too, the old salt behind it,
Half asleep in a fish-fighting chair,
Ere the rod split, the poor soul took a fit,
E'er vanishing into thin air.

Food for thought that bunker are magnets,
Enticing all sizes that swim,
As cited, should you remain stagnant,
You could soon lose your shirt or your skin.
Melville and Mundus have stories,
Both with whales of a tale to tell,
Scribing their ghostly Great White glories,
But ‘twas bunker that raised those denizens from hell.

Landlubbers prize bunker for gardens,
As fertilizer for farmers to grow,
Producers fill bags, crates and cartons,
It's big business for those in the know.
As pet food, it's surely a winner,
Puss ‘n Boots truly will trip,
Duke and Lassie shall lunge for their dinner
Kittylina swears it's catnip.

A public stink could surely be ended,
Simply close off its nose with a clip,
And for those who still are offended,
Should try working a processing ship,
Which carries a crew and its measure,
Worth its weight in silver and gold,
Treasures for work, health, beauty and pleasure,
Forty-four byproducts all-told.

Sport drinks,
Salad dressings,
Perfumes,
Pasta sauces
& Soup ~
Inks,
Resins,
Varnishes
& Linoleum ~
Lipsticks to continue the loop.

Widely varied, its uses are many,
First as oils for machinery and tools.
Omega 3 now at one pretty penny,
Being but one of its bright crowning jewels.
Whether of peanut-sized dimension,
Or firmly and fully mature,
Menhaden are quite the attention,
Of fishes, yes—but still to too few folks allure.


My lyric poem was inspired by Melville's Moby Dick and Mundus' Sportfishing for Sharks as well as Fifty Years a Hooker.

Either snagging or cast netting live bunker provides recreational as well as commercial fishermen the opportunity to score big.



I sincerely hope that you are all faring well after the storm.

Award-Winning Thriller Novelist, Outdoors Writer,
Creator of Unique Course/Guides,
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
President/Editor in Chief, Broadwater Books
www.robertbanfelder.com
Follow Robert Banfelder on Facebook

October 01, 2012

INFLATABLE BOATS: SHORT-TERM TOLERANCE VS. LONG-TERM ENJOYMENT

by Bob Banfelder

My first and only inflatable was and still is—going on nineteen years—a 7-foot, 9-inch Achilles, used initially as a tender for our family cruiser. The inflatable sat on the swim platform or at dockside nine plus months a year for the first six years. Next, the dinghy found a perch atop our new pilothouse or at dockside for the following decade. During the off-seasons, when our cruising/fishing vessels were shrink wrapped and stored, the inflatable sat at dockside, ready for a quick plunge anytime between post-Thanksgiving and the arrival of severe wintry weather, at which time it was finally stored away before being put back into full service around mid-March. Whether baking in a sultry summer sun or dusted with a thin layer of snow, that inflatable took on winter's holdover striped bass, early spring flounder, fluke, weakfish and bluefish as well as a few other species. When we recently downsized to a center console, which no longer accommodated a tender, the inflatable, once again, remained dockside practically ten months out of each year. That's one hundred ninety months of service and still going strong.





A few friends and several acquaintances have gone through two, three and even four of their inflatable boats in that same time frame. Why have I experienced such longevity while those other folks have trashed their inflatables after only five years? No, those folks did not buy junk as you may be thinking. They bought name brand models from reputable manufacturers. However, they bought inflatables constructed of PVC material in lieu of Hypalon/Neoprene. Salespeople had told these folks that unless they lived in the tropics, they need not waste their money on those more expensive materials. That's very bad advice, especially if you use your inflatable as elaborated above. For longevity, insist on inflatable boats constructed with Hypalon exteriors and Neoprene interiors. Too, you want seams that are double-taped and glued on both sides. These are the major factors referencing inflatable boat longevity. Hypalon/Neoprene construction is generally guaranteed for ten years. PVC construction is usually guaranteed for five. Let's examine how we can practically double the life of a Hypalon/Neoprene inflatable with a bit of knowledge, patience and simple instruction.

Hypalon's outer construction is durability personified, standing up to and offering UV (ultraviolet) protection against the sun's harmful rays, which would otherwise cause the inflatable skin's early degradation no differently than those rays would harm our own skin. Too, the exterior material resists abrasion, oil and gasoline spills, fungi and mildew. Coupled with the interior material of Neoprene, this coating adds strength and tear resistance as well as delivering the greatest degree of air retaining capability. Compared to Hypalon/Neoprene construction, PVC construction will ostensibly save you money in the short run but at the expense of having you experience frustration in the long run. The net result is simply not worth the cheaper price.



But let's face it. Eventually, there is going to come a point where even Hypalon/Neoprene construction is going to show its age and weaken. Hence, after a decade I experienced an annoying but minor problem. A slow leak had started to develop in one of the tubes. First, I applied soapy water to the tube's entire area, looking for air bubbles that would pinpoint the problem. I could find nothing. Next, I dumped the inflatable into a friend's swimming pool. We turned the boat over, swam beneath it, up-ended the craft, searching relentlessly for any sign of bubbles, all to no avail. There was not a hint of where the leak was coming from. We removed the boat from the pool and pumped it to its limit. Back into the water it went. Surely we'd see bubbles indicating where the leak was coming from. Once again, nothing was found.

Frustrated, I went home and started to do some research. I learned that there was a product on the market that was guaranteed to stop slow leaks, so long as it wasn't along a seam. I learned, too, that a defined slow leak was, indeed, discernable. However, a tiny pinhole leak, I was informed, would unlikely be detected with either the soapy water test or the swimming pool examination— no matter how hard I tried! Ah, but was I willing to spend $60 on the one quart product, taking a gamble that the leak wasn't along a seam? That took a little thought. Although I'm not an Atlantic City or Foxwoods Casino kind of guy, I figured I'd give West Marine's Model 444679 Sealant for Inflatable Boats a try. The product worked like a charm. As a matter of fact, I've had two subsequent pinhole leaks over the next eight years, and the quart container had sealed those three tiny leaks. At $20 a shot so as to extend the life of that inflatable an extra eight years (for a total of almost nineteen years), well, I believe I hit the jackpot!

The product is relatively easy to use. On my Achilles, I simply removed the inflatable valve from the air chamber, deflating the tube completely. Next, I squeezed in the required amount of product according to directions, re-inflated the tube ‘just to rigidity' then slowly turned the inflatable end-over-end and side to side so that the sealant completely covered the interior of the chamber. The leak was discovered immediately as tiny bubbles appeared upon the tube's surface, sealing the pinhole. You allow the boat to sit for a few hours, turning it over approximately every half hour for three or four hours so as to prevent pooling. Re-inflate to normal pressure, and you're on your way.

Note: To be on the safe side, I patched (not included with the sealant) that first pinhole with an Achilles Hypalon repair kit that came with my inflatable. Over the course of years, experimenting with those two other pinholes that I repaired [and marked], I did not use a patch kit. I wanted to see if the sealant had worked on its own. It has, indeed!

To be candid, though, noting that the inflatable is pushing nineteen years, I would not invest another $60 in repairing it anew. Let's examine why. That first pinhole appeared after a decade; the second after approximately fifteen years; the third occurred most recently. The rate of repair frequency is on the rise. Still, to have gotten practically two decades out of an inflatable boat is a homerun. While the Hypalon stood up to the elements, the outer transom marine-grade plywood board mount had to be replaced after some twelve years, having supported 3.5 and 5 horsepower engines spanning that period. It was a simple job to unscrew the old transom board, using it as a template to pattern a new one. Also, I only had to replace one of the wooden floorboards, using the old stern section floorboard as a template. When this craft is beyond repair, I'll probably opt for a larger Achilles inflatable with aluminum flooring and a fiberglass transom.

Hypalon/Neoprene construction is the way to go. Forget, PVC (polyvinyl chloride – a thermoplastic resin) construction. The only PVC you'll find in this craft is a rod holder that I fashioned from a piece of plastic pipe; that and a Black's [47 holes] Hook & Rig Holder. In the inflatable arena, you get what you pay for. Look for longevity and avoid unnecessary frustration. With a little knowledge, patience and instruction as outlined above, you can virtually double the expected life of your inflatable.


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Monthly Report:





Referencing our westerly North Fork bays, we're not quite there yet with the bass. The peanut bunker are sparsely spread and approximately 5½ inches; the stripers are still small. On the morning of September 27th, I'm holding Donna's 20-inch sideliner. I released a 16-inch schoolie and some nice cocktail blues just moments later. Surface water temperature was 66.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

We ran into Pat Mundus and her husband, Earl, in Greenport on September 30th. She said that you can ". . . walk on the bass . . . ." further east. I think that we're going to turn the corner for keepers in our westerly bays; namely, the Great Peconic and Little Peconic Bays in less than a fortnight.

Award-Winning Novelist, Outdoors Writer,
Creator of Unique Course/Guides,
Editor in Chief, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob Banfelder & Donna Derasmo
www.robertbanfelder.com

September 01, 2012

KEEN ON KAYAKS

by Bob Banfelder

Along our waterways, folks are fast realizing that kayaking is a smart way to go. These marvelous crafts are great for touring, exercise, exploring, picnicking and, of course, fishing. Try kayaking from a stable fishing platform and you'll definitely be hooked. Donna (my significant fishing pal of forty years) and I have fished in power vessels big and small: party boats, charters and privately owned mid-sized machines. All served their intended purpose well and accorded us great times. However, a yak will allow you to navigate some very skinny waters. With our Ocean Prowler Big Game Angler fishing kayak, which measures 12 feet 9 inches in length, Donna is the sole, interim captain of her craft, plying the waters of the Peconic River and its bays for blues, bass, porgies, blowfish, blackfish and an occasional weakfish. This summer season has been surprisingly great for weaks.

Sharing a single person sit-on-top (SOT) yak, we vie for time and tide. For sheer fun, one of us will be seen on the water at least once a week with fly rod in hand: a Sage 9-weight and a Pflueger reel—loaded with Teeny TS-300 Series 6.5 ips, 24-foot sinking section/58-foot floating section—perfect for working the shorelines of our area. Donna will cast a fly and catch countless fish from our fishing yak. On rather windy days, she'll resort to a light spinning outfit, tossing out poppers and tins into tomorrow. More than occasionally, she'll hook up with a monster blue or bass, excitedly commenting, "Isn't retirement great?" to which I'll respond, "Gee, I don't know, dear. I was busy in the office writing another story about you."



Donna and I very much enjoy kayak fishing. Why? The simple fact is that we tend to use a smaller craft more often than a larger vessel. Too, fighting a leviathan on their level, that is, eye-to-eye, is sheer excitement. If you wish to get into skinny waters with the stablest of platforms, put your canoe up for sale and purchase a yak. Try before you buy is sound advice. Firstly, know where you are generally going to use your yak. Next, investigate sit-on-top models versus sit-inside types, along with the proper clothing you'll need.

For skinny-water angling, nothing beats a kayak. This is not to say that the craft can't handle our bigger bays or even the ocean. I've reported on folks such as Dave Lamoure who hooked, fought and landed a 157-pound bluefin tuna from his 12-foot recreational Heritage FeatherLight kayak off of Provincetown, Rhode Island. That's certainly kayak fishing in the extreme and is mentioned here simply to show the capability of these plastic platforms. For the purpose of this blog, we'll confine ourselves to inshore waters, angling for those fish mentioned earlier, utilizing medium to medium-heavy fly, spin and bait casting outfits. We will leave extreme pelagic fishing from a plastic shell for Dave and others like him.

Selecting the proper platform can prove to be a daunting task simply because there are a plethora of manufacturers and models of kayaks on the market today from which to choose. Fortunately, we can narrow the playing field by focusing in on the single activity that concerns us here; that is, of course, fishing. Many of us who read Nor'east Saltwater are ‘fishing fools.' We don't need to be fishing foolishly. Therefore, choosing the appropriate platform from the get-go is of paramount importance. By selecting a kayak built and set up specifically for the angler, we have just ruled out the explorer class, the tandem touring type, and the wild whitewater adventure craft. How so? The reasons are that the explorer class calls for a longer, narrower vessel to propel one along greater distances. The tandem touring type is designed for two people to get in each other's way when fishing. Lastly, the considerably shorter whitewater craft is configured so as to embrace turn-on-a-dime maneuverability for psyched-up folks who live to ply swift currents and shoot rapids.

