I had to share this story about something I witnessed while driving onto the beach a few weeks ago. It was early morning when I headed out to Assateague and I was excited to get some lines in the water. I pulled up to the drive-on access and started letting the air out of my tires. I looked up to see four young black people stuck in the sand right in front of the drive-on access bar. They were 25 ft. in and stuck up to the frame.
My first thought was, “what a bunch of idiots. How did they think they were going to drive out onto the beach with a front wheel drive car!” I then heard a couple of comments about their color and that was probably the reason why they were stuck. The guy in front of me mentioned it and the guy behind me said something similar. I then watched the game warden struggling with the idea of whether he should help them or not. I believe it is park policy to just issue a ticket and let them call a tow truck. The thing that really blew my mind was the amount of trucks that just drove around them without even thinking of helping. They would much rather laugh, point fingers and take some pictures for their Facebook page. It really saddened me to see how insensitive humans being have become. I finished airing out my tires and started to drive onto the beach.
I pulled in front of them and got out to help. We’ve all done stupid things in our lives and I can guarantee you most of us have been stuck in something at one time or another. I assessed the situation and started shoveling the one side out. I told them that if we got the sand out from under the frame we could all get behind and push it out.
I finished the one side and gave the shovel to one of the guys. I told him I wasn’t going to shovel it all out. If he wanted to get out, he’d have to put a little effort into making it happen. He willingly took the shovel and began shoveling. I asked him why he was going out on the beach that day. He said he just wanted to see the ocean for his birthday. I thought that was cool, but at the same time I was saddened by what I had just witnessed just ten minutes before. After we got both sides shoveled out, the game warden helped us out with a couple boards to put under the tires. I said, “O.k. boys, let’s grab the car like men and push this baby out!” The girl took the wheel and we all pushed with everything we had. It eased its way out and they were free to enjoy the rest of their day. As I was getting back into my truck one of the guys, the “birthday boy,” called out to me and with the kindest smile said, “thanks brother.”
I touched my heart as I realized that we’re are all human beings that need help once in a while. As I was driving away it dawned on me that much of what is truly wrong with the world had just presented itself in this scenario right before me. First, you had the unprepared bunch of people who didn’t do any research on how they should and could get onto the beach. Second, was the display of racism that had nothing to do with why they were stuck. I’ve seen white people do the same nonsense more than I can count. Third, you had the game warden who was reluctant to help because of some stupid, bureaucratic regulation preventing him from doing so. Fourth, was the uncompassionate losers taking pictures for Facebook when they should be trying to help.
I don’t consider myself a saint, but when you reach out to help people in need, all the stupidity
in the world goes away for a short time and the barriers that keeps us at odds seem to crumble just a little. All I know is when I started to help, everyone started to help and we got the job done. I believe we all walked away from that experience with a well learned lesson. The only ones that didn’t learn anything were the ones that didn’t care to help. I feel sorry for them because they will never know the lift you get in your soul when you reach out to help another human being in need. The next time you see someone in need of help don’t hesitate. It’s a gift from God and a habit you’ll embrace for the rest of your life. I didn’t catch anything that day but that situation certainly caught me. 🙂 So many lessons to be learned so get off your phones/couch and make a difference. We’re are all in this together. “BUNKER UP!”
This past weekend was my first trip with my custom painted caster. On my way down, I reached out to my friend Chet and Tammy along with our new team member, Cleveland Tolbert and his friend Brad. They all said they would meet me out there Saturday Morning. I arrived late friday afternoon and decided to go out and blast a few baits before the sun went down. The first time I launched my bait blaster, I hooked into a 150lb. Sand Tiger! I was unable to get a picture because I was there by myself so it will just have to remain, “My Fish Story.” The next day we all met up at around 6:30a.m.
The tide was receding as we began our mission. We were all anticipating a hook up right away but hours went by without a bite. I felt like we needed a change so I changed my shorts! I usually wear my stinky “Bunker” shorts but for some reason Chet and I decided to not wear our usual gear. It wasn’t long after I changed my shorts Chet landed a nice dusky shark! He said, “thanks for changing your shorts Dan!” The tide had literally changed! With the tide coming in, I hooked into another nice dusky and we all decided to blast some fresh baits. With four fresh baits it wasn’t more then ten minutes and “Bam!” a double hook up with Cleveland and Brad. We could see Cleveland’s line ripping out and knew he had a nice one. Brad was also into a scrappy fighter. We managed to land both of the sharks….Cleveland with the catch of a lifetime and Brad with the most unusual colored shark we had ever seen. It was hard to I identify due to its extreme dark shade. You decide.
It was shark after shark for an hour or so and then Cleveland hooked into a monster stingray. It took over an hour to get in and took everything we all had to get it released unharmed.
It was a four hour fishing “fire drill” but worth ever minute! We were all exhausted and decided to take a break. That’s was a good thing. I rather be exhausted from reeling in fish then being exhausted from not! Thanks to everyone that made this an incredible fishing mission. Bunker Up For Life! Thanks Cleveland and Brad and thanks to Chet and Tammy who are an invaluable asset when it comes getting pics and releasing the monsters back to their home unharmed. Great pics Tammy!
Sheri and I headed down to Assateague Island this past weekend to meet up with a young boy named who’s wish was to touch a shark. Our new team member, Chet asked us if we could help in trying to make this little boy’s wish come true. Liam has Stage 4 High Risk Neuroblastoma. Please take a moment to learn more about this incredible young boy by reading his story here:
We showed up at Buck’s Bait & Tackle Friday evening to snag some bunker for the weekend fish. He had a bunch, so I picked out the best smelly ones I could find! I called up Big Mike to tell him we were on our way. He told me that he and Kim would be working and wouldn’t be able to make it out Saturday. Kim had to work the whole weekend but Mike said he would be willing to help out with the shark touching task on Sunday.
We met Chet, his cousin Bill and his girlfriend, Khris early Saturday to test the waters for the next days events. There was a west wind around 10 mph. The sea was calm and the water was warm; perfect conditions to blast bait for big sharks! We both started blasting, catching a few nice Dusky’s and as usual showing off the Sand Blaster to the nearby fishermen. Chet and I agreed that this was a great sign for the following day and we all figured it would be no problem getting this little guy a shark!
A guy pulled in next to us with a ton of gear and some kayacks. I’m usually a little concerned when I see a kayacker. They have a tendency to run through our lines. We were just getting ready to blast out two fresh baits when this guy and his kids came over to see the Sand Blaster in action. Needless to say they were blown away by the distance and smiled as they walked back to their spot. I thought that’s cool he loved it and and I figured there would be no problems fishing next to them. It wasn’t more than a few minutes later that I saw his son Drew sliding his Kyack into the sea with a fishing rod in the rod holder. My first though was, he will go out and drop his line when he clears our lines. Nope! This kid oars out right in line with our baits and starts trolling! I looked over to see Chet saying what the hell is this kid doing? He was hooked into Chet’s lines and on his way to snag mine. I waved to him to stop trolling. He started to panic when he realized he had snagged both of our lines. We drug him into the surf with our rods . He was making excuses as he started pulling his craft out of the surf. I said, “I don’t want to hear it dude! You just saw us cast out there. What made you think it was o.k. to start trolling?” I told him our line was very expensive and “sorry” wasn’t going to cut it if I had to cut it! I knew his father was standing behind me but it didn’t matter. This boy needed to learn a lesson in beach etiquette. We unraveled the line and everyone went back to their spots. It was a short time later when his father and youngest boy, Sam came over to apologize. They said Drew felt really bad about what he had just done. I told Sam to tell Drew when I got another shark on I’ll let him real it in. His father and son thanked me and again apologized for not paying attention. As they were walking away BAM!..there WENT my rod. I called Drew over to take the rod. He took it and pulled in a nice Dusky but more importantly it washed away all the drama that has just happened. His little brother Sam said “I want to launch a bait.” I said, “No problem. But after you launch it you have to real it in.” He smiled and agreed. Again it was only seconds and we had one on the rod he had just blasted. This one was a little bigger so his dad had to step in to help. I have to give it to Sam. He reeled it all the way in and took a picture with his first shark from shore like a pro! I remember thinking after it was over, wow this started out so bad and ended up so great! They thanked me for the opportunity and I returned the thanks with a handshake and a couple BUF hats to let them know they are now part of the team. The Sand Blaster does so many things to improve your fishing experience and this was another example of how it not only caught a shark, but also brought two fishermen together. Awesome!
The next morning everyone was excited to catch a shark for Liam! We started fishing around 8:00 a.m.. Liam and his family were running late so we decided to test the waters to see how the bite was. Chet blasted one way out there and I followed up with a blast beyond the thunder dome (as we call it). Then Big Mike blasted another one even further. The conditions were perfect and it only took a few minutes and we were hooked into a large Sand Bar shark. This shark was coming in funny. It didn’t fight much but was very heavy. When we pulled it out of the surf we noticed it was tangled up in a heavy steel long line rig! The rig was cutting the shark to pieces. Chet called for his pliers. Big Mike and I kept the shark calm while Chet removed the rig. We were all pissed about the tackle that was used on him but relieved he was going back to the sea free of that mess. A few minutes later Big Mike banged a nice Dusky so we all felt like it was going to be easy to get a shark for Liam.
After releasing the Dusky I blasted out two more fresh baits and Chet did the same. Now we had three fresh baits in the water waiting for Liam to show up. It was the ideal situation for a guide, fresh bait with fish in the water! Shortly after doing our high 5’s we all noticed a huge school of between 50-70 very large dolphins very close to our lines. The school was probably 150 yards wide and 300 yards long. I turned my head for a second and I heard Chet’s reel ripping out drag like a freight train was on the other end. He was dug in like a Sand Flea with his rod tip straight towards the ocean. He said I think I hooked a Dolphin! Everyone watched as the dolphin on his line launched out of the water 15-20′ ripping out full drag as it launched again nearly the same height. By the third launch the mammal must have sent out a clicking noise to warn the others. I’ve never seen anything like what was about to happen. Every dolphin did an about face and blasted out of there like they were running from a fire! If anything or anybody was in that surf they would have been killed. They erupted so hard and fast they actually slowed the waves from breaking. It literally looked like an explosion. Anyone that thinks Dolphins don’t talk with their own language is nuts. The hooked Dolphin rang the fire alarm and believe me they all responded in a millisecond. It was an awesome sight. Meanwhile, the hooked dolphin spit the hook out and caught up with his friends I’m sure. We were all glad it was over so we blasted three more baits and waited for Liam and his family to show up. About an hour went by until we got the call that Liam was on his way! I remember thinking that we hadn’t had a bite in an hour I hoped this didn’t continue. Liam got out of the truck with his family, and we were all excited to meet him and let him know that was the day he would touch a shark. I shook his hand and was taken with his energy. He is a very engaging young man to say the least and his smile just lit everyone up.
He had only just seen the ocean and the beach for the first time the previous day so everyone was having a great time. He rolled in the sand like it was the best thing he ever felt. We walked down to the Sand Blaster to show him how it works and wanted him to shoot the bait that would possibly catch the shark he was supposed to touch. I explained the process and he listened very intently. I told his father to give him a hand so Liam and his Dad blasted their first bait together. It went out a mile! Awesome! Before we let him launch the bait we presented Liam with his own Sharks tooth necklace and team BUF t-shirt. He loved it all. I told him to rub the tooth and we’ll get a bite. He started rubbing and BAM there went the rod! I said this boy is awesome. Big Mike grabbed the rod only to have the fish spit the bait out. We were all a little disappointed but we were sure we would have another chance. Bait after bait we blasted with nothing but small bites and fish that wouldn’t stay on the hook. Then I got to thinking about the Dolphins. What if they signaled a warning to all the big fish to get out the area. It seemed like the only person who wasn’t worried about if we caught one or not was Liam! He was so engaging. He sat next to me in the sand and said, “you sit on one side of the rod Dan and I’ll sit in the other.” Together our energy would make the fish bite. I almost cried but I asked myself what I had to cry about. I was fishing with an awesome kid who gets it when it comes to fishing. I told him to rub that tooth again and I silently said a little prayer for God to let us have a bite. A second after that BAM went the rod again! I got up to grab the rod and the fish was gone. I guess I should have prayed for a landed fish not just a bite!
Liam and his family were on a schedule and we had run out of time. I couldn’t help but feel I had let him down. We all had to say our goodbyes. I wanted to get a picture with him but he said no pictures but he’d give me a hug. He searched out everyone to give them a hug. As he was walking back to his family he forgot he didn’t hug Bike Mike. Liam did an about face and ran over to Mike and said, “I almost forgot to hug you.” What a cool kid and a great family. I watched him walk away and hoped I would get to fish with him again. I saw tears in every ones eyes and it was at that moment that I realized that day wasn’t all about catching a shark. It was also about teaching us all a lesson that you don’t always get what you want just because you want it. Sometimes in life you meet someone that changes yours. These are rare people and somehow their energy washes away the negative, so all you see in the end is goodness. That is the light. Believe me I know I speak for everyone there that day when I say Liam’s light is awe inspiring and made us all take a good look at what’s truly important. He is a true fisher of men and he caught us all that day! Way to flip the script Liam!
We may have not caught the shark but we all caught a piece of his light! Thanks my little brother. You will always be a part of the BUF Team. I will fish with you anytime!
Please consider making a donation for Liam by following the link below:
I couldn’t wait to go fishing this past weekend! I heard the weather and water was going to be prime for shark fishing. I also heard the moon would be full, which is always a plus when it comes to the night feeders! I headed to Assaateague early Friday morning. A few days prior, I had given my baited rigs to a customer named Steve so I had to hit Buck’s Bait & Tackle in the morning to pick up 50 fresh bunkers. I decided I would make up all my baits for the weekend that morning on the beach. I figured after loading them I would fish for some little fish while I was waiting for my bunker to freeze. It must have been my lucky day because when I pulled up to my spot I saw “Steve” the local guy who had just purchased the Sand Blaster and he just so happened to have a bunch of those baits I gave him. He was only to happy to loan me a few for the day.
We both blasted a couple baits and it wasn’t long before it was on! I was having a hard time making up my bunker baits because every time I started cutting them up my line went slack or my rod bent over! Steve had never caught a big shark from the surf so I was anxious for him to hook into a monster. He had bite after bite, every one snapped the line or split the hook. I could see the frustration starting to build because he was watching me land shark after shark. I think it was his 5th cast or so when, “zzzzzzzzz!” I could hear the line peeling out 75yrds away and I knew he had a big one. I was right…it was a 140lb. Dusky! He was thrilled and thanked me for everything. I was very lucky and happy that I got to witness his first shark from the shore. We wished each other good luck for the rest of the weekend and said our goodbyes with big smiles on our faces! A great day of fishing.
The next morning I was teamed up with Kim Costanzo from the Ponderosa. We were also meeting up with an long time friend of mine, Brenda Frantz. She told me her three boys would love to see a shark as well as the Bait Blaster in action. We met them at the ranger station, loaded them on the tail gate and headed out to our spot where we were also meeting up with Chet and his girlfriend Tammy. We pulled in and as usual had bait in the water in minutes. Brenda and her boys got to witness the first shot and the word that passed their lips was, “Awesome!” I never get tried of hearing that. Chet pulled in shortly after us but in this case the early bird didn’t get the worm. Chet was hooked up with a nice dusky shark in a matter of minutes. His next cast was a nice little spinner shark. I have to say I was getting a little shark envy. I called my girlfriend Sheri and told her Chet is whoopin’ my ass. She told me that I couldn’t let him catch more than me so I got serious and got some fresh bait in the water. I guess sometimes you need a little kick in the ass when someone is whoopin it! We blasted two way out there and it was around 20 minutes later we hooked into a bruiser!….a 150lb dusky.
The tide was going out and I remember the day before that’s when the bite picked up . Let me tell you the bite picked up and never stopped! Everyone got in the game. Joey, Stephen, Garrett, Brenda and Kim all got to launch bait and feel the power of the beast! We had so many bites Kim and I had double hook ups twice and nearly a third time but hers spit the bait! I was very impressed with the way everyone handled the rod. It’s not easy getting these bad boys in and to see everyone putting their all into it put a smile on my face. I was dealing with one shark while Kim was reeling in another. I almost forgot Logan’s Mom and Dad where also blasting bait to the right of us. We had three Bait Blasters going full force and believe me when I tell you there was no time to sit down! I was into a big one and decided I would let Stephen feel the power of a nice shark. He grabbed the rod and dug in. The shark started pulling hard, Chet and I watched as Stephen’s feet slid across the sand! He remained cool as a cucumber and fought it for a while until he finally told me to take the rod. I was already impressed with his resolve to take it to the limit. That’s what the Sand blaster does. It forces you to go to a place where you are tested in every way. Great job Tanya for landing your first shark! It was a nice spinner! The snappy little bugger almost bit me! I think we landed 14 Nice sharks between the three Sand Blasters definitely enough to work up a good appetite. I always pack my cooler full to feed the crew. I will have to get a bigger cooler for the next trip Brenda’s three boys can eat! These guys told me ahead of time they would probably eat everything I had! I thought, “yah right.” They weren’t kidding. It looked like wolverines went through my cooler they left no cake unturned! Glad I dont have that bill every week. HAHA. Growing boys gotta eat and we are only to happy to feed the machine that is the Bunker UP Crew. Thanks guys for all your help and giving it your all. I was impressed.
The next day we decided were going to tag some sharks. I had just made a new pliers that are more user friendly for the sharks and was anxious to try it. Ricky and Maddox met us out there along with Chet and his cousin Bill. I hope I got his name right! This time I had my Shark wrangler, Big Mike Costanzo and also had some help from our newest team member Shawn and his family. His two boys helped all day with the bait and rigs. I especially want to thank Clay and Lane for jumping on the truck and grabbing the baits. It was a big help. Right from the start we began tagging with the first shark and didnt stop tagging all day . We were able to tag 14 sharks ranging from 40lbs to 150lbs . Most of them were Dusky’s but we did tag two spinner sharks. Ricky banged a nice one and so did his son Maddox. Great job Maddox for reeling it in all by yourself! We fished for three days and landed 34 sharks. Our bite ratio was 100% and everyone got involved. I don’t think you could have a better fishing experience! Thank you to everyone that helped whether you were holding the pliers, getting bait, taking pictures or grabbing the rod it was all so greatly appreciated by my self and the BUF Team. We are heading down again this weekend so stop by and we’ll get you in the game!
Sheri and I decided that we’d had enough of the grind and left early Friday for Assateague. As usual, when you think you’ve got the traffic beat, it comes and bites you in the ass. A tractor trailer flipped over and we negotiated ourselves around the mess by using a different route. The trip took a little longer than normal so instead of going straight to the beach we decided to go to the Ponderosa where Big Mike was waiting with some stinky ass bunker! I had some rigs all ready to go but putting on those nasty bunker almost made me throw up the nasty Chinese food we had just ate. Sheri went to the hammock in the back and Mike and I got ready for the next day of fishing.
I had recently purchased the new Penn spinning reel. This thing holds 600+yrds of 80lb braid! The only problem was that Cabelas didn’t have the line to go with it. Mike said he might have some line on some other reels so we spliced a few spools together and were able to fill up the monster reel. We called it a night and headed to Assateague in the morning.
We where meeting up with Mike’s friend Ricky and his son Maddox, both had never caught a shark from the shore before. We where also meeting up with Randy, our surfing buddy. We pulled in to find him trying out his new paddle board. We did our usual quick set up and had two baits way out there in a matter of minutes. It wasn’t long before Mike saw a little slack in the line. I grabbed the rod, pulled the slack out and looked at Randy. He said, “I think you got one Dano.” I felt a little tap and then down goes the rod tip. “Fish on!” I yelled. I instantly told Maddox to come over and grab the rod. We gave him some direction and his first “arm-reelin” pain journey began! He was a trooper and landed a nice dusky. I just couldn’t believe I had beat Mike to the rod! I thought this was going to be a good day. Just a few minutes after that, the big rod went down and I was standing right next to it! It was ripping out drag like a freight train. I felt the spool at one time and it was hot! Finally, he slowed and I was able to turn him around. By this time my arm was pumped and that’s a feeling I look forward to. The water was clear and clean and we knew right away we had a nice 150lb black tip shark! We got the hook out quick and released him unharmed.
The rest of the day was more of the same; bite after bite with everyone getting involved. I can’t remember a day when everything went so smooth. Dave Peterson and his son Ethan, were parked just down from us and watched us release the monsters. They weren’t catching anything. It wasn’t long before they made their way over to investigate the Sand Blaster. Ethan said, “Dad this sucks. These guys are catching one every cast and we aren’t getting anything.” I told his father Dave to hang out with us and we’d let them reel one in. We were eager to get his son involved blasting the Sand Blaster so we let Ethan blast the next bait. While this was happening our newest member to the team Chet and his girlfriend pulled in with his launcher, he said he was going down the beach to blast and he would catch up with us at the end of the day. He only had six baits and I knew that wouldn’t last long with the way the sharks were biting.
We continued our assault on the ocean and produced a bite on every cast! Everyone was able to reel one in. Ricky was the next to land a monster. It was a huge Sand Bar shark around the same size as the black tip but you couldn’t tell in the picture because Ricky is a big guy and the shark looked a little small with him as the scale! Sheri, Dave, Big Mike and Ethan would all feel the power of the beast in the next few hours. It was awesome how everyone knew their job and helped out. It was a total team effort and made the day of fishing a memorable one. Dave’s son Ethan was a huge help and made us all proud to have him on the BUF team! From bait runner to ram-roddin’ the bait down the barrel, he was all over it!
Nearing the end of the day, Chet rolled in to let us know he had a great day with 6 casts, 6 bites and landing 5 sharks! I added up the baits and realized between Chet and ourselves we had a 100% bite ratio. That doesn’t happen very often when you are fishing no matter what the conditions. We are so proud and happy when our customers pull in smiling from ear to ear! Bunker Up Fishin is all about getting the job done and catching fish. This past Saturday was another day that proves our point when you do the right thing and prepare yourself for success the Sand Blaster will not let you down!
We all left the beach at the same time due to a storm brewing but I can say in full confidence that everyone was pleased with the outcome and we all thanked each other for the team effort. The Sand Blaster has an amazing way of bringing everyone together and that’s exactly what happens when we hit the beach . Thanks to everyone that helped and a special thanks always to Mike, Kim and the Ponderosa for putting up the team for another great weekend of fishin. Kim had to work this weekend and we missed her. We’re looking forward to catching up with her next time. See you next week! If you’re in the area please stop by and we will be happy to show you what we do and how the Sand Blaster will change the way you look at Surf Fishin.
Wow, what a week of fishing to say the least! It started of Saturday, June 28th and the bite lasted until I left July 2nd. Saturday morning I hit the beach early and it wasn’t long before I had a bite and what a whopper! It was an 80lb. dusky though it fought like a whale. It was a little challenge to get him landed but when you’re fishing with the Sand Blaster you gotta Bunker Up and get it done!
He was unhooked and released in a matter of minutes with a little help from a neighboring fishermen. That’s one of the things I love most about fishing, how fellow anglers are willing to lend a hand. The rest of the day was more of the same bite after bite. I blasted 11 baits had 11 bites and landed 3 sharks and 1 ray. I ran low on bait and decided to call it a day and head over to the “Ponderosa.” I picked up 50 bunker from “Bucks Bait & Tackle on my way, knowing the bite was on I wanted to be sure we were loaded for bear! I pulled in to see Mike and Kim working on their house. They were both eager to hit the beach in the morning after hearing the success I had that day.
The next morning we hit the beach early, blasted 2 baits and eyeballed with the typical “we’re gonna get a big one look.” As usualy we were right. Kim had just made us all a sandwich and before we could get down the last bite…WHAM! there went the right side rod. I swear I felt salami hit my leg as big Mike ran me over to get the rod! You gotta be quick to beat this guy to the pole. It was another 80-100 dusky and put up a good fight. Before we knew it we had a crowd of about 30 people around. When you get a big boy on you have to go into intense catch and release mode. We at Bunker Up fishin appreciate the battle from the beast and realize the exhaustion on both ends so we do our best to unhook and release the fish as soon as possible.
We are loaded up with tags from NOAA and plan on tagging as many sharks as we can this summer to help the cause. When tagging sharks or any other species you must always assess the situation and use your best judgement on whether to take the time measuring and placing the tag. Critical seconds can be lost just getting the hook out and you don’t want to stress the fish more than he has already been, so chose your battles wisely especially when it comes to tagging sharks. The last thing you want to do is send him back exhausted with a tag in him. The chances of him dying when released are high and all the work you just put into doing it will be wasted along with his or her possible long life. We decided not to tag this shark due to the time and fight so Mike turned him around and slid him back into the sea.
It was a beautiful day and the bites kept coming along with a cow nose ray and some smaller sharks. We landed a small dusky and were greeted near the surf by a little girl who was just in love with the Sand Blaster. She said to her father “dad this thing is cool we gotta get one!” Her father avoided the issue and her enthusiasm towards it, which i thought was a little odd. I just took it as he didn’t have the money to buy one. His exact words where, “we don’t need that thing to catch fish.” Never the less, I was polite an offered Abby (his little girl) a chance to blast out a bait. Her father had already walked away but she remained and said, “yes I wanna blast it!” I told her she had to do everything exactly how I told her. She nodded her head and said, “yep!” Mike and I loaded the Sand Blaster, and I showed her what to do and man she blasted one so far we lost it going out!!! Everyone cheered and the smile on her face was priceless. I reached into my truck and gave her a BUF hat she was so happy and couldnt wait to see what might bite her long cast. I was feeling a little burnt from the sun and tired from the trip so I retired to the chair on the shade side of the truck. I could still see the rod she casted along with our other pole. Big Mike was standing next to her rod. My eyes where ready to shut when I noticed a slight bounce. Mike noticed it as well. Then, “WHAM,” there she went. Mike immediately ran towards the surf and said, “this is a big one.” He was right. It was a 150lb. dusky on Abby’s blast! By the time we got this one in, the crowd was 75+ and Abby was right there with a smile. While we were reeling, the shark went sideways and made its way towards some lines. Not usually a concern due to the fact most considerate fisherman remove their lines when a big one is on. Mike couldn’t believe this guy was sitting watching all the lines about to get tangled. He finally got up after Big Mike had to remove his lines with one hand while fighting the shark with the other. I was on my way down to the water with the pliers when I looked up and realized the guy on the beach still sitting on his ass. I said, “Yo! Buddy really?” This was another example of when not to tag a shark. It was taking to much time to get him him and we decided again to remove the hook quick and release him. Exhausted we decided to call it a day.
The next day I went out by myself and it was more of the same only with another twist. We had another run in with a kite surfer. He was running close to shore. I tried to wave him off but it was too late. He was now caught up in the Bunker Up dream! We use 80lb. braid so he had no choice but to release the board. He calmly waited for his board and was up and running in no time. No harm done but a lesson learned for him for sure. I headed back to the Ponderosa with an urge to come back out for a little sunset fishing. I convinced Big Mike to ride along. We were only going to fish for a couple hours and that’s all it took; 4 casts, 4 bites and Big Mike again beat me to the rod to land a monster 150 butterfly ray! This guy flipped it over and we removed the hook in seconds! I honestly don’t see anyone on the beach taking the hooks out of huge rays. Most are afraid and flat out dont care about them. BUF is very lucky to have a crazy fishermen like Big Mike on the team! It makes most situations a breeze. I have to admit Im getting a little sick of him beating me to the rod! Gotta start working out for sure.
The next day was all me and Kim and what a day! We met up with Jim Bridges and his son, Hayden, fellow BUF team members who were already blasting by the time we arrived. They had already caught a few small sharks and hung out with us to catch a few more. I also had some help from Kevin, a young lad who just could’nt get enough of the Sand blaster. He helped load and blast bait. By the end of the day I was calling him Ram Rod! He also caught a nice dusky with one of his blasts. It was way cool to see his face when he landed it. His father could’nt be prouder. His father also said Santa may just have to get one of those for next year. While I was trying to unhook a 200lb. ray I noticed my other rod starting to bounce. I ran up to get the pliers for the ray and on my way down the other rod bent to the sand! I yelled for someone to help because I still had to deal with the monster ray. Again the same neighbor fishermen who’s name has slipped my mine was more than willing to help. He faught it the whole way and I helped him land it . When it popped out of the surf we saw it for the first time and wow a 150lb. Sand Tiger! It’s not often you get one of these in broad daylight so I had to decide to take a picture or tag it. We had time for either since it came in pretty quick and I got the hook out in seconds. He was full of life so I went with the picture due to the fact it was a team effort from a fellow fishermen. I wanted to give him a memory along with a great promo shot for us. We kept the shark in the surf. You should never drag any shark up onto the dry sand. Keep them close to the surf so it’s easier to release them back into the sea. It also keeps the water going throw their gill slits. The last cast was all Kim. We where both excited when the rod went down and I wanted to see her land a big shark. The fight was heavy and lasted a while but in the end it was another large 100lb ray. Great job Kim! We’ll get one next time.
Thanks as Always for all those who helped especially Mike and Kim Costanzo for putting up the BUF Team. Until next time….. Bunker UP!
We’re back from south of the boarder! What a trip…a filled up fishin’ mission for sure. I headed down to Murrels Inlet, SC to meet up with my friend Ryan who was going to help me with the surf fishing seminar. Ryan is also a Bunker Up Fishin’ sales rep in that area so if you want a demo or are interested in purchasing a Sand Blaster feel free to email me and I’ll put you in touch with him.
Our first day out, Ryan and I decided to fish the sunset in Garden City. It was a nice night and I liked the spot. It had easy access with the carts and the water was clear and warm. It was perfect. We were meeting some of Ryan’s friends there, Chet and Mike. We blasted a few baits and within a few minutes we landed a small blue fish and before the end of the night, we landed a couple small sharks as well. I was beat from the trip and decided to call it a night.
The next day was spent making and cleaning up all the rigs we had. We needed at least thirty shark baits for the seminar and a bunch more for the rest of the week. We tied two kinds. Ryan was upstairs tying floating rigs and I was downstairs tying bunker shark rigs. By the end of the day we had sixty baits! We were loaded for bear or in our case, sharks. I was still a little worn out from my ride so we decided to chill for the night and fish at first light.
We headed back to Garden City the next morning and caught the high tide just before it slacked. The first cast we landed a very snappy and full of attitude 45 lb. dusky shark. That was the norm for the sharks we’d caught this trip. They were all eager to try to remove us and a few of our fingers. We had heard there were some big sharks being caught and we had saw large Spinner Sharks leaping out of the water which was truly an awesome sight. Just like the Bunker Up crew; they really launch! I really wanted to land one. About two hours in we got a huge hit that bent the rod to the ground. Ryan ran and grabbed the rod before it went flying into the water. After a few hard tugs and it was over. We pulled the line in to find that the 135lb. steel leader snapped at the sinker. I really hate when that happens. Nevertheless, it was a great sign and we knew we were going to hook into some on this trip. We fished out the rest of the day, landing one more nice 30 lb. dusky. I told Ryan I would treat him to dinner at RIOS Steakhouse and that was enough for both of us to wrap it up for the day. By the way, if you’re a steak enthusiast, RIOS Steakhouse is the best place to go!
The next morning we met up with our friend, Leanna the Park Ranger who was hosting the seminar. We had participated in this seminar the year prior and it was so much fun she asked us to come back. We arrived to find a huge crowd under the pavilion, anxiously awaiting the seminar to begin. Leanna and local surf fishing fanatic, Jessica from Perry’s Bait and Tackle began to enlighten the viewers about the preferred techniques required to increase their chances of landing fish from the shore. It was a great presentation. Both ladies are very knowledgeable about fishing and I actually found myself learning a few things. People wonder why I and many others love fishing so much. This is just one perfect example. There’s always something to learn and every area is different; like a mysterious, never ending trail. Just when you think you have the fish figured out, they change. That’s why I always ask the locals what’s going on before we hit the beach. That’s where you will get the best advice.
Leanna introduced me to the crowd. I gave them a short rundown of our company and what the “Sand Blaster” is all about. After answering a few questions I invited them all to come out and watch a live instructional demonstration. Ryan was already out there setting up, so when the crowd gathered around I went through a quick down of how the Sand Blaster works. I yelled out, “Here we go!” and blasted a monster shot out there, beyond the “thunder dome,” as I like to call it. The reactions are always great. Most say, “Awesome!” Some say, “Holy cow!” Others just have stare across the ocean with their mouths open which is followed by a smile. Watching the reactions always puts a smile on my face. Even though it’s my invention and my company, I have to say that when it comes to doing demos it makes me feel like everyone there is a part of the process.
Shortly after the first shot, a group of kids from the, Palmetto Academy of Learning and Success showed up. They immediately gathered around the caster and wanted to see it in action. I asked for volunteers and had no trouble finding a few of the classmates to help. They all did a great job and I was very impressed with their willingness to get involved. We took a great picture and said our goodbyes as they had to go to back to school. Hopefully they will be back next year. I would love to get them to reel in some monster sharks. I was hoping that would be the case while they were there but fishing is just that, fishing. Otherwise they would call it “catching”.
In the next, passing hour, the crowd began to thin out but a few diehards stayed glued to the rod holders in hopes of landing a big shark. The next hit was a nice one. Two people went for it; a young man and an older gentlemen. Neither was able to get the rod out of the holder due to the fact that our rod holders are high off the sand so you must bend it over and yank it out. I was able to help them. As I was reeling up the slack I realized it was a nice little 20lber. I turned to find this little boy who went for the rod. I walked towards him and presented the fish to him. He didn’t hesitate and grabbed it like he meant it! I really enjoyed that. After giving the youngster some landing instructions I looked to my left and saw his father giving me a thumbs up. Those are the moments I thank the Lord for allowing me to be in a position to make a small difference in someone’s life. I asked the youngster what his name was. He said, “Jackson.” I said well let’s go to Jackson and get this fish in! His Mom said that she loves Johnny Cash. I agreed. After landing the fish I presented Jackson with a BUF hat for doing such a great job. We took a great picture and thanked each other for a great time.
Then came Arny. This guy was glued to the rod. He wanted a big fish bad and wasn’t leaving until he got to reel something in. “Bang!” Down went the rod and Arny grabbed it. It was rippin’ out drag fast. I thought, “Wow! This guy’s got a monster!” Anticipating a big catch and release, I ran and got the video camera and shark tags. Twenty minutes later we saw it was a nice ray about 40lbs or so. After a great photo with Arny, I did the usual careful task of releasing the beast back to the sea. He was exhausted but happy. While thanking us, the other rod went down ripping line like no one had seen that day. Then we saw it launch out of the water! “It’s a Spinner!” we all yelled. Ryan grabbed the rod and wrestled it out of the rod holder. Seconds later it launched again! Then, “Snap!” Just like a tire exploding, the exuberant anticipation in the air vanished. Ryan reeled the line in only to find the 135lb. steel leader snapped again. That proved enough for Arny. He asked for my business card and said he was going to get his buddies to go in on buying one of these units. “That was insane.” were his exact words. We gave him a hat and left him to his fish story.
Now comes the creme dela crème. We had just launched two fresh bait out when the first rod goes down again…I mean, straight down, horizontal to the ground and ripping out drag! Ryan started running towards it but it was too late. The rod launched out of the holder and skidded across the sand like it was being pulled by a boat. It went 50 yards before hitting th ocean where Ryan made a second attempt to grab it. I was right behind him but in another second, it was out of sight. “Ed,” the Superman of the Surf. I dove in where I had last seen it only to come up empty. Disgusted and feeling a sense of loss I looked over and see this Old cat (who I would later refer to as, “Ed,” the Superman of the Surf) making his way out into the deeper water. He said, “I’m going to check out be the sandbar.” I replied, “That’s ok boss. Don’t hurt yourself.” I then began to think of how many big sharks are out there. I told him to come on in. On my way in, I looked back to see Ed diving into the sea again. As I turned back towrd the beach I heard the people on the shore yell out, “He got it!” I looked back to see this Superman of a guy with my rod. I thanked him the whole way in asked his name and told him he was amazing. Ryan and I both agreed this guy is getting a BUF Tackle bag for sure. Before leaving we thanked him again and took a picture. I’d just to give Ed another shout out. I’ve met a new fishing brother for sure. You can fish with us anytime!
The snapped lines were to continue throughout the rest of the trip. We decided the next trip we’ll try to attach some heavy mono fishing line to avoid the lack of stretch in the braid. Like I said before, it’s always a learning experience and one we welcome on every trip. I want to give a special thanks to Leanna and the Park Ranger crew for inviting us to a great event. Thanks also to Ryan for putting up the Bunker Up Crew while we were in town. Also I want to thank my girlfriend, Sheri for her help in making the trip possible. Thanks BABE!
Until the next mission… keep fishin’ and remember, “Why Cast it When You Can Blast it?!”
What a beautiful Saturday! Sheri and I decided to make a weekend run to the Island. We were meeting my cousin Jeff Bergamotto, his wife Debbie and their two kids Dante and Jullianna. We also made arrangements to meet up with some local friends Bryen and Kelly. On the way down we had to stop at the Ponderosa and borrow the privacy tent from Mike and Kim Costanzo. Thanks to them both as it was a big help and very much appreciated.
It was nearing 10:00 a.m. by the time we drove onto the beach. The wind was just right and the water was fairly warm so I believed our chances of landing a big shark where high. On the way down the beach we saw a dead Dolphin. It was all chewed up with massive bite marks which seemed to be from a large predator. We later found out from Bryen that the Dolphins had been washing up all summer from some kind of unknown disease. I pulled in about a half mile up from where the dolphin was thinking maybe the beast that bit him might come back. We blasted a few baits with one knock down but came up empty. It was nearing 3:00 p.m. when Byren and Kelly showed up. We exchanged greetings and shared a beer. He was also surprised that I hadn’t hooked up with one yet.
I got to thinking about the dead dolphin and what caused its death. I wondered if there could be something in the water in that area. It was hard to explain. There were no bites on sharks and live dolphins everywhere chasing bait fish in the surf. It was around 5:00 p.m. when my cousin showed up. It was their first time on the Island and I was hoping to show them a big shark. I met them at the gate to show them the tire procedure. As they followed me out, we stopped and looked at the dolphin again. They are massive creatures. It’s such a sad scene to see but now he will become part of the scavenger food chain. I guess that’s the only good thing one can make of it… that something will benefit from the loss of this beautiful anima.
