The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 12 - January 4, 2012

reel time

New year's resolution idea: Have a garage sale

On the eve of 2012, the first thing that comes to mind as I sit down to write this column is the New Year's resolution, that heartfelt promise I make to myself every year and somehow seem to put off to next year. This year, I got a head start when I decided to go through every drawer and shelf in my tackle room and see what I actually had.

While the exercise was illuminating and actually made me a few dollars at a garage sale, it was at the same time a bit humbling and embarrassing experience. Besides the old and unused lures, partial spools of line, rusted hooks in various stages of decomposition and dusty rods and reels, I realized that I had multiples of many useful items which I no longer needed. It occurred to me that "working on my tackle" had taken on a whole new meaning.

In the beginning, the process was intimidating, and often I would sit for long minutes looking at something I had not used in years, but still had a hard time parting with. In the end, it was liberating to just throw them into the boxes labeled garage sale. More than once I had to just turn my head and pour the contents of a drawer into the re-sale pile.

Once I really got into the process, it was fun organizing useful leaders, hooks, fly tying material, plugs and jigs in boxes and bins where I could easily put my hands on them. When the process was finished, I had shed several extra"wade fishing packs, a couple of pairs of old wading boots, two bait casting outfits, gobs of extra fly tying materials and multiple duplicate lures still in their convenient bubble packs.

Before the sale, I called several of my fishing buddies and let them wade through the boxes. Many found useful items and made me feel a bit better about having accumulated so much extra stuff. You never know what you'll find when you initiate a process like this, and as my friend Captain Rick Grassett picked out a few packs of fly tying material, he pointed out some colorful grizzle hackle.

It seems that these colorful barred feathers I was parting with had become extremely valuable. Their value wasn't from some new fad of tying flies, but because they had become fashionable as hair accessories. Grassett informed me that since Steve Tyler had shown up on American Idol with a feather woven into his hair, they had become a hot ticket. Those feathers were quickly removed from the garage sale pile and are waiting for a debut on eBay.

The day of the garage sale is the most important and hardest part of this shedding process. While putting all those items that have become useless to you over the years out for sale, you may suddenly start reconsidering your decision. It's important to show up for the pre-sale set up in your most detached and dispassionate state. Last but not least, during the sale, remember that these are items that you don't need and that have been cluttering up your life for too long.

It's important to sell then, no matter how cheap! At the end of the day I sent a lot of anglers off with smiles on their faces and had a lot more room and inspiration for the coming years' fishing adventures. Combining a New Year's resolution with a garage sale just might do the same for you. At the least you'll have a few more bucks for that new fishing tackle you've been yearning for.

Review: The Hell's Bay Biscayne

I have to start this boat review with a disclosure. I've owned a Hell's Bay boat for close to eleven years and I count it among one of my prized possessions. When I got a call from Captain Todd Fuller with an offer to try out the Biscayne, Hell's Bay's newest boat, I jumped at the chance. Not only was there the opportunity to drive and fish the new model, but  I would also have the chance to meet and fish with Captain C.A. Richardson, host of "Flat's Class" a popular TV show that airs on Sun Sports, The Sportsman's Channel and The World Fishing Network.

We launched at the Green Bridge in Palmetto and ran a smooth Manatee River to Snead Island Cut where we passed into Terra Ceia Bay and an early morning chop. After navigating the slow speed zone we put the Biscayne on plane and I got my first taste of the ride. The smooth progress the Biscayne made over that early morning chop reminded me of my Hell's Bay Guide 18.  As the day progressed we were able to run and fish the boat under varying conditions that gave me a feel for the evolution and intent of the new hull's design.

Later in the morning I poled Fuller and Richardson on a shallow mangrove lined flat in Miguel Bay. While the new boat is only 16'4" long as opposed to the 18'4" Guide I'm accustomed to, it weighs almost the same . As the wind began to pick up I noticed that it pushed the stern downwind as opposed to upwind, a definite advantage when trying to control a flats skiff in a stiff wind.  The boat tracked extremely well and was easy to control when I poled upwind and then down to pot holes in the bay. It didn't take long before C.A.'s bait casting rod to doubled up as a redfish crashed his top water plug.  Holding the boat in place so Richardson and Fuller could work the area was a breeze.  I was also impressed with the quietness of the hull as I listened for wave sounds and heard none even with the increasing chop.

After catching a few more reds and trout, I asked to put the boat thru some trials on the now rough waters of the open (Tampa) Bay. I ran the boat downwind, upwind into the chop and then quartered the boat into the waves to test the ride. I was extremely impressed both by the smoothness of the ride and the degree of dryness that the boat maintained. It was the first flats skiff that actually kept me dry under theses rather extreme conditions.  After talking to Fuller I learned that the boat had been designed expressly for the demanding conditions that Keys guides encounter. Hell's Bay designers wisely enlisted the help of some of the Keys best guides in developing a boat that would handle rough water crossings, pole silently to finicky bonefish and permit and keep the guides and passengers dry throughout the day. A boat that can handle those conditions will be a great fishing platform for most anglers.

Contrary to what you'll often hear, there is no perfect skiff for every condition. The Biscayne's draft at seven inches is almost three inches deeper than the two foot longer Guide, and the hull weighs just five pounds less.  If you're looking for a boat that handles four people on a consistent basis you might want a larger boat. However, if you're a serious guide or dedicated angler the combination of dry, smooth ride, tracking and quiet approach makes the Biscayne a serious contender for your attention. Area anglers who want to get the feel of the new Biscayne can attend a "Demo Day' in St. Petersburg on Saturday December 2, 2011. For more information contact Hell's Bay Boatworks at 321.383.8223 or check out their web site at Check out C.A. Richardson's "Flat's Class" on TV or at

The Hell's Bay Biscayne

  • Weight - 595 lbs.
  • Draft - 7" with engine & fuel
  • Length - 16' 4"
  • Beam - 70"
  • Recommended Power - 60 hp - 80 hp

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