Got the fishing bug real baaad

It started with a vintage rod in the corner of an antique store

Five years ago at the The Armory Antique Marketplace on Thames Street, in Newport RI, I spied and fell in love with a beautiful vintage 1970s era Fenwick 660 IGFA 80 lb rated, with a tried and true, USA made, Penn Senator High Speed 6/0 reel. Since then, the Sailing Hall of Fame was wrenched from my home town of Annapolis, MD and will be opening in the Armory this year.

This combo has been my magic wand since the Gulf Stream when we caught our first mahi mahi and black fin tuna. Over the years, she delivered steadily through rain and saltwater. We’ve caught two barracudas, big eye jacks, sierra mackerals, and a bait fish here and there with this vintage combo.

She was time for some TLC, so I bit the bullet and sent it to the local chandlery, Abernathy’s. They were to replace the old frozen butt with a new curved AFTCO 4C unibutt (the old one had bonded with the reel and had to be amputated in order to maintain the reel).

Is it cultural, misogyny or what?

During the 3 weeks it took to go back and forth from Colon to Panama City, dozens of Whatsapp messages, and ultimately ended in a small shouting match with an unpleasant lady when I finally went to pick my combo up. Indeed, a new unibutt was installed. But, while the rod was rated 80 lb, the tech decided for me without consulting, to downside to a 2C butt sized for a 30-50 lb rod; telling me, Si when I asked whether it was the 4C, the size correctly rated for the 80 lb rod. The tech also apparently knew better, so chose to put on inexpensive 50 lb monofilament line, instead of the good Suffix 80 lb spool I provided with the rod. When I went to pick up the rod, they wanted me to pay for the full spool of 50 lb monofilament. While they said they’d clean the vintage Mildrum stainless steel rollers, they clearly didn’t, and when I asked, she pointedly said, they were worked on.

Indeed, I am told this is how things work in many countries. The tech knows best, not I.

Is this how they work with everyone, only expats, women? I don’t know. What ever I asked, they messaged me “Si” (yes) and then did what they wanted to do.

Now I’m an expert though!

As a result though, I took a day to take apart the Mildrum rollers, and worked on them for another day in order to get them all apart, cleaned, and rebuilt.

Between Ballistol, PB Blaster, and heat, everthing got cleaned, reoiled with Penn oil, and now work better than ever!

Fishporn from

I’ve become a devotee of Matt Watson at His video “Getting Started in Game Fishing” taught me how to plait a double top shot, and how to use a San Diego Jam knot to tie the Eagle claw barrel swivel with safety snap to the leader.

New Shimano technology being added to the spread

I shipped this new reel in from the US, lining the box with Lindt chocolate in order to maximize the weight allowance in the box! Keith at has been a mentor over the years. I highly recommend folks visit his store in Annapolis, MD or Ocean City, DE.

I’m waiting on a Diamond splicing needle before splicing a top shot 80 lb mono to my 65 lb hollow core braid waiting on my brand spanking new Shimano rod and 50 RSLA reel. But, I followed Matt’s advise on how to mount the reel to prevent dissimilar metals bonding in the future.

Oh, forgot the spear gun!

Before we left the US, I’d been hankering for a spear gun, so for our 27th wedding anniversary, we purchased a Pathos 100 mm speargun from Andrew at in Florida.  

It took a while to select the right one, because you need a LOT of arm strength to pull the 5/8″ rubber speargun bands (like thick surgical tubing) down the 6.7 mil thick shaft and I didn’t have enough strength to make it another 20 mm for a speargun that would be better for hunting deep water fish.  Since it’s likely that more of my time will be hunting reef fish anyway, Andrew convinced me that the 100 mm was a most excellent choice, and it could shoot the smaller pelagic fish should I venture farther out.

Adventureman Dan is the man

Daniel, aka Adventureman Dan, offered to help set up folks gear who were new to spearfishing. Don and I hosted the seminar on Enjoy which easily supported the group of 12.  Not only did Dan look at each of our rigs, and set them up so we wouldn’t lose our spears after shooting them, he taught us how to practice our shots, and maintain our gear.  Now to find an empty gallon milk jug, fill it with sand, hang it from the bow or float with a weight, and practice shooting at it while Don raises and lowers it!  Fun for the whole family.  Dan was extremely generous with his freediving and spearfishing time and knowledge.  For those who wish to see what it’s like freediving and catching large pelagics, check out his Youtube videos.

Dan showed folks how to properly grab lobsters and stone or other other crabs from their hideholes, and served up a yummy meal of fish frame with lobster and crab consumme, poke from the yellowjack, and grey snapper fillets and collars, and the lobster and crab eaten chilled which we picked through very throughly from head meat to tail meat.

We are so ready for the Pacific!

Stay tuned for our fishing exploits but below is a montage of a few fish we’ve harvested so far.

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