Red Eye Wiggler, Jr.

Nice find at the Brooklyn Flea on Saturday…I saw two boxes of vintage Helin Tackle Co. flatfish casting lures. One had a flatfish and the other had a Red Eye Wiggler, Jr. I chose to buy the wiggler thinking it was made by Helin. Turned out to be something more interesting.

The Flatfish box, but something else inside...

Not a flatfish…

A nice surprise


The Red Eye Wiggler was made by Dr. Frederic Hofschneider, a Rochester, NY-based dentist, inventor, and holder of a number of “dental” related and lure patents.  Hofschneider patented the supposedly very effective “Red Eye” fishing lure in the early 1920s.

Dr. Hofschneider in 1913
Hofschenider practicing dentistry in Rochester, NY

The Red Eye Wiggler has eyes that to me, mimic the small mouth bass. The copper flash and those beady eyes ought to be DEADLY on Kensico this winter on the Lake Trout and Browns. I may be a fly fisherman mostly now, but I’m not above chucking a little steel once in a while, especially if it’ll land a world record Lake Trout as noted below…

via Montana Jim on Treasure Quest


Cross River Perch Fry-up

I have spent the last couple of years getting to know Kensico reservoir for my local fishing, and now that the weather’s turned and the ice is out, I was eager to get back out and fish for Lake and Brown trout. Now my buddy and I have gone out several times together and we’ve always been skunked–Kensico is a tough lake–but only when we fish together. Other times by myself, I always do alright. Determined to break the trend, we hit the lake again yesterday. Gorgeous weather, new gear, renewed hope, plenty of guys on the forums saying they were catching ’em and catching them big time, 8 lb lakers! But wouldn’t you know it, we get there and the lake is like glass–absolutely ZERO current. Any fisherman will tell you, no current, and the fish shut down. The guys trolling had better luck because they were able to get out into current in the middle of the lake or under the bridge.

After a morning hopping around to different spots looking for current, we decided to break from the norm and just fish another reservoir altogether. We drove 20 min. north to Cross River and the lovely little town of Bedford. After a brief stop at the local bait shop for some intel and shiners, we headed back out. Cross River is actually TWO lakes, a large body and small. The baitshop owner told us not to “overlook” the small lake, and I could see the small lake was getting plenty of current from an easterly wind. We hit it and immediately hooked-up with Perch. Stupidly, I threw it back saying “my dad would have killed me for throwing back a perfectly good perch.” After a few minutes we decided to go for the big lake and as I was pulling it in–hookedup with another perch. We stayed and hooked up with two more, and at that point, I kept ’em. We had a mess of eating-size yellow perch. Fired-up a school of them.

Now, I grew-up eating perch in Ohio and I am a fiend when it comes to these babies. They are work to filet (if you have a dull knife), but they are in my opinion the best panfish on earth. I fried-up the perch later that night with a touch of Old Bay and a homemade tartar sauce using Brooklyn Brine’s Whisky Sour Pickles, served with lemon wedges for the wifey.

Alas, my buddy didn’t catch a single fish though he did have several nibbles. To add insult to injury, I hooked up in just about the same spot with a 4.5 lb largemouth bass! It caught it casting parallel to a reed bed that just looked “bassy.” The LMB put up a good fight and I don’t think it had spawned yet and it was possible I had pulled it off a bed.

Well now that the season is really open, the plan is to get out early, often and to try more reservoirs this year. There are no less than ten within an hour and a half drive from Brooklyn. For the fishermen out there–Happy April, happy spring and tight lines!

The Boatman’s Manual

I’ve been thinking about getting a boat up on Kensico Reservoir, a Westchester County reservoir about an hour from my home in Brooklyn. Nothing fancy of course, as there are no motors (gas or electric) allowed, and the spots (tags) are hard to come by. You buy it, lock it up and leave it and bring your oars when you want to fish. Anyway, while I bide my time for a spot to come up and since its winter and the lake is frozen over til like March, I figure I’ll be ready. I picked up the Boatman’s Manual on my last trip to Vermont. About 90% of it is for the serious small “yachter” and although a Jon Boat is just a 12′ flat-bottom, the entire first chapter is dedicated to handling a boat under oars so I’ve gotten alot out of it already. I imagine any angler today could do with an easy to read and complete manual written with a practical point of view. Written by Carl Lane and published in 1942, the manual is concise, without narrative and well-illustrated.

Boatsman Manual with my Rogues Gallery Keychain

Blocks and Tackles

Nautical and Yacht Flags

…from Fall to Winter in Brooklyn

I woke up with with flu (day three) and snow flurries and howling wind. The cat, ninja, is somewhere warm. Despite that, it was a busy weekend as we transitioned from fall to winter in my house, and prepared for the holidays.

In the last week we polished off the leftover Turkey….

Turkey Pot Pie with Whole Wheat Crust
Turkey Chili with Andouil

Bought the tree…

Needs decorations...
Gold and Ivory color scheme by my wife

I bought French handblown glass ornaments from Darr’s Williamsburg outpost next to Hollander and Lexer. Darr is one the best curated home goods store I’ve ever been in. Vintage, handmade crafts, items. Also hit up LeGrenier but couldn’t find anything for the tree. Might hit Brook Farm General Store later…but all are good for Christmas gifts if you’re in the ‘burg and want to shop local.

box of glass ornaments at Darr
pictures can't do Darr justice

And we hit up Fairway to get food for my annual Festivus Holiday Party. I can’t believe this will be the fifth year.

on my menu so far:

  • Virginia Ham Sliders with Cranberry Korean Pear Sauce
  • Baked Brie with Strawberry Balsamic Jam (from Anarchy in a Jar)
  • Chips & Crudite with Brooklyn Salsa (the Burnt, and the Green)
  • Red Orchards Mulled Spiced Cider with ROOT (from Art in the Age)
  • “Hudson Valley Cold Snap” (Hudson Whisky & SNAP also from Art in the Age)
  • Applesauce Cake w/NY State Cortlands
  • Selection of Brooklyn Brews
  • Clementines
  • Candy Canes

Lastly, went up to Kensico to see if I could snag dinner (Lake Trout) but no luck. The coldfront was biting.

I don’t know what was up with my cellphone’s camera (a 8mb Droid X) but on “landscape” these images came out looking “posterized”.

Nice effect.

Kensico and a Passion Rekindled

I’ve developed a special place in my heart for Kensico Reservoir up in Westchester. Now, I live down in Brooklyn in a steel and glass box, but my closet is full of rods and tackle. After too long not fishing, I decided to start fishing again. It started two years back, with a guys-only family fishing trip to Lake Anna, down in Fredericksburg, VA where my brother is sooo lucky to live a mere 30 min. drive from. We got skunked all morning and then hooked-up with a bunch of tasty catfish. That’s pretty much all your gonna catch on a Pontoon boat. When I got back to NY, I realized I needed to bring fishing back into my life. Soon after, after I spent the night at my friends place in Long Beach, I caught my first stripers surf fishing. It was one of those “we weren’t supposed to catch anything” midday activities where you go and pull two +30″ at the wrong time of day–RIGHT in front of his apartment building. Sheer joy.

I grew-up fishing Lake Erie and waters all around the Cuyahoga, which is a spectacular fishery for smallmouth, walleye, perch. I have a fondness for a place called “Shadow Lake” outside of Cleveland, Oh. Not only did I catch my first rainbow there, I caught a dog (our family dog Duke–but that’s a story for another time). So, I’m a freshwater fisherman at heart. I was amazed to learn of all the amazing freshwater fishing within an hour’s drive of Gotham. Kensico, Croton, Armonk–all amazing, beautiful, well-kept secrets. These reservoirs are all state-owned, and incredibly well-regulated by the DEP. They are part of the Catskill Watershed that supply New York with our freshwater supply. There are no power boats allowed, no homes with big ugly docks, and these manmade lakes appear isolated and empty, blessedly devoid of human habitation…and then there are no paths and piers  either. If you want to explore the reservoirs you’ll need to buy and stow a rowboat on them. The permitting process isn’t complicated and I’m seriously considering putting a boat on Kensico. Its just a gorgeous reservoir. Actually, the reservoir was built in 1915, damming the Bronx river. In some places its over 60′ deep. And that means good habitat for Lake and Brown Trout, also, largemouth and smallies. The trout are stocked but the bass population has settled in on their own I think. The remains of the town of Kensico are somewhere at the bottom of my favorite lake.

Kensico Dam this is one of the most impressive dams I’ve ever seen. Also, there’s a lovely little park right in front. On the way up to the reservoir, you start climbing a road up the valley. You get wonderful glimpses of the lake through the woods, and if you look carefully, you’ll see “jonboats” tucked up in the coves. Here’s the dam being built 95 years ago…hmm, the centennial is coming up. Hope they celebrate this amazing work of engineering.

I’ve pulled some gorgeous smallmouth bass out of Kensico, right off the bridge on Rye Lake… the place is flush with smallies and yes, these suckers fight. I hauled in these aggressive ones going after my stickbait as a massive school of shiners was swimming up back and forth. Two of these babies leapt clear out of the water. I did make a mistake with these though–I kept them before the season was open. Some of my fishing buddies scolded me for that one–always check your season dates. I didn’t mean any harm, but there’s a reason for the season, not to mention the DEP could have busted my ass. Oh, and you’ll need a fishing license, AND DEP reservoir permit, if you intend to fish the reservoirs. The DEP really does check. They’ve got powerboats on the water.

It took me three trips to land my first “Laker” (Lake Trout). Kensico isn’t an easy lake to fish, it take patience and getting to know the other fisherman, the holes, the season.

Lately, I’ve been flying up to Boston almost every week for work. Its a 35 min. flight that takes you up the coast over Westchester into Connecticut and into the Boston-area. On a clear day, its quite lovely. I always sit on the left side of the plane so I can get a good look at the reservoirs and lakes from the air. I spot Kensico, note my favorite holes, the bridge and smile. Last week I was up in Boston again for an “offsite”. I brought the rod and my tacklebox. I figured if it sucked I could bolt and maybe throw one in the Charles River, but it was not to be. On the drive home, I realized, however, that my route would take me right by Kensico. I had about thirty minutes before the sun set. I whipped off 684 and high-tailed it down to the bridge. Nine casts later I hooked up with something big. I figured it had to be a carp but as the fish came up I realized I was on to my first Chain Pickerel. Gorgeous. Rows of sharp teeth. Catch and release. I didn’t have my camera, but I’ll never forget it. Here’s a fine example.