June 2 – 15 , 2017 Vol. 19, No. 1

Take it Outside!

The Mosher-Towle clan atop Mt. Phillip. Front: Jodie Mosher-Towle, Jaiden Gingras, Addison Gingras, Averi Gingras, Melissa Michonski. Back: Hansen Towle, Trey Michonski, Vicki Gingras.

by Pete Kallin

Greetings to the greater Belgrade Lakes Community and welcome back to summer residents and visitors!

When I was growing up and there was any kind of ruckus in the house, which was pretty common with six kids, my mother would tell us to, "Take it outside!" We would then head out to the woods behind the house to find something to do.

My mother was a wise woman. Fifty years before Richard Louv wrote Last Child in the Woods in 2008, she had an innate understanding of "Nature Deficit Disorder" and knew that direct exposure to nature is essential for a child's healthy physical and emotional development. Louv later proved that kids who spend a lot of time outside are healthier, have longer attention spans, and are less likely to suffer from depression or childhood obesity.

If you haven't read Louv's book, you should. I hope this column will inspire you to take advantage of all the outdoor recreation opportunities in our area and especially about the importance of getting youngsters outside and interacting with Mother Nature. Mother Nature is an amazing teacher and we can all learn from her.

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Dick Greenan with nine-pound brown trout.

This winter seemed to come and go, with snow followed by melting and then more snow and cold. Overall, the skiing ended up being pretty decent and the ice went out in the third week of April, a full month after last year.

The fishing has been good, especially for bass, pike, and trout. Once the surface water hit about 50°F, the fish began to get active and I caught a lot of very large bass on flies fished deep near the bottom in about 20 feet of water near dropoffs. The first dozen smallmouth bass I caught this year were all in the 3- to 4.5-pound range. By the time this article is published, the water temperature will be in the mid to high 60's in most of our lakes and the bass will be in the shallows, either on their own beds or chasing sunfish on their beds. Fast action can be had with surface poppers, jerk baits, or Senko type jigs.

There have also been some nice trout taken, including a fair number of rainbows that were stocked in Long Pond last fall. Many of the fish migrated downstream and seem to be hanging out near the Wings Mill Dam. Others have been taken near the dam in the village. My friend Dick Greenan, recently caught a nine pound, lunker brown trout trolling in Long Pond.

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The hiking trails in the Kennebec Highlands and nearby Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance (BRCA) properties like French Mountain, Mount Phillip, and The Mountain are beautiful, verdant, and awash in spring and early summer wildflowers like trillium and lady slippers and birds and other wildlife.

Jon Doty, Toni Pied, and Roy Bouchard of BRCA Stewardship Committee.

In mid-May, the BRCA Stewardship Committee held a work day on Mount Phillip, cleaning and marking the trails a bit and refreshing the yellow blazes along the property boundary. This dedicated group spends a lot of time maintaining over twenty miles of hiking and biking trails that help make the Belgrade Lakes Watershed a special place in which to live and recreate. They are always looking for additional volunteers to help out. It is a lot of fun, you will learn new skills, and you won't meet a finer group of people anywhere. If you are interested, contact Toni Pied 495-6039 at the BRCA to find out about the next scheduled work day and how you can sign up.

As I was heading down the trail after the work day, I ran into BRCA (and North Pond Association) board member, Jodie Mosher-Towle, heading up with her sisters, one of her sons, and assorted nieces and nephews. It was good to see so many youngsters out enjoying the outdoors. I encourage everyone to take advantage of the wealth of recreational opportunities this area offers. Take a kid fishing or on a hike, or paddling in a canoe. It's how memories are made. Or take a parent, so he (or she) can become a kid again.

Pete Kallin is a past director of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance.