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by Pete Kallin
Suddenly the days are getting a little shorter and I am beginning to notice swamp maples beginning to turn red in the wetlands and birches turn yellow high on the hillsides. It is still quite warm during the day but the nights are growing cooler. Soon it will become easier to find a parking place in the village. Like the birds and squirrels, I am double checking my summer "to do" list and trying to make sure everything gets done. I am amazed at how many things are still on the list.
Last week, my older daughter, Barb, and her family, including three of my grand dogs, came for a short visit. We hiked bit, cruised the lake, and kayaked down the Great Meadow Stream from Route 225 to Great Pond. It was a beautiful day and we saw lots of birds and wildlife as we paddled through the wetlands, which were full of beautiful pickerel weed in bloom as well as swamp milkweed, duck potato, and buttonbush beginning to bloom. We had a nice lunch on the shores of Great Pond while we watched the New England Milfoil crew working where the stream flows into North Bay. On the way back, we explored a few tributary streams and picked a couple of quarts of blueberries without even getting out of our kayaks!
My friend Dick Greenan took Lynn and Phyllis Matson's grandson, Alex Patricelli, out fishing while Lynn was back in MN paddling the boundary waters. Alex caught a couple of nice bass and a big yellow perch and the rest of the Matsons enjoyed a fresh caught fish fry while Grandpa Lynn was still in the woods.
Later in the week, Dick and I canoed the Kennebec River from Waterville to Sidney, paddling roughly seven miles in seven hours on the water. Again, we had perfect weather and caught and released about 100 fish, that included two stripers, a yellow perch, and a lot of feisty smallmouth bass. The river fish seem stronger and more acrobatic than their similar-sized, lake-dwelling cousins. When the water is only a couple feet deep, they can't dive deep, so they take to the sky and jump repeatedly, making for an exciting battle on a flyrod or light spinning gear. We had eleven "doubles," where we were each playing a fish at the same time.
Amazingly, we only saw one other boat, a Marine Resources crew checking on sturgeon in the river, and not another human being for nearly seven hours on the river. We did see at least six eagles, eight great blue herons, and numerous cormorants, kingfishers, and other birds, as well as a big splash from a leaping sturgeon. It's a great trip that I highly recommend.
It is hard to believe that this is the final issue of Summertime in the Belgrades for this year. I hope this column has inspired some of you to get out and explore the outdoor recreation opportunities the region has to offer and I hope you took a kid or two along. Until next year, I encourage everyone to "Take it Outside." For those of you who will be around for the winter, I encourage you to join me on the local trails on snowshoes or skis. Carpe ski-em!
Pete Kallin is a past director of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance.