Summertime in the Belgrades
July 14 – 20
Hooked on Fishing
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by Pete Kallin
This was another busy week, which seems to be setting up as a trend this summer. The Maine Lakes Society (MLS), on whose board I serve, received grants last year from the Onion Foundation and the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund that have allowed us to bring our 30 ft. floating classroom, the Melinda Ann, to a number of lakes across the state and partner with Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife's (IFW) "Hooked on Fishing" program. "Hooked on Fishing" is a youth education program that teaches kids to fish in order to promote family togetherness through fishing within the State of Maine.
This week, we worked with almost 30 kids at the Belgrade Center for All Season's Camp Loon and Camp Golden Pond to teach them a bit about aquatic food webs, help them capture aquatic invertebrates and then teach them a bit about fishing. Jason Seiders, the head of IFW's Sidney Regional Headquarters, whose son is a Camp Loon camper, brought a number of dead and live fish of various species. He gave a presentation on various adaptations of fishes and let the kids touch and feel the fish. He talked about the various native species in the Belgrade Lakes, as well as some of invasives, such as northern pike and mud puppies. Nothing excites kids like live critters! Every kid was intensely engaged.
We broke the kids up into groups and some searched for aquatic invertebrates while others explored the depths with Maine Lakes' Remotely Operated Vehicle, which has a 200 ft. cable and an underwater camera. The kids got to look at the invertebrates (crayfish, mayfly, and dragon fly larvae, etc.) they captured on the MLS Ken-a-vison microscope. Other groups came out on the boats and did a bit of fishing. Except for snack and lunch breaks, it was nonstop organized chaos but the kids had a ball, as did the instructors and counselors. The weather was perfect and we caught quite a few fish. Several kids were fishing for the first time and caught their first fish ever. Hopefully not their last!
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 and help create some memories.
Pete Kallin is a past director of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance.