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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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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,

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 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

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

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

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