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    While there are many anchor trolley articles and videos out there, no one seems to have any ideas as to how or where we store the anchor line. I've seen people make some sort of line storage "system" that consists of wrapping it around a piece of PVC pipe, or some sort of hand crank contraption by some well known brand name label. I'm being honest here, but some of these ideas are either really cheap, or really super expensive. And, for some people like myself, I'd want something that compact and easy to make - without adding unnecessary weight.

    So, here's what I use, and it won't cost a whole lot to make.

    Whether I'm fishing saltwater with tidal currents, or freshwater with windy conditions, there are some instances where I just want to stay put in one spot. I currently use a 5 lb. grappling-style anchor and a package of 550 Paracord 50 ft long. But, rather than keep the paracord in my lap, I use a unique retrieval system that I bolted onto the side of my gear crate.

This is my gear crate. After a 2 year absence, I plan to re-install my anchor line retrieval system in the same spot as where the old one was. It seems to work well there. You may want to put your crate on your kayak to see where you want to install it.

Photo Credit #1: Jeff Hall

This is a retractable clothesline unit that I got at Home Depot for about $30. There are two kinds - one is rated at 20 ft long, and this one, which is rated for 40 ft long. I chose the longer 40 ft one because I will be attaching about 50 ft of 550 Paracord to the existing line. The paracord is incredibly strong and really doesn't take up a whole lot of space inside the wheel. You won't need the hardware.

Photo Credit #2: Jeff Hall

The reel already comes with vinyl coated line - which takes a lot of room inside the reel. I pulled out 39 ft of cord and wrapped the cord on the cleat to hold it in place. I then held both the vinyl cord and paracord at the same time and just tied a simple knot. I cut the excess cord on both pieces and left about quarter inch from the knot.

Photo Credit #3: Jeff Hall

I lit ends of both cords. When the flame it got near the knot, I blew out the flame and used the flat end of a screwdriver to flatten the ends of the cord. This is crucial to help keep your cord from untying itself. The flattened ends will prevent the cords from slipping through the knot. Trust me, it works really well, and I've never had a problem since.

Photo Credit #4: Jeff Hall

Here's a close up of the flared cord ends. Even if the ends melt together, this is even better as it will make it impossible for the knot to unravel itself.

Photo Credit #5: Jeff Hall

If the plate looks like it's upside down, it is. The reel has its own cleat built in UNDER the reel. For my tastes, I prefer to have the cleat on the TOP. I used 4 stainless steel screws and 4 stainless steel locking nuts.

Photo Credit #6: Jeff Hall

 To keep the reel firmly in one place, I used a piece of scrap aluminum plate from an old road sign. The road sign was purchased at a local flea market for $10. I started with two bolts in the existing bracket on the reel and secured them in place. Then, I drilled from the inside of the crate on the other two holes that were used on my last crate and secured those other two bolts.

Photo Credit #7: Jeff Hall

      I stopped at a local ACE Hardware/True Value store and found this brass clip. Brass is extremely durable and great for saltwater use. *Pro Tip - Can't find a brass clip at your local hardware store, a marina shop might have something similar, or anyplace that services sailboats.
Just be sure to keep the clip sprayed with WD-40 so the spring & clasp doesn't get corroded.

     *NOTE: Depending on your anchor choice, you may want to bring your anchor with you when choosing the right clasp. The clasp should be able to move freely when attached to the anchor.

Photo Credit #8: Jeff Hall

My friend Mo shows how the anchor line retrieval system is used in conjunction with a anchor trolley. On her crate, the reel is near the front of her crate. This is due to the fact that she has a shorter arm reach than I do. I have longer arms, so I chose to put my reel near the back of the crate.

Photo Credit #9: Jeff Hall

You don't have to use the cleat on the top of the reel housing if you already have a cleat on your kayak. This works out great for her. When you're done with the anchor, you pull it up, disconnect it from the line, and the spring inside the reel automatically retracts the line for you.

Photo Credit #10: Jeff Hall

So, there you have it. My "not-so-secret" anchor line retrieval system that I've been using for about 5 years now. When I rolled a few years ago in the saltwater, the salt damaged the reel spring inside. I bought another 40 ft clothesline reel and repeated the same process as above. A small price to pay for an inexpensive system that works well. It has saved my hide a few times from getting caught up in strong currents going out a breachway. The line is super strong and extremely durable and holds up well. You shouldn't have any problems in freshwater either.

Until then, keep those lines wet & tight! - J
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    For those of you who already have a 6 inch hatch on your kayak, this may be the upgrade you've been waiting for!

    I bought a used 2013 Feelfree Moken 14 a few years ago. It was Feelfree's first foray into the world of "Big Game/Offshore" sit-on-top fishing kayaks. The previous owner told me that he paid well over $1400 for that kayak - a huge difference in price, since I paid just $500 for it used. I had seen his kayak at a "Meet & Greet" with our kayak fishing club in Rhode Island earlier that year in 2017. He mentioned that he was selling it due to a shoulder injury and that he could no longer lift the kayak to put it on his car. As I was doing a visual inspection of the kayak, I mentioned about the structural cracks on the hull's topside, some of which were long and wide. He never said anything as to how the hull became cracked, only that he said it didn't hurt the performance of the kayak on the water's surface.
    Later on that same year, I emailed him on our private message board, and asked if the kayak was still for sale. He said, "Yes, I still have it." I told him that I wanted to buy it, and he mentioned he would let it go for just $500 (he was asking $750 at the "Meet & Greet"). This included the extra comfy seat (a $250 value), and a rod holder. The paddle, he was going to keep, for his other kayak. And so the process of repairing the cracked hull was underway during the Winter of 2017/2018. When I finally finished the plastic welding of the damaged hull, I went on a search to upgrade the rear 6 inch hatch. Though, it was waterproof, I didn't care for the way it opened. Not that I will ever use this hatch on the open water, but I wanted something similar to Hobie's "Twist & Seal" hatch.

    I checked out an online store called, "Wish.com" - a great site to consider when shopping for products like the Hobie-style "Twist & Seal" 6 inch hatch (they also come in 8 inch sizes too). Like the Hobie-style hatch, it uses a small "T-Handle" that twists 180 degrees and opens up with a one-handed operation. Unlike my old hatch, a quarter turn of the cover, and the hatch cover pops off and is tethered with a small cord.
     So, this article is: "How to Install, or Upgrade, your 6 inch hatch with a Hobie-style Twist & Seal Hatch".

This hatch is the one I will be upgrading. I found a vendor on Wish.com that was selling a 6 inch Hobie-style hatch for just $10. Hobie sells their 6 inch hatch for $50! I bought three 6 inch hatches for $30, plus shipping for $18.96, and STILL paid less for the $50 Hobie version!
Under the cover, there hides 6 screws, each one has a lock nut attached on the inside. 

Photo Credit #1: Jeff Hall

Though the new hatch looks bigger, it isn't. The new hatch comes with a thick neoprene gasket that will aid in the waterproof capabilities of this hatch. The only difference between the two hatches is that the newer hatch needs 8 screws. I chose to stick with stainless steel hardware because this kayak will see a lot of salt use in the coming seasons. I also chose a longer screw at 5/8 inches, over the old 1/2 inch screws, and slightly bigger locking nuts.

Photo Credit #2: Jeff Hall

Be sure to save the old screws and nuts. You may want to use these in the future for a different project. I bought 16 screws, washers, and nuts that were all stainless steel and the total came to $21.60!

  Photo Credit #3: Jeff Hall

The holes marked off with an X are the holes that I won't be using. Because the new hatches have 8 holes, you will use the top, bottom, left, and right existing holes. The other 4 holes will can be drilled out. No need for Goop on the old holes. The new hatch came with a thick neoprene foam gasket that will cover up the old holes.

Photo Credit #4: Jeff Hall

The old screws and nuts on the lower left were replaced with longer screws and bigger locking nuts on the upper right. I bought washers, but chose not to use them. The longer screws were needed because of the thick foam gasket that was provided.

Photo Credit #5: Jeff Hall

I put the 4 longer screws with nuts on already. This made it a lot easier when drilling out the other 4 holes - no shifting makes for a perfect install, even for a novice.

Photo Credit #6: Jeff Hall

Be sure to save the shavings from all the drilling you do. You can use the shavings to cover up a crack or gouge in your kayak's hull in the future. Your kayak's hull is made High Density Poly Ethelyne, or HDPE for short. Milk crates are made from the same material and makes for a good substitute if you don't have enough material.

Photo Credit #7: Jeff Hall

After I tightened all the screws and locking nuts, this is what the new Hobie-cloned 6 inch hatch looks like. Almost looks as if it came with this feature already installed!

Photo Credit #8: Jeff Hall

 Make sure you take your time with this install. I installed this in my garage, with no heat, in 30 degree weather, it is best that you take your time with this project. Because of the hatch's location, there can be no room for errors here! As I stated earlier, I don't intend on using this hatch while I'm out on the water, as I don't need to get swamped with water offshore!

As usual, keep those lines wet & tight! - J

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 Photo Credit #1: CT DEEP

    This is my 3rd installment of eastern Connecticut's freshwater lakes & ponds series with Mono Pond State Park Reserve - a small pond located off State Route 66, on 120 Hunt Road, Columbia, CT.

    This little gem of a pond was once covered with milfoil. I had spoke with a local resident a few years ago about the possibility of this pond being a potential candidate for trophy bass management. He said, "The state of CT's DEEP stepped in and used an experimental treatment to rid the invasive weed from the waters. Unfortunately, without proper testing of the treatment, it killed the milfoil, but it also killed off a lot of fish in the process."

At 120 Hunt Road in Columbia,CT, the road going in is paved, as is the rest of the parking area, with a cement ramp for small boats.

Photo Credit #2: CT DEEP 

    After 5 years or so, the milfoil has been eradicated from the waters, the fish have made a comeback, and the bass were huge! I had paddled out to the opposite end of the pond one afternoon and saw some pretty big bass lurking under the lily pads in numerous spots.

 Photo Credit #3: CT DEEP

The parking area at Mono Pond is very small and fills up quickly in the early Spring with only 6 spaces. I've been down here a few times and it's absolutely crazy with cars parked on both sides of the road on opening day! Those that don't have boats will stand on the mound of grass near the dam's deep end.

Photo Credit #4: CT DEEP

The ramp is made from cement and has a low grade angle so 2wd cars & trucks shouldn't have any problems getting their trailers out of the water. 

Photo Credit #5: CT DEEP

The angle of the ramp is easy for cars & trucks to haul their boat trailers out of the water. 
*Note: Shown in the Fall when the state draws down the water at the end of the season.
Photo Credit #6: CT DEEP

A map of Mono Pond. 
Photo Credit #7: NortheastBass.com

A kayak angler stalks fish in a dense area of lily pads.

Photo Credit #8: CTFishTalk.com

    I have started to replenish my freshwater boxes with top water frogs and some new experimental plastic baits that literally "float" horizontally. Not really sure how the company pulled that off, but they did! They're locally made in Glastonbury,CT and the company is "Area 51 Fishing".
    You can see their Pilot Fish baits in action here on YouTube: Area 51 Fishing's Pilot Fish 

    Looking forward to next year in 2019 to try out these new baits and see how well they work. I've paddled out to the other end of the pond and saw several large bass amongst the lily pads. The pond itself isn't very big, but it does however, hold some truly big bass - which is good for us kayak anglers because we're able to get away from the large crowds, and bigger boats and get at all the hard to reach trophy fish.
    The pond itself isn't very deep - 3.5' feet at 80% of the lake, 6' feet near the boat ramp, and 9' feet near the dam. 

    The photo above shows you the dense area of lily pads that cause some grief with the bigger boats and their trolling motors. Where the kayaks will shine, is their ability to glide over these often overlooked, and hard to reach places to get at your next prized catch!

    As usual, keep those lines wet & tight!  - J
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    This is the 2nd installment in my continuing efforts to explore the eastern side of Connecticut a little more. I will be getting my fishing license for Connecticut freshwaters next year.

    I grew up in north central CT in a small farm town called Windsor Locks, and fished the local Connecticut River, Farmington River, and Rainbow Reservoir. In the early 1990s, I lost my job and was out of work for nearly two years. In that stretch of time, when I wasn't filling out resumes for local jobs (about 10-20 a day), I killed time by fishing western CT at some of the larger reservoirs like Colebrook Res. & West Branch Res. (aka Hogback Res., which sits behind Colebrook), as well as the Farmington River.

Photo Credit: FourSquare.com

    Fast forward to the present, earlier this Fall, I was asked if I had been to Hopeville Pond State Park, 874 Hopeville Rd, Griswold, Connecticut. I've been there to hike around the park, walk the trails, ride my bike, and check out the boat launch area - which is heavily used by the big bass boat guys.  They have to park their trucks over behind the park ranger's office several yards away from the launch area. We, as kayak anglers, have the awesome option of launching from the beach area because the parking area is right there.
    I had stopped by the local park ranger's office and asked if it was okay to launch from the beach area with my kayak. Of course, he said, "yes", provided we stay away from the people on the beach.

    The park's recreational activities include biking, hiking, camping, fishing, boating, and swimming. The park's campground features 80 campsites. Fish found in 137 acre Hopeville Pond include channel catfish, northern pike, largemouth bass, chain pickerel, and yellow perch.

The picnic area at Hopeville State Park. To the right, is the beach area.

Photo Credit: RVpoints.com

Photo Credit: Pinterest

    My initial views of the water's clarity was pretty clear. The pond is visited by migrating ducks and some Canadian geese. It was a hot spot for paddle boarders, casual paddlers, and the larger bass boat owners as well. There were a few spots where lily pads were present - a good hiding place for bass in the summer. I saw a few of the bass boat guys working the outer edges of the pad areas. No problem for those of us that fish out of kayaks!

Photo Credit: CTFishTalk.com

Photo Credit: CT DEEP CT.gov


Photo Credit: Inland Fishing in CT. CTvisit.com

The boat launch ramp at Hopeville State Park isn't very wide, so it's one vehicle at a time. Trucks with trailers must be parked in the lot behind the Park Ranger's quarters.

Photo Credit: CT DEEP

The boat launch ramp at Hopeville State Park flanks a wooden walking bridge that connects trails on the other side of the park.

Photo Credit: CT DEEP

A large spacious beach area for plenty of swimmers. Kayak Anglers can launch from the beach area - just be careful not to disturb the beach goers.

Photo Credit: SeeSwim.com

The beach area at Hopeville State Park during the Fall. 

Photo Credit: CT DEEP

Sunset twilight over Hopeville State Park & Campground during the Fall. 

A camp fire feels good at the end of a perfect day of fishing at Hopeville State Park & Campground.

So, if you're looking for a perfect blend of hiking, trail biking, camping, paddling, and kayak fishing, give Hopeville State Park & Campground a try. Located in Griswold,CT.

As usual, keep those lines wet and tight! - J


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    A lot of the places I've mentioned in the past were in Rhode Island. But, now I'm going to tell you about some places here in Connecticut that are also good for fishing. One such place that comes to mind is Bluff Point State Park in Groton,CT, which sits on the Poquonock River and empties into Long Island Sound. There are NO parking fees for this state park.

Photo Credit #1  - Jeff Hall

Photo Credit #2  - Jeff Hall

Swimming is allowed here. If you don't fish, you can just enjoy a nice quiet paddle experience with no noisy boats or jet skis to harass you.

    * Directions: 

    Coming from I-95 North:  Take exit 88.  Turn right onto SR 117 South.  Turn right at the end onto Route 1 South.  Take a left at the first light onto Depot Road.  Park entrance is at the end of the road.
    Coming from I-95 South:  Take exit 88.  Turn left onto SR 117 South.  Turn right at the end onto Route 1 South.  Take a left at the first light onto Depot Road.  Park entrance is at the end of the road.

    According to Connecticut's State Parks page, there is a "boat launch area" to put your kayak, or kayaks in. The beauty of this particular spot makes it a real gem for quick & easy access to the saltwater because there's no deep sand to drag your kayak through, or steep ramps to lug your kayak up at low tide. And, anyone who's familiar with this launch spot will tell you, you need to get here early for a decent place to park, because it is well known to the locals in the area.

Photo Credit #3 - Jeff Hall

This photo was taken in late September of 2017. As you can see, the area designated for boat launch access, fills up in a hurry with people parking 2 rows of vehicles in the center of the parking area, as well as the outer edges.

Photo Credit #4 - Jeff Hall

You can see the breaks along the water's edge where you can put in. If it's low tide, I would suggest that you NOT park past the grassy edge line, because the water from high tide comes right up to the edge.

    This state park also features trails for hiking & mountain biking, as well as saltwater fishing from shore, kayak, or boat. Shell Fishing* is allowed here too. 
    * Note: A permit is required for shell fishing. Permits are issued by the Town of Groton. Groton Town Offices are located on the corner of Route 1 and Depot Road.
Telephone: (860) 441-6600. 

    Fishing can done all along the shore or from your boat or kayak. There was a bridge at one point linking Bluff Point Parking Area to the Groton Airport, but the bridge has long since been removed. I have seen some people fishing near the break on the rocky outcropping. There is a short footpath to get there - which is where I took the photos 3 & 4 to show you the views of the parking area.

Photo Credit #5 - Jeff Hall

This info board was taken near the Bluff Point area. Each number on the map tells of the area and some of the former historical sites on the sprawling 800+ acre preserve.

Photo Credit #6 - Jeff Hall

The close-up photo above was taken at an info board showing you the hiking/mountain biking trails. It even shows you the break in the land between the park and the Groton Airport (to the right of the park).

Below are some other photos of Long Island Sound that I took while at Bluff Point itself.

Photo Credit #7 - Jeff Hall

Some men fishing off of the large boulders at the end of Bluff Point at low tide. This area is a known hot spot for Striped Bass, Tautog, Flounder, and Bluefish. The darker areas on the boulders show the water mark of high tide, giving these guys a chance to catch something within that narrow window of opportunity.

Photo Credit #8 - Jeff Hall

While this photo may seem scenic, the island is actually owned by Dean Kamen, the owner of Segway personal transportation vehicles. I took this photo from a mile away from Bluff Point's lookout area using a small monocular scope. 
For a really good laugh about this island, go here:

Photo Credit #9 - Jeff Hall

A green tower sits atop a small rocky structure known as Seaflower Reef. In the background is Fisher's Island,NY.

    As usual, keep those lines wet & tight! - J

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    During the salt show every Spring, I get questions about "Where's your favorite fishing area and/or spot?", and one of my responses is, "...the Camp Cronin Fishing Area located in Narragansett, RI.".

    When I was a kid, my Dad used to take me fishing in Rhode Island a lot, usually in Westerly,RI next to an old lighthouse that was manned by the Coast Guard. But in recent years, the Coast Guard made the lighthouse unmanned, and sold the property to a private owner - who then cut off access to the point (a locally known hot spot for striped bass and bluefish). I heard rumors that the owner didn't want anybody out there carving up their catch, and leaving the remains everywhere for seagulls to eat & crap everywhere.

    When I tried to find out more information about "Camp Cronin" itself, to give you, the reader some type of background on this hot spot, I came to many "dead ends". There is literally no information containing the words "Camp Cronin", whether it was a former military encampment, installation, base, etc.. So, I did some research on past military forts of World War II, and I came across this web page on NorthAmericanForts.com , about "Fort Nathaniel Greene (2) aka Battery 211".

This is what I found out:

Fort Nathaniel Greene (2)
(The Point Judith Fishermen's Memorial)
(1934 - 1948/present), Point Judith
Originally named Point Judith Reservation until 1941. Fort Greene is divided into three separate sections. The East Reservation has Battery Hamilton / 108 (1943 - 1948). The RI National Guard still uses this parcel as a training area.
The West Reservation has Battery 109 (1944). The present is named "The Fishermen's Memorial State Park" which uses this parcel as a campground, as well as most of the former southern parcel. The park office incorporates a former battery command - fire-control tower/silo (Photo 1). The South Reservation* has Battery 211* (1945 - 1948) at the water's edge, and an unnamed four-gun 155mm battery on Panama mounts - two are mostly buried under the beach, the other two were washed away from Hurricane Sandy. "The Point Judith Fishermen's Memorial" is located at Battery 211* (which is buried under the Fishermen's Memorial itself). Three fire-control stations were once located near here at the present Camp Cronin Recreation Area, disguised to resemble typical New England style beach houses. One still remains.
(Not to be confused with Fort Greene (1) in Newport)

Fort Greene Fire Watch Tower

Fort Greene Fire Watch Tower is now part of the Main Office for the "Fisherman's Memorial State Park"

Fort Greene Fire Control Building - the building is in an advanced state of decay, and the property is currently owned by the city of Providence,RI.

To learn more about Fort Greene [2], click the link.

Photo #'s 1, 2, & 3 Credits: John Stanton & Bill Thayer

Photo #4 Credit: Chris Zeeman

Photo #5 Credit: Chris Zeeman

For more info, Click here: Battery 109

    *Author's Note: I made some changes to this article here to clear up some confusion. "The Point Judith Fishermen's Memorial" is located here, and is NOT to be confused with the "The Fishermen's Memorial State Park", which is now a campground for RVs & Motorhomes located a few miles away. Click the link for a dark secret about RI's participation in World War II!

    Anyway, I've always enjoyed searching for new places to launch my kayak, and get out on the open water. And, this place doesn't disappoint! I will extend some caution though, I would classify this particular spot as an "advanced/experienced-only" launch spot. Most people wouldn't venture out past the break on the West wall. I would leave that up to the more advanced kayak anglers in our group. Trust me, you REALLY have to keep your eye on the tidal currents by the Red Buoy Marker on your left coming out of the East wall! Between the currents coming at you from the East, South, and North (out of the Harbor of Refuge) and the big sport fishing boats leaving Point Judith Harbor, you will have your hands full as you try to navigate your kayak to your favorite hunting grounds west of Point Judith Lighthouse.

Camp Cronin in it's earlier years. In this photo, the Pt. Judith Fisherman's Memorial didn't exist.

Photo #6 Credit: KayakAccess.info

Photo #7 Credit: YankeeMagazine.com

Visitors walk along the top of the East wall at sunset.

Photo #8 Credit: HiveMiner.com

The sun sets behind the info board at the Camp Cronin Fishing Area.

Photo #9 Credit: NewEngland.com

Photo #10 Credit: NewEngland.com

Beachgoers take in the midday sunshine behind the East wall at the Point Judith Back Beach at Camp Cronin. This stretch of deep sand will require your kayak's cart be equipped with beach tires (aka balloon tires). It will make your trek across the sand a lot easier.

Photo #11 Credit: HiveMiner.com

A commercial fishing vessel makes its way back to Point Judith Harbor, via cutting through the Harbor of Refuge at high tide, to unload its daily catch. Those of us that choose to fish the East break wall, may have to dress appropriately, for the incoming high tide could cause you to go home soggy. 

Photo #12 Credit: HiveMiner.com

RISAA Kayak Committee members Anthony & Stephanie Caruolo prepping their gear for an afternoon launch. Both Anthony & Stephanie caught several fluke by staying inside the channel next to the green tower at the other break's end.

Photo #13 Credit: Mona Rodriguez

RISAA Kayak Committee members Jeff Hall (left) and Gino DeFeudis (right) discuss their options on where to fish.

Photo #14 Credit: Mona Rodriguez

Jeff & Gino launching (in the slack tide) during the high tide.

Photo #15 Credit: Mona Rodriguez 

Jeff sets up his Hook 5 fishfinder, while Gino checks all the hatches making sure everything is secure.

Photo #16 Credit: Mona Rodriguez

While these photos above were taken in August, on a relatively calm and perfect day, it's hard to believe that anything could wrong. But in 2012, one of the state's most destructive hurricane's, "Hurricane Sandy" (aka Superstorm Sandy) slammed into the Rhode Island coast with such force that it literally decimated the parking area, the fisherman's memorial, and the barrier wall protecting the Harbor of Refuge. The RIDEM (Rhode Island Dept. of Environmental Management) applied for federal grants to aid in rebuilding the parking area, the memorial, and the East wall/coastline.

The waves from the hurricane were so destructive that it picked up large boulders, some as big as a small compact car, and strewn them all over the parking area. Here, local residents survey the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Photo #17 Credit: RIstripedbass.blogspot.com

During the rebuilding process, a drone cam captures the construction crews carefully arranging the large stones into a better built wall, making sure the coastline is better protected from future disasters.

Photo #18 Credit: DredgingToday.com

The Point Judith Fisherman's Memorial now sits next the Overlook, where this photo was taken, and to the left of the parking area. The "overlook" is actually the remains of the Radio Room that was built in 1944. Rather than demolishing it, the state of RI chose to "bury it" under a mound of dirt. The entrances in the front & back of the structure were blocked off with huge stones to prohibit, but a few brave souls managed to wriggle their way in and spray graffiti on the walls.

Photo #19 Credit: FlickrHiveMind.net

Photo #20 Credit: John Stanton

This is the rear entrance of the radio room, which faces the shore, but is blocked off with large boulders to prevent entry into the structure.

Photo #21 Credit: Jeff Hall

Before Hurricane Sandy came, this structure was one of two battery gun emplacements that protected Point Judith from enemy attacks.

Photo #22 Credit: John Stanton

Both this photo, and the one above, were taken before Hurricane Sandy. A combination of rising sea levels and stronger storms, have worked together to erode the large concrete plates around the turret tower base, and wash them out to sea. Slowly erasing Rhode Island's participation in World War II's history.

Photo #23 Credit: Chris Zeeman

This photo was taken recently in January 2017. 

Photo #24 Credit: Jeff Hall

This is the second turret base that sits to the right of the radio room. It sits a little further back than the other base.

Photo #25 Credit: Chris Zeeman

Today, this is the new and improved Camp Cronin Fishing Area parking lot. The two white cars on the far left, is where you would put in the kayaks - provided you have a kayak cart that handle deep sand. The large rocks at this entry point are wide enough to get your kayak through and down to the shoreline on the inside of the barrier wall.

Photo #26 Credit: Jeff Hall via Google Maps

The stretch of sand that leads down to the protected area to launch is roughly 200 feet long (longer if it's low tide). If you don't have flotation tires, you are going to regret it, as dragging a fully loaded kayak will feel like you're dragging it without tires. There is no way to drive down to launch. It's not a well used launch point, because of the distance & the deep sand involved. When night falls, the action heats up for both surf casters and kayak fishermen when the fish change direction. This will be a hot spot for years to come as it leads out to the open waters with views of Block Island a short distance away.

Photo #27 Credit: Jeff Hall via Google Maps

As usual, keep those lines wet & tight! - J

*Author's Note: I would like to thank all those involved with the making of this article. Without your photos, this article would've been a lot shorter. Don't forget to click the links and visit the photographer's pages as well.

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    Back in September of 2009, I bought my first kayak, a Hobie Mirage Outback. It was stock with 4 molded in rod holders, a large tank well area behind the seat, and a huge storage area up front.
    Before I even purchased a kayak, the only "research" I did, was watching an episode of "Hank Parker Outdoors" where he fished out a Hobie Outback on a small backcountry pond. Hank noted that it was fairly inexpensive, but once get past the initial cost of buying one, that you could literally go anyplace you wanted and launch anywhere because it was so small.

    Fast forward to the present, I had bought a Hook 5 DSI Sonar/GPS/Fishfinder unit last year, then spent the winter months installing it, and finally got a chance to use this Spring. I was immediately impressed with the color features, since my last unit was a Eagle Cuda 350 S/Map (black/white Sonar/GPS), which was very basic compared to today's newer fish seeking units.
    Anyway, I finally got a unit that had the DSI feature. DSI, aka "Down Scan Imaging", allows for a better 3D view of the ocean floor. So, during the Spring cinder worm emergence in Newport, I was constantly switching from screen to screen wondering why the Down Scan Imaging feature wasn't working properly. I finally found a screen that I could read, but I was still irked at the DSI issue.
    The next day on Facebook, I had asked a fellow Hobie owner (and good friend), why the DSI feature wasn't working properly. He said in order for that feature to work, the transducer unit has to be in the water.
    I mentioned that my Hobie doesn't have that fancy transducer plate in the bottom of the hull. He said it could be mounted externally on an arm.
    I stopped in at Three Belles Marina in Niantic,CT to ask Shawn (Repairs Manager) about an external transducer mount for my older Hobie. He showed me the accessories that Yak Attack now makes for kayaks that don't an transducer plate.

    So, here's what I picked up:

    ( 1 ) Yak Attack Switchblade Transducer Arm

Photo #1 Credit: Jeff Hall

    ( 1 ) Yak Attack Gear Track - Top Loading #GTTL 109 

Photo #2 Credit: Jeff Hall

    I will admit that I thought the directions for the installation were pretty vague, but the illustration on the instruction pamphlet gives you an idea on what it's supposed to look like.

Photo #3 Credit: Jeff Hall

    Before I start anything, I wanted to make an "plate" for the gear track to give it a better grip on the kayak's surface. I have lots of scrap plate aluminum from the beat up road signs that I bought at a local flea market. I cut a small piece of plate making it a quarter inch bigger than the gear track.

One of many road signs that I got at a local flea market for $10 each.

Photo #4 Credit: Jeff Hall

I used a high speed drill with a grinding disc to take off the sharp edges on this backing plate I made. 

Photo #5 Credit: Jeff Hall

    While the above photo already shows the plate with the holes in it, the next photo will show you how I drilled all the holes perfectly with each one aligned properly.

In the photo above, I used an adjustable locking clamp to hold the gear track on top of the backing plate. Then, I drilled all three holes into the plate so everything is aligned up.

Photo Credit #6: Jeff Hall

    I chose a spot on the left, just in front of the left rod holder, to place my gear track. I wore a pair of mechanical gloves and held the gear track in place while I drilled the holes for the bolts. After the first hole was drilled, I put a bolt in place to hold it steady. I did the same for the other two holes.

Photo #7 Credit: Jeff Hall


Before I mount the gear track, I placed a small O-ring on each bolt before attaching the backing plate. The bolts are placed thru the track and the O-rings are on the bottom of the track. When the bolts are placed into holes, the O-rings will provide a waterproof barrier between the outer hull and the hull's interior.

Photo #8 Credit: Jeff Hall

* Note for Hobie owners: When you go to attach the backing plate, be very careful you don't get the rudder line caught on the plate. This part will be tricky.
If you don't own a Hobie, then you won't have to worry about this part.

Photos #9 & #10 Credit: Jeff Hall

In the photo above, I installed the arm lock onto the track and tightened the knob at the bottom. Next, I inserted the arm into the arm lock and adjusted the tightness of the lock. The arm is snug, but not too tight that I can't move the arm up and out of the way. The grooves on the arm allow it to be locked onto the arm lock to prevent it from slipping out.

Photo#11 Credit: Jeff Hall 

Starting at the base of the arm, I connected the transducer to the arm, and secured the cable to the front of the arm using the black cable ties provided. I used an extra cable tie (white) to keep the cable tight against the arm.

Photos #12 & 13 Credit: Jeff Hall

I found a good spot on my Hobie for the location of the Hook 5 by mounting it in the left storage tray, in front of the cup holder, but also 2" behind the rudder raise T-handle. I drilled a hole using a 1" diameter spade bit (save the shavings) so I can get the plug ends through. You may have to use a round file to slightly enlarge the hole's opening because the cable ends are over-sized. 
I fed the Blue cable in first, and then pushed the Blue plug back out. I used a piece of velcro to wrap up the excess blue cable. Going in through the center hatch of the Hobie, I fed the Red plug through the hole's opening, and left the remainder of the Red cable's wire in the hull, as it is powered by a small 12 volt battery inside the hull. Next, I adjusted the cable manager and proceeded to drill the holes for the RAM Mount base. Then, I tightened up the 4 bolts with the nuts provided. 

* Note: I used a RAM Mount "Cable Manager" to allow the cables to get in & out of the hull. The cable manager is roughly a 1/2" thick puck with a hole cut on one edge to allow the 1.25" diameter "Extreme Duty" RAM ball mount to be mounted on top of the cables. The holes for the ball mount's base will align with pre-drilled holes on the cable manager.

Photo #14 Credit: Jeff Hall

When finished, this is what the transducer arm looks like.

From the front, I wanted the arm to hang as far as it will go. The installation manual gives you the option of omitting one of the arms to make it smaller. But, I chose to keep the arm long, because I fish in saltwater. It still folds up and out of the way when beaching it, as well as transporting.

The Hobie sits on top of my second kayak, a 2013 Feelfree Moken 14. This angle shows you how far down the arm will actually reach. With this new method, I can now get the correct water temperature, and best of all, use the 3D qualities of the Down Scan Imaging system.

Photos #15 & #16 Credit: Jeff Hall

Hope this helps you in your decision to add a transducer arm for your fish finder whether it's a Sit-On-Top kayak, or a sit-inside kayak, it's time to unlock those secrets down below!

As usual, keep those lines wet & tight! - J

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    Every year, usually in the early Spring, I always hear, or read, about someone going out in a kayak and flipping it, only to wind up dead because they couldn't back on, or in, their kayak. Here are some examples from the last few years:

    This is especially true here in Connecticut where we have fatalities every year involving kayaks. Some are by careless people who take huge risks by overestimating their own capabilities. Worst of all, some didn't bother to wear a life vest, and some had a life vest with them but chose not to wear it!
    It almost begs the question, when will we have more stringent rules regarding kayak & paddle craft safety measures put into place? Or better yet, when are people going to care? Here in Connecticut: "It is a state law to wear a life jacket while on a paddle craft from October 1 through May 31."
    This is should be mandatory all year long! I've actually heard a few Park Rangers tell me, "That you do not need a life vest/jacket from Memorial Day thru Labor Day." I respond by saying, "Are you people insane??? Those are the busy times of the year for boaters and/or fishermen!!!! These big boat guys don't care about our kayaks in the water!" The Park Rangers then tell me, "It's an option, sir." 
    Let's be serious here, why would ANYBODY tell someone that??? Especially when the Marine Patrol agents are busy with their safety checks asking to see if you have enough life jackets for everyone aboard your vessel. Or, as with the Coast Guard, checking to see if you're wearing your life vest. Why should it be just one agency, the US Coast Guard, that maintains that this should be mandatory all the time? The Marine Patrol should be doing the same as well - for the entire year!
    Whenever I go out, whether it's just a casual paddle, or if I'm fully rigged up and ready to go, I'm always ready for safety - life vest is on, marine radio is fully charged, safety mast with flag is up, and the rescue rope is tethered on my left side. Because you never know when you're going to flip over. I rolled a few years ago. It's one of those things where you're thinking, "....Oh, that'll never happen to me...." Guess what? Mother Nature was being cranky that day. Between the windy conditions (25 mph gusts), the big swells (3-4 ft rollers), and operator errors, I found myself in a situation that I couldn't avoid getting out of. I thought I could save myself from getting rolled, but it didn't work out the way I wanted it to, and over I went.
    I thought to myself, I'll just call for help using my marine radio, which is waterproof, but then I realized that I was the ONLY one in our group that was smart enough to actually have one and use it. What a waste! Four of us launched and I was the only person that carried a radio that day. I have a whistle attached to the zipper on my life vest, but would anybody even hear me?

    Here are just some of the ways to keep yourself alive out on the water:

1.) Tell someone where you're going.
    It never hurts to tell someone where you're going. You can always call if you're going to be late. If no one hears from you, after a day or two, then they can call the authorities.

2.) Place your cell phone in a waterproof bag.
    If you don't want your cell phone to turn into a pocket heater, then get yourself a good waterproof bag. Be sure to put it in "Airplane" mode to help conserve power. Just remember to turn off the "Airplane" mode when you need to use it.

3.) Buy a quality waterproof marine radio.
    While there are lots of radios on the market that have long range capabilities, you will need to invest in a quality, waterproof, marine radio. I carry a Standard Horizon HX-130 Marine Radio. It also has 10 Weather (WX) Channels and can transmit in either 1/3/or 5 watts.

    This one item alone should be a "no brainer". Wearing it could, or will, save your life - hence the term, a "vest" that saves your "life"! Depending on your kayak's seat, you will need to find a life vest that doesn't interfere with your seat's height. Make sure that the life vest's flotation area, on the back of your shoulders, is above the top of your seat. I realize that there will some days where the temperature outside will be unbearable. Don't take chances! If it's a nice day out, the boat traffic will be busy. Most boaters will be respectful, and steer clear of you. While other boaters may be careless and harassing at times.

5.) Use a Safety Mast with Orange Flag.
    On another blog post from a few years ago, I wrote about how you can make your safety mast with an orange flag. And, for those of you that fish at night, or in the early morning fog, you can add a white light to the top as well. Paddling in saltwater can be iffy at times. The constant tidal currents, swells created by other motor boaters, and the wind/weather can factor in many difficulties that one must deal with while out and about on the water. With an orange flag mounted behind your seat, you're increasing your chances of NOT being struck by another motor boater. Wearing bright colored clothing is a huge plus as well.

6.) Have a "Rescue Rope" with you.
    While most of us aren't expecting to experience a kayak flipping over, you need to plan on how you intend on righting your kayak, should this ever happen in the future. I have what's called a "Rescue Rope" attached to the left handle of my kayak. It's made from 550 Paracord that's been doubled up to 1100 lb strength with XL carabiners at each end. This will allow me to flip my kayak right-side up in a matter of seconds - instead of several minutes, or worse, not at all. While the kayak is upside down, I simply unclip one of the carabiners and toss it over the hull of the kayak. I then float over to the side that has the rope hanging, and proceed to climb on top of the kayak. By grasping the rope tightly, I throw myself backward into the water again, this will force the kayak to re-right itself in a hurry. If you're in a group, you can radio for help, and maybe some members of your group can assist in helping you get back into your kayak. Or, you can re-enter the kayak the old fashioned way by using this method here:

The video above was done by my good friend Walt Lariscy - a pioneer in the sport of kayak fishing and safety. 

* NOTE: I watched his video at least 20 times. Watch it. Learn it. Remember it.
Trust me, this video will SAVE YOUR LIFE SOMEDAY! I reached out to Walt on YouTube after my rollover, and thanked him for this video. It works!

    These are a few of the things every kayaker, or kayak angler, should carry with them at all times while out on any body of water.

As usual, keep those lines wet & tight! - J
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