We unloaded and began to bunker up for the night fish. We blasted bait after bait watching the fire and eating like champs. Oh, by the way, Debbie makes the best burnt pop corn this side of the Mississippi! It’s all good. I want to give a thumbs up to my cousins two kids for tending the fire. We put the fire right on the edge of the high tide which kept inching its way into the flames. Instead of moving the fire and giving into the waves Dante and Jullianna dug a deep trench in front of it building a wall to protect it. I thought that was so ironic. In life there are strong forces that try to push you back and most people just give in to that power. It’s the true warriors that fight to protect their ground. In the end, they managed to hold off the huge waves with a wall of sand. Great job! When we hit the beach it’s always something that tests our resolve. Somehow we always manage to work through the obstacles.
Later that night Jeff, Dante and I were watching the rods when we saw a little nibble. Then, “WHAM,” there she goes! I grabbed it and my first thought as the line peeled off was, “This is a monster!” Jeff said, “How big?” I told him it was at least 200lbs. We were all excited but the excitement stalled when the line just stopped. I knew then I had a massive stingray. Nevertheless I was excited for my cousin and his family because I knew they were about to see the biggest ray they had ever seen. It took about an hour to get it on the beach. It was over 1’ thick at the highest point. I estimated it weighed 200-250lbs. It was missing its tail but a dinosaur for sure. I put on a pair of gloves and dragged it back into the ocean for the release. We fished out the rest of the night with no bites. Morning came and as usual I blasted a couple baits for the early sunrise but it just wasn’t meant to be.
Sometimes everything can be right and the fish just don’t show up. That’s why they call it fishing instead of catching I guess. We made the usual finger food breakfast, exchanged good byes and promised we would do it again sometime soon. All in all it was a great time on a great beach with some great people. Until next time…. “BUNKER UP!”
Sorry, I’ve been slacking on the fishing blogs. I’ve been very busy building new casters and doing promotional stuff. So I’m going to wrap up the last few weeks into one bunker busting blog!
It started a few weeks ago when I met Logan, The Shark Wrangler, and his family on the beach. Congrats to him and his new baby…future shark wrangler for sure. The first few days were calm, without many hits then on the third day the truck count meter said 27 which is my birth date, so I was feeling lucky. About an hour after setting up, the boys with teeth showed up! Logan banged a 70lber and not long after that I landed a beautiful 150lb. Spinner Shark! We released both unharmed of course. We finished out the day and I planned to met up with him the following week.
I returned home to find I sold a few more casters so I had to bail on the upcoming weekend. After catching up I received a call from Logan saying he was still landing some nice sharks and that he was leaving the beach for home. I’m not sure what kind of shark he was holding sideways in his picture but it looked like a baby Bull Shark.
My next trip would be a solo one. The last weekend of August is usually a big shark catching week for the Bunker Up Team so I was anticipating great things. I got there early Saturday morning and met up with Mike Costanzo and Randy, my long time surfing buddy. I can’t surf but this guy makes it look easy. We blasted baits all day. The water was warm, the wind was right and we had our eyes peeled on the rods. To our surprise we only had one good knock down and when I grabbed the rod it was gone. We decided to blast one more bait. As I was pulling it out of the mold, I saw this lime green teaser skirt on the end of the hook inside the ice. I asked Mike if he put that on there and he said he didn’t. I’ve never made bait with one of those in there. We both looked at each other and agreed to blast it and see what happens. About an hour later we decided to reel in that line. It felt heavier than normal. I said, “there’s something on here,” as it made its way up the beach. We were surprised to see that we had caught a bag of Funion rings. The bag was the exact same color as the rig attached inside the mold. We both wondered what the chances of that were. We both agreed that it was too bad the bag wasn’t full because we both needed a little snack.
I don’t know what the problem was but we didn’t get a bite for the next few days. I decided to leave early Wednesday morning but before I left I just had to give it one more try. I guess it’s just the fishermen in me that always believes there’s a chance to get the big one! The day before, Kim Costanzo and I had a slight problem with the west wind and the flies. So before I emptied my tires I drove up to the public access and walked out. As I was walking out I noticed a couple just hitting the surf for a walk. They seemed not to be swatting at anything so I thought it was o.k. to go out. I drove over to the drive on I saw some flies building up on my truck but at this point, I was past the point of no return and it was time to Bunker UP! I hit the surf just ahead of the couple I saw just minutes before. I stopped them and asked if they wanted to see something cool. They both said, “Yeah.” I blasted one out there a mile and this guy was blown away! I told him I was glad he enjoyed it and asked him his name. He said, “Danny.” I said, “That’s cool. So am I.” I then asked his girlfriend her name. She said, “Sherry.” I said, “That’s my girlfriend’s name!” What are the chances of that?! Probably about the same as catching a green bag of snacks with a green fishing lure. I took a quick picture and they continued their walk. As they were heading back they were within 100 ft. of me. I asked the fishing gods to please give me a hit and, BAM, the rod went down!!! It’s like it was written in the stars. Danny and Sherry were lovin’ it. They both helped in the landing and picture taking. It was a 40lb. dusky… a nice, chunky little shark and well worth the trip on the beach. I decided to leave on a high note…thanking Dan and Sherry for the good Karma! Sherry is an awesome picture taker for sure. I headed home and as usual the next day I got some pictures from one of our Bunker UP crew, Mike Moss showing off his sharks and his smile!
That’s fishing. It’s hit or miss and when I see the smiles in the pictures it reminds me of why I love what I do so much. I’ll be heading to Assateague Island with my girlfriend Sheri this upcoming weekend so if you want to see what we do give me a shout I’ll blast a few out for yah! Enjoy these photos of the last few weeks.
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