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WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Under the lid of ‘Union Leader Smoking Tobacco’

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Under the lid of ‘Union Leader Smoking Tobacco’


I drove down River Road alongside the Quinnipiac River the other day and it brought back a flood of memories of growing up in the Village of South Meriden.

I would imagine today’s parents could not even imagine letting their young offspring head out to a spot like the Quinnipiac River unattended by an adult. But we did because life back then was so much simpler and safe.

We fished and swam in the Quinnipiac River all summer long without adult supervision. Fishing was one of our main choices for recreation and all it took for gear was a length of fishing line, some hooks and a couple of lead sinkers, and we were in business.

If we could not afford the lead sinkers, we would use an old nut or bolt tied to our droplines and they worked just as good.

My “tackle box,” believe it or not, was an old, red tobacco tin that carried the name “Union Leader Smoking Tobacco.”

And get this: I still have it! Of course, now it is filled with memories instead of some rusty hooks and weights.

Back then, artificial fishing lures were unheard of by our group of “River Rats.” Worms were our bait of choice.

There are not too many of us old-timers who can recall when Red Bridge was the only way to cross the river from Oregon Road. It allowed those lucky enough to own a car back then to cross one car at a time. It was called “courtesy,” a trait long forgotten with so many of today’s drivers.

As odd as it may seem, we used the bridge mainly for diving off of, and no one ever gave fishing off of it any thought. Then, one day, one of our gang did fish off the bridge and caught a brown trout that had to be at least 16 inches in length.

After that, we all started to fish off of Red Bridge and, as I remember it, quite a few over-sized brown trout were taken by our group of young fishermen.

Over the summer, trout were only an added bonus to our fishing endeavors. Bullheads and suckers were the main fish caught. To this day, one of the largest suckers I have ever seen was caught in the Quinnipiac River in a spot that is now known as “Sucker’s Alley.”

If we wanted yellow perch from the Quinnipiac, we would head up to Carpenter’s Dam (now removed) because the perch would school at the base of the dam and were easy to catch (and eat).

Over the years, I have been beating the drum for the fishing in the Quinnipiac River, not only here in our area of River Road, but the entire river, especially below Hanover Dam down through Wallingford and beyond.

The QRWA had a trout stocking program for a number of years and the Wallingford area was quite heavily stocked under the leadership of Ben Bryda.

For a number of years, my Darlin’ Edna and I lived right across from the Quinnipiac River by St. Laurent Cemetery. One night, I was coming home in the dark and I saw a light between the cemetery and the river.

I went over to check it out. Two fishermen were having the time of their lives catching fish and releasing them.

And that is another aspect
of fishing the Quinnipiac River: You never know what you might catch. I have caught native brook trout and largemouth bass in the river.

Mystery trout

And just last week, local sportsman Don “Trapper Don” Dandelski caught a tagged trout out of the Quinnipiac River.

It is a “Mystery Trout.” I say this because the huge trout had a tag that said New Jersey on it.

Now, it is hardly unlikely that the trout made it all the way to the Quinnipiac River from New Jersey, but stranger things have happened. Remember the giant sturgeon that was caught in Wallingford?

Don is doing some research in the hope of finding out just were the tagged trout originated from, and if he finds out I will be sure to let you know. Or, if you do know, contact Don at 203-235-1318.

Black bears

It seems some people thinks it’s kind of cute to have a black bear on their property, but there is a gent in Pennsylvania that does not share that thought.

It seems that the man walked into his two-car garage not knowing that a black bear had also entered the garage a minute or so before him.

The man was thrown against some shelving units and, upon hearing a growl, knew that it was a black bear. When he turned to flee the bear bit him on the head.

The man broke away from the bear and, holding his injured head, stumbled towards the house. His wife, hearing a scream, met him at the door and called 911 as he tried to stop the bleeding.

Doctors deemed the head injuries were superficial bite marks.

Unluckily for us Connecticut residents, our legislators up in Hartford must figure that attacks like that occur only in other states like Pennsylvania, or have they already forgotten the three attacks here in our state?

Hunting them is the best means of black bear population control the DEEP Wildlife Division could have. Let’s give it to them before we have a Connecticut human fatality from a black bear attack.

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.