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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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April 02, 2017

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

by Bob Banfelder

Part II

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

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


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

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

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

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


Carrying case for the four 28½-inch rod sections

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

Exploring Additional Areas in the Ithaca/Newfield Region

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


Buttermilk Falls ~ author taking a hike ~ not the plunge


A pool along Buttermilk Falls trail

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


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

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

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

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


Lee Hanwick hiking along Buttermilk Falls

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

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

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

Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

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

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

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


Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats


Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats

December 01, 2016

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

by Bob Banfelder

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

Boaters


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace.


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


Anglers


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Stocking Stuffers

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

Stay tuned.

Bob Banfelder
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

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


Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats



Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats










December 02, 2015

Indian Island County Park

by Bob Banfelder

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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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


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


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

Directions:

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



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




December 01, 2015

Cedar Point County Park

by Bob Banfelder

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




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

Enlightening Info:

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

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


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


End of strip leading to Cedar Island Lighthouse.


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

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

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

Directions to Cedar Point County Park:

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




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




November 09, 2015

Montauk County Park

by Bob Banfelder

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

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


Tom O'Keefe setting out for some surf fishing

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


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


Entrance to the RV parking area

Directions to Montauk County Park:

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


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


The Dock Bar & Grill




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



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

Directions to The Dock Bar & Grill:

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


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


November 08, 2015

Meschutt Beach County Park & the Shinnecock Canal

by Bob Banfelder

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


Meschutt Beach County Park shoreline, walking toward Shinnecock Canal jetty

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


Fishing the Shinnecock Canal jetty

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


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

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

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


Meschutt Beach and the Shinnecock Canal


Meschutt Beach ~ Take Montauk Highway east, crossing over the Shinnecock Canal. Make a left onto North Road. Go straight then turn right onto Old North Highway. Take the first left onto Canal Road.

Shinnecock Canal ~ Driving from Meshcutt Beach, it is 0.2 miles from the far end of the parking lot to the second lot at the Shinnecock Canal. Head down Canal Road and make a right onto Old North Highway. The lot is located just before the left turn onto North Road. As the sign below indicates, the lot is part and parcel to the Suffolk County Parklands, so, yes, you may park there. Again, leave your Green Key card in plain view atop the dash.



A Nearby Treat Awaits You
The Canal Café

As the Beach Hut eatery is closed after Labor Day, discover a small but fabulous nearby waterfront café that will positively delight you. It is open until Christmas then reopens in early March. It is truly a find; a gem of special note. Donna and I were looking for a light lunch. I could not believe my appetizer portion: thirteen steamed littleneck clams (actually, many were of topneck size; better yet) steeped in a savory saffron, wine, clam broth — loaded with leeks, tomatoes, and chorizo (sausage), served with delicious crusty hot bread to sop up that flavorful liquid; $16 — a meal in itself. Two beers [designated driver sitting across from me] along with that hearty appetizer, and I was replete. Donna thoroughly enjoyed her generous portion of Prince Edward Island mussels steamed with white wine, garlic, and butter — also with delightful crusty hot bread. That was our light lunch. We couldn't even handle dinner at home that evening. Donna and I can't wait to return to try their entrées. So be warned. Come to Canal Café with a serious appetite. Additionally, there is seasonal outdoor dining. And please say hello to our amiable and most affable server, Tatiana, as well as the café's most attentive staff. Open from noon till 9 pm; closed on Tuesdays.

Directions to the Canal Café:

The Canal Café at 44 Newtown Road is 1.2 miles from Meschutt Beach. Make a right onto Montauk Highway, heading west to Newtown Road. The Café is located within the Hampton Watercraft Marina. Don't stop or you may wind up buying a boat. Proceed through their parking lot, making a sharp right into the café's own parking area.


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


October 15, 2015

Fishing Shinnecock East County Park

by Bob Banfelder

On October 1st, I covered Cupsogue Beach County Park on Dune Road in Westhampton Beach. Several phone calls and e-mail replies from friends and acquaintances prompted me to continue writing about the six other Suffolk County Park beach access areas for those who purchase a Suffolk County Green Key card. Refer back to my October1st blog concerning general information referencing a Green Key card for residents, nonresidents, seniors, et cetera. For specific seasonal information regarding each of the seven Suffolk County beaches, it is best to call the park ahead of time. Shinnecock East County Park's phone number is (631) 852-8899. To get to the park, go east on Montauk Highway to Halsey Neck Lane. Make a right and continue to Dune Road. Make a right turn onto Dune Road and head west to the park entrance.

Donna and I have learned that regulations vary from county park to county park. A set of regulations at one park does not necessarily apply to another. For example, at Shinnecock East County Park, you are required to leave your Green Key card on the dashboard. However, at Cupsogue Beach County Park, it is not required. Also, rules and hours may change according to the season, so be sure to not only call but to carefully read posted signs on arrival as they apply to the activity you are considering. You'll note the ATTENTION sign below as instructions not only pertain to displaying your Green Key card but information referencing hours and night fishing (by permit) as well. Googling respective beach information is not always accurate, so be sure to check out those regulation signs upon entering the park, especially if the entrance booths are unmanned.



Flanking the eastern border of the Shinnecock Inlet where it meets the Atlantic Ocean, this rugged, undeveloped barrier beach park includes both ocean and bay beach recreation areas. Shinnecock East County Park in Southampton offers good fishing. One hundred campsites along the outer beach are available to those with self-contained campers and a valid Outer Beach Recreational Vehicle Permit; those vehicles must park on the beach. No tent camping is permitted. A small parking lot is available for Green Key card holders who do not have an Outer Beach Recreational Vehicle Permit. The walk from the parking lot to a midway point along the jetty is approximately 360 yards. This is where you'll find anglers lined all along those boulders, especially when the bite is on. Bait, spin, and fly fishermen abound. Bluefish, black fish, black sea bass, and stripers are the main attractions. "Ah, but you ‘should've been here yesterday' for the bonito and albies!" were the sincere sentiments sounded by angler after angler we spoke to whose only catch of the day was limited to skates and sea robins.







Navigating those boulders that form ocean jetties can be treacherous when wet. For warmer weather, a pair of cleated sandals as shown provides safety and comfort



For those colder months ahead, either boots offering interchangeable sole technology or overshoes with threaded or push-through carbide spikes (cleats) is a good choice. Whatever style you select, stay with a winner whose name has stood the test of time for fifty years: Korkers. As I already have pairs of general footwear for virtually all seasons and reasons, but not those jetties, a pair of cleated overshoes was a good choice for keeping me safe on those slippery, mossy surfaces. Referencing this arena, one has to decide among three Korkers' models; namely, CastTrax ($100), RockTrax ($70), or RockTrax Plus ($80). The main differences concern the threaded versus push-through carbide spikes; also, the number of spikes per pair. The RockTrax overshoe model has threaded spikes whereas the other two models have the push-through spikes. That is why you are paying more for the CastTrax model. However, the CastTrax model only has 18 spikes per sole, whereby the RockTrax Plus model has 26 spikes per sole. The lower price RockTrax model has14 spikes per sole, but it comes with 12 additional spikes and receptacles for you to customize the overshoe. Therefore, I elected to go with the RockTrax $70 model (which is on order) for its customization feature. To my way of thinking, fifty-two carbide spikes per pair translate to better traction on those slippery boulders. Yes, I'd be sacrificing threaded spikes in lieu of the push-through type, but the RockTrax model, unlike the RockTrax Plus model, allows for customizing the toes, heels, and balls of the soles.

All three models come with easy/off release buckles and strap system, extra strap, and spare spikes. The overshoes are constructed of rubber soles and wall surrounding the toe, heel, and sides for a secure fit. Check out Korkers online at www.korkers.com. Depending on the season, determine what type of footwear is best for you, sandal or overshoe, then get out there for some rock-solid fishing.



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

April 01, 2015

The T.C. Sling's the Thing

by Bob Banfelder

A serious surf fisherman can easily tire when carrying around 12- 10- or even 9-foot poles married to some heavy-duty reels. Let's first look at some light surf spinning outfits and weigh the situation carefully. Example: a 23.7 ounce Stella SW (Salt Water) model STL 8000; a lighter 20.4 ounce Eposeidon ~ Ecooda Hornet model 6000; and an even lighter Stella SW series, a 14.3 ounce Stella SW model STL 5000. These three fine surf spinning reels coupled to some Heavy- to Medium-Heavy Action Ugly Stik surf poles can wear a guy or gal down, especially when traipsing along miles of sandy or stony beach for half a day. Working your way among boulders or along an extended rock jetty can cause a person pause. On a stormy, devilish day and well into evening, no warning sign is there or even needed to caution you to take heed: CAREFUL. SLIPPERY WHEN WET. You know the deal before you ever get to your destination. Sure-footedness and a balancing act with your cherished equipment and gear are the necessary requirements.

Walking the picturesque Long Island Sound beaches of Wading River, Reeves, Iron Pier, as well as South Jamesport Beach on the Peconic Bay side can eventually slow you down. Searching and casting a number of spoons, plugs, and Uncle Josh's Pork Rind jigs will sooner or later make a body weary. But what if you had an item, a featherweight aid to help support the load of a hefty surf outfit? Well, I recently discovered such an aid. I use the word discover because the item is actually used for entirely different purposes.

The T.C. Sling started out as a cross-shoulder strap with which to comfortably carry a camera or a pair of binoculars. The sling features a single-point snap clip that slides freely up and down a one-inch wide black web strap. From there, Mr. Rock Wilson designed an accessory strap (also, one-inch wide) that wraps snugly around the butt of a handgun. The strap has a nylon D-ring that attaches to the snap clip. As I will be back to target shooting this spring with a handgun, as well as hunting with it in the fall, the adjustable T.C. Sling is the ticket, for it will help steady my off-hand/support hand position via a very solid anchor point. Subsequently, from that firing stance, you can simply clear and lower the weapon to a safe position anywhere along the front or rear of your body, such as a shoulder, hip, or rear pocket holster. The T.C. Sling, with its handgun accessory strap, is the next best thing to shooting from a rest, enabling you to make precise shots. After ordering and receiving the item as a handgun aid, I wondered (apart from binoculars and cameras) for what other use this sling strap could be adapted . . . maybe something along the fishing front. Let's see how this all came about.


The T.C. Sling for a camera.


The T.C. Sling with handgun accessory strap for straight shooting.


Donna and I were suffering from cabin fever as I'm sure most of us have this wintry season. A friend happened to call and tell us that Long Island Sound was frozen over. I wondered how that could possibly be. The Peconic River, right off our property, was mostly ice, but a current had eventually cut a swath clear up its middle. But sure enough, the Sound was iced over to a good degree. Then came more snow and lots of shoveling. Actually, we had to be dug out by a payloader on the first go-around. We weren't going anywhere anytime soon. Lots of time to write, read, and ruminate. I lived with Rock's T.C. Sling Strap wherever I roamed. Mostly around the rooms of our home with handgun in hand, adjusting its strap, wearing various layers of clothing, making sure the adjustable sling was long enough for all occasions. It certainly is. As a handgun support aid, Rock should, perhaps, think about renaming the item to read: Rock's T.C. Rock-Solid Handgun Platform. Just as a point of information, the T.C. stands for Traverse City, Michigan, Rock's home. Not Thompson/Center of Thompson/Center Arms, which is America's finest firearms manufacturer in the world when it comes to MOA (Minute Of Angle) accuracy and versatility via its interchangeable barrel system. Such reflections were suddenly interrupted when I was struck by another thought.

It was a freezing February morning, and I was surprised that I could even think at all. Why not use the Velcro handgun accessory strap, attached to the T.C. Sling, to aid in carrying rod(s) and reel(s) for endless walks along those aforementioned beaches? Brilliant! Speculation is one thing; putting an idea to practice is another. Well, I tried the sling/strap combination every which way I could think of: carrying one hefty rod and reel; two rods and reels; camera; binoculars. Good to go. Where? Practically anywhere. Effortlessly. What a godsend. What a pleasure to walk about with the weight of the reel(s) and rod(s) distributed either across my body or upon a shoulder.


The T.C. Sling with accessory strap makes carrying heavy surf rods a breeze.

You may recall my December 01, 2014 Nor'east monthly report titled Shimano's Flagship Stella SW Spinning Reels Versus Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet for the Surf. In the article, I had mentioned that I put my 12-foot surfcasting rod to rest, wielding in its stead a lighter, 10-foot Medium-Heavy action, two-piece Shakespeare Ugly Stik, remarried to the Stella 8000 SW reel. Well, that's all changed now. It was lugging around the 12-foot outfit in lieu of the lighter 10-foot that initially put the kibosh on matters. It wasn't a question of casting the heavier outfit so much as it was carrying it around for half a day. If I were fishing alone, of course, I'd only be carrying one rod. But being that Donna is always with me, I carry hers and mine until we get to our distant, secret spot(s). Piece of cake with the T.C. Sling Strap. This way, Donna has her hands free to carry my beer. Only kidding, folks. Only kidding. She has camera equipment to lug around for those special fishy moments and fantastic sunsets.

With regard to you shutterbugs toting around a camera, be it a compact or video type, the T.C. Sling Strap has a two-way attaching system. A split ring attaches to the camera's strap or ring then simply attaches to the sling's snap clip. The system also includes a tripod ring-mount adaptor with a neoprene washer that stays firmly in place so you won't lose it. The adaptor screws securely into the base of your camera, providing another way to safely transport your camera. All four pieces are included with the T.C. Handgun Sling Strap: handgun strap, tripod ring-mount adaptor, neoprene washer, and split ring.

Focusing in on comfort, the T.C. Sling's adjustable nonslip rubber shoulder section is 5½-inches long, by 1½-inches wide in its center, and 1¾-inches wide at its ends. Strapped within its center is a 1¼-inch metal accessory D-ring. A quick-release, plastic [male-female] strap-clip buckle makes removing the sling from across your body a snap. Or simply unsling it off a shoulder.

Some quick arithmetic for an even clearer picture referencing my heavy-duty outfit recently put back into full operation. Shakespeare's 12-foot Ugly Stik BWS 1100 Heavy Action two-piece rod weighs in at a mighty 27.7 ounces. That's 9.4 ounces heavier than my 10-footer. As mentioned, the Stella SW (Salt Water) model STL 8000 weighs in at 23.7 ounces for a grand total of 51.4 ounces. That's 3¼ pounds. It doesn't sound like much. But with a gear bag, waders, and other paraphernalia, it adds up quickly while traversing sand and stone beaches. Plus, on the way back, I have to carry all the fish that Donna's caught as she's suddenly a self-proclaimed prima donna. Why? Because she usually catches the first, the most, and the biggest fish. That's why. Just ask those with whom we fish with—from boat captains to other consummate, salty souls.

As some of you younger folks wield far heftier outfits for the surf, let's weigh in on the Stella SW 20000 model spinning reel [30.2 ounces] combined with the same Shakespeare's 12-foot Ugly Stik BWS 1100 Heavy Action two-piece rod [27.7]. That's 57.9 ounces—right in between 3½ and 3¾ pounds. An outfit loaded with a 2-ounce plus lure puts you well past the 4-pound point.

As a combo weigh-in, seeing as how I tote around two surf outfits to a point as explained a moment ago, the 10-foot Ugly Stik rod weighs in at 18.3 ounces; coupled to the 20.4 ounce Eposeidon ~ Ecooda Hornet model 6000; bundled to my coming-out-of retirement 12-foot rod/reel outfit totaling 51.4 ounces, for a grand total of 90.1 ounces or 5.63 pounds! A walk in the park with the T.C. Sling and accessory strap.

The T.C Sling's the thing, guys and gals. Google T.S. Handgun Sling Strap, and click on the YouTube video. To order, contact Rock Wilson at 231-313-2084. The item is a bargain at $29.95; free shipping. Tell him I said to consider its new use as the Angler's E-Z Carry All.

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


December 01, 2014

Shimano's Flagship Stella SW Spinning Reels Versus Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet for Surf Fishing

by Bob Banfelder

Comparing a pair of Shimano's high-end spinning reels to Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet series model 6000, but for a fraction of the cost, proved no contest. All three spinning reels offered ultimate performance for the suds this season. However, if price is a serious consideration, weigh the following information most carefully.

Weighing in at 20.4 ounces, Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet 6000 falls between the Stella 5000 SW at 14.3 ounces and the Stella 8000 at 23.7 ounces. Weight can tire you out quickly while walking and working the surf, yet the serious surf angler needs a stalwart outfit that can deliver top performance. Hence, I found a happy medium among three winners. Shimano's two lightest reels in the Stella SW flagship series are by no means lightweights when it comes to getting the job done, for they can tackle virtually anything that swims in our waters. So, too, does Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet 6000, but at a remarkable savings. Donna and I cast these three winners wielding a 10-foot rod with the Stella 8000 SW model, a 9-foot rod with the Ecooda Hornet 6000 model, and an 8-foot rod with the Stella SW 5000 model.


Top to Bottom: Shimano Stella SW 8000, Eposeidon Ecooda Hornet 6000, Shimano Stella SW 5000

By way of analogy, so as to give you some idea of how age slowly takes its toll, I went from shooting a compound bow for many years with a draw weight of 70 pounds, down to a bow of 50-pound draw weight. Consequently, on the fishing front, I put my 12-foot surfcasting rod to rest, and now wield a 10-foot medium-heavy action two-piece Shakespeare Ugly Stik married to a Stella 8000 SW. Donna swings her medium-heavy action two-piece 9-foot Stik coupled to a Hornet 6000. Both rods handle 12- to 30-pound test monofilament line. When we're out there on the beach long enough that Donna does finally tire, she switches to her BWS 1100 medium-action SIGMA two-piece, 8-foot rod favorably fashioned to a Stella SW 5000.

Point of info: Shakespeare Ugly Stik rods are tough as nails and very affordable. Through the years I have told folks that the money they save by purchasing Ugly Stik rods should be to put toward buying top-quality Shimano spinning reels; namely, Stella SW, other Stella models, Sustain, and Stradic—and in that order. Now, I'm strongly suggesting that you give some serious thought in considering Epoiseidon's Ecooda line as I review them. You'll have a better understanding as we move ahead, together, through this report.

First, let's have a look at the many features Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet model 6000 spinning reel has to offer:

O-ring sealed waterproof body and rotor to prevent saltwater intrusion; certainly needed protection against a pounding surf.

Computer-balanced aluminum rotor.

Lubricant service oil port so that you don't have to break down the reel in order to properly maintain the reel through a busy fishing season. And, of course, the reel comes with an adequate supply of lubricant (oil) in a tube to take you through several seasons. Soft reel case also included.

A beefy bail wire with a ceramic bail bushing—not a stainless steel bushing that would still be subject to a harsh marine environment, which could become marred through pitting and corrosion.

Seven precision shielded stainless steel ball bearings and one anti-reverse roller bearing.

Its gears and shaft are all machined stainless steel; that is, pinion gear, drive gear, and main shaft.

A curvilinear-type lip of the anodized spool is probably best described as a ball-shaped edge in lieu of a flat plane and is specifically designed to launch line for long-distance casting. This technological configuration is found on high-end spinning reels such as Shimano. The Hornet reel's specifications indicate that its spool holds 260 yards of 40 lb. test, 185 yards of 45 lb. test, and 140 yards of 50 lb. test braided lines. For the surf, Donna employs 20-pound test monofilament line, so specs should be close.

