On the way back from Greenport, while my father waited in the car, my brother and I went in to see Steve at Wego. I showed him the reel and said, “What do you think?” His first comment was, “Wow that’s a beauty!” I asked, “Do you think you can fix it?” Steve said, “Of course, we have all kinds of parts for these old reels!” He recommended putting 80 lb. test braided line on the reel and told me to come back in a week to pick it up.
Well, I was back at Wego in exactly one week. The reel was ready and mounted on a new Shakespeare “Ugly Stick” pole. Steve told me there was much more damage than was originally evident. One of the bearings inside had failed and that crunch caused a gear to push outward resulting in a cracked outer casing. Fortunately he had the right parts and casing for a Penn Long Beach No. 37 that fit. Steve commented on what beautiful shape the reel was in and that my grandfather really took care of it. He also commented on how much he must have used the reel since some of the parts were well worn, including the loose shaft where the green handle attaches to the reel arm. I said, “I’m going out to the Gut right now,” and asked Steve to set up the pole with a striper rig and a bucktail of his choice; “Blueberry muffin, no question about it” Steve said.
I hit Plum Gut just after the slack and the changeover to flood tide on that Thursday in early June at about 2:30PM. There were a few other boats fishing the Gut and no one was having any luck. After my third pass, I went back south to 130 ft. of water for another pass. I looked up to the heavens and said, “Hi Popoo it’s me and I’m using your reel. I bet I could win the first, biggest and most right now with your help.” I’m sure I heard him say, “OK Johnny”. Well, a little ways up the slope, at 90 ft., I had one. It wasn’t much of a fight, in fact this striper kept swimming upward and I had to reel fast to keep the line taught. I quickly had her aside the boat and hauled in a nice 36 inch keeper, my first this year. There was still no other activity in the Gut and one of the other boats came by that saw me take the catch. When they asked what I was using, I said, “My grandfather’s reel.”
I called my wife, Bernice, and told her I was coming home with dinner. That night my family and I enjoyed the best tasting striped bass we ever had.
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