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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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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 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

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

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

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

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

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

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."



"Good stuff they make."

"I know."

"Can I just borrow this?"


"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 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."


"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."


"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."

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

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: 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, 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

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?


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.

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.

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
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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.

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