WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Back to the beginning (and here’s to you, Mr. Robinson)

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Back to the beginning (and here’s to you, Mr. Robinson)


Wow, where does the time go?

As I sat down to pen this column, it dawned on me that 39 years ago (July 20, 1982) I wrote my first column for the Meriden Record-Journal. A whole lot of water has passed under the bridge since that first column.

I’ve been asked many times how I got started on writing the column for the R-J and I would have to put the blame on former R-J Sports Editor Ken Robinson. 

Back then, I was quite active with the start of the Quinnipiac River Watershed Association and was always bringing in news on the QRWA for the R-J.

At the same time, I happened to see an article written by a New York outdoor sports writer about a local angler who had caught a record Connecticut River shad. I asked Robinson why the R-J still did notl have an outdoor column like it once did with Allen Myers and why did I have to read about a Connecticut angler in a New York newspaper?

Ken’s reply floored me.

“Good idea. Why don’t you write it? You are always in here hounding me with stuff about fishing and the QRWA.”

I looked at him in stunned silence.

“I don’t type!” was all I could muster at the moment.

“Write it on a legal pad and I will have a typist get it ready for print,” Ken replied. “We will run it every other week and see how it goes.”

Thanks to you, our readers, it has gone quite well. We have gone from every other week to every week, then in the new Sunday edition and now every Friday on the sports page.

And it has been quite a trip.

Of course, I would never have accomplished what I did without the help of my Darlin’ Edna. She coached me every bit of the way.

I became a member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association (NEOWA) and the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA). NEOWA awarded me with a life membership for my time as chairman of the NEOWA Scholarship Committee as well as numerous awards for some of my columns.

I also authored three books: Connecticut Whitetail, South Meriden Memories and Woods ‘N’ Water Memories, all of which have sold out.

This new venture in my life allowed me to travel to faraway places in search of outdoor adventures. I have been truly blessed and I have Ken Robinson and the Meriden Record-Journal to thank for it.

I thought I would take you for a trip down Memory Lane with a reprint of my first column. See if you recognize any of the names way back when. If you can, it might make you an “Official Oldtimer” just like me.


In a check with area fishermen I have found most had some good catches.

Locally, a chat with Ed Holmes at the Black Pond Boat Livery shows that the trout enthusiasts have had a successful season so far. Some of the anglers on the chart that Holmes keeps during the season include Andy Selest, who is leading the list with 29 trout. Ed Holmes Jr. has 28. Elliot Lipman has 25, Roland Chartier 23 and Chuck Kiss 22.

Leading the ladies is Joanne Pulcinella with 19 trout. She is followed by Karen Greenbacker with 10.

Holmes also reported that Fred Stanley and a friend from Bridgeport caught seven trout last week. Also, at Black Pond, Craig Byron landed a five-pound bass on a Mepps spinner. Two other bass — one four pounds and the other 2½ pounds — were also taken at the pond.

Elsewhere, Al Carpenter, one of the senior members of the region’s fishing fraternity, reported on limiting out just about every time while fishing Uncas Lake in Old Lyme. Carpenter was trolling small shiners on a fly rod. He also mentioned landing a 20-inch brown trout recently. Joe Gawel is another angler who has been limiting out at Uncas Lake on a regular basis.

Bob Moreau and Steve Dow recently fished Highland Lake in Winsted and came away with 13 Kokanee salmon up to 10 inches on corn. Moreau said they were fishing at a depth of about 20 feet.

Raymond Yale has had pretty good luck at Cedar Lake in Chester, but says the results are slowing now. He has been limiting out on rainbow, brown and golden trout.

While fishing on different occasions at Gardner Lake in Salem with Mike Hanlon and Ted Kittredge (both of Wallingford), we took a wide variety of fish. Hanlon brought in a smallmouth bass about 2½ pounds. Kittredge had a pickerel about 22 inches long and I lucked out with three rainbow trout.

Along with these, we also caught bluegill up to three-quarters of a pound, calico bass, a bullhead and numerous yellow perch. The only bait used were nightcrawlers drifted on the bottom.

Five-and-a-half year old Chris Gurtowski has caught 18 calico bass at Baldwin Pond in Meriden. Bruce Erdos says the secret weapon for three one-pound fish was live bait.

On the saltwater scene, talks with various people along the shore revealed that that everyone’s favorite — the snapper blue — is just making an appearance. In another couple of weeks they should be in full swing.

Early in the season, the snappers are about five or six inches or smaller in length. As the season progresses, however, they will increase in size since they are voracious eaters, hitting anything that moves.

They can be caught on flies, spinners, and frozen shiners, pieces of shrimp or cut up pieces of fish. Light freshwater tackle is all that is needed to catch them.

Bruce Vass took a five-pound fluke off the Pink House in Watch Hill, R.I. Cut squid was the bait used.

Leo Michalski, George Mongrain and John Huff were fishing South West Reef off of Clinton and hauled in 90 pounds of black fish. Michalski said the largest fish weighed 10 pounds. Hermit crabs were used as bait.

Bruce Vetre of Paul’s Custom Tackle in Westbrook told us of weakfish up to nine pounds on eels and sandworms off South West Reef. Paul Carouso, former owner of the Tackle Box in Meriden, caught a 10½-pound blackfish on a green crab.

Talk about a trip into the past. Do you remember any of the names?

See ya and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be serving this great country of ours.

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