The Hornet 6000 reel's drag is comprised of a series of carbon fiber washers that exert 44 pounds of serious fish-stopping power. These washers are sealed and protected from water intrusion by a hefty rubber O-ring. Carbon fiber drag washers offer state-of-the art performance because they are not subject to distortion caused by heat buildup. Inferior drag washers do, indeed, warp, resulting in poor performance if not line breakage. A great drag system is of paramount importance in fish-fighting ability. When you are into a good-size denizen of the deep, you want the ultimate of smoothness found in a dependable, high-quality drag system. The Ecooda Hornet model 6000 is smoothness personified. Carbon fiber material is used in brake rotors for aircraft, high-performance race cars as well as clutch plates. Need I say more?

A one-way clutch system.

Double backup anti-reverse locking.

A gear ratio of 4.9:1


Eposeidon Ecooda Hornet Model 6000 Completely Disassembled

I spent a fair amount of time this season comparing two of Shimano's flagship Stella SW [Salt Water] series spinning reels (that I designate for the surf) to this salty newcomer; that is, Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet 6000. It is one fantastic spinning reel for an unbeatable price. Let's compare prices:

Shimano's Stella SW 8000: $829.99
Shimano's Stella SW 5000: $729.99
Eposeidon's Ecooda Hornet 6000: $169.98

The latter would inarguably make a great backup reel for the money. For someone just getting their feet wet, so to speak, this would be a great entry-level reel for the suds. What I've done here, of course, is present a very nice reel, size-wise and otherwise, between two fantastic flagship favorites for the surf. Generally speaking, most of us realize that we get what we pay for. There are, of course, exceptions. For example, Shakespeare's Ugly Stiks are unbeatable for the buck. I could have certainly compared the Ecooda Hornet 6000 to a Shimano Sustain or Stradic model; however, I chose to compare spinning reel models that Donna and I use in the surf.

In terms of top-of -the-line features that the Shimano's Stella series is certainly known for, such as Propulsion Line Management, Paladin Gear Durability Enhancement, SR Concept Design, et cetera, the Ecooda Hornet series holds its own says Tom Gahan, Eposeidon's Director of Marketing. In my July 1st, 2014 report for Nor'east Saltwater, I had asked Tom how the company was able to sell quality reels and many other fishing products at such unbeatable prices.

"Well, Bob," Tom had explained, "we do not have fancy corporate offices. We do not run full-page color ads in prestigious magazines. We do not engage in lavish get-togethers. We eliminate the middlemen. Any idea how many people take a piece of the pie before the product reaches a store like, say, Dick's Sporting Goods? These savings are passed on to our customers because we sell direct. Additionally, we strive to assure customer satisfaction. In short, at Eposeidon, we make fishing fun and very affordable."

You can read my review of the company and the Ecooda (Royal Sea) ERS 3000 spinning reel titled Eposeidon ~ Professional Fishing Tackle: Affordable Pricing on www.noreast.com ~ July 1, 2014 report. Affordable is certainly an understatement when compared to the prices commanded for high-end spinning reels. But will the Ecooda spinning reels I reviewed in July and December of this year stand the test of time? Let me say this. Both Donna and I have put both the Ecooda (Royal Sea) ERS 3000 as well the Ecooda Hornet 6000 through some serious punishment this season. Actually, it was several nice bass and an excess of big bluefish that received the punishment. Because the Peconic River and neighboring bays did not produce for us as well as they had in past years, Donna and I hit our Long Island Sound beaches. Of course, readers want to know what lures we threw at those challengers with our three weapons of choice. The bullets we fired were one-ounce Kastmasters with epoxied eyes as well as Charlie Graves' three-quarter ounce tins, also with epoxied peepers. Those were our two tickets this season.



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



March 01, 2014

Selecting Caliber Surfcasting Rods and Matching Reels

by Bob Banfelder

One of last month's responses to my February blog convinced me of the necessity to scribe a piece on selecting quality surfcasting rods and reels, specifically spin-type gear. There came a point in time that my older equipment was just that: old; not necessarily dated—but old in the sense that I hadn't purchased high-quality tackle for openers. Those items became worn and tired sooner than later. Most folk settle, I think, somewhere in the middle of a wide price range when selecting fishing tackle. I quickly learned to select most of my rods and reels (and Donna's) in the middle of the top-of-the-line price range as manufacturers tend to cover a broad spectrum of pricing so as to reach all markets. I don't have to tell you that a hundred dollar reel is not going to perform or last like a thousand dollar reel. Not that you should run out and spend that kind of money for starters. What you should do, however, once you know that you like—a lot—the fine sport of fishing, be it spin casting, bait casting, or fly casting, is to go middle-of-the-road at the top-end of a model series. Quality is what you are after, especially in a saltwater environment. If you have truly become a fanatic, then I strongly urge you to reach for the best of a top-shelf series. Top-shelf in the Shimano spinning reel series lineup are the Stella SW, Stella, Sustain, and Stradic series—and in that order.

Looking at a catalog is fine for gathering information referencing a particular model. Ah, but holding the item in your hot little hands is quite another matter. A box store will probably have a limited selection, if at all, of these high-end reels. A well-stocked tackle shop is your best bet. Don't feel funny asking a salesperson to set up a reel and rod that you're considering; that is, after you've spent a good amount of time waving several wands around to determine the action you're seeking. Is the rod too stiff to your liking, like a fishing friend of mine mentioned in response to last month's blog? Had my buddy held the 9-foot BWS Medium-Heavy Shakespeare Ugly Stik in one hand and the company's 8-foot BWS 110080 Medium wand in the other, he would have immediately noted a world of difference between the two rods. Such a person might have selected the latter and saved himself $125 compared to the cost of my friend's St. Croix Tidemaster Inshore rod; MSRP $180. That savings could have gone to one of Shimano's Sustain models, one step up from his Stradic model.

You generally get what you pay for. In the case of Shakespeare's Ugly Stik rods, you get a whole lot more than you bargained for. They're the best rod out there for the money, affording you the biggest bang for your buck.

To keep matters simple re last month's blog, I had addressed, in a general sense, 8', 9', 10', and 12' Ugly Stik rods for the surf. Although not specifically classified as a surfcasting rod, Donna's model BWS 110080 two-piece, 8-foot Medium-Action Ugly Stik is designed to handle ¾- to 3- ounce lures with line ratings running between 10 to 25 pounds. It's the lightest of Shakespeare's three BWS 8-foot Ugly Stiks. It's perfect for her ($54.95). As I'm getting several calls and responses about downsizing, referencing these wonderful rods as well as others, I figured I'd best elaborate, moving from general to more specific information. I'll continue with two additional 8-footers and work my way on up to even a 15-foot Ugly Stik surfcasting rod, to be placed only in the hands of gorillas, of course. Ah, I just can't resist this: Where along the beach does a guy wielding a 15-foot Ugly Stik rod fish? Answer: Anywhere he wants. :o) :o) All right, so I'm not a Jay L. or a Jimmy F. Get over it, folks.

Now, on a more serious note, don't fall into the trap of ruling out an 8-foot Ugly Stik simply because it may not be strictly classified as a surfcasting rod. First off, we are going to examine the trio of 8-foot BWS Ugly Stiks before moving on to the 9-foot bona fide surfcasting wand. If you recall my advice from last month's report titled Scaling Back As We Get Older, I'm sure most of you would agree that it's better to be out there casting and covering a good amount of waterfront property over several hours than having to pack it in early due to sheer exhaustion. Remember, we're supposed to be out there having fun, not attempting something amounting to a test of endurance.

Moving one step up from Donna's magic wand, while remaining in the same 8-foot category, is Shakespeare's 8-foot BWS 110180, also a Medium-Action Ugly Stik but designed to handle 1- to 4-ounce lures with line ratings running between 12 to 20 pounds (also $54.95).

Advancing yet another step up the ladder is Shakespeare's two-piece, 8-foot BWS 110280 Heavy-Action Ugly Stik, designed to handle 1- to 6- ounce lures with line ratings running between 12 to 30 pounds (also $54.95).

As we move into the 9-foot realm, matters become less involved because Shakespeare offers but a single surfcasting rod. That is, a model BWS110090 Medium-Heavy Action Ugly Stik, designed to handle 1- to 4- ounce lures with line ratings running between 12 to 30 pounds (also $54.95). The single selection two-piece rods will hold true as we cover Shakespeare's lengthier Ugly Stik surfcasting rods.

The 10-foot BWS 1100100 Medium-Heavy Action Ugly Stik rod is designed to handle 1- to 6- ounce lures with line ratings running between 12 to 30 pounds ($64.95).

The 11-foot BWS 1100110 Heavy Action Ugly Stik rod is designed to handle 2- to 8- ounce lures with line ratings running between 12 to 40 pounds (also $64.95).

The 12-foot BWS 1100120 Heavy Action Ugly Stik rod is designed to handle 2- to 12- ounce lures with line ratings running between 12 to 40 pounds ($69.95).

The 15-foot BWS 1100150 Medium-Heavy Action Ugly Stik rod is designed to handle 2- to 12- ounce lures with line ratings running between 12 to 40 pounds ($89.95).

Unless you have unlimited funds to purchase any number of the rods covered here, it is my suggestion that you select one rod of a single length that you can comfortably handle and, if you are so inclined, select a second of a different length. For example: one rod from the 8-foot group, and either a single 9- or 10- foot pole. Instead of selecting a second rod from the 8-foot category, I'd rather see a surfcasting angler select a longer length, provided, of course, that he or she can handle it. It could serve as a backup rod and/or one with a bit more backbone if needed. After you know the length of rod that you can comfortably handle and are happy with the wand's action, determine the weight of the lure(s) that you will be casting. Rest assured that line rating will affect a lure's distance performance, so be sure to have an assortment of lures on hand. Too, this additional (generally heavier) rod choice will serve for a wider range of fishing conditions such as a heavy wind playing havoc with your lighter outfit, whereby you might need a weightier lure and added power to get beyond those breakers. This heavier piece of artillery will, indeed, wear you out quicker, but at least you'll be back in the game after you catch your breath. A backup rod has on more than one occasion saved the day for us.

Pictured below is Donna fraught with cabin fever, pushing the season on February 20th, 2014. No, I did not hear, "Fish on!" She's geared up and anticipating spring action with her 8-foot Ugly Stik coupled to a Shimano Stella 5000 spinning reel. Good to go.



A sound word on Shimano's top-of-the-line spinning reels for the brine: When I wrote my fishing handbook The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook For Salt Water & Fresh Water [covering a host of other on-the-water related activities such as kayaking and canoeing, clamming and crabbing, smoking fish and preparing gourmet seafood recipes], published in 2013, the MSRP for Donna's Stella SW 5000 spinning reel was $729.99. Today it is $1,059.99. My Stella 8000 SW spinning reel was $829.99. Today it is $1,159.99. Are they worth it? For the most serious saltwater anglers, they are wise investments both in terms of longevity and lasting love. They are Shimano's newly designed flagship series; hence, the added costs; six model sizes from which to choose, ranging from $1,059.99 to $1,259.00. After heading to the bank for a hefty withdrawal or maxing out your credit card to secure these superb reels, don't leave home for the shoreline without them. If those price tags are tantamount to swallowing horse-sized pills, consider Shimano's Stella (not to be confused with Stella SW), Sustain, and Stradic models. They are high-caliber quality spinning reels, too, for considerably less money.

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





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