Summertime in the Belgrades
June 30 – July 6
Fishing and Hiking
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by Pete Kallin
The week began with a Father's Day visit from my younger daughter, Joan, and her husband, Taber. After visiting the farmers' market and picking up brunch, we headed home for a delicious meal made from fresh, locally produced ingredients.
It was a nice day so we decided to do an afternoon sightseeing cruise around Long Pond. I took along a couple of fishing rods, "just in case." As it happened, when my son-in-law, Taber, wanted to drive the boat for a bit, I sat up in the bow with a flyrod.
As we were motoring slowly up Beaver cove toward the base of French Mountain, I took a cast and connected with a nice bass. It jumped several times and with some alacrity, my daughter netted it for me. I'm not sure that would have happened if it weren't Father's Day. I know I created some fond new memories. Judging by the look on her face, I think my daughter was also creating memories although perhaps not quite as fond as mine!
One day last week I volunteered to fill in for one of BRCA's regular Courtesy Boat Inspectors, so he could attend a special staff event. As soon as I got to the ramp and sat down, a dozen members of the Saco Valley Castmasters, a bass fishing club based in southern Maine and NH, showed up for an all-day tournament on Long Pond. I inspected all the boats as they launched one after another to make an 8 a.m. shotgun start.
Major League Fishing used the Belgrade Region for their national championships last year and more and more bass fishermen from across the country are coming to our area to visit and experience some of our truly outstanding bass fishing. The clubs come to the region, spend a few days in a local hotel and typically spend a couple of days scouting or "pre-fishing," before a couple of days of competition. The excellent fishing also attracts more visitors to local sporting camps such as Bear Springs Camp (Great Pond), Whisperwood (Salmon Lake), Alden Camps (East Pond), and Castle Island Camps (Long Pond). Good water quality is important to these local businesses and they are all strong supporters of the local lake associations, and other conservation organizations such as the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance and the Maine Lakes Resource Center.
John Rice from Castle Island Camps organizes and judges the loon calling contest that takes place in Belgrade Lakes every year on the first Saturday in August. It is a unique and fun event and if you have never been, I highly recommend you add it to your "bucket list," especially if you have young kids or grandkids.
I frequently meet visitors from these camps on our lakes and many of them eventually become permanent residents after years of visits. On a recent windy day Jay and Carol Sanford, who were spending the week at Castle Island Camps for at least the 12th time, sought shelter in the lee of the same island and struck up a conversation while fishing in the same area. They are from West Boylston, MA, where my older daughter lives, and very close to where I grew up many years ago. Turns out we knew several people in common. I later caught up to them and snapped their picture silhouetted in front of McGaffey Mountain and Roundtop in the Kennebec Highlands.
I also spent a few days hiking some of the local trails and ran into the Grant family from Fairfield. Mom grew up in this area and frequently hiked French Mountain while growing up and decided it was a perfect place to take Kiera and Alex out hiking for the day. French Mountain is an awesome place to introduce young kids to hiking, maybe with a picnic lunch at the top.
This area offers some great outdoor recreation, whether you like to hike, bike, birdwatch, fish, sail, or paddle a canoe or kayak. Pick up a map of the local trails at Day's Store or from the BRCA at the Maine Lakes Resource Center. And make sure you take a kid along on your next outdoor adventure. Also, please check the MLRC web site for details on some interesting events scheduled this summer. Check the web site and keep an eye on the sign out front.
Pete Kallin is a past director of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance.