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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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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
https://www.robertbanfelder.com

Award-Winning
Crime-Thriller Novelist & Outdoors Writer

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

Cablevision TV Host Special Interests with Robert Banfelder & Donna Derasmo

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




October 15, 2015

Fishing Shinnecock East County Park

by Bob Banfelder

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

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



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







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



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

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



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

September 20, 2015

Lethal Versions of the Celebrated Muddler Minnow Part IV of IV

by Bob Banfelder

Fine-Tuning Your Muddler Minnow

Obviously, a heavily dressed Muddler Minnow fly will prove more buoyant in the water column. Keep in mind that a Muddler Minnow is a streamer fly. Therefore, you want it swimming somewhere below the surface. I control depth, somewhat, by the shape of its head. A cone-shaped head will allow it to sink a bit then bob back up as you strip in line. A big rounded head will keep closer to the surface. In any event, you want the fly to push water so as to invite a strike. To reiterate, this is a proven deadly streamer fly. Rather than have one or two in your fly box, I'd suggest tying several in different sizes for different applications such as still waters, slow-moving water, or fast currents. Once you gain confidence in tying this fly, you will only be limited by your imagination in creating your own variation(s).

Fooling Fish in Sweet Water & the Suds

Here is a short list of freshwater fish that Donna and I have fooled with my raccoon overwing variation of the Muddler Minnow: trout (brook, rainbow, and brown), bluegills, crappie (both black and white), pumpkinseed, yellow perch, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, rock bass, pickerel, and pike. I vary stripping speeds and pausing times, for nothing is written in stone. When one technique does not work, try another.

In the saltwater column, I have caught any number of fish that swim in our local Long Island waters—mainly bluefish, striped bass, weakfish, and even fluke. I tie a larger variation of the classic Muddler Minnow, attributing its success to a bushier raccoon underwing. Again, a Mylar tinsel rib is optional. In lieu of Mylar tinsel ribbing material, I use several wraps of .035 lead wire solely to help weigh down the fly in the saltwater column. Simply tie and secure one end of a short length of wire directly in front of the raccoon underwing (see Part III step-3 recipe). Wrap the thread back to its forward position. Wrap the wire forward to meet the end of the thread and secure with a few half hitches. Cut the wire with a pair of wire snips (not your good scissors) and secure. Continue with step-4 in Part III. I generally use a long shank 3/0 or 4/0 O'Shaughnessy style stainless steel saltwater Mustad hook. A package of 25 3/0's will run approximately $10.


Saltwater Version of Muddler Minnow on 4/0 Hook

Raccoon Tails & Pelts

Buying traditionally tied quality Muddler Minnow flies from reputable companies can easily cost several dollars each because those flies are more involved to tie. Give yourself the added edge and tie my Muddler Minnow variation by using raccoon tail hair in lieu of squirrel hair for the underwing. This added step is the magic in the water column; ostensibly innocuous yet a powerful attractor. Tie a variety of sizes and save considerably. An assortment of effective freshwater and saltwater flies is not only tied with hair from raccoon tails but with furry zonker strips from their pelts. Quality raccoon tails run $3.50 on average. Raccoon zonker strips run about $7.00 for a narrow 14-inch length. Caliber raccoon pelts range between $16 and $20 dollars. You might find it interesting as to how I obtained my supply of raccoon material:

Donna and I had some pesky raccoons bordering our property, several actually residing under the back deck, creating nightly havoc ranging from ravaging vegetable and flower gardens to somehow getting into supposedly critter-proof cans of garbage. Those pesky critters became the bane of our existence. We went from pest control by employing a Have-a-Heart trap to the more serious pursuit of vermin elimination.

Out-of-the-box accuracy with a quality pellet air rifle was the ticket. Namely, a German made RWS Diana 34 T06 .22 caliber precision Classic. It was a wise choice. With open sights, shooting RWS Superpoint Extra Field-Line lead projectiles, I sent three 14.5 grain pointed pellets through virtually the same hole on paper at 35 yards! Although my group was as tight as a swollen tick, I needed to drop down and over to the right several inches in order to put lead through the very center of the black bull's-eye. Two fingertip adjustments of the elevation knob put the next shot parallel to the edge of the black center. A fingertip adjustment of the windage knob moved me into the black, but not its very center. A second adjustment put me dead center into the bull's-eye. Happy–happy. Now, was I lucky, or could I widen the same hole with two more pellets as I had done initially? I did. As a matter of fact, at first appearance, it seemed as though only two pellets found their mark. However, on careful examination, I could see that all three pellet holes embraced one another. Hence, those pesky creatures would not and did not suffer, for they were humanely dispatched.

This


R & R: Rifle & Raccoon Result

Plus This


Muddler Minnow on Sage #8 Weight Fly Rod & Pflueger Trion Reel

Equals Fish Like This


30-inch Striper


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

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: www.robertbanfelder.com. 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, www.noreast.com 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
www.robertbanfelder.com

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."
"Happy?"
"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."
"Listen."
"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."
"Yep."
"Fine."
"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


Ingredients:

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

Preparation
:

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.

www.robertbanfelder.com

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?

Fishing.

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.

Note:
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.

September 01, 2012

KEEN ON KAYAKS

by Bob Banfelder

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

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



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

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

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

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

SIT-INS


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

SIT-ONS


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

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

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

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

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

**********




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


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

May 15, 2012

Mantis Mania

by Bob Banfelder


It wasn't long after I entered the realm of saltwater fly-fishing that I upgraded from an 8-weight fly rod so as to tackle sizable striped bass and big blues. It didn't take me long to discover 32- to 42-inch prowlers, on average, patrolling our North Fork area bays. I'm talking 18- to 30-plus pound beauties that had me run out to my tackle shop and upgrade from an 8-weight to a 10-weight rod. Not that a #8 or #9-weight couldn't handle the job. I simply wanted a saltwater fly rod with a bit more backbone. I find a #10-weight to be the perfect rod for big bruisers in our area bays.

I penned an article for Nor'east Saltwater in 2005, titled Striper Secrets on a Fly Rod. The secret is out; Mantis Shrimp are certainly in. Schoolies on a fly rod are positively fun. Twenty-pound and up linesiders are absolutely awesome on the long rod. Make no doubt about it.

One of the many so-called secrets to successful striped bass fishing lies within the stomach of that fish, or any fish for that matter. As with freshwater angling, match the hatch and you'll hook up. Use the fly that you had success with last season or even last month and you may return home swearing that the bite was off—or just plain swearing. Those fish were probably there all the while. Your imitation bunker, sand eel or Deceiver merely let you down . . . not down to the depths where the fish were, but to what Morone saxatilis's (Mr. Striper's) meal preference was that day. Case in point:

On November 7th, 2004, I left the dock in a small inflatable with a net longer than the tender. I landed a nice 35-inch, 17½-pound striper on a live eel. That linesider was for the dinner table I had decided. It would nicely feed a number of guests. After filleting the fish, I made it a point, a sharp one in fact, to perform the necessary 'autopsy' in order to ascertain what was really on the menu that morning; in other words, the Special of the Day down in a 5-foot column. Was I ever in for a surprise! Twenty-two undigested mantis shrimp filled the linesider's stomach. The crustaceans had segmented bodies, were 3- to 4-inches long, ¾- to 1-inch wide, and ½-inch thick. They can actually reach a foot in length. I photographed the dark gray-brown creatures and was subsequently surprised to learn that our bays are full of them and have been for years. Mantis shrimp are not a true shrimp, and I'm told you wouldn't want to eat them. However, stripers love them. These stomatopods receive their name from a set of forelimbs fashioned after the praying mantis. Interestingly, they are referred to as the Karate Kid of the marine world, for with a single strike they can crack the thick glass of an aquarium tank. There are two basic types of mantis shrimp: smashers and slashers. Inexperienced divers learn this lesson the hard way when handling these strange creatures. They are commonly referred to as knuckle busters and finger slashers, respectively.



During a fine spring evening, I experimented with both a bait casting rod drifting a small eel, and my #10-weight fly rod, shooting a mantis imitation toward the shoreline. I was somewhat surprised at the results. No fish took the live eel; yet, I hooked up, landed and released four more striped bass in the 19 to 40-inch category within a 2½- hour period on an outgoing tide, all on the same mantis fly imitation, sharpening the hook between fish for insurance.



Lefty Kreh has more than eighty shrimp patterns in his book titled Salt Water Fly Patterns. That ought to keep an enthusiast busy. Tie and try one on for size, approximately four inches, and you may be in for a surprise.

*****


Artificial flies and lures often amaze some folks that Donna and I take fishing—folks that swear by live bait, solely. Yesterday morning, May 14th, after removing a couple of eels from our trap then snagging a few bunker in both Reeves Bay and Flanders Bay, Donna and I headed east toward Great Peconic Bay. We spied terns working in the distance. Moments later, we were upon a school of good size blues cruising along the surface. They wouldn't take eel that morning. They wouldn't take our fresh, lively menhaden, straight from the livewell. Go figure. Our go-to lure for bass and blues in such a situation is a Kastmaster with eyes that I epoxy to the tin. Donna and I took a good number of five to six-pound battling blues that Monday morning, releasing all but two for the table.



Our North Fork area bays are loaded with some very big porgies this year, too. Reports from friends fishing from Gardiner's Bay to points west are scoring with keeper bass and fluke. May is the month when the fishing scene explodes. Find or make the time to get out there and enjoy the good life.

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




Materials:

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)

Procedure:

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.








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