Let's now home in on the breed of yak that lends itself to the art of angling—be it spin, bait, or fly-fishing—while at the same time exploring the area of safety. It's important to note that there are basically two types of kayaks: Sit-Ins and Sit-On-Tops.

SIT-INS


Ostensibly, a sit-inside kayak is certainly going to keep you drier than a sit-on-top type. But as safety is predominant, which is the ‘safer' vessel between the two? If you are kayaking in an area with heavy boat traffic, I can almost assure you that some captain, either careless or inconsiderate, is going to leave you in his or her wake—a situation that may or may not result in your taking on water or, worse yet, swamping and capsizing you. The cockpit is going to fill, and unless you know a few safety procedures such as the Eskimo roll or paddle float rescue, you could find yourself in dire straits.

SIT-ONS


Common sense tells you that your season is going to be somewhat limited if you select a sit-on-top kayak, merely because you are going to get somewhat wet. You may not want to be braving the elements at the end of November through the middle of March, although you certainly could with the right outfit—namely, a wet suit or dry suit. As the sit-on-top kayak is self-bailing, the craft is positively the safer of the two vessels, for it is a relatively simple procedure to climb back aboard if you are capsized. Not so with a sit-in type.

Generally speaking, keep in mind that a kayak's length determines its speed, width determines its stability, and that weight, of course, determines its manageability. As an example, a sit-on-top Angler model Ocean Kayak Prowler 15-foot 4.5-inch long, 28.5-inch wide, 56-pound shell will be propelled from point A to point B quicker than our Ocean Kayak Prowler Big Game Angler, measuring in at 12 feet 9 inches long, 34 inches wide, and a whopping 69 pounds. That is a 13-pound difference. That's considerable. But I knew where I was going to use the craft predominately if not exclusively; that is, on the Peconic River as well its bays close to home. Weight, therefore, was not such an important consideration. With a 5.5 inch wider width than the narrower model, it is a stable fishing platform. Considering all the kayaks I researched and sea trialed, few came up to my expectations. Of all the kayaks I could speak or write about at length, several kept resurfacing. In addition to the Ocean Kayak Prowler Big Game Angler, two other manufacturers of serious angling platforms to consider are Wilderness System's Tarpon and Malibu Kayak's X-Factor.

Lastly, select a kayak (preferably a sit-on type) from a reputable manufacturer whose selection features or offers optional equipment and accoutrements set up with the angler in mind: flush-mounted rod holders astern; additional fully adjustable-lockable-removable rod holder brackets set forward; a comfortable seat and backrest; ample storage space; an anchor trolley system; rudder system; and a combination unit GPS/Fishfinder. Why all this paraphernalia and consideration? The answer is because we ideally want the ultimate fishing platform.

A more detailed examination of selecting, accessorizing and maintaining your kayak for angling, inclusive of rudder system, GPS/Fishfinder, apparel, et cetera, can be found in past articles that I have written for Nor'east Saltwater: August 6, 2008, Volume 19, Number 18, "Selecting and Outfitting your Kayak." Also, September, 2007 Nor'east's Club article posted online, "Kudos for Kayaks: Seeking the Best of Both Worlds."

Enough yakking. Get out there and prowl around for that trophy; you'll have a distinct advantage in that a kayak is stealth personified.

**********




This early morning, September 1st, with a full moon hanging in a western sky, Donna and I caught dozens of snappers and several fair-sized cocktail blues. We kept one blue for dinner and returned the rest to Flanders Bay—an hour before low tide. Our North Fork Bays are presently loaded with approximately four-inch bunker as pictured above.


Award-Winning Novelist, Outdoors Writer,
Creator of Unique Course/Guides,
Editor in Chief, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com

August 01, 2012

CRABBING THE NORTH FORK OF LONG ISLAND: THEY’RE OUT THERE—NOW!

by Bob Banfelder

There are several methods to crabbing: drop lines, killie rings, pull traps and box traps. I prefer the latter because they draw the most visitors with very little effort. A box trap is a mini motel magnet for crabs. Last week, after just one descent of the wire cage into seven feet of water for a period of several hours, I could have hung out a NO VACANCY sign. Better than a dozen crabs filled the unit on first inspection. From that two-foot cube, I immediately collected the largest of those crustaceans measuring 4½ inches from point-to-point across the carapace [legal size], cleared the cage and released the little guys, added fresh bluefish carcasses into the bottom of the plastic disk-covered bait holder, then reopened for business. I've often toyed with the idea of hanging a VACANCY sign just for giggles. Donna—my fishing partner of forty years—and I had seven sizable blue claw crabs ready for the steam pot. Resetting the trap yielded six more beauties in only a couple of hours.



The area in which I had initially placed the trap was still producing nicely; however, out of curiosity, I moved that wire box trap from one place to another throughout our bays. Wherever I set the trap, I scored nicely. It was like something out of the movie Forrest Gump, starring Tom Hanks and his business partner Private Benjamin Buford ‘Bubba' Blue, played by Mykelti Williamson. Instead of Buford reciting the infinite ways of preparing shrimp, Donna and I rustled up recipes for family and friends that would give some of the best chefs in the country pause. For example: Long Island crab cakes (never mind Maryland), sautéed crabmeat in wine and garlic, crabs with marinara sauce over linguine, crabmeat salad, crab quiches and soufflés, deviled crabs, crabs gumbo, crab stew, crabs ad infinitum. You've heard of U-pick shrimp whereby you shell your own. Well, for a simple but messy repast, try Hammering Your Way to Heaven; that is, malleting your meal—consisting of freshly steamed crabs spread upon a picnic table covered with brown wrapping paper. It's certainly easy cleanup; meaning the table. You, however, may require a shower . . . unless you have witnessed Gallagher's Sledge-O-Matic appearances on television and know how to prepare for such an event. Bibs or aprons are practically mandatory. And when your guests show up and see the table set with mallets in lieu of traditional silverware, well, your afternoon is sure to be filled with fun. But better serve, eat and finish up early before the mosquitoes finish you off first and foremost.



When transporting crabs some distance, I prefer using an ice chest. Place ice (cubes work best as you want the crabs kept relatively level) in the bottom of the cooler. A five-pound bag should suffice for a small chest. Layer the crabs between sheets of newspaper. This way, if you pick up an occasional soft-shell crab, you can isolate and insulate it from the others as they can puncture and kill their recently molted relative when otherwise thrashing about. Your crabs will stay nice and fresh and secure in their storage container as you travel home. A pair of long-handled tongs and a steamer pot is all you need to start the process. Fifteen minutes is the magic number. Just make sure you have enough water in the bottom of the pot.

The simplest way to start kids crabbing—no, I don't mean, "Are we there yet, Dad?"—is to tie a chicken leg or neck to a string, lower it to a watery floor from a dock, pier or boat . . . and wait. Let the young child's mind wonder and wander off to special places like the movie Finding Nemo, or God forbid, Jaws! After a few minutes, have the child gently lift the line towards the surface, with mom or dad at the ready with a long-handled net should the crabby treasure be hanging there by a thread. Parents, new, too, to the game of crabbing, need little instruction. Carefully maneuver the net beneath the crab as your galvanized son or daughter carefully raises the critter from the water. Later, you may want to introduce the kids to a killie ring. The ring is simply a stiff wire (such as a coat hanger) that is fashioned into a circle. One end of the wire is put through the gills of several small baitfish such as killies, spearing, sand eels, peanut bunker, et cetera. Next, bend both ends of the wire back so as to form a one inch u-shaped lock. Close it, then tie on the string. Whatever method of crabbing one employs, it's for kids six to sixty.

It is unfortunate that certain folks will not bother with blue claw crabs because it requires some effort when it comes to cleaning them. The word effort translates into work. Initially, that is true. However, with a bit of practice, the task becomes practically effortless if you adopt a mind-set. Keep in mind that crabmeat rivals lobster meat. That is a fact. With practice, a newcomer can pick the meat out of twelve nice size crabs in about an hour and a quarter, which will yield approximately a pound of meat. Try and find a market that will even sell you fresh crabmeat in our neck of the woods and waters. You won't! I'm not talking about canned or frozen crabmeat. I'm talking about real fresh crabmeat. When proprietors of several fish markets were pressed for a dollar amount, I was quoted prices between $40 and $60 a pound if they were to hypothetically perform the process, which they flatly refused to do. And that's for the cleaning alone. Add to that the cost of the crab at $3.50 apiece. That's an additional $42 a dozen for a grand total of $82 a pound on the low end of the spectrum. To say that this cost would be prohibitive is certainly an understatement. To say that it would be a form of waterway robbery if the proprietor would even bother to do this for his or her customers is closer to the truth. Now, if you could reel in just one member of your family to help clean a dozen crabs, then we are talking less than three quarters of an hour for a most valuable pound of fresh crabmeat.

Keep in mind that when you order crab cakes or say flounder stuffed with crabmeat in your local restaurant, or even at your local seafood market, for the most part you are getting sea legs; that is, surimi (generally from pollock) in lieu of crabmeat. Many folks know this, yet fall into the trap of kidding themselves—as if they are truly getting crabmeat, especially when ordered at those moderately priced restaurants. If you head for the Chesapeake Bay area, things change drastically; the crab cakes there are the real deal. It's a huge industry. They employ women who can pick a crab clean in a matter of a minute. The question is whether or not it's worth the extra effort for you to enjoy the real McCoy. Give crabbing a try, and I believe you and your family will agree that it most certainly worth your while.


Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Novelist, Outdoors Writer,
& Creator of Unique Course/Guides
President, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna
www.robertbanfelder.com


July 01, 2012

Clamming the North Fork of Long Island

by Bob Banfelder

Clams (quahogs) make for interesting fare with which to create many a fine meal—from appetizers, to soups, to magnificent main courses. Clamming is really a simple process requiring little more than a decent clam rake; a basket, be it made of wood, wire or whatever; a small inner tube in which to set and float the container, and a length of line wrapped around your waist to pull along your prizes as you rake bottom structure. Additionally, you'll want to check the local regulations for Shellfish Harvest Areas, as you may need a permit or license. For productive clamming, simply work a sandy-muddy shoreline, the periphery of a sandbar, or in-between patches of eel grass. The further away from traffic—be it bathers, other clam diggers, boats, et cetera—the better.

Unless you want to look at this activity as a form of labor instead of a labor of love, arrange your schedule to coincide with working one hour on each side of a low tide, and you are sure to score without becoming enervated and/or sore. Two hours is a good amount of time to collect a decent amount of clams for the table, which should provide many a meal for family and guests. If the pickings are great and you're a bit greedy, or if the start proved slow from the get-go, you can always elect to continue for another hour or so. However, if you are not used to working a clam rake, a half hour on each side of a low tide might be enough activity the first time out. A moment or two of instruction is all that is needed to operate a clam rake efficiently. In a matter of a couple of outings, you'll probably be able to discern the difference between a rock and a clam as you scratch away at the watery floor for quahogs.

Quahogs are a general term relating to the family of edible clams having a relatively hard shell. Littlenecks, cherrystones, topnecks, and chowders comprise the list. However, there is a bit of confusion leading to a heap of controversy as to size order. Some folks argue that topnecks are larger than littlenecks (true) but smaller than cherrystones (not necessarily true). By strict definition, topnecks are actually larger than cherrystones; region determines interpretation. Even its spelling is argued in some instances; sometimes shown as two words: top necks.



To belabor the issue and to have a little fun, I set forth the argument in one of my novels titled The Author. The setting is a Sicilian restaurant on the south shore of Long Island. A mafia boss and his henchman, both customers enjoying dinner, argue the point insistently. Who is right? The boss (our parents frequently told us) is always right. Right? Well, in this case, the boss' henchman's family were Bonackers (blue collar folks from the south shore of Long Island who had for generations made their living from fishing and clamming) and, therefore, knew better. The argument escalates and is presented to a tactful waitress who, right or wrong, realizes that the customer is always right. But which customer—the mafia don or his henchman? The waitress resourcefully addresses the dilemma when challenged by Don Ciccio as to what kind of clams were set before him. She simply states, "I believe you [Don Ciccio] call them topnecks."

That's pretty much the crux of the matter. It has become, for the most part, a regional issue or argument. In New England, it's unquestionable that a topneck is larger than a cherrystone. On Long Island, some folks insist that a topneck has found its niche between a littleneck and a cherrystone in size order. A good many fish markets in our area cull, grade, and sell them accordingly; that is, littlenecks being the most expensive per dozen, followed by topnecks, cherrystones, and then chowders. If you want to belabor and argue the point intelligently, go to the source for meanings and spellings. For openers, open an unabridged dictionary—as you probably won't find what you're looking for in a desk copy reference. Enough said. Now that I've shamelessly plugged one of my novels and made my point with regard to quahogs, let's look at an important book to keep in mind; your log book. You may already keep records of your fishing excursions.

Keeping a log of your outdoor activities, be it for fishing or clamming, will provide you with important information for future outings that if went unrecorded might prove nothing more than a pleasant yet distant memory. By keeping an accurate accounting of your excursions, you will be quite surprised and pleased to see a pattern emerge that will aid in enhancing your abilities and enjoyment. Just short of revealing our secret locations, you will see that in most cases Donna and I quickly became more productive as we proceeded through the years. Too, you will note how we truly upped our ante by securing a second clam rake. Not just any clam rake, but one better suited to securing more clams. The initials below, BB and DD, belong to Donna and me; then later, to those of our friends. Where you see two sets of initials but only one rake, it means that one of us is trailing a basket while the other digs for clams. Hence, the designated hours are to be interpreted as man-hours per rake, not the number of persons per se.

June 25th, 2008. Fishing was off. Headed to our clamming area(s); 2.5 hours; 1 rake operation–36 clams; all sizes; BB, DD
June 27th, 2008. 3.5 hours; 1 rake–47 clams; BB, DD
June 30th, 2008. 4.5 hours; 1 rake–90 clams; BB
July 3rd, 2008. 4.25 hours; 2 rake operation–133 clams; BB, DD, GF, SF
July 10th, 2008. 2.75 hours; 1 rake–48 clams; BB, DD
July 18th, 2008. 3 hours; 1 rake–51 clams; BB, DD
July 22nd, 2008. 5 hours; 3 rake operation–193 clams; 8 scallops; BB, DD, GF, SF
August 3rd, 2008. 3 hours; 1 rake–50 clams; BB, DD
August 19th, 2008. 3 hours; 3 rakes–101 clams; BB, DD, GF, SF
August 21st, 2008. 3.5 hours; 2 rakes–211 clams; GF, SF
August 22nd, 2008. Donna and I decide to purchase a second rake. We are taken to a secret spot by two other secretive souls: Bob Johnsen and a female friend. Bob finally broke down and took Donna and me to his secret area. 1 hour; 4 rake operation–339 clams! Wow! BB, DD dug up 227 clams; BJ, LW 112 clams. We are sworn to secrecy and may only visit that spot by special invitation. If you think fishermen/women are secretive souls, wait until you meet up with a few clammers.

Note: A good part of our success I attribute to the new rake's design: nine tines configured with corners to its basket. The new rake outproduced our old rake by a considerable margin. Compare the old So Lo rake to our new Ribb rake. It was purchased for $70.55 (including tax) at White's Hardware Store in Greenport. It paid for itself after a couple of outings. No, you don't need a twenty-one-tooth bull rake with an extension handle to cash in on recreational clamming— unless you're thinking of going commercial. Keeping it simple is sound advice.



Back to our old spots:

September 2nd, 2008. 3 hours; 1 rake (new)–73 clams; 1 scallop; BB
September 3rd, 2008. 4.5 hour; 1 rake (new)–97 clams; BB
September 12th, 2008. Secret area by BJ's invitation only. Very windy and rainy. 45 minutes; 3 rakes–105 clams; i.e., BB, DD: 58 clams–BJ: 47 clams.

Donna and I love this life. Can you dig it?

For those of you in the Riverhead area, I will be giving a presentation titled Clamming & Crabbing on Long Island at the Riverhead Free Library, 330 Court Street, Thursday, July 26th, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

June 01, 2012

Fluke Lure, Lore and Technique

by Bob Banfelder

For some of the best fluking along the North Fork from May to September, set your sights on the Southold Bay area. The Green Lawns (literally two huge lawns not indicated on the charts) mark a hot location on the west side of Shelter Island in Southold Bay. Many of us know the area. A good many of us know the standard baits to employ for good results. Far too few fishing folks seeking serious-sized flatties are aware of the lure and bait combination with which to rig so as to give you the added edge.

Donna and I learned this so-called secret one Fourth of July weekend while fishing aboard an acquaintance's vessel. The space that Donna occupied from sun to sun, with an occasional break from hauling in fluke after keeper fluke, was at the stern of the captain's Baha Cruiser. Donna found her own little corner off to starboard across the eleven-and-a-half foot beam and was having the time of her life, learning, for the first time, how to really nail big fluke. It wasn't her first time fluke fishing, mind you. Nor was it mine. However, what we learned that day proved invaluable. The occasional luck we had was gradually being transformed into lore. Donna was pulling in flatties hand over fist, mastering the art under the tutelage of our patient, personable and knowledgeable captain.

Both Donna and I were sworn to secrecy. Secrecy as to the so-called secret weapons we employed. Secrecy as to how the rig was fashioned. Secrecy with regard to technique. And especially secrecy with respect to the spots we fished. Donna and I take secrets very seriously. We can be trusted. We'll take those confidences that are entrusted to us to the grave. We have a few fishing secrets of our own.

Occasionally, we share a secret. Our very own. Case in point. During last month's blog, I wrote about upping your score for striped bass by way of tying mantis shrimp imitations. This month I'll share how to catch fluke ranging from respectable keepers to doormats if you'll employ lore, lure and bait that may not be familiar to you.

So, why am I about to reveal such clandestine information for annihilating fluke, especially after both Donna and I were sworn to keep those secrets under wraps? Apart from the captain's sacred fishing ground, I can openly divulge this furtive matter for two reasons:

One reason is that as a past member of the board of directors for the New York Sportfishing Federation, Donna and I had attended seminars on fluke fishing at our annual forum at the Freeport Recreation Center on Long Island. During one particular seminar, presented by two brothers, Pete and Tom Mikoleski, both highly respected Montauk charter boat captains, Donna and I learned that our own captain's so-called secret rig and technique for fishing was no secret any longer. The second and most important reason as to why I'm imparting this invaluable information is that I have the captain's permission to do so.

Although it's no longer a secret, few fluke fishermen I've come to know utilize this deadly lure, bait and technique, limiting themselves to the more traditional approach of using a squid and spearing combination.

For openers, part of the magic lies with Steve Sekora's Glow-Squid Lure, a green glow bead fixed above it. Purchase a few packages from your local tackle store then go home and fashion your own according to specific requirements. We'll cover that momentarily. You'll find the bodies and beads you'll need sold separately in most well-stocked tackle shops. Be sure that both the lures and beads are the fluorescent type. In lieu of monofilament, pick up a spool of fluorocarbon for tying the rig. The line offers the advantage of virtual invisibility within the water column, so whether you're fishing in crystal clear conditions, the suds, or murky waters, you're covered.



The nice part about rigging your own terminal tackle is that you get to select what you wish, such as the type of hook. There are many on the market. Gamakatsu in Octopus-Red in #1 to 2/0 is a favorite of mine, along with Owner, Mustad or Eagle Claw.

Besides bringing a boatload of confidence aboard, knowing what bait to take along is of paramount importance, too. Take the squid along; leave the spearing in the freezer at home. More on bait, too, in a moment. Your new presentation will be deadly when rigged properly. Just how deadly? Let's examine one scenario that occurred on that July 4th weekend:

Plying their local trade along the waters off Moriches, several veteran charter boat captains who our own captain knows personally and spoke with in code via VHF radio during the course of the day, as well as immediately afterward—all having fished the same waters as our captain, Donna and me—were nowhere near as productive as the three of us. Whereas we had caught and released scores of fat nineteen- to twenty-four- inch fluke, the other boats were averaging two and three keepers—not per man—per boat. Not one customer in their parties was rigged with the secrets of success.



One of your best baits for fluke is, of course, fresh squid, if you can get it. Not unlike us humans, those flatfish love fresh calamari—hold the sauce. Live mummichogs (killies) is to be your second hat trick. Coupled with the squid and the Glow Squid combination, you are in for a surprise. For fresh killies instead of frozen spearing, a killie trap is the ticket. Set one overboard from your boat or dockside with the head, tail or remains of any fish you've cleaned. If killies are in the area, you'll have enough for a day's outing within minutes. Hook on a half-inch wide by approximately four-inch long strip of squid (pennant shaped but not pointed at its end). Cut the strip three-quarters of the way up the middle in order to create a nice undulating action in the water column. When threading the strip, avoid creating a crease near the top of the flesh. Nice and flat for that flatfish, I remind myself. Hook the live mummichog through the eye and out its mouth.

In setting up your terminal tackle, you don't need barrel swivels, three-way swivels, or fancy hi-lo spinner rigs with a multitude of beads. A single hook with a single fluorescent bead will suffice. However, I do prefer a bead above and below the Glow Squid: one on the bottom to prevent the lure from working itself down along the shank of the hook, thereby thwarting the skirt from fluttering freely. The other is placed atop the artificial, serving as an attractor.

A forty-inch length of 20- to 30-pound test fluorocarbon leader with a single or double knotted surgeon's loop on one end and a large dropper loop to accommodate sizable sinkers tied just above middle will work well. When you've finished snelling, looping and knotting the rig, approximately four inches will have been taken up, leaving you with a perfect three-foot leader. Snell a #1 to 2/0 fluke hook utilizing a Uni-knot, or use an expeditious Palomar knot, and you're good to go.

May 15, 2012

Mantis Mania

by Bob Banfelder


It wasn't long after I entered the realm of saltwater fly-fishing that I upgraded from an 8-weight fly rod so as to tackle sizable striped bass and big blues. It didn't take me long to discover 32- to 42-inch prowlers, on average, patrolling our North Fork area bays. I'm talking 18- to 30-plus pound beauties that had me run out to my tackle shop and upgrade from an 8-weight to a 10-weight rod. Not that a #8 or #9-weight couldn't handle the job. I simply wanted a saltwater fly rod with a bit more backbone. I find a #10-weight to be the perfect rod for big bruisers in our area bays.

I penned an article for Nor'east Saltwater in 2005, titled Striper Secrets on a Fly Rod. The secret is out; Mantis Shrimp are certainly in. Schoolies on a fly rod are positively fun. Twenty-pound and up linesiders are absolutely awesome on the long rod. Make no doubt about it.

One of the many so-called secrets to successful striped bass fishing lies within the stomach of that fish, or any fish for that matter. As with freshwater angling, match the hatch and you'll hook up. Use the fly that you had success with last season or even last month and you may return home swearing that the bite was off—or just plain swearing. Those fish were probably there all the while. Your imitation bunker, sand eel or Deceiver merely let you down . . . not down to the depths where the fish were, but to what Morone saxatilis's (Mr. Striper's) meal preference was that day. Case in point:

On November 7th, 2004, I left the dock in a small inflatable with a net longer than the tender. I landed a nice 35-inch, 17½-pound striper on a live eel. That linesider was for the dinner table I had decided. It would nicely feed a number of guests. After filleting the fish, I made it a point, a sharp one in fact, to perform the necessary 'autopsy' in order to ascertain what was really on the menu that morning; in other words, the Special of the Day down in a 5-foot column. Was I ever in for a surprise! Twenty-two undigested mantis shrimp filled the linesider's stomach. The crustaceans had segmented bodies, were 3- to 4-inches long, ¾- to 1-inch wide, and ½-inch thick. They can actually reach a foot in length. I photographed the dark gray-brown creatures and was subsequently surprised to learn that our bays are full of them and have been for years. Mantis shrimp are not a true shrimp, and I'm told you wouldn't want to eat them. However, stripers love them. These stomatopods receive their name from a set of forelimbs fashioned after the praying mantis. Interestingly, they are referred to as the Karate Kid of the marine world, for with a single strike they can crack the thick glass of an aquarium tank. There are two basic types of mantis shrimp: smashers and slashers. Inexperienced divers learn this lesson the hard way when handling these strange creatures. They are commonly referred to as knuckle busters and finger slashers, respectively.



During a fine spring evening, I experimented with both a bait casting rod drifting a small eel, and my #10-weight fly rod, shooting a mantis imitation toward the shoreline. I was somewhat surprised at the results. No fish took the live eel; yet, I hooked up, landed and released four more striped bass in the 19 to 40-inch category within a 2½- hour period on an outgoing tide, all on the same mantis fly imitation, sharpening the hook between fish for insurance.



Lefty Kreh has more than eighty shrimp patterns in his book titled Salt Water Fly Patterns. That ought to keep an enthusiast busy. Tie and try one on for size, approximately four inches, and you may be in for a surprise.

*****


Artificial flies and lures often amaze some folks that Donna and I take fishing—folks that swear by live bait, solely. Yesterday morning, May 14th, after removing a couple of eels from our trap then snagging a few bunker in both Reeves Bay and Flanders Bay, Donna and I headed east toward Great Peconic Bay. We spied terns working in the distance. Moments later, we were upon a school of good size blues cruising along the surface. They wouldn't take eel that morning. They wouldn't take our fresh, lively menhaden, straight from the livewell. Go figure. Our go-to lure for bass and blues in such a situation is a Kastmaster with eyes that I epoxy to the tin. Donna and I took a good number of five to six-pound battling blues that Monday morning, releasing all but two for the table.



Our North Fork area bays are loaded with some very big porgies this year, too. Reports from friends fishing from Gardiner's Bay to points west are scoring with keeper bass and fluke. May is the month when the fishing scene explodes. Find or make the time to get out there and enjoy the good life.

May 01, 2012

Gimp Fly Gone Green: Transition from Freshwater to Saltwater Fly Recipe

by Bob Banfelder

The Green Grabber


My first fly-tying kit came with a sixty-four page booklet titled Practical Flies and Their Construction, written by Lacey E. Gee and Erwin D. Sias, illustrated by John Goettsch (Revised Edition), copyright 1966. I mention in my fly-tying articles to shy away from purchasing bargain-priced fly-tying kits. The vise that generally comes with such a kit is usually no bargain; this was true of my original purchase made nearly fifty years ago. In retrospect, however, that little booklet alone was worth the price of the kit. One particular fly recipe instructed readers on how to tie The Gimp, a deadly freshwater fly for trout. I had used that fly successfully for many years on Long Island, fishing the Nissequogue River, Connetquot River and Carman's River, nailing brook, rainbow and brown trout. I played around with the Gimp in ponds and lakes for bluegills and perch. Later in life, I plied the waters of upstate New York and Canada. The Gimp is one of my freshwater favorites. It is my go-to fly, rarely having failed me. The fly was Sias' creation. The pattern was initially published in an Outdoor Life magazine article titled They Go for the Gimp. Interestingly, a good many fly-fishing folks never heard of the fly, while others remember it vaguely. The Gimp is a lethal freshwater fly—a fly that comes along once in a great while. I had often wondered how it would fare in the suds.

Years later, I altered the pattern for saltwater applications, which proved pure dynamite on several species; namely, bass, blues, weakfish and even fluke. In lieu of employing the tiny dun-colored gimp feathers for wings, taken from the Lady Amherst pheasant, I selected a pair of metallic green, black-rimmed plumage from below the neck of the bird. Those lustrous feathers lend an iridescent color ranging from insect-like to killifish-like hues representative of anything from hoppers to mummichogs, respectively. Bass and blues especially love the Green Grabber.

Recipe for the Green Grabber




Materials:

Hook: Owner hook #2/0 (turned-up eye)
Thread: Danville's Flat-Waxed Nylon – black
Body: single two-ply strand of blue-gray or brown-gray (dun-colored) yarn
Tail: several dun-colored hen hackle fibers (matchstick thin)
Wings: two (2) metallic green, black-rimmed plumage from the Lady Amherst pheasant
Collar: one (1) dun-colored hen hackle
Epoxy: two-part 5-minute Z-Poxy
Sally Hanson Hard As Nails-With Nylon (clear nail polish)

Procedure:

1. Atop the bend of the hook, tie in several hen hackle fibers to form the tail.
2. Tie in the strands of yarn and form a cigar-shaped body, leaving one-eighth inch behind the eye of the hook.
3. For the wings, place and tie in the two metallic green feathers, one atop the other, at the head of the tapered body.
4. Tie in a dun-colored hen hackle, winding it thrice around the shank, directly behind the eye of the hook.
5. Trim and whip-finish.
6. Brushing back the collar with the tips of your fingers to hold the fibers out of harm's way, apply pinpoints of epoxy to the thread wraps (a little goes a long way). Allow the thread to absorb the chemical.
7. For a glossy head finish after the epoxy has thoroughly dried (wait until the next day), carefully coat the head with clear nail polish.

If your budget allows, I suggest purchasing a full skin of the Lady Amherst pheasant so that you will have on hand a versatile assortment of feathers to cover both freshwater and saltwater applications. Also, you will have a wide range of sizes from which to choose in order to properly accommodate hook/hackle proportion. You will save money in the long run. In a dusty corner of an upstate tackle shop, I found a Rumpf & Son, Lady Amherst pheasant skin (no tail), #1 quality, for $10. I usually pay $9 for just a neck. Seek and you shall find bargains.

Presently, Flanders Bay, Reeves Bay and Great Peconic Bay are producing schoolie bass along with an occasional keeper. Tie my version of the saltwater Gimp fly and have some fun. Those around you will be green with envy. I've been most productive in the early morning and late evening hours. Stripped through the suds, the Green Grabber will become toothpick thin. Allow the fly to relax and open, strip it a foot, let it settle, strip it, relax it—and stand by.





April 12, 2012

Donna's First "Reel" Deal on a Fly Rod

by Bob Banfelder

Donna and I moved from Queens to the East End of Long Island in 1990. Having made the transition to saltwater fly-fishing after decades of freshwater angling, we eventually worked our area bays: Reeves Bay, Flanders Bay, Great Peconic Bay, Little Peconic Bay, Hog Neck Bay, Noyack Bay, Southold Bay, Gardiners Bay and beyond. Starting out one fine morning in June, we took a canoe along the southeast corner of Reeves Bay. I paddled the 16-footer along the bank then put a 9-foot #8-weight Scott rod with a Super 8 Abel reel spooled with 100 feet of Teeny TS 350 F/S 8-10 weight into Donna's anxious hands. Anxious because she could now cast well enough to send that line out to distances of forty to fifty feet, thanks to a fabulous fly line (especially for beginners) as well as casting lessons from Dan Eng, our venerable Committee Chair fly-fishing skills instructor from Eastern Flyrodders of Long Island. Dan has worked with Donna and me at pre-meeting sessions then later with our son, Jason. Dan has improved our casting distance twofold. We are very fortunate to have such talented folks such as Dan in our midst.

Early on I had tried several fly lines on the market and became sold on Teeny Line. Teeny fly lines offer a wide range of choices. Their T-Series and TS-Series in 24 and 30 feet, respectively, are fine places to start. Teeny's magic is in the marriage of a floating line matched to a sinking taper. All one piece. No knots. No splicing. No hinging. Two colors determine its perfect balancing point so there is no guesswork in where and when to draw and shoot the line. When both colors extend approximately one foot past the front guide, it's magic time. And talk about cutting through the wind, it's simply a breeze. I'd sail an imitation out to sixty feet. Later, with practice, practice, practice, I could occasionally add another twenty or so feet. But at that point in time, Donna was holding the goods; I had paddle in hand.

After a dozen casts toward the shoreline, Donna spotted a swirl several yards to the east, excitedly instructing me to "turn this yellow banana around" so that she didn't have to swing her body about. In all candor, it is a tippy canoe, designed for cruising, not a solid fishing platform by any stretch of those sixteen precarious feet—not like our sturdy Ocean Kayak Prowler Big Game Angler sit-on-top kayak, which we later purchased, designed, however, for a single soul.

Two false casts and Donna sent the 6-inch bunker imitation several feet just past a second swirl. The first 30-foot green section of 7-ips sinking line hit the water and immediately disappeared. Seconds later, on a moderate retrieve, five yards or so of red floating line tore across the bow, pulling the boat toward a piling as Donna set the hook. The drag on an Abel is about as able as you're going to get. Smooth as silk or satin. The 8-weight Scott rod performed flawlessly. For newcomers, I would recommend the Teeny T-300, 24-foot length shooting head because it's easier to handle.



"Rod up! Let him run," I hollered.
"He's making a beeline for the piling," she protested.
"Good. Maybe it'll knock itself out," I half-kidded. "He's turning."
"So is the boat," she brayed.

I knew Donna had a good fish. "Stay with him," I commanded, like she really had a choice. She fought the denizen for a good two minutes.

"I can't hold him much longer."
"Oh, but you can and you will or there won't be any supper for you."
"Then we'll go to Danowski's or Gallo's fish market," she threatened.
"That's not exactly what I meant."
"Oh, my God!"

The big fish jumped . . . bigger than the cocktail blues she'd been catching on spin-casting lures; bigger than the striper shorts, too. It wasn't a monster, but I thought it would break five pounds, that is, if it didn't first break the leader. The fish jumped again. A good-size blue. Slowly, Donna was gaining back line.

"The fish is getting tired," I offered encouragingly.
"Then it's winning the battle because I'm getting exhausted. Correction. I am exhausted."
"Look! It's on his side."
"Look. I'm practically on my knees."
I had the net in hand. "Maneuver the fish to the center—I can't reach it from here."
"I can't."
"Yes, you can."
"I hate you!"
"Take it out on the fish when you land it. I've got the net. Extend your arm like an outrigger, not straight out. Do it!"

The denizen splashed and thrashed then dove deep for a final time before Donna had it alongside the boat. I scooped it up neatly into the net. The fish flapped and pounded the floor of the canoe to the powerful pounding of Donna's heart, I'm sure. A beautiful 27 inch, 5¾ pound blue.



"Do we return him to the water or keep him?" I asked.
"My first real saltwater fish on a fly rod? Are you crazy? I caught it. I'll cook it. And we'll eat it tonight."
"Would you like to fillet it, too?"
"No, that's your department."
"Happy?"
"I'm hooked. When can we do this again?"
"How about right now?"
"I need a breather. How about tomorrow morning?"
"Tomorrow it is."
"I love you!" she exclaimed with a smile.
"A moment ago you hated me, you said."
"I did not."
"You did, and I'm going to put it in a story one day."
"I'll deny it. Furthermore, no one will believe you."
"Sure they will. All fishwives are liars, everybody knows."
"You just reminded me."
"Of what?"
"We've got to take a picture for proof and posterity just as soon as we get back."
"Done. Are you going to make my favorite bluefish recipe tonight?"
"Done," she swore.

And she did. Here it is. The great irony being that Donna truly hated bluefish and anchovies before landing this marvelous recipe.

This recipe was given to us by, and in memory of, Bev and Bob Johnsen. It's a dynamite recipe for any oily fish.

Bluefish Bake


Ingredients:

2 bluefish fillets (cocktail blues or larger are fine; amounts below are for the larger fillets—adjust accordingly).
5 flat anchovies in oil
1½ cups of Hellman's Real Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon olive oil

Procedure:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place fillets in a baking dish. Drizzle olive oil on both sides of the fillets.

2. Bake the fish for about 15 minutes or until flaky.

3. While the fish is baking, mash the anchovies with a mortar and pestle and add the anchovies to the mayonnaise, mixing well.

4. Remove fish from oven. Switch oven to Hi broil setting.

5. Smear the mayo/anchovy mixture over the top of the fillets. Place under broiler. The mayo/anchovy mixture will begin to bubble. Remove the fillets from the oven when the mixture is golden brown.

Bon appétit.

Note: Presently, our bays close to home (Reeves and Flanders), are loaded with bunker and schoolies. We're having loads of fun with fly, spin and bait casting outfits. Bluefish, I'm sure, are right behind.



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