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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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August 01, 2015

Lethal Versions of the Celebrated Muddler Minnow Part I of IV

by Bob Banfelder

Fact: In the water column, for freshwater and saltwater applications, the fur from a raccoon has the lifelike action of marabou feathers and is a fantastic material for fly tying. The bonus feature is that raccoon fur is far stronger than marabou feathers. We will use raccoon fur (hair) for recipes in lieu of squirrel hair when tying the underwing of the traditional Muddler Minnow as well as the Marabou Muddler Minnow.

One of the deadliest flies in a streamer pattern for freshwater fishing is the popular Muddler Minnow. The fly was created by Don Gapen of Minnesota in 1937 and originated to imitate the small but big-headed spined sculpin. Therefore, to say that the Muddler Minnow has a long history is an understatement. This streamer pattern is doubtlessly found in most anglers' fly boxes in one form or another. However, I'd venture to say and even wager that they won't be found in notable numbers. And there is a very good reason for this. Actually, there are two explanations, for the flies are rather expensive to buy (especially when compared to simpler streamer patterns); also, Muddler Minnows can be somewhat difficult to tie, which brings me to an age-old adage: "Everything's easy once you know how."

What I have done over the course of years is to take the very best recipes and procedures for tying many variations of Don Gapen's original Muddler Minnow and incorporate them into a single, simplified whole. Well, simplified, that is, in the sense that I'll clearly point out the general confusion and then, together, we'll eliminate the problems that plague many flytiers when it comes to flaring, spinning, and shaping deer hair in order to form the overwing tips, collar, and head of this remarkable imitation.

First, let's consider the many possibilities in learning to work with deer hair in terms of the innumerable number of flies that this material can come to replicate. Stemming from the original model, which mimicked the sculpin, you can eventually learn to imitate a variety of aquatic and terrestrial forage. For example, stoneflies, leeches, crickets, grasshoppers, even mice. I say this with utmost confidence because once you learn the proper procedures for tying variations of the Muddler Minnow, you will be able to tie any number of the aforementioned deadly imitations. You are soon to learn several tricks of the trade for making fly tying (with that troublesome material) far easier and, therefore, more enjoyable.

The correct tools, materials, and procedures are most important for tying the Muddler Minnow as well as other flies that require the flaring, spinning, and shaping of deer hair. I'm sure you're anxious to begin tying the new variation of the Muddler Minnow. However, there is now a new program at Nor'east Saltwater where we writers will be limiting the length of our articles, writing shorter pieces over the course of the month or splitting up longer articles over a period of time. This new company policy is actually very good timing at this juncture because it gives you time to collect these needed materials.

Bob B's Variation of the Muddler Minnow
Freshwater Application


Hook No. 6 Mustad-Sproat –3 ex. long shank, bronzed
Fly-Tying Wax Overton's Wonder Wax is an excellent choice
Thread Danville's 4 strand rayon, or Danville's 210 Denier Flat-Waxed Nylon–color choice is yours
Pair of Matched Turkey Quills [one from a right wing and on from a left wing]; either mottled light or dark for tail and topwing
Mylar Tinsel rib (optional) not used in this recipe
Raccoon Tail for the underwing
Deer Hair Preferably from the belly section; natural color from the whitetail deer to form the overwing tips, collar, and head.

Note: mule-deer hair flares and spins more easily than whitetail deer hair because its western North American cousins' fibers are thicker; but not to worry. Whether you select deer hair from a bucktail or the belly of either species, we'll flare and spin the material most satisfactorily.

Wet ‘n' Wild Crystalic Nail Color for finishing the thread head–or another iridescent nail polish


Straight Scissors
Curved Scissors
Double Edge Razor Blades
Clear 1/8-Inch Inside Diameter Flexible Tubing
2-inch length.

To be continued. Until next time, stay cool.

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

April 01, 2014

North Fork's Fleshy Fungi for Seafaring Foodies

by Bob Banfelder

The Long Island Mushroom Company, Inc. of Cutchogue, abbreviated LIM, is owned and operated by John Quigley and Jane Maguire. They will soon be open to the public; however, you may purchase their gems on Saturdays from 11a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Riverhead Farmers' Market, located at 117 East Main Street in downtown Riverhead. After being open for only a month, the market had become so popular that there is talk of expanding and extending the operation past a projected May 17th date to year-round.

There are three types of mushrooms sold at the market: blue oyster, shiitake, and maitake.

Unlike the blue oyster and shiitake mushrooms, maitake mushrooms have no gills; therefore, they may be frozen whereas the shiitake and blue oyster mushrooms cannot. All three types can be kept seven (7) to ten (10) days on a center shelf, uncovered, in the refrigerator. They are packaged by the half pound in slit-wooden cartons for good air circulation; hence, do not place them against a wall of the refrigerator.

As the mushrooms are grown fresh and handled by the company in a controlled environment, they need not nor should they be washed. Everything has been done for you. Simply remove the cellophane wrapping from the top of the carton when you get home, refrigerate as explained above, and you are ready to prepare sumptuous fare—I'm talking gourmet quality. In a moment we'll look at a gourmet mushroom/seafood soup recipe I created that will wow your guests, but first a modicum of information referencing these marvelous mushrooms. It will help us to appreciate the efforts involved in cultivating this trio as well as justify cost, which, ostensibly, may seem pricey.

blue oyster mushrooms take five (5) to seven (7) days to grow. [$10 per ½ pound.]

shiitake mushrooms take seven (7) to ten (10) days to grow. [$10 per ½ pound.]

maitake mushrooms (also called hen of the woods, sheep's head, and ram's head) take seven (7) weeks to grow! Consequently, they command a higher price. [$15 per ½ pound.] In Japan they are referred to as the king of all mushrooms. Maitake literally means Dancing Mushroom, so named because locals who would find them growing in clusters at the base of trees would Dance for Joy. They are our favorite, not only for taste but because, as mentioned, you can freeze and use them as needed. Donna and I freeze them in individual snack-sized 6-5/8 inch x 3-¾ inch Double-Lock Glad Zipper Bag quantities to be used later in soups, salads, gravies, casseroles and stews. No need to vacuum seal and freeze them in our household because they fly out of the freezer in no-time flat.

The shiitake and blue oyster mushrooms may be dehydrated (dried) then rehydrated as needed by simply adding warm water. If you have your wood-burning stove cranked up this time of year, cut the mushrooms into narrow one-inch strips and place them on a raised open rack set atop the stove, monitoring them until they are dry—not dried out. After a couple of evenings, you may put them in an open glass jar so as to dry for an additional day. Then seal the jar with a lid and store in a cool dry place.

Another method is to spread the cut strips of mushrooms on kitchen paper (paper towel) placed within a roasting tray, allowing them to dry in an oven set on low heat. Again, the key is monitoring these morsels so that they are dry. If they are not dry, they will rot when stored. If they are too dry, they will crumble.

If you are leery about experimenting with the above methods, then keep things simple by planning to use your refrigerated blue oyster and shiitake purchase within seven to ten days. Again, keep in mind that you can achieve longevity by buying fresh maitake mushrooms and freezing these cluster gems for later use. Whatever you decide, you will convert an ordinary meal into an extraordinary repast.

In John and Jane's Cutchogue facility (or is it Jane and John's :o)), maintaining constant room temperatures along with humidity controls are vital for a favorable bloom. One type of mushroom may require a lower temperature and greater humidity than another. Quality control is key to suitable production.

Ready for my gourmet mushroom/seafood soup recipe? Here goes:

You can cheat by starting with a lobster bisque base put out by Legal Sea Foods, sold at BJ's. It is the best that I've tasted of the ‘already prepared lot' and is always available in the store's refrigerated section (dated with a "Use Or Freeze By" date approximately one month out). The bisque comes in two 20 oz. 2-packs. I usually prepare one container immediately and freeze the other. One container will net four servings after I doctor up the bisque.

Bobby B's Deceitfully Delicious Lobster Bisque
Serves Four


(1) 20 oz. container of lobster bisque
12 top-neck clams
12 jumbo shrimp
1 cup diced maitake mushrooms
1 cup chicken broth
¾ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon cream sherry ~ [deluxe quality] Savory & James
1 tablespoon butter
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
dash of ground gourmet-style peppercorns (black, green, white, pink) adds a nice touch
4 teaspoons chopped parsley
4 heaping tablespoons sour cream at room temperature


Shuck the clams as you generally would. However, for an added super presentation and ease in eating, I like to cook the clams so that each is wholly hinged by a single muscle. This way, they do not get lost in the broth when both cooking and serving. You can either follow this simple and appealing presentation or pass on it, handling the clams as you normally would. Your choice.

The flesh of each clam is attached by four adductor muscles; two on each side of its shell at the four corners. We'll shuck them so that only one of the four muscles holds the whole of the clam in half of its shell. If you're right handed, this is easily accomplished by holding the clam upright in your left hand with the narrower dimpled side facing downward and within the palm of that hand. You will note that there is a somewhat wider gap on the dimpled top side of the shell, making it easier to open. Open the clam by running the blade straight down from top to bottom. Disconnect two adductor muscles from the back half of the shell by cutting through them with the blade of the clam knife flat against the two corners of that shell, gently allowing the flesh to fall forward and lay into the front half of the shell. Discard the now empty back half of the shell, which will facilitate cutting one of the two adductor muscles from either side of the remaining front half of the shell. If you did this correctly, the whole clam is hinged together and held but by a single adductor muscle. This will stay together nicely, and your guests will see what they are getting.

Peel the shrimp down to the tail section. Bend and break back that sharp, pointed appendage at the base of the tail (telson). Gently pull upon the fantail-shaped flipper (uropods). This will facilitate in removing the remaining shell without breaking off the tail. It makes for a more pleasing presentation, especially in dishes where the whole section is being utilized. Here, however, we will be carefully slicing the shrimp lengthwise and removing the two so-called veins: one on top (its digestive track); one on the bottom (its nerve cord). Use a small, sharp paring or fillet knife. I love my Marttiini 4-inch fillet blade from Finland. Extremely sharp, so be careful. Wash the shrimp in cold water and set aside.

In an 8-quart pot, heat the bisque at a low temperature. [In just a moment, you'll understand why we're using such an oversized pot.]

Add the mushrooms, chicken broth, wine, sherry, butter, cayenne, ground pepper, and parsley. Stir well until the butter has melted.

Raise the heat source to medium. Do not allow the bisque to bubble. Stir constantly.

When hot, carefully place your clams into the liquid, stacking them in two layers. Keep spooning on the bisque broth until the clams are nearly cooked—not overcooked. Approximately three (3) minutes.

Add the shrimp and continue cooking for approximately one (1) minute more. They will have a slight twist to them. Shut the heat source.

Divide and evenly spread the sour cream into the bottom of the four soup bowls.
Upon the base of sour cream, carefully spoon out the clams with the attached shells. Three (3) per person.

Spoon out and add the shrimp. Six (6) halves per person. Better count evenly and meticulously as our guests squawk if they feel that the person sitting to either side of them has more shrimp or clam.

Ladle out the bisque into each bowl and serve immediately.

Accept all appreciative but garbled comments most graciously as your guests greedily spoon-feed their faces. :o)

[Next time, experiment with all three types of mushrooms for a special treat. I didn't want you to spoil your guests this first time around. Trust me in that you'll be doubling and tripling the recipe once word gets out.]

Bon Appétit.

A final word about the mushroom mavens, John and Jane: The two were once childhood sweethearts who rediscovered one another then reunited after thirty-two years.

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

June 01, 2013

A Powerhouse of a Baitcasting Reel in a Small Low-Profile Package

by Bob Banfelder

Let's take a look at a relatively new addition to Shimano's low-profile baitcasting lineup. The Curado E 300 Series, offered in either left- or right-handed models, is a high-performance reel boasting an ultra-smooth and powerful maximum drag setting of 15 pounds! That's some stopping power! Dartainium drag material offers a wider range of settings. The reel can easily handle lightweight to large baits effortlessly.

Several features and specs include Shimano's High Efficiency Gearing (HEG); a lightweight but strong aluminum frame that houses an extra-deep aluminum spool capable of holding 240 yards of 12-pound test monofilament (50 pound equivalent braid), which gives you a good idea of line capacity; 5 Shielded Stainless Steel Ball Bearings; 1 S A-RB (Anti-Rust Bearing) Shielded Stainless Steel Ball Bearing; 1 A-RB Stainless Steel Roller Clutch Bearing (for a total of 7 bearings); 6.2:1 Gear Ratio; and 28 inches of line retrieve per crank. The reel weighs in at a mere 10.5 ounces, carrying an MSRP of $250. Please bear in mind that when I write up a product review, it is not simply field-tested over a weekend or two. All equipment is put through a vigorous trial by ordeal in which Donna and I own and work these workhorses hard through the seasons. Flawless would sum up this gutsy Shimano Curado bait caster.

Can't justify spending $250, even for a fine powerhouse in a lightweight package? Seeing as how I am not in bed with Shimano, I can suggest having you purchase a top-notch rod to match that first-rate reel:

Matching Baitcasting Reels to Rods

Time and again, I see folks paying way too much money for fishing rods, whether it is a fly rod, baitcasting rod, or spinning rod. Quite frankly, you're wasting your money if you spend more than $50 on a baitcasting rod for the Curado 300E (right hand) or 301E (left hand) model. Shimano, Okuma, G. Loomis, St. Croix and Shakespeare Ugly Stik wands are rated as excellent baitcasting rods—but not necessarily in that order. However, all things being equal, the former four rods are priced far higher than the Shakespeare Ugly Stik that I'll be suggesting. We're looking at double, triple and quadruple the price for a comparable Ugly Stik rod. As you generally get what you pay for, folks automatically get talked into and/or simply reach for the more expensive rods. The fact is that the Ugly Stik (again, all things being equal) is tougher than the other rods that cost considerably more. You may gain a bit more sensitivity and wield slightly less weight with those more pricy rods, but they generally do not have the backbone of Shakespeare Ugly Stiks. Different strokes for different folks. Perhaps you can now justify putting the money that I hopefully saved you toward a superior Shimano Curado 300E/301 baitcasting reel.

In selecting a medium- medium-heavy action Ugly Stik baitcasting rod for the Curado E, look for double-footed, chrome-plated stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts and center bridges for extra ring support. Ugly Stiks simply can't be beat in terms of strength and durability. For the price, you will not likely find these superior type guides on other rods that command significantly higher price tags.

I couple the Curado reel to a single-piece Shakespeare BWC 1120 7' (2.13) MH Medium Heavy Action Ugly Stik rod (12–20 lb. Line Test). At the expense of mixing metaphors, I'm spooled with 120 yards of 20-pound test monofilament—loaded for bear.

Let's take an even closer look at some of the reel's other outstanding features. On the sideplate is a flip-key that easily accesses Curado's Variable Breaking System (VBS) in order to quickly change weight adjustments and/or spools. The reason that the angler can cast extremely lightweight lures is in the design of the Magnumlite Spool. Creative construction coupled with innovative drilling techniques produces a light, thin-walled yet super-strong spool that offers ". . . the lowest startup inertia ever in a Shimano reel," claims the company. With Curado's VBS friction adjustments, cast control is always under control. If you are experiencing a backlash with a particular lure, simply make the fine adjustment via the Variable Breaking System, comprised of six brake weights, which can be changed by switching all or combinations of the weights. Easy to follow instructions come with the reel. I can flip or pitch virtually weightless worms (artificial or otherwise) with great accuracy because of this noteworthy system.

Opposite the access plate is the Cast Control knob to lessen or increase spool friction. Between the two friction control systems (the Variable Breaking System and the Cast Control knob), backlashes [overruns] are eliminated. If a backlash happens at the beginning of the cast, it is cleared by the Variable Breaking System. If a backlash happens at the end of the cast, it is cleared by the Cast Control knob.

For instant hook-setting power, Super Stopper II anti-reverse employs a one-way stainless steel roller bearing to prevent backplay. Additionally, the Curado E 300 series features a backup system, Assist Stopper, utilizing an anti-reverse pawl and ratchet to positively eliminate failure. To paraphrase the company's claim, "Should the Super Stopper roller bearing fail to engage as the result of cold weather or over-lubrication, the Assist Stopper kicks in to provide a solid hookset the instant the roller bearing begins to slip. Most often, the angler will not even realize when this feature engages. By immediately stopping the backward rotation of the roller bearing, the Assist Stopper greatly reduces the chance of permanent damage to the Supper Stopper, allowing the feature to continue to function as designed."

The QuickFire II Clutch (thumb) Bar gives you control of both spool and clutch with the touch of your thumb by either disengaging the spool or reengaging the gearing.

Curado's handlebar knobs are comfortable, made of Septon CPD, a thermoplastic elastomer that offers an appealing tactile feel. A round-headed five spoke star drag is perfectly positioned behind the handlebar.

Note: An important word on right- or left-hand retrieve handles. On most fly and spinning reels, it's a rather simple procedure to convert from either right- or left-hand wind modes. On most fly reels, it's a matter of repositioning the pawl. Instructions generally cover this conversion. On most spinning reels, one can easily switch the handle from one side of the reel to the other. However, concerning all baitcasting reels, one must decide on either a right- or left-handed model from the onset, for there is no conversion option. Some reels only come right-handed. Occasionally, within a model series, several right-handed reels are offered whereas a left-handed option may be limited to a single choice. A word to the wise; be very careful in your selection.

I'm right-handed; yet, I purchased Shimano's Curado CU301 E left-hand model because I'm more comfortable cranking the handle with my left hand. All my fly reels and spinning reels are set up for left-hand retrieve. Our Penn 930 Levelmatics—along with a pair of ancient Penn Senator baitcasting reels—came with right-hand retrieve. Fine for dropping a line over the rail or trolling, but for continual casting performance, I do not like changing hands in order to retrieve a lure. That's just me. It's all a matter of preference.

May has been a fabulous month for stripers, blues, porgies, blowfish and weakfish in the Peconics: Little Peconic Bay and Great Peconic Bay. Referencing weakfish, many folks claim that when it comes to fine fare, they find weakfish to be mushy and therefore return them to the waters. This is not the case if you follow my recipe to a T. Here's the trick: Dredge them with flour, egg and bread crumb. Refrigerate for a couple of hours. Next, flour, egg and Panko them. Back into the refrigerator for another couple hours. Get your pan hot with Crisco, a little butter, a little olive oil; 3:1:1 ratio, respectively. Using strictly olive oil will be absorbed into the batter, making it—guess what? —mushy. Add thin-sliced garlic to the pan moments before the fish is done. Cut into the thickest section of flesh, finishing off the fish the moment the meat goes from gray to white. You want the fish flaky, not underdone nor overcooked. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley. The dish is fabulous; not at all mushy. Enjoy!

Note: Although I cook virtually all my fish with wine, I do not cook this dish with vino. However, a glass is close at hand. :o) :o)

Bob Banfelder is author of the newly released (April 2013) The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water, with blurbs by Lefty Kreh and Angelo Peluso. Bob is also an award-winning thriller writer; his novels include Trace Evidence,The Author (two-volume set), The Teacher, Knots (e-book), and No Stranger Than I. Visit; follow on Facebook @ Robert Banfelder and Twitter @RBanfelder.

May 01, 2013

Along with the Sound of Music, These are a Few of My Favorite Things

by Bob Banfelder

For freshwater fishing, the Gimp is my favorite fly for trout. Donna and I have caught brooks, browns and rainbows as well as a variety of panfish such as bluegills and perch with this fantastic wet fly pattern. I duped this 19-inch rainbow taken from Suffolk County's Connetquot River State Park in Oakdale, Long Island.

Pictured across the top of the following photo are one half-dozen Gimps ranging in hook sizes #16, 14, 12, 10, 8 and 6. Right below the set of hooks is my original mantis shrimp imitation (left corner), which initially turned out to be a bit too heavy for a fly but worked well with a light- to medium-action spinning outfit. To its right is my Green Grabber for saltwater applications. It was inspired by Erwin D. Sias' creation of his original Gimp fly. Adjacent to the Green Grabber is my Big Bull's-Eye fly. As what started out as a bit of tomfoolery, since I affix eyes to virtually every lure imaginable, my big-eyed pattern proved to be a venerable winner, taking nearly everything that swims in our bays.

The next four bunker patterns (adults and peanuts), ranging between 3- to 9-inches, have netted Donna and I some truly nice stripers, blues and weakfish. Two of the four patterns are a variation of Lefty Kreh's world-renowned Deceiver fly. The 4-inch bunker fly [pictured immediately above my 8-inch Dissembler streamer/bunker fly] is fashioned after Enrico Puglisi's Peanut Butter Family of flies. The materials that the man manufactures as well as the flies he ties and markets are absolutely awesome, accounting for some of Donna's biggest fish—along with bragging rights.

In the lower left corner is my significantly lighter 8-inch mantis shrimp fly that casts and tracks well. I managed to double the length to 8 inches while shedding 25 grains off its original weight; that is, 111.5 grains down to 85.5 grains. Tell me that's not an interesting weight reduction program. It took a while to come up with the materials to make this fly doable. Donna has also taken some respectable stripers and blues with this lighter variation as depicted in my March 1st, 2013 blog. With the exception of the original weightier mantis, these eight flies pretty much cover the gamut of both our fresh and saltwater fly-fishing applications for which we've enjoyed continued success.

With two exceptions, articles pertaining to the aforementioned patterns and their recipes are noted on my website under Publications at the top of the home page: Scroll the articles listed for the recipe(s) you're interested in, note the date of the magazine or blog publication, then log on to Nor'east Saltwater, and search their magazine postings and/or my blog postings.
For example:

Nor'east Saltwater, January 2013. "Mantis Shrimp Recipe for 7-inch Fly (Squilla enpusa) New & Improved" 1,900 words.

Nor'east Saltwater, May 1, 2012. "Gimp Gone Green: Transition from Freshwater to Saltwater Fly Recipe" 740 words.

Nor'east Saltwater, April 7, 2009, Volume 20, Number 4. Fly-Tying Series: Part III of a three-part series – "Fly Tying for Beginners" [Includes Bob B's Baby (peanut) Bunker Fly ~ Bob B's Black & White Big Bull's-Eye Fly] 3,300 words.

Nor'east Saltwater, September 3, 2008, Volume 19, Number 20. "Tying sizable Flies with Sythetics: Materials, Tricks of the Trade, Tools & Tactics" Eight-inch Sand Eel recipe. 2,250 words.

Nor'east Saltwater, March 1, 2005, Volume 16, Number 3. "Mantis Shrimp Fly Recipe" Tying instructions for the heavier (111.5 grain) mantis; better suited for light- to medium-action spinning outfit. 1,867 words.

Here is the recipe for my New & Improved 8-inch Dissembler Bunker/Streamer Fly—deadly as in a coffin nail.

Materials for Bob B's Lethal 8-inch Dissembler Fly

Note: Because some materials may be more readily available than others, I'm presenting a range of materials from which to select.

Hook: O'Shaughnessy Style 3/0 or 4/0. Gamakatsu and Owner hooks are quite popular.
Thread: White, 3/0 Orvis Saltwater/Bass Thread, Danville's flat waxed nylon, or Gudebrod Kevlar.
Weight: Lead wire (optional): .020, .025, or .030. Any brand name will do just fine.
Underbelly: White bucktail.
Throat: Red Supreme Hair by Wapsi, or red Fluro Fibre by Raymond C. Rump & Son, or red marabou, or dyed-red bucktail is also suitable.
Body & Tail: Wavy or crinkly synthetic fiber strands of eight, ten and fourteen-inch lengths, such as Wapsi's Supreme Hair, Orvis' Marabou Hair, or Spirit River's Slinky Fibre, or Cotton Candy fibers by Mirror Image, Polyfibre, or Enrico Puglisi's fibers; i.e., EP-Fibers, EP-Fibers 3-D or EP-Ultimate Fibers (available only in 8-inch, 10-inch and 12-inches—not 14-inches. Therefore, substitute 14-inch lengths with one of the above mentioned fibers). Try to obtain an assortment of colors such as light and dark shades of white, yellow, blue, green, brown, and gray.

Note: Enrico Puglisi fibers are not wavy and crinkly but work extremely well with this fly, too.

Flash: Copper.
Back: Peacock herl.
Eyes: 10-millimeter doll eyes; hollow or solid.
Epoxy: Five-minute, two-part Z-Poxy resin/hardener is my first choice. Any other two-part plastic epoxy should work well.

Procedure for Bob B's 8-inch Dissembler Fly ~ New & Improved

1. Behind the eye of the hook, approximately 1/8 of an inch, take several turns and tie in a section of lead wire (optional—depending where in the water column you wish to be), wrapping the weight neatly to the bend. Follow with the thread, back-and-forth, covering the wire and ending at the bend of the hook.
2. Take an eight-inch length of approximately ten strands of white fiber, wrap the thread around the middle of the stack at the bend of the hook, fold up and back onto itself; secure tightly in place.
3. Repeat the procedure with a fourteen-inch length of approximately ten strands of yellow fibers, wrapping the stack in front of the last section, folding it up and back onto itself as before; secure firmly in place. Note that from the front of the wrapped lead wire to the tail, the fly is approximately eight inches long.
4. Repeat step 3 with a ten-inch length of about ten strands of dark blue fiber. Wrap and secure as before, working fractionally forward, alternating among the long and short lengths of approximately eight, fourteen, and ten-inch strands until you reach the halfway point of the wire weight, moving through shades of green such as olive (back to eight-inches), light gray (fourteen-inches), to brown (ten-inches), perhaps a misty green (eight-inches). I finished with light blue (fourteen-inches) fibers. Most magically, you will see the streamer take shape.

Note: Experiment. Be creative. Learn what big baitfish are cruising your waters and when. The important thing is not to dress your fly too heavily. You want to achieve a profile of the baitfish with light refracting and reflecting off and through the materials. You do not want to present a mop head nor a brush that could be used to paint a barn.

5. Atop the last stack of fibers, tie in six strands of copper flash, about six inches in length. Trim.
6. Repeat the last step using peacock herl.
7. Rotate the vise 180 degrees (nice if you have a rotary) and tie in fifteen to twenty strands of three-inch long white bucktail at the center of the wrapped lead, extending the deer hair rearward along the bottom of the shank.
8. Tie in a small amount of blood-red throat material for the gills—beneath but only fractionally beyond the bend.
9. Again, rotate the vise. Wrap the thread forward to form a gradually tapered cone shape, working toward the eye of the hook. Whip finish and trim.
10. Epoxy the back of both doll eyes then press together on each side of the hook shank at a point just rear of the tapered head. Wait until the epoxy sets up then fill in the gaps along the circumference of the eyes. Epoxy the cone-shaped nose, making the Dissembler virtually bulletproof. Now, hold the fly broadside up to the light. Can you practically see through it? You're in business.

The only issue remaining, since I'm into sizable flies, is that I need something just short of a valise in which to carry them. However, I'll continue to sing the same refrain: These are a few of my favorite things.

Hope to see you at the Port Jefferson Maritime Festival this weekend May 4th and 5th. I'll be giving a talk both days at 2 p.m. re writing articles for the great outdoors, and Donna will address getting published. I'll have copies of my new fishing book The Fishing Smart Anywhere Handbook for Salt Water & Fresh Water available along with my award-winning thrillers.

Robert Banfelder
Award-Winning Novelist, Outdoors Writer
Senior Editor, Broadwater Books
Cablevision TV Show Host, Special Interests with Bob & Donna

March 01, 2013

Fly-Fishing & Fine Fare ~ Recipes for Success

by Bob Banfelder

A decade ago, on a beautiful summer morning, Donna and I took a fishing trip along the Peconic River to a spot just southeast of the 105 Bridge in Riverhead. I paddled our sixteen-foot canoe along the bank before putting a 9' #8-weight Scott rod coupled to a Super 8 Abel reel spooled with 100' of Teeny TS 350 Speed Sink/Floating Line (for rod sizes #8–10) into the anxious angler's hands. Anxious because she could cast well enough to send line and lure out to distances of forty to fifty feet, thanks to Dan Eng's tutelage. Dan was and still is the venerable fly-casting instructor at Eastern Flyrodders of Long Island. Dan had worked with Donna and me during pre-meeting sessions. Later, we continued with private lessons, having improved our casting techniques. Such clubs are fortunate to have talented folks like Dan as members.

I had tried several fly lines and am sold on Teeny Line, especially for beginners. The magic is in the marriage of a floating line matched to a sinking head. All one piece. No knots. No splicing. No hinging. Two colors determine its balancing point, so there is no guesswork as when to draw and shoot the line. When both colors extend approximately a foot past the rod tip, it's magic time. And talk about cutting through the wind; it's simply a breeze. I could easily sail an imitation out to eighty feet. But at that point in time, Donna was holding the goods. I had the paddle.

After a dozen casts toward and perpendicular to the shoreline, my better half spotted a swirl several yards out toward the center of the river, excitedly instructing me to "swing this banana about!" so that she didn't have to contort her body into position. Quite candidly, it's a tippy canoe, designed for cruising, not serving very well as a solid fishing platform—not by any stretch of those sixteen rockable feet. Not about to argue, I executed a powerful draw stroke, pivoting the craft parallel to a promising seam and another swirl.

Two false casts and Donna sent the six-inch bunker imitation several feet past yet another swirl. The first 30-foot section of 7-ips (sink rate) green-tipped sinking line hit the water and immediately disappeared. Thirty feet had been a lot for her to keep airborne, but she managed. Seconds later, on a moderate retrieve, five yards or so of red floating line suddenly tore across the bow of the banana as Donna set the hook. The canoe was headed toward a piling. The drag on an Abel is about as able as you're going to get. Smooth as silk and satin. The 8-weight Scott rod performed flawlessly.

"Rod up! Let him run," I hollered.
"It's making a beeline for the piling," she protested.
"Good. Maybe it'll knock itself out," I half-kidded. "He's turning."
"So's the boat," she brayed.

I knew Donna had hooked into a good size fish, maybe more than she could handle on a fly rod. "Stay with him," I commanded, like she really had a choice. Donna fought the denizen for a good two minutes.

"I can't hold him much longer."
"Oh, but you can and you will, or there won't be any supper for you."
"Then we'll go to Danowski's or Gallo's fish market," she threatened.
"That's not exactly what I meant."
"Oh, my God!"

The big fish jumped and splashed. Bigger than the cocktail blues she'd been getting on spin-casting lures. Bigger than schoolie bass, too. It wasn't a monster, but I knew it would break five pounds; that is, if it didn't first break the leader. The fish jumped again. A good-size blue I believed, although I wasn't really sure at that point—maybe a bass. Forty-five of seventy feet of red running/low profile floating line was now stripped from the spool, I guesstimated, totaling seventy-five feet in all. Slowly, Donna was gaining on him.

"He's getting tired," I offered encouragingly.
"Then he's winning the battle because I'm getting exhausted. Correction. I am exhausted!"
"Look! He's on his side," I offered encouragingly.
"Look! I'm practically on my knees."
I had net in hand. "Maneuver him toward the center—I can't reach him from here."
"I can't."
"You can."
"I hate you!"
"Take it out on the fish when you bring him alongside. Do it!"

[Note: We have this conversation every time Donna catches a decent size fish, except on charter boats where there are witnesses around. Fighting thirty to thirty-five pound stripers with conventional tackle, Donna simply hollers, "Whoa!" at the top of her lungs. Of course, she'll get a little help from a mate who'll repeatedly tell her, "You call out 'Fish on!' not 'Whoa!' You're fishing, lady, not horseback riding."]

The fish splashed and thrashed then dove for a final time before Donna had him alongside the canoe and I was able to scoop him neatly into the net. It flapped and pounded the floor of the canoe to the powerful pounding of Donna's heart, I'm sure. A beautiful twenty-four inch, five and three-quarter pound blue.

"Do we return him to the water or keep him?" I asked.
"My first real fish on a fly rod? Are you crazy? I caught him. I'll cook him. And we'll eat him tonight."
"Would you like to fillet him, too?"
"No, that's your department."
"I'm hooked. When can we do this again?"
"How about right now?"
"I need a breather. Besides, we've got to get this fish home now because you forgot to bring ice. How about tomorrow?"
"Tomorrow it is."
"I love you."
"A moment ago you hated me, you said."
"I did not."
"You did, and I'm going to record it in an article."
"I'll deny it! Folks won't believe you!" she declared.
"Sure they will. For all fishwives are liars, everybody knows."
"I'm listening."
"We'll go tomorrow, but we're not fishing from this tippy canoe. Alright? We'll take the pilothouse. Okay?"
"Okay. But you'll use a different line and lure; the fly I'm working on."
"You mean your mantis shrimp imitation."
"Are you going to make my favorite bluefish recipe tonight?"
"Done," she swore.

And she did. Here it is—the great irony being that Donna had at one time truly hated bluefish and anchovies before landing this marvelous recipe. It was given to us by Bev and Bob Johnsen of Southold; a dynamite recipe for any oily fish. I pass this on to you in memory of those two folks with whom we boated for many years.

Bluefish Bake


2 bluefish fillets (cocktail blues or larger are fine; amounts below are for the larger fillets—adjust accordingly)
5 anchovies
1½ cups of Hellman's Real Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place fillets in a baking dish. Drizzle olive oil on both sides of the fillets.
2. Bake fish for about 15 minutes or until flaky.
3. While fish is baking, mash the anchovies with a mortar and pestle and add the mayonnaise, mixing the ingredients well.
4. Remove dish from oven. Switch oven to Hi broil.
5. Smear the mayo/anchovy mixture over the top of the fillets. Place under broiler. The mayo/anchovy mixture will begin to bubble. Remove the fillets when the mixture is golden brown.

Bon appétit.

As a postscript, Donna did not take another nice fish on a fly rod the following day. However, with a bit of persistence, she did manage to nail an even bigger blue sometime later with my mantis shrimp design, but with a different fly rod and line set-up: a 9' #10-weight Temple Fork Outfitters, Lefty Kreh Signature Series 1, coupled to the same Super 8 Able reel, spooled with 100' of Teeny's 8 ips (sink rate) T-400 (Yellow/Brown) Speed Sink/Floating Line (for rod sizes 8–12). The T series 24-foot sinking section was a lot easier for Donna to handle than the TS 30-foot section, especially when casting a heavier 7-inch imitation.

Of course, I had to deal with Donna's continued abuse aboard Write On, having to constantly remind her that I am in command as the captain of our pilothouse vessel, which certainly carried a lot more authority than trying to convince anyone that I was the captain of the aforementioned canoe.

You can locate my mantis fly recipe in January's 2013 online magazine issue of Nor'east Saltwater. The article is titled Mantis Shrimp Recipe for 7-inch Fly (Squilla empusa) New & Improved.

February 01, 2013

Extraordinary Ordinary Folks

by Bob Banfelder

If I were to flash the name and face of Frank Mundus, and not just to devotees confined to shark fishing circles, Frank's name and face would certainly be recognized. Case in point: On July 7, 2008, Donna and I were having a dinner party on the back deck at our riverfront home. Among those invited were members and their families of Eastern Flyrodders of Long Island. I did not mention to the group that a world famous shark fisherman, Frank Mundus, might be attendance, for Frank had said he would try to come by after he finished up some business at Atlantis Marine World (since renamed Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center) in Riverhead. Shortly after everyone's glass was filled, a figure could be seen in the distance, steadily heading from the dock at Riverside Marina to our home. Several heads raised and stared in the man's direction.

"Jesus," one of our guests declared.

Not even close, I wanted to announce through a wry grin.

"He looks like . . . . Nah, it can't be!" another said.

"That's Frank Mundus!" said an old-timer with certainty.

"It certainly is!" exclaimed another.

I made the introductions all around, and Frank found himself a spot at a nearby table.

One of the fellow members, Nick Posa, knew quite a bit about Frank Mundus and his adventures through the years, especially relating to Carcharodon carcharias, the great white shark. Frank had been the template for Captain Quint in the movie Jaws. Frank loved the limelight, and the evening turned out to be a wonderful get-together.

Marvelous stories, jokes and laughter marked the occasion. Although Frank was the center of attention, he had to be on his toes with this group. It turned into a genial interplay of one-upmanship. Jokes turned from downright funny to absolutely hilarious. And it wasn't from the effect of any libations. Stories among all those present transited from stimulating to awe inspiring; the common denominator, the simple attraction?


It didn't matter if you threw flies at brook trout, albies, or chummed for serious sized sharks. The camaraderie among anglers is something most magical. Water is the medium; the mystery lies within.

When it comes to serious fishing, Nick Posa is one of the most knowledgeable folks I know. He's a member of Eastern Flyrodders, North Brookhaven Fishermen Club, and the Suffolk County Woodcarver's Guild. Nick is in his element and at the top of his game when discussing fish and fishing techniques. He is a man given to great detail, which I believe stemmed from his career in banking to his expertise both in wood carving and chip carving. Chip carving is an intricate style of sculpting, employing knives and chisels with which to cut away and remove tiny chips from a flat surface within a single piece of material, namely basswood, tupelo, mahogany and butternut—no, not the switch plate seen in the background—thereby creating unique ornamental designs as shown below, along with a couple of Nick's spinner baits.

Let's see how this carries over into his artistic ability as it relates to fly tying. But first I should mention that Nick is not a world famous figure like Frank Mundus. Nick is certainly recognized by his circle of close friends and acquaintances referencing those aforementioned clubs. However, he would not stand out in a crowd of anglers from around the country and be identified like Frank. Nevertheless, Nick's knowledge of fish, pan sized to pelagic species, is remarkable. Discuss manner and method with Nick, and he is at his personal best. Example:

When I was doing research for an article on Shimano's tackle systems during the early stages of development, specifically their Lucanus, Waxwing and Butterfly jigging systems, even before they became popular here in America, Nick was right up to speed. When he comes over for dinner occasionally, small talk soon takes a turn to terrific tales about fishing locally from his kayak, or fabulous stories after having returned from his friend's property upstate and the group with whom he fishes.

"So, Bob. What's going on around those docks by Atlantis?" he inquired one evening before dinner.

"Not much," I responded truthfully.

"No weakfish?"

"Nope," I added, shaking my head in the negative.

At which point Nick reached into a bag then handed me a 9-inch big-eyed spinner bait inclusive of a colorful trailer skirt that he had fashioned, tested and refined over a period of time, telling me precisely how to work the lure from my own kayak.

"Troll this at a knot to a knot-and-a-half along those dock pilings by the marina. They're there. They've got your name on them."

I wanted to politely tell Nick, "Been there, done that," but I didn't. I didn't because I had learned early on from this man that he spoke with great knowledge. That and the fact I hadn't given Nick's spinner bait its due.

Dinner had turned into a late night; however, I couldn't wait to give Nick's lure a try early the next morning. Not too many boats sat tied to those dock pilings as it was still pretty early in the season. Both dusk and dawn proved to be quite productive. Not only did I pick up several weakfish that entire week, I nailed several nice bass with Nick's lure. Many of us know to work in and around pilings, pitching or flipping all sorts of artificials. I would occasionally score. Trolling from my kayak with, admittedly, shorter spinner baits and leaders did not produce for me as consistently as Nick's lure and lengthy leader had and still does. The man was right. Those weakfish were surely there.

When Angelo Peluso's book came out in 2006, titled Saltwater Flies of the Northeast (photographs by Richard Siberry), I looked up three of Nick Posa's color presentations and basic recipes for tying: Gold Bead Albie, Lil Poppa, and Night and Day. Keep in mind that Nick is an artist. Keep in mind, too, that Nick is a detailed technician. There are certainly a lot of colorful presentments in Angelo's illustrious work; 369 of them in fact. Generally speaking, there are many patterns that catch fisherman. Angelo's array captures the work of 109 consummate fly tiers from 15 states. Nick Posa is one of them. Long Island is his home. Nick is an extraordinary ordinary folk. Pardon the oxymoron; I'm sure you get my drift.

Captain Frank Mundus was a colorful character—extraordinary in his own right. Frank reinvented himself to make a living for his family. He was loved by many, maligned unfairly at times by others. He was Donna's and my friend. Nick Posa is loved by everyone. In that sense alone, the man transcends the ordinary into the world of the extraordinary. He is most assuredly our friend, too.

I proudly wear a tooth taken from the jaw of a great white shark that Frank Mundus and his crew had bested. Too, both Donna and I proudly display our chip carvings crafted and bestowed to us by Nick Posa. For me, Frank's great white shark's tooth represents the world of water. Nick's chip-carving designs are symbolic of the woods. Woods and water make up most of my world, for I love to hunt and fish. When I'm not hunting or fishing, I'm doing what I'm doing right now: writing. Woods – Water – Writing. That's me.

Let's now take a look at Nick's black and white go-to fly illustration along with its recipe, in Nick's own words.

Hook: Eagle Claw #254 – #154 – 2/0 w/lg. eye

1. Wrap hook shank with mono thread.
2. At hook bend on top, tie in med. gray bucktail.
3. Tie in 6 strands of Glitter; two on each side; two on top.
4. On top of previous tie, at bend, tie in 3½ inch strand of dark green Ice chenille.
5. Wind chenille forward and tie off 3/16 inch behind hook eye.
5a) Trim chenille flat on top w/scissors so hackles can lay flat.
6. Using 3 black hackles, 3½ inches long, tie in behind the hook eye; one on each side; one flat on top.
7. Using red Kip Hair, make a small red beard behind hook eye on bottom.
8. Make head on fly w/red or black Mylar thread.

Can vary colors and size.
Can add red feathers, palmered at step #7.
Can use 6 hackles to add bulk to fly; two on each side; two on top.

I have copies of several black and white drawings and sketches Nick made of not only his own flies but of those he illustrated for other members of Eastern Flyrodders of Long Island; e.g., Dan Eng, Carlee Ogeka, and Richard (Doc) Steinberger. I treasure those illustrations as I do the chip carvings and tooth.

Below is a photograph of a tooth taken from that powerful pelagic; a 3,427 pound great white shark caught on rod and reel by Donnie Braddock aboard Frank Mundus' famed Cricket II, captained by Frank. When Frank passed away, I purchased the tooth from his wife Jenny, then had it crafted via a tapered shield with rivet and ribbed-tapered bale by Robert's Jewelers in Southold. Wonderful job! Wonderful objet d´art for display or to where as a necklace.

I have written several articles on Frank Mundus, Jeanette Mundus, the Cricket II and its new owner, Jon Dodd of Rhode Island. It is of interest to note that Jon is looking to donate or sell this most celebrated sport fishing vessel. I wonder where this boat will resurface. Perhaps Montauk. For Donna and me, Frank Mundus will always be in our minds and hearts as will all of our Extraordinary, Ordinary fishing friends and acquaintances such as Nick Posa.

May 01, 2012

Gimp Fly Gone Green: Transition from Freshwater to Saltwater Fly Recipe

by Bob Banfelder

The Green Grabber

My first fly-tying kit came with a sixty-four page booklet titled Practical Flies and Their Construction, written by Lacey E. Gee and Erwin D. Sias, illustrated by John Goettsch (Revised Edition), copyright 1966. I mention in my fly-tying articles to shy away from purchasing bargain-priced fly-tying kits. The vise that generally comes with such a kit is usually no bargain; this was true of my original purchase made nearly fifty years ago. In retrospect, however, that little booklet alone was worth the price of the kit. One particular fly recipe instructed readers on how to tie The Gimp, a deadly freshwater fly for trout. I had used that fly successfully for many years on Long Island, fishing the Nissequogue River, Connetquot River and Carman's River, nailing brook, rainbow and brown trout. I played around with the Gimp in ponds and lakes for bluegills and perch. Later in life, I plied the waters of upstate New York and Canada. The Gimp is one of my freshwater favorites. It is my go-to fly, rarely having failed me. The fly was Sias' creation. The pattern was initially published in an Outdoor Life magazine article titled They Go for the Gimp. Interestingly, a good many fly-fishing folks never heard of the fly, while others remember it vaguely. The Gimp is a lethal freshwater fly—a fly that comes along once in a great while. I had often wondered how it would fare in the suds.

Years later, I altered the pattern for saltwater applications, which proved pure dynamite on several species; namely, bass, blues, weakfish and even fluke. In lieu of employing the tiny dun-colored gimp feathers for wings, taken from the Lady Amherst pheasant, I selected a pair of metallic green, black-rimmed plumage from below the neck of the bird. Those lustrous feathers lend an iridescent color ranging from insect-like to killifish-like hues representative of anything from hoppers to mummichogs, respectively. Bass and blues especially love the Green Grabber.

Recipe for the Green Grabber


Hook: Owner hook #2/0 (turned-up eye)
Thread: Danville's Flat-Waxed Nylon – black
Body: single two-ply strand of blue-gray or brown-gray (dun-colored) yarn
Tail: several dun-colored hen hackle fibers (matchstick thin)
Wings: two (2) metallic green, black-rimmed plumage from the Lady Amherst pheasant
Collar: one (1) dun-colored hen hackle
Epoxy: two-part 5-minute Z-Poxy
Sally Hanson Hard As Nails-With Nylon (clear nail polish)


1. Atop the bend of the hook, tie in several hen hackle fibers to form the tail.
2. Tie in the strands of yarn and form a cigar-shaped body, leaving one-eighth inch behind the eye of the hook.
3. For the wings, place and tie in the two metallic green feathers, one atop the other, at the head of the tapered body.
4. Tie in a dun-colored hen hackle, winding it thrice around the shank, directly behind the eye of the hook.
5. Trim and whip-finish.
6. Brushing back the collar with the tips of your fingers to hold the fibers out of harm's way, apply pinpoints of epoxy to the thread wraps (a little goes a long way). Allow the thread to absorb the chemical.
7. For a glossy head finish after the epoxy has thoroughly dried (wait until the next day), carefully coat the head with clear nail polish.

If your budget allows, I suggest purchasing a full skin of the Lady Amherst pheasant so that you will have on hand a versatile assortment of feathers to cover both freshwater and saltwater applications. Also, you will have a wide range of sizes from which to choose in order to properly accommodate hook/hackle proportion. You will save money in the long run. In a dusty corner of an upstate tackle shop, I found a Rumpf & Son, Lady Amherst pheasant skin (no tail), #1 quality, for $10. I usually pay $9 for just a neck. Seek and you shall find bargains.

Presently, Flanders Bay, Reeves Bay and Great Peconic Bay are producing schoolie bass along with an occasional keeper. Tie my version of the saltwater Gimp fly and have some fun. Those around you will be green with envy. I've been most productive in the early morning and late evening hours. Stripped through the suds, the Green Grabber will become toothpick thin. Allow the fly to relax and open, strip it a foot, let it settle, strip it, relax it—and stand by.

April 12, 2012

Donna's First "Reel" Deal on a Fly Rod

by Bob Banfelder

Donna and I moved from Queens to the East End of Long Island in 1990. Having made the transition to saltwater fly-fishing after decades of freshwater angling, we eventually worked our area bays: Reeves Bay, Flanders Bay, Great Peconic Bay, Little Peconic Bay, Hog Neck Bay, Noyack Bay, Southold Bay, Gardiners Bay and beyond. Starting out one fine morning in June, we took a canoe along the southeast corner of Reeves Bay. I paddled the 16-footer along the bank then put a 9-foot #8-weight Scott rod with a Super 8 Abel reel spooled with 100 feet of Teeny TS 350 F/S 8-10 weight into Donna's anxious hands. Anxious because she could now cast well enough to send that line out to distances of forty to fifty feet, thanks to a fabulous fly line (especially for beginners) as well as casting lessons from Dan Eng, our venerable Committee Chair fly-fishing skills instructor from Eastern Flyrodders of Long Island. Dan has worked with Donna and me at pre-meeting sessions then later with our son, Jason. Dan has improved our casting distance twofold. We are very fortunate to have such talented folks such as Dan in our midst.

Early on I had tried several fly lines on the market and became sold on Teeny Line. Teeny fly lines offer a wide range of choices. Their T-Series and TS-Series in 24 and 30 feet, respectively, are fine places to start. Teeny's magic is in the marriage of a floating line matched to a sinking taper. All one piece. No knots. No splicing. No hinging. Two colors determine its perfect balancing point so there is no guesswork in where and when to draw and shoot the line. When both colors extend approximately one foot past the front guide, it's magic time. And talk about cutting through the wind, it's simply a breeze. I'd sail an imitation out to sixty feet. Later, with practice, practice, practice, I could occasionally add another twenty or so feet. But at that point in time, Donna was holding the goods; I had paddle in hand.

After a dozen casts toward the shoreline, Donna spotted a swirl several yards to the east, excitedly instructing me to "turn this yellow banana around" so that she didn't have to swing her body about. In all candor, it is a tippy canoe, designed for cruising, not a solid fishing platform by any stretch of those sixteen precarious feet—not like our sturdy Ocean Kayak Prowler Big Game Angler sit-on-top kayak, which we later purchased, designed, however, for a single soul.

Two false casts and Donna sent the 6-inch bunker imitation several feet just past a second swirl. The first 30-foot green section of 7-ips sinking line hit the water and immediately disappeared. Seconds later, on a moderate retrieve, five yards or so of red floating line tore across the bow, pulling the boat toward a piling as Donna set the hook. The drag on an Abel is about as able as you're going to get. Smooth as silk or satin. The 8-weight Scott rod performed flawlessly. For newcomers, I would recommend the Teeny T-300, 24-foot length shooting head because it's easier to handle.

"Rod up! Let him run," I hollered.
"He's making a beeline for the piling," she protested.
"Good. Maybe it'll knock itself out," I half-kidded. "He's turning."
"So is the boat," she brayed.

I knew Donna had a good fish. "Stay with him," I commanded, like she really had a choice. She fought the denizen for a good two minutes.

"I can't hold him much longer."
"Oh, but you can and you will or there won't be any supper for you."
"Then we'll go to Danowski's or Gallo's fish market," she threatened.
"That's not exactly what I meant."
"Oh, my God!"

The big fish jumped . . . bigger than the cocktail blues she'd been catching on spin-casting lures; bigger than the striper shorts, too. It wasn't a monster, but I thought it would break five pounds, that is, if it didn't first break the leader. The fish jumped again. A good-size blue. Slowly, Donna was gaining back line.

"The fish is getting tired," I offered encouragingly.
"Then it's winning the battle because I'm getting exhausted. Correction. I am exhausted."
"Look! It's on his side."
"Look. I'm practically on my knees."
I had the net in hand. "Maneuver the fish to the center—I can't reach it from here."
"I can't."
"Yes, you can."
"I hate you!"
"Take it out on the fish when you land it. I've got the net. Extend your arm like an outrigger, not straight out. Do it!"

The denizen splashed and thrashed then dove deep for a final time before Donna had it alongside the boat. I scooped it up neatly into the net. The fish flapped and pounded the floor of the canoe to the powerful pounding of Donna's heart, I'm sure. A beautiful 27 inch, 5¾ pound blue.

"Do we return him to the water or keep him?" I asked.
"My first real saltwater fish on a fly rod? Are you crazy? I caught it. I'll cook it. And we'll eat it tonight."
"Would you like to fillet it, too?"
"No, that's your department."
"I'm hooked. When can we do this again?"
"How about right now?"
"I need a breather. How about tomorrow morning?"
"Tomorrow it is."
"I love you!" she exclaimed with a smile.
"A moment ago you hated me, you said."
"I did not."
"You did, and I'm going to put it in a story one day."
"I'll deny it. Furthermore, no one will believe you."
"Sure they will. All fishwives are liars, everybody knows."
"You just reminded me."
"Of what?"
"We've got to take a picture for proof and posterity just as soon as we get back."
"Done. Are you going to make my favorite bluefish recipe tonight?"
"Done," she swore.

And she did. Here it is. The great irony being that Donna truly hated bluefish and anchovies before landing this marvelous recipe.

This recipe was given to us by, and in memory of, Bev and Bob Johnsen. It's a dynamite recipe for any oily fish.

Bluefish Bake


2 bluefish fillets (cocktail blues or larger are fine; amounts below are for the larger fillets—adjust accordingly).
5 flat anchovies in oil
1½ cups of Hellman's Real Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon olive oil


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place fillets in a baking dish. Drizzle olive oil on both sides of the fillets.

2. Bake the fish for about 15 minutes or until flaky.

3. While the fish is baking, mash the anchovies with a mortar and pestle and add the anchovies to the mayonnaise, mixing well.

4. Remove fish from oven. Switch oven to Hi broil setting.

5. Smear the mayo/anchovy mixture over the top of the fillets. Place under broiler. The mayo/anchovy mixture will begin to bubble. Remove the fillets from the oven when the mixture is golden brown.

Bon appétit.

Note: Presently, our bays close to home (Reeves and Flanders), are loaded with bunker and schoolies. We're having loads of fun with fly, spin and bait casting outfits. Bluefish, I'm sure, are right behind.

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