WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Let me ‘conger’ you a creepy fish tale



“A creature from the deep?”

These were the thoughts of local fisherman Steve Bender when the long eel-like body of the fish on the end of his line came close to the boat.

The Middlefield resident was fishing on his buddy Dave Dziob’s boat off Niantic and their first thought was to cut the line and let the huge eel-like critter go back into Long Island Sound.

Bender had second thoughts after appreciating the size of the sea creature, so he and Dave used a net to get it into the boat.

That’s when all heck broke loose. The monster eel slithered across the floor of the boat and started to bite the fuel line while wrapping itself around the fuel hose.

Bender knew he had fish that was out of the ordinary, but he was still not sure what it was.

They were fishing for blackfish, using green crabs for bait, so when the lunker took the bait, Steve thought he had a record blackfish on the end of his line.

They finally subdued the huge eel and decided to keep it in a cooler and have it weighed on an official scale at a tackle shop.

It tipped the scales at 13 pounds and was 51¾ inches in length!

And then came another surprise: It was a conger eel, also known as a poison eel, sea eel and dog eel.

And then came the next surprise: It was a new Connecticut saltwater record, eclipsing a 7.4-pound conger caught way back in 1987.

Bender now has the documentation from the DEEP making his record catch official and one that I would think will last for a number of years.

Conger eels have a nasty reputation and a mouth full of sharp teeth to back up their nastiness. They have been known to attack and bite divers who came too close to them.

They do not have a great appeal as a food fish, but if you check it out there are some recipes for conger eel. I am a fish eater, but I think I would pass on conger eel.

They are figured to have a 20-year lifespan and have been known to weigh as much as 160 pounds and can reach six feet in length.

I have seen the photos of Steve Bender’s record catch and have to admit it is an awesome eel. I think that if I had seen it on the end of my line I would probably have cut the line.

Nice going, Steve Bender!

Deer season

Opening day for deer season with firearms is next Wednesday, Nov. 16.

A deer hunting season is a much needed tool that enables our DEEP Wildlife Division to try and keep the state’s burgeoning deer numbers in check. There are way too many deer/vehicle collisions here in Connecticut.

Since its beginning, the firearms season in Connecticut has come a long way, and yet in many spots the deer numbers continue to grow.

There is one thing here in Connecticut that a lot of folks do not understand about our deer hunting seasons, and this includes some of the hunters. Deer hunting in Connecticut was initiated as a means of bringing the deer population down to a reasonable level. The very first firearms season was implemented using black powder firearms, better known as muzzleloaders.

But after a couple of seasons it became evident that many muzzleloader hunters were becoming “buck selective.” In other words, they would pass up a shot at a doe and wait for an opportunity to put their tag on a buck.

This resulted in the reversal of the firearms seasons, with shotgun/rifle hunters getting the first crack at the deer and then the muzzleloaders. To an extent, this has worked better and has resulted in many more places to hunt for the muzzleloader hunters.

And, yes, I do know that there are some who might not like this arrangement, but so far it was worked pretty well. If you want to keep a deer population in check, you do have to take out the does. Taking a buck had little or no effect on a deer herd because one buck can breed many does if they are higher in number.

In fact, I was told a number of years ago by a wildlife biologist when the firearms season first began that, left untouched, without hunting, a deer herd can just about double in size every year.

That being said, the 2022 Connecticut firearms season for deer runs from next Wednesday to Dec. 6 on private land. Hunting hours are a half hour before sunrise to sunset.

You have to have a Firearms Hunting License and Private Land Shotgun/Rifle Deer Permit. Anyone using a revolver for their deer hunting is required to carry a Revolver Deer Endorsement.

Private land deer hunters can harvest one deer of either sex and one antlerless deer. Immediately after harvesting a deer, the hunter should complete and sign a harvest tag and keep it with the deer at all times.

Those holding State Land No-Lottery (Nov. 16-Dec. 6) and State Land Deer and Controlled Lottery (Lottery A Nov. 16-Nov. 25) are allowed to harvest one deer either sex and, again, follow the proper tagging regulation.

I would also like to commend whoever was responsible for the 2022 edition of the Connecticut Hunting and Trapping Guide. It is THE BEST one you have ever published! Please do not stop publishing them!

Turkey shoot

With the high price of turkeys this year, you might want to try your luck at the Meriden Motorcycle Club’s Annual Turkey Shoot.

The event will take place on two days, Nov. 13 starting at noon, and on Nov. 20, when there will be breakfast available at 9 a.m. and the shoot starting at noon. The club is located on Stantack Road, just past the L. Suzio companies on the left.  Any questions, call George Eddy at 203-886-6900.

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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