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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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June 01, 2017

Compact Spinning & Fly-Fishing Kits for Travel ~ Part I

by Bob Banfelder

When researching compact spinning and fly-fishing kits for travel, I was looking for a complete kit that had a dedicated rod and reel for spin fishing as well as a dedicated rod and reel for fly-fishing—not one of those generic, dual-purpose rods that serve as a substitute for both angling methods. That just doesn't cut it. The L.L. Bean Spin/Fly Combo Outfit is the ticket. With compact case dimensions of only 21½-inches long x 8½-inches wide, x 3½-inches high, it is a perfect size for easy carry-on transport, backpacking, or to stow in your vehicle and have at the ready at a moment's notice. How many times have you driven by a promising body of water and said to yourself? Boy, I wish I had my spinning and/or fly-fishing equipment handy. Well, with the L.L. Bean Spin/Fly Combo Outfit, you can now have a pair of completely dedicated compact travel rods and reels on hand for fishing both sweet water and the suds.

L.L. Bean Compact Spin/Fly Kit

The L.L. Bean spinning outfit features a dedicated 4-piece, 6-foot medium/light-action rod that is well-matched to a series 1000 reel. The spool is preloaded with 110 yards of 6-pound test monofilament line—not 60 yards as specified in the description, which I immediately questioned. After carefully measuring then re-spooling, I thought perhaps the reel had been inadvertently spooled with 4-pound test line so as to account for the extra 50 yards of mono, which would happen to agree with their lb. test/yd. spool capacity description; [4/110, 5/100, 6/60 is printed on the skirted spool. I compared the diameter of the line to spools of both 4- and 6-pound test monofilament I had on hand and tactilely determined that it was 6-pound test mono. Granted, there is no universal standard referencing line diameter versus breaking test strength, and I was not about to hunt down a spring balance in order to test tensile stress. In any case, it's better to have more line than less. Later, referencing fly line and backing, we'll see that more line can become an issue. That aside for the moment, the spinning reel has a generous gear ratio of 5.2:1, 4 ball bearings, a smooth drag, and an anti-backlash system.

The fly outfit features a dedicated 6-piece, 8½-foot medium-action 5-weight rod that is nicely matched to their 5–6 weight Angler model #1 reel. Its good-size arbor is pre-spooled with 290 feet of backing, an 84-foot floating fly line (yellow), and a 9½-foot tapered leader. A fluent disc drag sports a large knob in order to easily apply the brakes.

4-Piece Spinning Rod ~ 6-Piece Fly Rod ~ Fly Box ~ Lure Box ~ Carrying Case

Additionally, the pair of rods and reels is protected within a functional vacuum-molded Cordura nylon fabric case with a clear-plastic zippered top. The case is lined with high-density polyurethane foam with cutouts shaped to firmly hold reels, rod sections, along with a pair of miniature lure and fly boxes. The plastic fly box (with slotted foam inserts), which can hold many flies, even contains a trio of easy-to-access fly-fishing hook threaders—great for changing flies in low-light and/or cold conditions. Beneath the boxes, I added packages of tapered leaders and tippet material. Last but not least, the case has a durable Cordura carrying handle.

After stripping out line, casting, and fighting a few fair-sized schoolie bass before finally calling it a day, I noted that the fly line was binding slightly—atop the spool, just beneath the reel seat—even after carefully rewinding the line back upon the spool. Why? The answer is that I wasn't reeling and laying the line precisely and firmly back-and-forth along the spool as when it was first machine spooled at the factory. When I returned home, I simply measured the backing, fly line, and leader so as to determine accurate specs. I then removed 100 feet from 290 feet of backing then retied it to the spool, leaving 190 feet, which is more than sufficient when coupled to 84 feet of fly line and a 9½-foot leader for a total of 283½ feet (94½ yards). In all my years of fly-fishing both salt and fresh water, I rarely went into the backing; when I did, it wasn't more than a few yards. So now, even if I fail to wind the line evenly upon the spool, I'm not going to have a binding issue unless I'm really careless. Also, if I later decide to whip finish a loop and add a weight-forward sinking section, or switch to a longer 100-foot fly line, I'm good to go. L.L. Bean is certainly being generous in giving you more than less rather than the other way around, so I can't fault them in that. In any event, always be sure to allow for enough clearance so as not to damage the fly line.

Referencing the spinning rod, you will note that it does not have a hook keeper. That, too, is an easy fix. As I do not like retaining the hook in the leg of a guide, let alone one of its eyes, or impaled in the rod's fine cork handle, I prefer to secure the hook in a neat little item called The CATCH, manufactured by Adams WW, Inc. I have them attached to virtually every rod I own (spin, bait, and fly) — even if the rod comes with its own hook keeper. You'll note that the fly rod does come with its own hook keeper, yet I still attached The CATCH's compact size hook keeper to the wand. The hook keeper's slotted magnetic shield solidly holds and prevents the point and barb of the hook from catching you, your clothing, vehicle, and boat seats—not to mention, perhaps, a pet. The CATCH hook keepers securely attaches to virtually any size blank diameter in seconds via an ozone and weather-resistant neoprene O-ring. The CATCH lightweight hook keepers are available in three sizes: The CATCH compact size (black, orange, blue), The CATCH-BIG (black), and the CATCH-MEGA (black).

Bob B's Big Bull's-Eye Fly & The CATCH Hook Keeper

Over the years, I've field-tested other brand-name hook keepers. For conventional spin, bait, and fly-casting rods, you want the CATCH hook keepers. Pictured below for the purpose of comparison is Fuji's EZ Keeper attached to the L.L. Bean travel spinning rod. The EZ hook keeper attaches in the same fashion as The CATCH hook keepers by way of an O-ring. Though, with the lure's pair of treble hooks exposed, it doesn't really much matter that those points and barbs are unprotected—unlike the single protected point and barb of the fly depicted in The CATCH's magnetic shielded slot. The EZ Keeper serves to hold a lure or fly, not to protect. Also, the EZ Keeper is available but in a single size, whereas the trio of The CATCH compact keepers accommodate hooks from midge-size 22–1, The CATCH-BIG up to 4/0, and The CATCH-MEGA up to 9/0. However, Fuji's EZ Keeper does have its place as a Tenkara line-management system.

Yo-Zuri Crystal 3D Minnow & Fuji EZ Hook Keeper

I first reviewed The CATCH hook keepers in Nor'east Saltwater back in August of 2013. The piece is titled Hooked on Hook Keepers. Click on this link for the complete article:

Returning back to the pair of spin and fly-casting rods, both are finely wrapped and finished, boast genuine cork handles, 5 single-foot guides plus tip ~ 1 double-footed guide, 8 snake guides plus tip, respectively. The rods alone are worth the cost of the kit. And although the reels themselves are not of stellar quality—plastic components versus metal being the issue—you can always upgrade those items if and when the time comes while employing those same fine rods and suitably sufficient carrying case for many, many years. Our L.L. Bean compact combo travel kit will serve us at a moment's notice, always at the ready in our vehicle for unexpected, spontaneous adventure and action whenever our beefier equipment is back home taking up space.

In concluding Part 1, the fly reel is more than adequate, and the spinning reel stood up admirably against twenty-plus schoolie bass in a single outing. Moreover, the following day, I lost a nice-size striper (guesstimated at 30 inches) on the travel spinning rod as Donna was fumbling with the net right off the port stern. My point here is not to pick on Donna, but to make clear that the rod and reel easily handled a good-size fish in the suds, right up to the boat, the drag system having performed smoothly and flawlessly. As always, be sure to rinse your rod(s) and reel(s) with fresh water on return. Donna and I have both expensive and inexpensive equipment angling equipment that we have used, not abused, for decades. Take proper care of your equipment, and it will take care of you. Enough said.

L.L. Bean Travel Spinning Outfit ~ Yo-Zuri Crystal 3D Minnow ~ One of a Score of Schoolie Stripers Caught That Day in Our Compact Folding Porta-Bote (

Bob Banfelder

Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

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

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

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

Available on Amazon in paperback & -book formats

Available on Amazon in paperback & -book formats

May 01, 2017

A Wilderness Finger Lakes B&B ~ For Ourdoorsy Men & Women Part I

by Bob Banfelder

In response to Part I of my April 1st article titled Spectacular Outdoor Activities Await the Adventurous, several folks called or e-mailed, requesting to see more photos and wanting to know more (actually a lot more) about The Wilderness Bed and Breakfast located in the Finger Lakes region of Newfield, New York. Another gentleman commented nostalgically, having had attended college in Ithaca, fishing Fall Creek and Cayuga Lake when he could find the time. I encourage all of you to visit this wonderland. The Wilderness B&B is a great base to begin your outdoor adventures this spring, exploring the area's gorges, waterfalls; fishing its lakes, streams, and ponds—not to mention spectacular deer hunting opportunities come fall and winter.

Two of six Wilderness B&B cabins, grounds ~ 21 acres, pond [winter 2016]

Snuggled just 11.2 miles southwest from the tip of Cayuga Lake, in the heart of the Finger Lakes region, surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains, lies a little-known B&B sanctuary that caters to outdoors men and women. At first blush, the establishment is appropriately named The Wilderness Bed and Breakfast; that is, until you learn that the enterprise does not serve breakfast during the off-season. The ‘off-season' corresponds with those dates set aside for hunting white-tailed deer during the gunning season in the 7R area of Central New York. Therefore, the appellation is not necessarily a contradiction in terms. What happens is that come deer hunting season, the operation receives a transformation, a metamorphosis if you will. While the cozy, warm, clean cabins accommodate deer hunters, The Wilderness B&B deer processing operation springs into action. It then becomes a deer hunter's mecca; a haven for the hearty. Through the remainder of the year, but not limited to one particular season within this pristine wilderness area, other outstanding opportunities abound for outdoorsy folks: fishing, bird watching, hiking, horseback riding, or just plain lounging around for a bit of R&R. Come springtime, many outstanding angling opportunities abound throughout this pristine area, all within proximity to The Wilderness Bed and Breakfast.

Just 2.1 miles down the road from the B&B is the Newfield State Forest, encompassing 1,552 acres. The forest is connected to the New York State Department of Conservation (NYSDEC), Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area, which covers more than 11,000 acres.

Additionally, the NYSDEC has Deer Management Focus Areas (DMFA) to help alleviate the overpopulation of deer. This is a homerun for those who want to increase the odds of bagging a trophy. More information is available at One of these Focus Areas is Cornell University in Ithaca, which is 12.5 miles northeast of The Wilderness Bed and Breakfast. Cornell land is but one of those areas that provides great hunting opportunities:

Six private, spaciously separated cabins dot The Wilderness Bed and Breakfast landscape within a picturesque twenty-one acre property. The establishment provides a bathhouse with separate men's and women's bathrooms, game room, horseshoe pits, and although breakfast is not included during the ‘off season,' guests have their use of the kitchen facilities located in the main (common) cabin area where folks may prepare their own meals. Frank Hartenstein and his gracious wife Andi run a first-class operation.

Andi Hartenstein in the Common Area

During late fall and running through the winter deer hunting firearm season, the wilderness operation is truly unique in the sense that it offers a Hunter's Special weekly rental rate for a nominal $200. That's under $29 a day! Now get this: Two of the larger cabins can accommodate up to five folks for the same weekly rate. Do the math. We're talking about clean, comfortable, cozy lodging for less than $6 a day per person!

B&B Wilderness' warm, cozy cabins

In the Finger Lakes area, winter weather and temperature changes can vary dramatically, so one has to be ready for anything. For example, lake-effect snow can drop in on you within a surprisingly short period of time. For example, on the opening day of deer season, November 19th, 2016, with clear skies, the high and low for the day was 67º/32º Fahrenheit, respectively. By the following day, 7 inches of snow covered the ground. Gusts of wind were whipping up to 40 miles per hour. With the wind chill factor, it was 22º. By the 21st, 3- to 3½-foot drifts had piled up in certain areas. It was still snowing; 18–20 inches blanketed the landscape—2 inches over the tops of my Muck boots as I tracked, trudged, and still-hunted for white-tailed deer, eventually making it to one of my treestands. Days like that are for the hardy. I was set up by 6 a.m. as I had for the past few days. I took a nice button buck with a handgun, which became the highlight of the hunt because that challenge was on my bucket list. The high and low for the day had been 29º/26º.

By late spring and early fall, the area is a fishing mecca for sportsmen. Small and largemouth bass blanket many small ponds. Rainbow and brown trout fill the streams; lake trout and landlocked salmon laud crystal clear clean lakes. Shown below is a nice size catfish caught at the foot of Cayuga Lake, just steps from the Ithaca Farmers Market. Its dock and pier are open to the public, so you can shop, or fish, or take a leisurely stroll around the waterfront.

Local fellow with catfish caught at the foot of Cayuga Lake

Tomorrow we'll continue with PART II, covering more of this unique B&B operation and the area in general, so please stay tuned.

Bob Banfelder

Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

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

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

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

Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats

Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats

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: 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 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

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

April 01, 2017

Spectacular Outdoor Activities Await the Adventurous

by Bob Banfelder

Part I

As the headliner for my Nor'east Saltwater Magazine articles is titled "North Fork/South Fork Bays ... and Beyond," I'm going to transport you well beyond Long Island borders to a freshwater fishing mecca that once lie beneath a shallow saltwater sea, 350 million years ago. We'll be heading north to south-central New York; specifically, the surrounding areas of Ithaca and Newfield. Many bodies of water, both big and small, compose a picturesque canvas: lakes, inlets, tributaries, creeks, falls, ponds and pools. The region is but a five-hour drive from New York City. It is an outdoor haven for fledgling to fanatic anglers as well as hunters. Cayuga Lake, which we'll drop in on, is the longest (39.7 miles) and second largest of the Finger Lakes.

Cayuga Lake

The Newfield State Forest, encompassing 1,552 acres, is where outdoor opportunities also abound. The forest is connected with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation ~ Connecticut Hill Wildlife Management Area, which covers more than 11,000 acres. Additionally, the NYSDEC has Deer Management Focus Areas (DMFA) to help alleviate deer overpopulation. One of these Focus Areas is located at Cornell University in Ithaca. The Cornell University Deer Management Program provides great hunting opportunities. Visit the Cornell University website for details.

For fishing fanatics, Cayuga Inlet, at the southern tip of Cayuga Lake in Ithaca, provides five ample parking areas, two boat ramps on the east side of the lake, and one on the west side. Too, Salmon Creek on the east side of Cayuga Lake has two parking areas.

Author with a fingerling rainbow trout

The DEC stocks approximately 12,500 6-inch fingerling rainbow trout annually, which can grow to 29-plus inches. Excerpted from the Department of Environmental Conservation's website is information referencing Public Fishing Rights Maps:

Public Fishing Rights (PFRs) are permanent easements purchased by the NYSDEC from willing landowners, giving anglers the right to fish and walk along the bank(s). For more PFR information and legally permissible activities on those easements, please see the New York State DEC Public Fishing Rights page.

Most PFR easements are on trout streams. While keeping and eating the fish you catch is part of the fishing experience, many people choose to release their catch. If you release the fish you catch, please review the Catching and Releasing Trout page for tips on reducing the mortality of released trout. Want to know how much that fish you caught weighed? The Use a Ruler to Weigh Your Fish page will help you estimate the weight of your catch. Please view Fishing for Stream Trout for information on catching stream trout. Further area information is available at There are many excellent fishing opportunities listed on the Department of Environmental Conservation's website. One of them is Fall Creek.

Fall Creek & Public Access

Fall Creek, located in Cayuga and Tompkins counties, is a major tributary to Cayuga Lake. The creek begins near Lake Como and meanders for approximately 33 miles to Ithaca, where it enters into Cayuga Lake. There are 10.9 miles of Public Fishing Rights (PFRs) along Fall Creek, four with official PFR parking areas; anglers may also use unofficial pull-offs along the stream.

Parking Areas

Old Stage Road. From State Highway 90 go south on Hinman Road to Groton City. Take Groton City Road south to Old Stage Road.
Hinman Road. From State Highway 90 go south on Hinman Road for approximately 1.3 miles. Parking area is just past the County Boundary.
State Highway 90. On State Highway 90 approximately five miles west of Homer.
•Lake Como Road. From State Highway 90 parking area go west on 90 about 300 yards to Lake Como Road. Two miles north on Lake Como Road.

Cayuga Lake Inlet Areas:

Cayuga Lake Inlet is a small- to medium-sized stream. Cayuga Inlet is a major spawning stream for Cayuga Lake rainbows. A vast majority (around 70%) of the rainbows in the inlet are wild fish. Enfield Creek, a tributary to Cayuga Inlet, is stocked annually with around 10,000 (Finger Lakes strain). Rainbow trout, brown trout, Atlantic salmon, and smallmouth bass can all be caught in the stream.

The NYSDEC Cayuga Inlet Fishway is located on the inlet and is an important rainbow trout egg collection and sea lamprey control point.

Author fishing Cayuga Inlet

For fishing and/or big game hunting at its finest, rethink then set aside the Catskills and the Adirondacks for another day. You'll find it quite interesting to note that area streams actually flow north and exit into Lake Ontario, so go with the flow and head northwest this April for some serious outdoor angling action.

You'll Fall For The Falls
Area Inlets, Tributaries, Creeks, Ponds, and Pools Provide Plenty of Angling Action

Although lakes and their tributaries offer spectacular fishing in the Finger Lakes region, area pools and small ponds should not be overlooked. Covering a large body of water can certainly wear a body down as we get older, but homing in on a pool for trout or small pond for smallmouth and largemouth bass can still be a blast.

Our friends, Tom Gahan and his wife Darla, found time for a bit of rest and relaxation at a nearby pond in Newfield. Asking and receiving permission of area residents to fish an owner's freshwater pond was amicably given. The only stipulation was that Tom and I catch and release any fish taken. Not a problem. Acquiring a property owner's permission to fish on their land is easier than one might imagine. Folks there are friendly.

Left to right: Tom Gahan, author, and Darla Gahan
The boys eyeing their imitations ~ light spinning outfits in the foreground, readying for action.

Tom sorting through his boxes of tricks

Although the pond had not produced a single bite for the first hour and a half, Tom's persistence finally paid off. He caught, landed, and released a decent size largemouth bass. Tom was a happy camper; more on camps and other area accommodations in a moment.

Tom's largemouth bass, caught and released

Tom with a plastic imitation to which a largemouth bass finally surrendered

Tom went on and on about the effectiveness of a soft plastic worm. I simply told him that it had little to do with the lure but had everything to do with the luck of the Irish, for I hadn't had a hit all morning. Finally, as the morning wore on, I caught and released a nice largemouth. I went on and on about patience personified and the effectiveness of a crankbait. Tom emphatically insisted that it had wee little to do with the crankbait and everything to do with the sheer stubbornness of a thick-headed German. I didn't belabor the fact that my bass was bigger than his bass. :o) :o)

Author caught and released a nice largemouth bass from a pond in Newfield

Over the years, Donna and I have come to know a good many fishing fools, several who remain among our circle of closest friends. So, who is this Tom Gahan guy? you may be wondering. Tom is the Marketing Director for Eposeidon Outdoor Adventures, Inc.,, a budget-minded company that is making industry inroads by leaps and bounds . . . or should I say waves—BIG waves. Under the Eposeidon banner, the company's brands include KastKing and MadBite, combining both quality and exceptional value. KastKing offers excellent spinning, baitcasting, and—now—fly-fishing rods and reels, along with high quality monofilament, copolymer, fluorocarbon, and braided fishing lines; lines for a fraction of the cost of other leading brand names. The company will soon be producing quality fly lines, too. MadBite features quality fishing lures at a price point that is as sharp as their hooks.

Camps and B&Bs in the area are plentiful in the Ithaca/Newfield areas. Snuggled just 11.2 miles southwest from the tip of Cayuga Lake, in the heart of the Finger Lakes region, surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains, lies The Wilderness B&B sanctuary in Newfield that caters to outdoorsy folks. Six spotlessly clean, spaciously separated cabins on twenty-one acres, along with a pond, blanket the property. Log onto You'll be glad that you did. Frank Hartenstein and his most amicable wife, Andi, run the establishment. During deer hunting season, the couple shift gears and provide a professional deer processing operation. Frank and his associate, Barry Dunning, are both professional butchers by trade. When I harvested my first button buck with a handgun this fall, of course that is where Donna and I brought the animal for custom processing. A young deer is venison at its finest.

Author with first handgun harvest

Tomorrow we'll continue our journey, first taking a look at A DEAL OF A FLY ROD & REEL. Stay tuned.

Bob Banfelder

Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

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

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

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

Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats

Available on Amazon in paperback & e-book formats

February 02, 2017

Spoon-Feeding Pike and Bass

by Bob Banfelder

Part 2 Savvy Rigging Requirements for Spoons

Somewhere along the line (no pun intended), the question arises as how to properly attach a line to a spoon. Back in those early days, it was a generally accepted practice to tie the line directly to the spoon. Why? Answer: for direct contact. However, in terms of practicality when it came to quickly changing lures, there was nothing quick about it—especially when tying knots at night coupled to the concerns of tying anything upon a choppy, cold body of water. I was all thumbs. Therefore, there came a point where anglers had to weigh in on the practical use of attaching ancillary hardware that would expedite matters when changing lures. Hence, a good many fishing folks affix a split ring to their spoon, followed by a barrel swivel, which helps eliminate line twist and aids in changing lures.

By attaching a quick-release clip (such as the Power Clip by Tactical Anglers) between the split ring and the barrel swivel, you can actually take off and put on a lure with your eyes closed. Changing spoons or plugs is that easy. You merely slip the 45º arm of the clip onto or off of the split ring—done. There is no chance of the lure slipping off the clip because the other 90º arm serves as a block. Also, there is no chance of the clip opening up like that of a snap swivel, which I'm certain many of us have experienced in days of old. Quick-release type power lips are shaped very much like a paper clip. I'm sure you've seen them, but be advised that not all of those clips are created equal; more on that point in a moment.

Tactical Anglers Power Fishing Clips are offered in four test-strength sizes of 50 lbs. 75 lbs., 125 lbs., and 175 lbs. [available in small packages or bulk quantities]. They are made from thick stainless steel wire, beefier than the standard round-ended Breakaway Fastlink Clip. Too, the Tactical Anglers Power Clips are designed to be relatively pointed at both ends rather than rounded, and for two sound reasons. One, they keep knots firmly seated. Two, they prevent a barrel swivel from dramatically shifting side to side when retrieving and fighting a good-size fish. To paraphrase Alberto Knie, CEO of Tactical Anglers, "Most pelagic (ocean) fish have a tendency to shift their head, but with the pointed design, it allows for the line to follow; hence, minimizing slippage," which is more likely to occur with the round-ended design. The benefit of the semi-pointed clip is that maximum direct contact is maintained. Tactical Anglers Power Clips are available from Tackle Direct,

I trust you'll be using these indispensable clips—not only for spoons, but for virtually all your lures, especially those long-lipped crankbaits, where the metal eye of the lure is smack up against its face, making it very difficult to fasten a split ring. With Tactical Anglers Power Fishing Clips, it's a cinch to clip to a split ring or directly to a lure's eye.

Small Package Pricing:

Eight (8) Tactical Anglers Power Clips per small package for test-strength sizes 50 lb., 75 lb., 125 lb., and 175 lb. ~ $5.99

Bulk Package Pricing:

Thirty (30) Tactical Anglers Power Clips per bulk package for test-strength size 50 lb. ~ $12.49
Twenty-five (25) Tactical Anglers Power Clips per bulk package for test-strengths 75 lb., 125 lb., and 175 lb. ~ $12.49

As probably noted in past articles, I do not tie my line directly to a quick-release clip. I simply secure one end of a Tactical Anglers Power Clip to the split ring, and a barrel swivel to the other end of the clip so as to eliminate line twist. Experimentation is your best guide. Different strokes for different folks. I even toy with various size split rings because their thicknesses can make a discernible difference in the water column. Avoid attaching a split ring too thick that it does not easily pass through the hole at the top of the spoon, for it will impede the lure's action. Beefier split rings I reserve for heavier spoons such as one ounce and greater. You want good wiggle room between the split ring and the lure. As a rule of thumb, I generally use the standard Breakaway Fastlink round-ended clips for smaller lures in freshwater; for example, 1/8 oz., 3/16 oz., ¼ oz., ½ oz., and ¾ oz. I use the beefier semi-pointed end Tactical Anglers Power Clips for larger, heavier lures in saltwater.

Top & bottom left: round-ended Breakaway Fastlink clips shown in two test strength sizes: 50 lb. and 80 lb. test ~

Top & bottom right: semi-pointed Tactical Anglers Power Clips shown in two of four available test strength sizes: 75 lb. and 175 lb. test

In attaching a split ring to either of the two types of quick-release clips, simply slip the 45º angled arm (not the 90º arm) of the clip onto the thinnest section of the split ring; that is, in between the ends of the double coil where it forms a narrow single-coil space. This facilitates both attaching and removing the split ring from the clip. Attach the clip to a barrel swivel in the same fashion, sliding it to the other end of the clip, and you're done.

Eppinger 1 oz. Dardevle ~ Green/Silver-nickel back spoon, split ring, Tactical Anglers Power Clip (175 lb.), Rosco barrel swivel, Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon

Various size split rings and barrel swivels

Owner, Rosco, Spro, VMC, and Worth components referencing split rings and barrel swivels are worth checking out.

Let's take a look at several Eppinger genuine Dardevle spoons. You'll pay more for an original as opposed to any knockoffs. Why? Eppinger Dardevles go through a five-step manufacturing process to assure quality and craftsmanship. One: the brass or copper blanks are premium corrosion-proof, stamped, and polished. Two: the spoons are then primed with a two-stage etching epoxy primer, which takes a day to dry. Three: Eppinger's craftsmen then apply four to five coats of an exclusive lacquer. Four: the detailing is air brushed and hand painted—a final coat of clear lacquer sealer is applied for ultra-durability. Five: finally, the Dardevle trademark is applied to signify quality. Give the Dardevle its due and experience the ultimate in fish-catching ability. The action is awesome; the proof is in the pudding as you'll soon see.

Eppinger spoons categorized clockwise according to model and size:

Dardevle 1 oz. category: Green/Silver ~ Pink/White Diamonds ~ Hot Shad ~ Yellow/Red Diamond ~ Red/White Stripe ~ Red/White Stripe (Weedless)

Dardevlet ¾ oz. Wide Profile category: Hot Mackerel ~ Red/White Stripe

Cop-E-Cat ¾ oz. Imperial Heavy category: Hot Mackerel ~ Lime/Red Dot ~ Glo'in ~ Silver ~ Blue Silver ~ Green Silver ~ Red/White Stripe

Cop-E-Cat ½ oz. Imperial category: Silver ~ Blue/Silver ~ Lime/Red Dot ~ Red/White Stripe ~ Hot Mackerel

Dardevle Midget 3/16 category: Gold ~ Orange/Black Dot ~ Red/White Stripe ~ (circa 1982) Red/White Stripe

Lil' Devle 1/8 oz. category: Lime/Red Dot ~ Red/White Stripe ~ Hammered Brass

Eppinger spoons range in sizes 1/32 oz. – 3½ oz. and come in a mind-staggering assortment of colors and styles. Log onto to view their full product line. If you go a bit overboard in your purchase and receive flak from anyone, you simply say that the devil made you do it—period.

On the saltwater front this past season, there wasn't an Eppinger spoon viewed above that didn't produce a respectable fish: blues, stripers, weakfish—even fluke! On the freshwater scene, with limited time, Donna and I had good success with several Eppinger spoons, especially the Midgets and Lil'Devles.

Don't be fooled into thinking that little, light spoons can't compete with larger, heavier lures. To hammer home that point sharply, note Eppinger's Lil' Devle 1/8 ounce Hammered Brass spoon in the mouth of the 4-plus pound lunker largemouth bass. I was taking a short break from bowhunting whitetails in the Finger Lakes Region of Central New York. Awesome fishing in the area, folks.

Author with a nice largemouth bass—caught and quickly released

Largemouth bass caught on 1/8 oz. Hammered Brass Eppinger spoon, Shakespeare Ugly Stik SPL 1102 ~ 5 foot Ultra-Light Action rod, Shimano Stradic C14+ 1000 FA reel

As many of us will be severely suffering from cabin fever this February, take or make the time to explore new areas close to home. Bundle up and walk the beaches. Read the water. Jot down notes of places that look promising. Then return to those spots come spring—rod and reel in hand. You may be surprised to discover fresh, fertile fishing grounds.

Next month I'll be detailing a two-part step-by-step Spring Commissioning procedure for outboard engines and boats ~ subtitled SPRINGING INTO ACTION. That ought to warm things up a bit. Until then, think ahead to springtime.

Bob Banfelder

Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

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

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

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

Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

February 01, 2017

Spoon-Feeding Pike and Bass

by Bob Banfelder

Part 1 ~ A Nostalgic Moment in Time: The Thousand Islands

One hundred sixteen-years ago, the Lou Eppinger heritage had started. In 1906, Lou hammered out a 2-ounce spoon of his own design, fishing the Ontario frontier. Six years later, Lou had turned his prototype spoon into a successful lure that he named the Osprey. Four years later, in 1918, the name was changed and later became widely-known as the Dardevle. You have probably used one of those tins as a kid. The spoon is easily recognizable by the logo's horns and devilish facial features imprinted on the red and white striped lure. That is, until several toothy denizens of the deep did their thing and marred the face and finish.

Circa 1982 and new 2016 Dardevle Midgets ~ red/white striped 3/16 ounce, nickel back

As a kid, I don't believe I ever made the Dardevle connection to the term daredevil until I became aware of a different form written on the packaging of Drake's Devil Dogs, which I ate voraciously as a child and throughout my adolescence. Interestingly, Dardevle, taken from the German language, Teufel Hunden [or correctly written together as Teufelhunden], became an apocryphal nickname applied to a United States Marine by German soldiers referencing a Marine's fighting ferocity with specific reference to the 4th Marine Brigade and Belleau Woods. When I joined the Corps as a young man, I was most disappointed to learn that there were no Devil Dogs to be found in boot camp, or offered up post-boot camp in the mess hall as dessert, not even in the PX!

Years later, having had my fill of Drake's Devil Dogs, I turned my interests back to hunting and fishing. I had fished from the age of four; hunted (legally) since the age of fourteen. In 1982, I was fishing with family in Gananoque, Ontario; the Canadian gateway to the spectacular Thousand Islands. I was using my go-to Dardevle spoons to nail some nice-sized pike and bass in the shallows. That was thirty-five years ago. Wow! Yeah, time certainly does fly by when you're havin' fun—fishin'.

Donna and I navigated out of Brown's Creek, then up, down, and around the heart of the 1000 Islands section of the St. Lawrence River. We cruised all the way to Kingston, partway up the Rideau Canal, then back downstream to Brockville and beyond. The August nights were cool, a perfect time of year to enjoy some serious fishing. One island in the chain is suitably named Camelot. Paradise personified. A fishing utopia awaited us just a short island hop to the northeast. The northwest section of Gordon Island provided the serious angler with some of the most fantastic northern pike and largemouth bass fishing to be had anywhere in the area. It was also the quieter side of the island to dock as boaters tended to congregate along the south central docks, somewhat protected from the prevailing west wind. But even on a windy day, the L-shaped northwest dock (accommodating three boats back then) posed no problem save a gentle undulating motion.

Immediately to the east sat a solitary dock that actually accommodated two boats, but as the adjacent side was painted yellow, and therefore reserved, yet seldom used by Park's personnel, it afforded perfect privacy and was one of the hottest fishing spots in the area for pike and bass. However, it was not necessary to nest ourselves there if either of these docks was occupied because the entire several hundred yards of shoreline was indeed productive, along with Jackstraw Island to the north and Jackstraw Shoal to the west. The key to one's success was a willingness to rise early, quietly working the shoreline. And as both these fighting fish, especially pike, have a propensity to strike red and white striped spoons, well—you've practically put fillets in the skillet.

The author with a morning's catch in the Thousand Islands

The secret in preparing pike is simple; the timing crucial. It was revealed to me by a soul who could have passed himself off as a native guide, sporting two-weeks growth of beard and an uncanny ability to locate and catch northern pike as long as your arm, along with largemouth bass whose mouths are as large as a man's fist.

The man was actually a dentist from Philadelphia who annually immersed his whole being into a fortnight of action-packed fishing and camping on Gordon Island every August for several summers. After taking Donna and me into his camp and confidence referencing a fishing hot spot, he demonstrated the art of filleting pike by quickly running a razor-sharp fillet blade along both sides of the bony contour, discarding the skeletal remains, resembling some sort of prodigious prehistoric tooth. Turning the strips over, he swiftly swept the blade beneath the flesh, separating skin and scales and forming perfect fillets. Lifting and placing them into a hot skillet, he invoked his magic with a modicum of seasonings.

"Little but equal amounts of extra virgin olive oil and margarine because butter burns," he stated solemnly. "If you don't fillet them, by the time the flesh cooks to the bone, the outside is already tough and you lose the sweet, juicy flavor. Bass, you don't need to fillet." He turned the pike fillets over the hot open fire as soon as the fleshy meat turned white. "Best tasting fish ever," he declared. The smell of the sizzling fillets was as heavenly as the stars under which we sat. In short order, we were all feasting on very flavorful fish—pike and bass. "Best tasting fish ever," he repeated. "Yes?" Through a protracted silence, I nodded the man's pronouncement in sincere agreement, eating contently. Donna seconded his sentiments.

Armed with a newfound knowledge and an eagerness shared by my almost ten-year-old son and Donna, the three of us were ready by 4:30 a.m., attaching the necessary wire leaders to our 8- and 10-pound-test monofilament lines. Checking our drags, we quietly began working the shoreline downstream, applying new lessons learned from that marvelous mentor from Philadelphia.

The water proved a perfect mirror, reflecting images of overhanging branches and a solitary green heron gliding across the surface. We casted and retrieved our red and white striped Dardevle spoons for a good thirty minutes before listing a multitude of excuses. And then it started to happen. Slowly at first. Large swirls out all around us. Then closer. Fish feeding frantically. Suddenly a fish broke the surface—its magnificent outline rising with our expectations. Jason casted some 20 yards to the right of the swirl. Three cranks of the reel, and there came a tug; then nothing. The retrieve produced a long length of weed.

"Don't give the lure time to hit the bottom," I instructed excitedly. "Start reeling as soon as it hits the water."

Another cast and a sudden strike. Jason instinctively set the hook securely. The drag screamed violently—then stopped as Jason gained some line. The rod bent almost frightfully, and the drag screamed insanely. It was certainly a good-size fish. Jason was losing more line than he was gaining. I scrambled for the net, praying that I'd have the chance to use it. The boy was beginning to tire of this give-and-take situation and needed words of encouragement.

"The fish is beginning to tire," I stated resolutely.
"My wrist," he pleaded.
"Keep reeling—you're gaining some line back."

Another run—straight down deep. Frustration turned to exasperation.

"Get that rod tip up. Higher. Now reel! Pump him gently . . . That's it. Now you're gaining on him."

A series of grunts and groans followed, accompanied by my son's reeling and pumping action. After what seemed an eternity, a long torpedo-like missile began to emerge. Exploding the surface, it shook violently against the rim of the too-small net that I held. Carefully ladling its lower extremity, I quickly swung the beautiful prize over and into the boat.

"A fantastic fish! You did great, J. Really great," I offered proudly.

A very weary but exulted young fisherman wholeheartedly agreed, smiling down breathlessly at his first respectable northern pike.

A half hour later, I picked up a nice pike, and Jason hooked into a good size bass. Of course, Donna had us all beat. She does that. Then Jason was on another fish. After a very long and serious tug of war between bass and boy, it appeared that Jason would be the overzealous victor; but at the last moment, as the fish appeared on the surface, it thrashed about defiantly—shaking the spoon clear. The 4-pounder fell back into the dark waters and disappeared. But persistence rewarded my son generously with a nice largemouth in the 3½-pound class. Before the sun rose over the top of the island, I had caught and released a smallmouth bass. Donna, as almost always, had caught the first, the biggest, and the most.

After a gourmet breakfast of fresh fish and buttery biscuits, followed by a refreshing late morning swim, Jason and I decided to try our luck at catching some nice size perch and sunfish we spied swimming in and around a dock. Within an hour, we had caught and released some two dozen panfish.

Excellent panfishing was enjoyed during the day, especially for the more conservative angler, as no special equipment or time schedule was adhered to. Fishing from almost any dock produced sunfish, rockbass, and perch in abundance. Also, shady spots along the shore near rocks, stumps, and weeds were likely places. Even a dropline is sufficient and will provide hours of excitement and enjoyment for young children. One simple fact to remember is that a small hook, with a small piece of worm, will catch more panfish than a big hook with a gob of worm attached. Interestingly, our small Dardevle spoons out-produced live bait.

The evenings, especially just before dark, tended to be quite buggy. Of course, the bass and pike were out there along with those miserable mosquitoes. Although you can secure a fair catch in the late afternoon without being eaten alive, you will most assuredly be certain to miss out on more productive fishing by packing it in too early. A simple remedy to the situation was a long sleeved garment, a good insect repellent for the hands, and a hat with a mosquito net that fits securely around the crown, protecting your face and neck. Good to go.

Tomorrow we'll continue by addressing SAVVY RIGGING REQUIREMENTS FOR SPOONS, so please stay tuned.

Bob Banfelder

Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

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

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

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

Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book format

Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book format

January 02, 2017

Berkley's Fusion19 Super-Sharp Hooks: From Panfish to Pelagics ~ Part II

by Bob Banfelder

Moving up in size from where we left off yesterday, let's examine the SUPERLINE EWG 4/0 hook, which has a forged bend and an increased diameter for added strength, giving it the power required to pull fish out of weeds, reeds, and other thick vegetation. The hooks are offered in sizes 2/0–7/0. The 2/0 and 3/0 come six to a package; 4/0 and 5/0 come five to a package; 6/0 and 7/0 come four to a package ~ $3.99 per package.

One of the two soft plastic crawdad-type representations shown below (left), rigged Texas style, is Berkley's scented 3½-inch Alabama Craw duel-colored PowerBait, nicknamed the Fight'n Bug. As many of us reading this piece are not presently in the southeast, in your mind, set aside the lure's crawdad creature feature, its regional color (Alabama Craw), as well as limiting the lure solely to freshwater applications. Instead, consider this killer bait for the suds. Here on the East End of Long Island, Donna and I have caught and released more than our fair share of blues and striped bass with this crawdad color imitation as we have with, perhaps, the more suitable northeast purplish colors (right), which I'll cover momentarily. I believe it's not so much a matter of color or menu choice as it is purely an appetite decision, for food is food for thought for the fish. Hunger is probably the cognitive conception coupled to Berkley's scented attractions.

Left ~ top and bottom: Berkley's Alabama Craw duel-colored PowerBait ‘Fight'n Bug' & Superline Ewg 4/0 hook
Right ~ top and bottom: Berkley's Bama Bug purple color PowerBait ‘Change Up' & Heavy Cover 4/0 hook

The only thing I do differently referencing the Texas-style rigging is to push the point of the hook ¼ inch into the nose of the larger soft plastic baits instead of 1/8 inch on smaller soft plastic worms. Otherwise, the procedure remains the same. Also, I do not worry about concealing the eye of the hook. I do, however, concern myself with making the lure weedless by skin-hooking it as described yesterday in Part 1.

Shown above on the right side of photo and rigged Texas style is Berkley's HAVOC 4½-inch Bama Bug purple color, monikered the ‘Change Up' by designer Scott Suggs. The soft plastic lure is impaled with Berkley's HEAVY COVER 4/0 hook, built for flipping. Half of the top section of the hook shank is constructed with a stainless steel bait-keeper wire wrapped within a tight-gripping material in order to reduce slippage and prevent readjusting. The hooks are offered in sizes 3/0–6/0). All four sizes come four to a package ~ $5.99 per package.

For getting down into the water column, Berkley's weighted hooks, such as the Weighted Superline 4/0 EWG and Weighted Swimbait 5/0 with screwlock, are the key to nailing those denizens of the deep. Donna and I use them on our swimbaits rigged Texas style. We have had excellent success with Berkley's specifically formulated PowerBaits for Saltwater; namely, Berkley's 5-inch Jerkshad in a Pearl/Watermelon color. That's when we switch from spinning outfits to our low-profile bait casting reels and rods. The knack to working the lure(s) is to slowly . . . s.l.o.w.l.y retrieve your swimbait, which imparts maximum tail action, which in turn produces some serious strikes.

Berkley's Weighted Superline 4/0 EWG hooks (Environmental Working Group) are offered in sizes 3/0–7/0. The size is imprinted on the leaded portion for easy identification. The weighted 4/0 shown below is approximately 3/16 of an ounce. Sizes 3/0, 4/0, and 5/0 come five to a package; sizes 6/0 and 7/0 come four to a package ~ $5.99 per package.

Left top and bottom: 6-inch Boss Dog with Weighted Swimbait 5/0 and screwlock
Right top and bottom: 5-inch Jerkshad with Weighted Superline 4/0 EWG without screwlock

The Weighted Swimbait 5/0 hook and screwlock are offered in sizes 3/0–7/0 and also has the hook size imprinted on the leaded portion for easy identification. The spiral bait keeper makes for fast and secure rigging of plastics. These leaded hooks will take your swimbaits down deep to the lunkers. The weighted 5/0 is approximately 1/3 of an ounce. All sizes come four to a package ~ $5.99 per package. Both Donna and I have had very good results using Berkley's HAVOC 6-inch Black-Red Fleck/Chartreuse color plastics, dubbed the Boss Dog, designed by Gary Klein.

As some folks make the mistake of pushing the body of the plastic lure over the weighted belly of the hook (thereby compromising it), let's take a moment to address the proper way to rig such a weighted hook (with or without the screwlock) Texas style. First, push the point of the hook approximately ¼ inch (for larger lures) into the nose of the lure as you normally would, exiting the bottom of its body. Now, carefully back it out, completely removing it. You have just created a channel. Next, insert both the eye and angled neck of the hook into that bottom channel, rotating and aligning the body vertically at the center of the bend in the hook. You'll recall earlier that to precisely place and reinsert the point of the hook into the body of the lure so as to keep it perfectly straight is to hold the hook vertically and allow the lure to hang naturally. Within the bottom center of the hook's bend is exactly where the second reentry point should be made. You will have to bend the swimbait to accommodate this entry point. Embed the point of the hook into the body and out its top. Both the point and barb should lay perfectly flat atop the lure. Next, in order to make the swimbait weedless, stretch forward the section of body below the barb, allowing the section to return rearward and skin-hook the point of the hook into the body. The point of the hook should be barely concealed as pictured. Leave the eye of the hook exposed for tying your fluorocarbon leader. No need to conceal the eye as you had the worm lure. Good to go.

The Swimbait 5/0 with screwlock (unweighted) is shown below. The hooks are offered in sizes 3/0–7/0. Sizes 3/0, 4/0, and 5/0 come five to a package; sizes 6/0 and 7/0 come four to a package ~ $3.99 per package.

Although the suggested hook for Berkley's 4½-inch Blue Shiner Gold color PowerBait, named the Rib Shad, is a Swimbait Jighead, I employ the unweighted 5/0 Swimbait hook with screwlock. I didn't listen too well in school either. :o) :o) You'll note that I rig the Rib Shad with the screwlock secured in its nose and the hook through the lure's body and out the top. However, you'll also note that because of the hook's configuration that the barb and point do not lay flat atop the lure (Texas style) and that its body is positioned directly between the bend of the hook, creating a sail-like, keel-like combo. That is precisely the form and figure I desire. The hook's smoke-satin finish will not spook fish as might a typical shiny stainless steel sail-like, keel-like display. Also, by not skin-hooking this rather thick-bodied shad imitator, you will be more assured of solid hookups.

The tail-thumping, paddle action of this killer bait triggers hard-hitting reactions. If you wish to go deeper into the water column, simply rig this imposter on a weighted Swimbait 5/0, similar to that when rigging for the 6-inch HAVOC Boss Dog explained earlier.

Berkley's 5/0 Swimbait hook with screwlock & Rib Shad PowerBait

Visit Berkley at for a full description of their entire line of Fusion19 hooks and soft plastics. The hooks and lures are winners—not only in terms of producing solid hookups, but in terms of pricing. You'll thank me later.

Also, you can secure the recipe for Bob B's Black & White BIG Bull's-Eye Fly that appeared in the April 7, 2009 Nor'east Saltwater magazine issue (page 54 ~ illustrating prismatic Mylar eyes) by copying and pasting the issue's following URL in your Google address search box:

B's Black & White BIG Bull's-Eye Fly ~ updated 2016 photo with molded 3-D eyes.

Bob Banfelder

Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

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

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

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

Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

January 01, 2017

Berkely's Fusion19 Super-Sharp Hooks: From Panfish to Pelagics ~ Part I

by Bob Banfelder

First off, Donna and I wish everyone a Healthy and Happy New Year, including a great 2017 Fishing Season.

Donna and I have been field-testing nine of Berkley's Fusion19™ smoke-satin-color hooks for the past year, along with several of the company's soft plastic (silicone) baits. They are absolutely awesome. Berkley's Fusion19 hooks is a trademark as is their revolutionary, technologically-advanced polymer coating designated as SlickSet; hence, Fusion19™ hooks and SlickSet™. What Berkley did was to fuse the SlickSet coating to their high-carbon steel hooks. The result: effortless hook-sets. The hooks' tips are tack-driving, needle-point sharp and easily penetrate a fish's cartilage as well as the flesh of your finger if you are not careful. The hooks are engineered to be the sharpest and slickest on the market. They were new for 2015.

The hooks are freshwater "bass-specific designs," says the company. However, Donna and I use them for virtually all saltwater applications as well as sweetwater situations. Together, you and I will be examining these perfected hooks closely. In the suds, both Donna and I have taken stripers, bluefish, weakfish, porgies, blowfish, seabass, blackfish, and fluke. In freshwater, we had a blast landing brook, rainbow, and brown trout with a fly rod, especially after tying a few new flies on Berkley's size 1/0 Drop Shot Fusion19 hooks. Next, I went on to playing around with their Weedless Wide Gap size 1/0 for largemouth bass. Playtime was over. We began nailing one largemouth after the other, along with a few smallmouth bass. More on that momentarily.

Among Berkley's Fusion19 hooks are nine designs I'll cover today and tomorrow: Drop Shot 1/0; Weedless Wide Gap 1/0; Offset Worm 3/0; EWG (Environmental Working Group) 3/0; Superline EWG 4/0; Heavy Cover 4/0; Weighted Superline EWG 4/0; Weighted Swimbait with screwlock 5/0; and Swimbait with screwlock 5/0. As pictured below, the hooks are clamshell-packaged in their resealable plastic storage units for easy accessibility and safety's sake because, as already mentioned, these hooks are extremely sharp. Depending on size, the hooks come in quantities ranging from four to seven hooks per package.

Resealable Clamshell Packaging

Let's begin with Berkley's Fusion19 Drop Shot 1/0 and the Weedless Wide Gap 1/0. These hooks have become a favorite of mine for tying a streamer fly that I created back in early 2008, aptly named Bob B's Black & White BIG Bull's-Eye Fly. It is a unique fly pattern in that the eye of the fly essentially is the fly. Berkley's Fusion19 Drop Shot 1/0 hook and their Weedless Wide Gap 1/0 (with its fluorocarbon weed guard) lend themselves well to this pattern because the eye of the fly fits neatly into the hook's semi-circular frame.

Apart from the hook's intended purpose as a drop-shot rig for live or artificial bait such a plastic worms, I find the Drop Shot 1/0 very useful for tying both saltwater and freshwater dry flies, too. With the aid of buoyant materials such as deer hair spun around the shank of the hook, its short shank and slightly raised eyelet assist in keeping the pattern resting flat atop the water column; hence, making the hook quite suitable for many dry fly applications. The hooks come seven to a package and are offered in sizes #6, #4, #2, #1, 1/0 and 2/0 ~ $3.99 per package.

Referencing the somewhat larger Weedless Wide Gap 1/0, you can work a fly where others dare not swim; namely, weeds and other thickly vegetated areas. Bob B's Black & White BIG Bull's-Eye Fly, serving as a wet fly, is a great all-around pattern, for you can fish it in both fresh water and salt water. In our northeast waters, Donna and I have taken panfish to pelagics. Initially, I tied the fly with flat (tape-type) prismatic Mylar eyes before experimenting with 3-D (dome-shaped) eyes and larger heads to push water. Too, I played and plied our rivers and bays with a yellow/green color pattern. The Weedless Wide Gap hooks are offered in sizes #1, 1/0, 2/0, 3/0. All but the 3/0 come five hooks to a package. The 3/0 comes four to a package ~ $5.99 per package.

Top: left to right ~ Drop-Shot 1/0 & Weedless Wide Gap 1/0 hooks
Center: left to right ~ Bob B's Black & White BIG Bull's-Eye Flies ~ exhibiting 3-D (dome-shaped) eyes ~ fly on left pushes water nicely
Bottom: experimenting of late with a yellow/green pattern.

All three patterns have been proven effective in either sweet water or the suds.

Moving on to larger size Berkley Fusion19 hooks. As a rule of thumb, I use a 3/0 hook for smaller baits, a 4/0 for medium size baits, and a 5/0 hook for larger baits. Let's examine the Offset Worm 3/0 and the EWG 3/0.

The Offset Worm hook 3/0 has a slightly narrower gap than the EWG 3/0. The hooks are offered in sizes 1/0–5/0. The 1/0 and 2/0 hooks come seven to a package; 3/0, 4/0, and 5/0 come six to a package ~ $3.99 per package.

The EWG 3/0 hook has a slightly wider gap than the above. The hooks are offered in sizes #1, 1/0–5/0. The #1, 1/0, and 2/0 hooks come seven to a package; 3/0, 4/0, and 5/0 come six to a package ~ $3.99 per package.

Texas Style Rigging:

Both hook designs are ideal for rigging soft plastics, particularly worms. Let's rig Berkley's HAVOC 4½-inch Junebug color (monikered the ‘Money Maker') by designer Brandon Palaniuk. We'll rig the worm (along with some other soft plastics) Texas style.

First, push the point of either hook (Offset Worm 3/0 or EWG 3/0) into the nose of the worm, approximately 1/8th inch in and out the side. Slide and rotate the worm up the shank, past the hook's 90 degree angled neck, right up to the eye of the hook. This angle holds and keeps the worm from sliding down.

Next, a trick to precisely place and reinsert the point of the hook into the body of the worm so as to keep the worm perfectly straight is to hold the hook vertically and allow the worm to hang naturally. Within the bottom center of the hook's bend is exactly where the second reentry point should be made. You will have to bend the worm to accommodate this entry point. Embed the point of the hook into the body and out its top. Both the point and barb should lay perfectly flat atop the worm. Next, in order to make the lure weedless, stretch forward the section of worm below the barb, allowing the section to return rearward and skin-hook the point of the hook into the body. The point of the hook should be barely concealed as pictured below. After tying your fluorocarbon leader to the hook, gently push the head of the worm over the eye of the hook, concealing the connection. Good to go.

I cast this lure with a light-action spinning reel and rod—no weight added to either lure or line of any sort. The worm's action in the water column is natural, so you will receive strikes and solid hookups.

Top to Bottom: one Offset Worm 3/0 hook and two EWG 3/0 hooks ~ HAVOC Junebug (color). Top two worms show hooks' exposed eyes, barbs, and points. Bottom worm—properly rigged weedless—conceals hook's eye, barb, and point. Berkley's Vanish fluorocarbon leader material, tied to the eye of the hook and hidden, offers a virtually invisible presentation.

Tomorrow, we'll continue with Part 2 of BERKLEY'S FUSION19 SUPER-SHARP HOOKS ~ FROM PANFISH to PELAGICS.

Once again, a Healthy and Happy New Year, including a great 2017 Fishing Season.

Stay tuned.

Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

Bob Banfelder

Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

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

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

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

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.


One of several handy gift suggestions comes from Happy Cove (, 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.


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


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

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

October 01, 2016

Crankbait Transitions from Sweetwater to the Suds ~ A Colorful Array of Keen Killers ~ Part I

by Bob Banfelder

If you're angling for some of the best synthetic hardbaits and penetratingly honed treble hooks available in today's highly competitive fishing industry, allow me to lure you in and hook you up solidly. You won't be disappointed with the following offerings, for you will save money, time, and frustration. You will steadfastly attract and confidently fight fish. What kind of fish? Answer: virtually all kinds of fish referencing freshwater, brackish, and, yes, saltwater applications. Designed by David Fritts and his dream team for freshwater fishing—but not necessarily limited as such—the following selection of crankbaits is positively deadly in the suds. Therefore, do not shortchange yourself. Too, their devastatingly chemically-sharpened treble hooks may surprise you.

Here in Part 1, we'll take a good look at a few of Berkley's assortment of proven Fishing Evolved crankbait designs: Bad Shad, Digger, and the Warpig models. These designs are hard on fish but easy on the pocketbook—$6.95 each. When you team up professional design engineers with professional anglers in state-of-the-art testing facilities, the results are awesome as you will soon see. David Fritts, Justin Lucas, Josh Bertrand, Garry Klein, and Scott Suggs comprise the Berkley pro-design dream team referencing these Fishing Evolved crankbaits.

First in the lineup is the Bad Shad 5, shown below in the Black Gold color; 18 killer colors from which to choose, available in 2", ¼ oz. It is a dynamite lure, diving from 5 to 7 feet. This crankbait is lethal on walleyes, muskies, trout, crappies, smallmouth and largemouth bass, stripers, bluefish, and weakfish.

The design features a lifelike side-to-side roll and simulated tail wag that drive fish bonkers. Within an hour, Donna caught and released a few schoolies. Not to be upstaged, I headed our boat toward a neighboring bay, grabbed another rod set up with the slightly longer, heavier Bad Shad 7, which you will see momentarily, and went to town on a good many schoolie bass and cocktail blues.

Bad Shad 5

Bad Shad 5 ~ Black Gold color ~ gets belted by 15-inch cocktail blue

Note: Both the Bad Shad #5 and #7 (shown below) dive on retrieve, slowly ascend the water column when paused, and remain afloat at rest. Employing a variety of rod-action techniques, the fishing action for both Donna and me was nonstop.

The Bad Shad 7 is shown below in Irish Shad; 18 colors from which to choose, available in 2¾", 1/3 oz., diving from 6 to 9 feet.

Bad Shad 7

Bad Shad 7 ~ Irish Shad color ~ is clobbered by cocktail blue


Next are the Digger models. The lures come in three sizes and weights: Digger 3.5, 1¾", ¼ oz. ~ Digger 6.5, 2", ½ oz. ~ and the Digger 8.5, 2½", 7/16th oz. Shown below are the 6.5 Digger in Red Craw color and the 8.5 Digger in Brown Mustard; 18 colors from which to choose. The lures present a stocky profile with a downward angled bill. These crankbaits are lethal lures for both saltwater and freshwater applications. The action is awesome, a truly deep-digging descent on retrieve while displaying an aggressive wobble and seductive side flash—then a slow ascension when paused. The lures rattle to draw attention, and two needle-sharp Fusion19 treble hooks ensure triple, terrible trouble for predators.

Digger 6.5 ~ Red Craw color ~ fools small fluke

The Digger 6.5 dives and covers the water column from 5 to 8 feet. This bantam-sized fluke did not just strike the lure, it inhaled it. The Digger 6.5 drove steadily toward the floor when suddenly a summer flounder hit the Red Craw color crankbait in 7 feet of water, both fish and artificial rising to the occasion with a vengeance. Just short of performing radical surgery, I had all to do to remove the lure from its mouth and release the small fry, unharmed, to swim away and fight another day. Cocktail blues and schoolie bass, too, saw ‘red,' smacking the devilish Digger in a maelstrom of sheer madness. I am very impressed with these lures. The power you feel on the retrieve, coupled to the action you see in the suds, are absolutely awesome . . . and when a strike does occur—stand by! You'll positively dig this crankbait.

Digger 8.5

Digger 8.5 ~ Brown Mustard color ~ dupes this 19-inch keeper fluke

The Digger 8.5, diving from 7 to 9 feet, is designed to drive a bit deeper into the water column than its 6.5 cousin. Where my go-to Glow Squid plastic lure rigged with a strip of fresh/frozen squid and a feisty (live) mummichog (killiefish) failed to attract any attention, Berkley's Brown Mustard-colored 8.5 Digger flimflammed this respectable keeper. On my first cast, the fluke smacked the crankbait in 9 feet of water.


The following is Berkley's Warpig. The lures come in two sizes and weights: 2 3/8", ¼ oz. and 3", ½ oz. Shown below are the Cream Pie and the Vintage Craw colors, respectively; 18 colors each from which to choose. The Warpig is a fast-sinking, bluntnose, lipless, noisy rattling rascal that exhibits aggressive action. The heavier 3", ½ oz. lure allows you to cover a lot of water faster and deeper. The pair offers realistic appeal, acoustical allurement, and absconding action throughout the water column. Predator fish will be on the warpath for Berkley's Warpigs . . . until that final moment.

Warpig ¼ ounce Cream Pie color

Warpig ¼ ounce ~ Cream Pie color ~ garners all-you-want bluefish

Donna caught and released a score of cocktail-size blues with Berkley's Cream-Pie colored ¼ ounce Warpig; that is, until a BIG chopper came along and chomped through the line. I'll only have to go into my piggy bank to replace that lure, whereas I'd have to delve deep into my war chest for a hopefully similar replacement via another brand. Another way of putting it is that Berkley lures are to be viewed as inexpensive, not to be labeled cheap.

Warpig ½-ounce

Warpig ½-ounce ~ Vintage Craw color ~ has schoolie bass succumb

Now shy one Cream Pie color ¼-ounce Warpig in my arsenal, Berkley's Vintage Craw color ½-ounce Warpig has done double duty in annihilating schoolies, both cocktails-size and chopper-size blues, too.


Tomorrow, October 2nd, we will continue with five additional Berkley crankbait designs. Stay tuned.

Bob Banfelder

Award-Winning Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer
Member: Outdoors Writers Association of America
New York State Outdoor Writers Association
Long Island Outdoor Communicators Network
Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo
Bi-monthly contributor to Nor'east Saltwater

Now available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

Now available on Amazon in paperback and e-book formats

January 03, 2016

A Mid-Range Quality Spinning Combo

by Bob Banfelder

Penn CLA Clash 5000 Spinning Reel ~ Penn Carnage II Rod ~ SpiderWire's Stealth Blue Camo-Braid Line

As I stated in my December 1, 2015 Nor'east Saltwater report, I'd be covering the elements of the above titled piece. What better way to bring in the start of 2016 with a review of a complete and perfectly balanced medium- to medium-heavy action spinning outfit? As a reminder, I spent virtually the entire 2015 season with this combo in hand: reel, rod, and line. Let's examine the award-winning Penn CLA Clash 5000 spinning reel along with its integrally matched Penn Carnage II rod, followed up with a spool of SpiderWire's Stealth Blue Camo-Braid line. Why? Answer: It is a solid package that delivers quality performance while fitting within the framework of most folks' price range. Whether you are new to the game and simply want an all-around high-caliber combo, maybe looking for a serious backup outfit, or merely wanting to add to your mid-range arsenal—this triad (reel, rod, and braided line) covers all bases while offering great value.

At the 2015 International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) event, held annually, the Penn Clash CLA 5000 spinning reel won the "Best of Show" award. Referencing new gear technology is the reel's machined aluminum main drive gear and brass pinion. Also featured in Penn's Clash CLA 5000 are 8 high-grade oversized sealed stainless steel ball bearings plus 1 instant anti-reverse bearing, designed to protect and perform smoothly in a harsh, unforgiving marine environment. Too, the reel bears a heavy-duty aluminum bail wire, which Donna noted immediately as she opened the box before I did. These are but a few of the virtues that underscore this quality spinning reel.

New for 2016 is Penn's Carnage II series of spinning rods. My 7-foot wand matches the Clash 5000 reel perfectly. The rod is built from state-of-the-art SLS3 components comprised of layers of graphite and glass. Not to get too technical, SLS3 construction is spiral wrapped carbon fibers running along longitudinal fiberglass and carbon, creating both an inner and outer spiral wrap. This process translates into a very strong, lightweight, thin diameter blank.

Top-of-the-line Fuji K guides with Alconite inserts (a breakthrough ceramic blend) are "made for braid." I dedicate this rod and reel to combing the beach or fishing from a boat with braided line. More on braided line in a moment.

A super lightweight but durable EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) foam foregrip and butt section are covered with a non-slip textured rubber top coat, right on down to an aluminum gimbal and butt cap. You'll note that the rod's foregrip is fashioned with sculpted grooves for your fingers, making for comfortable casting and especially when fighting large fish. The rod's reel seat is a machined aluminum Pacific Bay model.

The Carnage II 7-foot spinning rod is designed to handle 30–65 pound test braided line. However, for a perfectly balanced setup with the Penn Clash CLA 5000, 300 yards of 30-pound test SpiderWire's Stealth Blue Camo-Braid line fills the reel's spool capacity precisely. According to Penn's line specifications, 30-pound test braided line offers twice the strength and a third more yardage than monofilament line. Keep in mind that there is no industry standard for braid versus monofilament. PowerPro rates their .011-inch diameter 30-pound braided line the equivalent of 8-pound test monofilament. Don't make yourself crazy with the math. Simply realize that given a specific diameter, braided line is considerably stronger than monofilament. Thirty-pound test braided line is generally plenty for our inshore waters, and so is a spool capacity of 300 yards. Braided line is sensitivity personified. Let's see what SpiderWire Stealth Blue Camo-Braid is all about.

For either saltwater or freshwater species, SpiderWire Stealth Blue Camo-Braid is a winner. Introduced at the 2015 ICAST show, it was made crystal clear that SpiderWire Stealth Blue Camo-Braid presents no problem blending within ultra-clear waters and surrounding vegetation. A varying blue/white/black color pattern not only breaks up the profile of the line but of a straight line that cuts across the water column. Blues are the colors that are least seen deep in the water column. Fish are not color-blind as some folks believe. Therefore, Blue Camo-Braid was developed. SpiderWire is not new; SpiderWire Stealth Blue Camo-Braid is, indeed, brand-new. Consequently, the jury is still out. It will be interesting to see what truly develops. SpiderWire braided line is made from Dyneema, the world's strongest fiber that stands up to abrasion.

This mid-range spinning combo is an absolute winner. As many of you know, from October through December of 2015, I plied and reported on the six beach-access areas via Suffolk County's Department of Parks, Recreation & Conservation Green Key Card program. I'll be covering other areas in the near future with this consummate combo in hand. In the meantime, have a happy and healthy New Year. Too, here's wishing our friend, fishing fool fanatic, Tom Gahan, a speedy recovery and that he will soon be walking the beaches with Donna and me.

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

November 09, 2015

Montauk County Park

by Bob Banfelder

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

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

Tom O'Keefe setting out for some surf fishing

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

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

Entrance to the RV parking area

Directions to Montauk County Park:

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

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

The Dock Bar & Grill

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

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

Directions to The Dock Bar & Grill:

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

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

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