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Bob Banfelder

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

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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

November 01, 2013

The Best of Big and Small

by Bob Banfelder

With a length of 935.6 feet and a beam of 105.8 feet, the MS Eurodam is a cruise ship for Holland America Line. We left Manhattan on October 2nd, 2013 under clear skies, setting out for a full ten day Fall Foliage voyage through New England and on up to Canada. The ports of call we visited included Boston, Massachusetts; Bar Harbor, Maine; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Sydney, Nova Scotia; Saguenay, Quebec; and Quebec City. Along the way, between Sydney and Saguenay, we were to have stopped at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; however, 50 mile an hour winds prevented us from safely landing there. It was our prudent captain's call. Better to have spent an additional night at sea aboard the vessel than in life boats, I'm sure you would agree.

It was Donna's and my first cruise. I had promised her that I would not bring any work with me as I am a workaholic, writing mystery and psychological thrillers. Too, I write many outdoor articles, the majority of them geared toward fishing. Therefore, I decided to clandestinely channel my downtime into some surreptitious research. In Bar Harbor, I had picked up a copy of the Bangor Daily News, turning to the OUTDOORS section, in which its staff writer, John Holyoke, covered two new Old Town Predator fishing kayaks for this and the coming year.

"Wow," in a word says Luke LaBree, marketing communications manager for Johnson Outdoors Watercraft (parent company Old Town Canoe, Old Town , Maine), referring to the new 12-foot Predator MX Tri-hull design as well as the 13-foot Predator kayak. Wow, is my response to readers after having followed up with further research once back home. These two yaks have been designed with a single purpose in mind: Fishing.

The Predator MX model has an overall length of 12 feet with a width of 34 inches.

The Predator model 13 has an overall length 13'2" with a width of 33.5 inches.

Both yaks are stable fishing platforms, with the 12-foot Predator MX model being the more stable because of its Tri-hull design. LaBree boasts that he can stand with both feet on its gunnel without tipping it. He has not only tested the Predator MX, he owns one. One can walk fore and aft and even turn around. Wow, is right! There is no question that you can stand and fish from it as seen during a photo shoot in Veazie, Maine, as well several promotional videos. The men featured were not ninety-eight pound weaklings fighting and pulling in two-pound fish—quite the contrary.

The seat is a well thought-out design that can be set in three different positions: low for "lawn chair class comfort" when paddling; a higher four- to six-inch position for better visibility; or a fold-out-of-the-way position, which allows the angler to stand comfortably. Also, there is what is termed the Exo-Ridge deck, a design that carries water through it and out via one-way scuppers. Hence, no more sitting or standing in a puddle as experienced on many a yak—most, actually.

The basic cost for the Predator MX is $1,200, while the Predator model 13 runs $1,300. In choosing between the two yaks, there are important considerations: speed, maneuverability, and the fact that the MX does not have a built-in transducer scupper. The model 13 does, which provides for built-in mounting to accommodate Humminbird Side Imaging technology (unit optional, of course). I have a Humminbird GPS/Fishfinder unit on my Ocean Kayak Big Game Prowler, which I bandy back and forth between yak and center console. This, I feel, is a must-have accessory for the serious angler as it offers important information such as surface water temperature, depth, thermoclines, bottom structure, speed, lat./lon., compass bearing, waypoints, routes, tracking and fish symbols—to name but a few of the functions this system performs.

In addition to these three considerations referencing the Predator MX and Predator 13, their weight, 82 and 86 pounds, respectively, should be of paramount importance. For example, my hefty Ocean Kayak Big Game Prowler weighs 69 pounds. That's a heavy vessel when thinking in terms of transporting. The Predator MX and Predator are 13 and 17 pounds heavier, respectively. Seriously consider where you are going to be using either behemoth. If weight is not an issue, meaning that you won't be car-topping or portaging these weighty platforms very often over unconscionable distances, you may want to consider these serious paddling-power fishing machines.

Both the Predator MX 12- and 13-foot models come in three different colors plus a camo pattern: grayish (called urban), yellow, tan, and camouflage. For fishing, I'd opt for yellow for safety's sake as it offers high visibility; the fish won't mind. They just love my yellow plastic plugs and other yellow lures. Perhaps my yellow yak serves a prodigious attractor. Of course, for waterfowl hunting, what could be better than that camo pattern? Wingshooting waterfowl from the Tri-hull model, for better stability, would be the way to go. Try before you buy are words to the wise.

The two models come loaded with standard features such as six removable mounting plates (which means not having to drill into the hull of the vessel) that accept rod holders, GPS/Fishfinder, et cetera; retainer bungees to secure rod and reel, in addition to rod -tip holders; large capacity tank well; side-mount paddle storage holder; additional molded paddle rest for prompt, hands-free placement; large bow hatch and click-seal cover; duel tackle holders; center console pod cover with drink holder and molded in ruler [Predator model 13 only]. These features will cover most of your angling needs.

Walking back to the ship with the Bangor Daily News newspaper in hand, opened to that kayak photo shoot, those sizable yaks were suddenly dwarfed as I lifted my eyes to the 935.6-foot, 11 passenger-decked, 86,700 ton vessel! I smiled up at her, torn between October fishing back home on Long Island and my new experience of cruising from port to port and dining in lavish style. I knew it would be futile to try and convince the captain to reduce his average speed of between ten and seventeen knots down to two so that I might try my hand at trolling off the stern . . . perhaps shoot skeet in order to hone my skills for ducks and geese when Donna and I returned home. I assume that after 9/11 all bets were off in that latter regard. Anyhow, I made it my business to ingratiate myself with the captain of the MS Eurodam, Captain Henk Keijer.

But all was certainly not lost concerning a daily outdoor dose as harbor porpoises, eagles, snow geese, eiders and gadwalls filled the seascape en route. In fact, our shipboard cabin stewards, Hairul and Anto, added to the evening mix with fresh towel-folding creations of fish and animals set out on our turned-down bed, nightly: stingray, sea robin, octopus, crab, lobster; rabbit, turkey, elephant, hippo, duck. Of course, local markets displayed their catch-of-the-day, too.

,,, ,,,,,,,,

And when we weren't eating, which is very difficult to do on a cruise, Donna and I attended virtually every single seminar given by culinary hostess Samantha (Sam) and Chef Michael, who whet your appetite by preparing dishes (predominately seafood) before your very eyes—dishes to die for—then handing out samples. Talk about eating between meals!

From Quebec City, Donna and I traveled by train to Montreal, where the fall colors peaked in full splendor. Upon return home, I heard that the bite was a bit off for keeper bass, although monster blues kept the action going. My friends from Riverhead, Tom Gahan, beached his first keeper bass; Larry Epps and his cousin, veterans that they are, had no trouble bringing albies, bass and chopper blues over the rail this fall. To close out the month of October, Donna caught and released an 18½-inch schoolie, while at the same moment I took an 28-inch—on the money—keeper from our center console using Kastmasters on which I epoxy eyes.

Whether angling from a bantam kayak or canoe in a nearby river or bay, to fishing from the largest ocean-going Viking vessel in the Montauk fleet, or anything in between, remember that we live in an outdoor mecca, folks. Take advantage.

Meanwhile, I've got to work on how to convince the captain of the MS Eurodam to slow down his mega-vessel to two knots so that I might troll those northeastern waters as well as others on our next cruise. Yes, I want the best of both worlds. Yes, I want to lead a charmed life. Yes, I wish to push the envelope. :o) :o) :o)

See you on the water this November.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Mystery/Thriller Novelist, Outdoors Writer, "Gifted" College Instructor & Creator of a Unique Writing Course Guide
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna

New for 2013: Bob's The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook For Salt Water & Fresh Water available from []

September 01, 2012


by Bob Banfelder

Along our waterways, folks are fast realizing that kayaking is a smart way to go. These marvelous crafts are great for touring, exercise, exploring, picnicking and, of course, fishing. Try kayaking from a stable fishing platform and you'll definitely be hooked. Donna (my significant fishing pal of forty years) and I have fished in power vessels big and small: party boats, charters and privately owned mid-sized machines. All served their intended purpose well and accorded us great times. However, a yak will allow you to navigate some very skinny waters. With our Ocean Prowler Big Game Angler fishing kayak, which measures 12 feet 9 inches in length, Donna is the sole, interim captain of her craft, plying the waters of the Peconic River and its bays for blues, bass, porgies, blowfish, blackfish and an occasional weakfish. This summer season has been surprisingly great for weaks.

Sharing a single person sit-on-top (SOT) yak, we vie for time and tide. For sheer fun, one of us will be seen on the water at least once a week with fly rod in hand: a Sage 9-weight and a Pflueger reel—loaded with Teeny TS-300 Series 6.5 ips, 24-foot sinking section/58-foot floating section—perfect for working the shorelines of our area. Donna will cast a fly and catch countless fish from our fishing yak. On rather windy days, she'll resort to a light spinning outfit, tossing out poppers and tins into tomorrow. More than occasionally, she'll hook up with a monster blue or bass, excitedly commenting, "Isn't retirement great?" to which I'll respond, "Gee, I don't know, dear. I was busy in the office writing another story about you."

Donna and I very much enjoy kayak fishing. Why? The simple fact is that we tend to use a smaller craft more often than a larger vessel. Too, fighting a leviathan on their level, that is, eye-to-eye, is sheer excitement. If you wish to get into skinny waters with the stablest of platforms, put your canoe up for sale and purchase a yak. Try before you buy is sound advice. Firstly, know where you are generally going to use your yak. Next, investigate sit-on-top models versus sit-inside types, along with the proper clothing you'll need.

For skinny-water angling, nothing beats a kayak. This is not to say that the craft can't handle our bigger bays or even the ocean. I've reported on folks such as Dave Lamoure who hooked, fought and landed a 157-pound bluefin tuna from his 12-foot recreational Heritage FeatherLight kayak off of Provincetown, Rhode Island. That's certainly kayak fishing in the extreme and is mentioned here simply to show the capability of these plastic platforms. For the purpose of this blog, we'll confine ourselves to inshore waters, angling for those fish mentioned earlier, utilizing medium to medium-heavy fly, spin and bait casting outfits. We will leave extreme pelagic fishing from a plastic shell for Dave and others like him.

Selecting the proper platform can prove to be a daunting task simply because there are a plethora of manufacturers and models of kayaks on the market today from which to choose. Fortunately, we can narrow the playing field by focusing in on the single activity that concerns us here; that is, of course, fishing. Many of us who read Nor'east Saltwater are ‘fishing fools.' We don't need to be fishing foolishly. Therefore, choosing the appropriate platform from the get-go is of paramount importance. By selecting a kayak built and set up specifically for the angler, we have just ruled out the explorer class, the tandem touring type, and the wild whitewater adventure craft. How so? The reasons are that the explorer class calls for a longer, narrower vessel to propel one along greater distances. The tandem touring type is designed for two people to get in each other's way when fishing. Lastly, the considerably shorter whitewater craft is configured so as to embrace turn-on-a-dime maneuverability for psyched-up folks who live to ply swift currents and shoot rapids.

Let's now home in on the breed of yak that lends itself to the art of angling—be it spin, bait, or fly-fishing—while at the same time exploring the area of safety. It's important to note that there are basically two types of kayaks: Sit-Ins and Sit-On-Tops.


Ostensibly, a sit-inside kayak is certainly going to keep you drier than a sit-on-top type. But as safety is predominant, which is the ‘safer' vessel between the two? If you are kayaking in an area with heavy boat traffic, I can almost assure you that some captain, either careless or inconsiderate, is going to leave you in his or her wake—a situation that may or may not result in your taking on water or, worse yet, swamping and capsizing you. The cockpit is going to fill, and unless you know a few safety procedures such as the Eskimo roll or paddle float rescue, you could find yourself in dire straits.


Common sense tells you that your season is going to be somewhat limited if you select a sit-on-top kayak, merely because you are going to get somewhat wet. You may not want to be braving the elements at the end of November through the middle of March, although you certainly could with the right outfit—namely, a wet suit or dry suit. As the sit-on-top kayak is self-bailing, the craft is positively the safer of the two vessels, for it is a relatively simple procedure to climb back aboard if you are capsized. Not so with a sit-in type.

Generally speaking, keep in mind that a kayak's length determines its speed, width determines its stability, and that weight, of course, determines its manageability. As an example, a sit-on-top Angler model Ocean Kayak Prowler 15-foot 4.5-inch long, 28.5-inch wide, 56-pound shell will be propelled from point A to point B quicker than our Ocean Kayak Prowler Big Game Angler, measuring in at 12 feet 9 inches long, 34 inches wide, and a whopping 69 pounds. That is a 13-pound difference. That's considerable. But I knew where I was going to use the craft predominately if not exclusively; that is, on the Peconic River as well its bays close to home. Weight, therefore, was not such an important consideration. With a 5.5 inch wider width than the narrower model, it is a stable fishing platform. Considering all the kayaks I researched and sea trialed, few came up to my expectations. Of all the kayaks I could speak or write about at length, several kept resurfacing. In addition to the Ocean Kayak Prowler Big Game Angler, two other manufacturers of serious angling platforms to consider are Wilderness System's Tarpon and Malibu Kayak's X-Factor.

Lastly, select a kayak (preferably a sit-on type) from a reputable manufacturer whose selection features or offers optional equipment and accoutrements set up with the angler in mind: flush-mounted rod holders astern; additional fully adjustable-lockable-removable rod holder brackets set forward; a comfortable seat and backrest; ample storage space; an anchor trolley system; rudder system; and a combination unit GPS/Fishfinder. Why all this paraphernalia and consideration? The answer is because we ideally want the ultimate fishing platform.

A more detailed examination of selecting, accessorizing and maintaining your kayak for angling, inclusive of rudder system, GPS/Fishfinder, apparel, et cetera, can be found in past articles that I have written for Nor'east Saltwater: August 6, 2008, Volume 19, Number 18, "Selecting and Outfitting your Kayak." Also, September, 2007 Nor'east's Club article posted online, "Kudos for Kayaks: Seeking the Best of Both Worlds."

Enough yakking. Get out there and prowl around for that trophy; you'll have a distinct advantage in that a kayak is stealth personified.


This early morning, September 1st, with a full moon hanging in a western sky, Donna and I caught dozens of snappers and several fair-sized cocktail blues. We kept one blue for dinner and returned the rest to Flanders Bay—an hour before low tide. Our North Fork Bays are presently loaded with approximately four-inch bunker as pictured above.

Award-Winning Novelist, Outdoors Writer,
Creator of Unique Course/Guides,
Editor in Chief, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna

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