Get Account    
Home  |  Magazine  |  Reports  |  Discussion  |  Blogs  |  Photos  |  Tides  |  Weather  |  Community  |  Updates  |  Fishing Info  |  Contact

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.

Search This Blog

Recent Comments


Recent Posts



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

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

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.

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 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.


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

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.


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

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 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 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

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, 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

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

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: 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

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

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
Follow Robert Banfelder on Facebook

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.

2017 Noreast Media, LLC.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.