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Chris French
Mike Roberts

New shop run by one Square shooter


OK, gang, here is today’s quiz: Where is Connecticut Archery located?

Pardon my ignorance, but I didn’t know either until a couple of weeks ago thanks to being told about it by a fellow avid archer and bowhunter, Mark Popolizio.

It appears that, in our area, archery shops come and go for lack of year-round support because, for many, archery is a seasonal thing and when warmer weather prevails it becomes an outdoor sport.

It gladdened my heart to learn that, in the Wallingford area, we once again have a combination archery shop/indoor archery lanes, plus a manufacturer of not one, but two innovative archery products that can only make you a better bow hunter.

Connecticut Archery is owned by Michael “Mike” Scaniffe and is located at 340 Quinnipiac Street, Building 24, Wallingford (next to World Gym and Prime Climb). They say you can’t tell a book by its cover and Connecticut Archery is a prime example of that.

Once you enter the building, you are in an archer/bowhunter’s dream world. A full service archery shop featuring Hoyt, PSE Martin and Parker bows, plus the now-legal crossbows. Scaniffe works on and repairs any and all bows. Plus, he manufactures a bowstring, Lightning Bowstring, as well as a revolutionary new bow sight, Square Up, that is taking the archery world by storm.

“Square Up is actually a sighting device that eliminates torque in your bow that affects arrow flight upon release,” Scaniffe said.

I have talked to many users of the Square Up and accolades praising the ability of the device to improve their bow shooting ability are many. Popolizio and his son, Mark II, raved about the Square Up and its ability to make you a better bowhunter or target shooter. I even got a hands-on demonstration of the Square Up and was amazed at what it does.

Scaniffe, who hails from Killingworth, is an avid bowhunter. He has had an interest in archery since he was 7-years old and has been shooting a bow for 33 years. His interest in archery prompted the forming a team archery league in his church when he was younger and this was the start of his career as an archer and his avid interest in the archery industry.

A process engineer by trade, he was aware of all of the aspects of what makes a bow shoot accurately and this knowledge led to his developing the Square Up “target indicator.” I heartily recommend that area archers visit Connecticut Archery and have Mike show them first hand what Square Up is all about.

I was really thrilled to see that Connecticut Archery features a 30-yard indoor bow range and is now holding league shoots during the week. They’ll have a Thursday night shoot starting March 29 and it will run to April 24. Cost to enter is $75 per shooter. All levels welcome and there will be a cash prize for first place. It is referred to as a “2-D” target league because of the type of targets used.

Presently, Connecticut Archery features eight shooting lanes, but this will eventually be made into 16 shooting lanes. To say that I was impressed by Mike Scaniffe and his Connecticut Archery would be a gross understatement. Connecticut Archery has it all, including a full line of archery equipment (if he doesn’t have it he will get it), an archery repair shop and the knowledge to put it all together. I found Mike Scaniffe pleasant to talk to and very passionate about what he does.

Connecticut Archery hours are 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. For further information, you can call Connecticut Archery at (203) 626-9465 during those hours.

C’MON SPRING!

Enough already! I don’t think I can remember a February like the #*^#* one that we just had when it came to serving up snow and bitter cold to go with it. Of course, it could be that as I get older I get a tad crankier (Edna might agree with that), but it gladdens my heart when I know that officially spring is only 19 days away (March 20) counting today.

Yes, I know that there might be ice fishing on some of the ponds and lakes in Connecticut, but now is the time to be very aware of the possibility of going through the ice as the sun gets higher and higher in the sky.

My thoughts now turn toward the arrival of some open-water fishing, especially for some panfish for a fish fry or two. While it seems that the ice will never go away, it doesn’t take much to see some open water, and even though we will have to wait until the third Saturday in April to get in some trout fishing on most of our trout waters, there are ponds that offer up some very good early spring fishing for panfish like bluegills, perch and calico bass.

Of course, Lake Beseck has been drawn down to allow for dam repairs and will not be available for any fishing this year, but Silver Lake is a good bet when the ice is gone. From where I sit, it appears that just like when the ice is safe for ice fishing, this seems to be the best time for fishing success. The very first open-water fishing in the spring also seems to produce some of the best fishing, although it can get really cold on the water this time of the year.

Silver Lake does produce some nice-sized bass during the year. However, it is referred to as a “catfish lake” in the 2013 Connecticut Angler’s Guide. According to the guide, it was first stocked by the state in 2007 with Channel catfish, but I know for a fact that some nice catfish were caught in Silver Lake long before the state program took place. I have even heard of some northern pike being taken form Silver Lake and it does have an abundance of pickerel although many of them appear to be stunted.

I have a copy of the “Fisheries Guide To Lakes And Ponds Of Connecticut” and it says that black crappie (calico bass) and sunfish are stockpiled and stunted, but over the years I have seen some nice eating-sized calico bass come out of Silver Lake, especially in early spring before the weeds start to take over its waters. (Silver Lake, by the way, is now being dredged by the state in an effort to curtail the weed growth.)

If we should get an early ice-out, especially in the northern portion of Connecticut, and you like fishing for calico bass and bluegills, I heartily recommend you spend some time on Hatch Pond up in the Kent area.

Even if ice out comes a bit late this year, and you like to fish for calico bass and really keeper bluegills, then you should give Hatch Pond a try. Located off of South Kent Road in Kent, this 72-acre pond in my opinion is one of the prettiest ponds in Connecticut simply because of the beauty it offers. There is only one road visible from the pond, as well as a single track railroad that hardly ever sees any trains.

It has a steerage regulation of 8 mph with no water skiing allowed. At one time we used to park next to the railroad tracks and put a cartop boat into the pond. Years ago, I made a recommendation to the DEEP that they improve the boat launch at the south end of the pond and they did a remarkable job of it.

If there is one drawback about Hatch Pond, it is the fact that it is heavily weeded and fishing it can be a problem at times, especially when the weather gets warmer in the summer months. When I first discovered Hatch Pond back in the 80s, many of the calico bass appeared to be stunted, but over the years they seem to have gotten much bigger. When I last caught some a couple of years ago, they were in the 12-inch-and-larger class.

One of the surprise catches for me while fishing Hatch Pond was the size of the bluegills I caught. I mean to tell you some of those bluegills were lunker sized. I fish Hatch with a 12 foot cartop boat and an electric trolling motor. I usually get into the main portion of Hatch Pond (16-foot at the deepest part) along side a small mountain on the west side of the pond. I troll small soft baits (Lunker City of Charlie Brewer) and usually have no problem creeling enough calico and bluegills for a fish fry.

If you fish Hatch Pond, be prepared for its isolated beauty, Many times the only thing you will see while on Hatch Pond are some deer along the shoreline (they even walk the train track) and an occasional osprey or even an eagle now and then. One year I was even serenaded by a rambunctious old tom turkey as he tried to woo some hens in for a visit. There are a couple of isolated cabins located on the northwest corner of the pond and they are only accessible by boat, although one day we did see float plane moored off of one of the cabins.

That’s it gang, think spring! See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops wherever they may be serving our great country.



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