Quinnipiac treasures: above, below


Shad in Hanover Pond?

Could be, according to Steve Gephard, supervisor for the Diadromous Fish Program and Habitat Conservation Enhancement Program, Inland Fisheries Division, DEEP after I queried him about the possibility of shad being in Hanover Pond.

I got word that there were a couple of dead shad floating in the waters of Hanover Pond, so I got in touch with Gephard to find out if this was possible.

“We only counted four shad going through the Haakonsen Fishway at Wallace Dam (Wallingford) this year, so those fish were available to go to the Hanover Pond Fishway, but we do not know if they did,” Gephard replied. “We have no camera at Hanover Dam, but we don’t know for sure if they did.

“However, we also trucked in about 80 shad from the Holyoke Dam Fishlift on the Connecticut River to Hanover Pond to accelerate the pace of restoration to the Quinnipiac River,” Gephard added. “The offspring of those fish will imprint the Quinnipiac River and return as adults in 3 to 5 years. It is most likely that it was some of these fish that were seen dead in the pond. After spawning, some fish will use the fishway to get downstream (now closed) or some will go over the spillway if there is enough water for them to do so.”

Gephard asked me in an email how many fish were seen and I told him four to six.

It would be really interesting to see a shad run return to the Quinnipiac River. A number of years ago, a trip to Enfield Dam was a “must” for many of our area shad fishermen who were interested in shad fishing the Connecticut River. Back in the 60s, I made a couple of trips up to the area below the I-91 bridge with a fellow worker, Ken Staschke, when I worked at the L Suzio Concrete Company.

We used lead jigs called “shad darts” and did quite well catching the shad, but we returned them to the water because we did not have a clue as to how to bone and fillet them.

Boned and prepared right, they are delicious, but you hardly ever see them on restaurant menus anymore.

Wait, I take that back. On a Mother’s Day trip to the Sans Souci Restaurant and Lounge with my darlin’ Edna, they did feature Connecticut River shad and it was delicious beyond belief.

As for filleting and boning out a shad, local resident Ted Fritz took a back seat to no one taking on that chore!

Shad runs were associated with that time in spring when the apple blossoms appeared. Area shad fishermen would flock to the Enfield Dam on the Connecticut River. After the dam breached, the shad were able to continue their migration up the Connecticut River, and the next stop was the Holyoke Dam. That is now the springtime shad hot spot, but we rarely, if ever, get reports of shad activity there during the run. I’d like to hear from any area fishermen next spring when the shad are running.

MERIDEN LIONS ROAR

Since I first met them, the members of the Meriden Lions Club always impressed me with their work ethic. No job too small, no job too big. “Let’s get it done” seems to be their unwritten motto.

They took on the huge job of saving and refurbishing a Connecticut historic site, Red Bridge on Oregon Road in South Meriden, when no one seemed to care about the future of Red Bridge and it was destined to rot away into oblivion. No city or state officials volunteered to step up and save Red Bridge. What a shameful way to treat a historic site.

As a child I fished off Red Bridge and also dived into the cooling waters of the Quinnipiac River from it. It was still the main form of getting a vehicle across the Quinnipiac River if you used Oregon Road, so it was maintained.

But when various properties were developed and a new school constructed, the need for a more modern bridge was obvious. When the new bridge was built, the old Red Bridge was completely ignored by those it had served so faithfully over the years. The wooden planking began to rot and its iron began to grow a coat of rust. It looked like the historic bridge was doomed because no one seemed to care.

And then the Meriden Lions Club, led by Fran “Zyg” Zygmont, took on the enormous job of refurbishing Red Bridge. Zygmont made it his Past President’s Project. He and his fellow Meriden Lions scraped, primed and painted the steel and replaced the wood planks, restoring Red Bridge back to it original magnificence.

After the bridge was restored, I somehow got drafted into this hardworking corps and received a first-hand lesson in what volunteering as a Meriden Lion was all about. The work that they did refurbishing the Quinnipiac River Watershed Headquarters, starting in the dead of winter, defies description. This project was headed up by past presidents Art Forcier and Ed Haberli.

And how about Meriden Lion Club Park just above Red Bridge and the gateway to the Q-Gorge, a project taken on by past presidents Bill Panciera and Dick Carino? Well over $60,000 was donated to these projects and I would venture to guess that they donated over $100,000 worth of free labor (not to mention the free use of their own tools and equipment).

Red Bridge has already had two major maintenance projects replacing planks that had rotted. The first one was on a bitter cold day that had anyone with a sense of survival staying inside. Not the Meriden Lions. They got the job done despite frozen fingers and toes.

And then just this past June another replanking project on Red Bridge came up and this time it was the heat that was unbearable. I was there and could not believe the workforce of my fellow Meriden Lions that showed up in the sweltering heat to keep the bridge safe for those using it to enter the Q-Gorge Trail. Just this past week, some of them showed up to put the finishing touches on the Red Bridge planks.

The Meriden Lions, they just seem to always get the job done, no matter what. If you get a chance, check out Red Bridge and the Meriden Lions Club Learning Center in the QRWA Headquarters, and if you should run into a Meriden Lion Club member, tell him “Thanks.”

And for some of our politicians both on a city and state level: Is the Red Bridge Historic Site owned by the town or the state?

Also, isn’t it about time that such a beautiful spot be maintained on a different level than dependency on a group of volunteers who have already given so much of themselves in time and money to the city and various other organizations?

Just wondering!

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



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