Summertime in the Belgrades
August 12 – 18
Greedy Fish And Inquisitive Kids
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by Peter Kallin
This was another busy summertime week in the Belgrades. I spent some time early in the week hacking down some Japanese knotweed, locally called "bamboo." It is an invasive species, which has infested BRCA's Mount Phillip property along Route 225 in Rome.
This plant was introduced into the United States by the famous landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmstead, who designed NYC's Central Park and Boston's Emerald Necklace in the mid 19th Century. He wanted a plant that would do well along waterways and bloom in the summertime.
It has since spread to at least 24 states in the northeastern US and is especially pernicious along waterways and roadsides. It is a difficult plant to get rid of once established but with dedication and a multi-year effort can be done by repeated cutting. The young shoots in the spring are quite tasty (sort of a lemony cross between asparagus and rhubarb) and can be used to make jellies and brew wine (my favorite use of the shoots). Anyone who is interested in learning about controlling invasive species should contact Toni Pied at the BRCA
After hacking knotweed, I hiked up Mount Phillip and met the Jackson Family from New Vineyard, with daughters, Lily, 7, and Dottie, 3. They have been hiking trails in this area for several years since being introduced to them when their parents rented a camp on Great Pond several years ago.
I also managed to get out to do a bit of fishing. One morning I was trolling in Long Pond, with a Mooselook flutter spoon on one line in a rod holder on the port side set just below the thermocline, hoping for a landlocked salmon or brown trout and holding a flyrod with a sinking line and my trusty White Zonker fly on the starboard. I then got a phone call on my cell phone from a friend I was supposed to meet later that day to do some fieldwork for a potential BRCA project. Ironically, the best cellphone coverage in the area is in the middle of the lakes as the towers are up on the hills surrounding them and there is no topographic interference in between.
As I was talking, a fish suddenly took the line on the port side. I quickly terminated the phone call, placed my flyrod in the rod holder on the starboard side and began reeling in the fish. When I had the fish about halfway to the boat, suddenly I had a strike on the flyrod. I scrambled back and forth trying to reel in both rods and when I finally got the fish in I discovered I had the same fish on both rods. The roughly 14" smallie hit the spoon first and then spotted the fly as I was reeling him in and tried to grab that as well!
The next day, I invited Luke Orup, the son of one of my neighbors, out for a bit of fishing in the late afternoon. As you can see by the picture below, we were successful. While the photo missed the top of his head, it captured the most important parts the fish and the smile on his face.
I finished up the week helping out with Aquafest, a family event sponsored by the BRCA Lake Trust at the MLRC. All the lake associations and some Camp Runoia counselors helped out with various water-centered activities aimed at kids, including the Maine Lakes Society 30-ft., floating classroom, collecting invertebrates, learning about stormwater, painting T-shirts, etc.
I think the high point for the kids was when they got to feed the zooplankton and invertebrates they collected and identified to the fish in the tank at the MLRC. I also spotted Dave Hallett of Great Pond with his 4-year old son and a friend catching fish after fish near the MLRC docks. It was good to see so many youngsters enjoying the lakes!
Pete Kallin is a past director of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance.