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by Pete Kallin
Summer seems to be in full swing, with long lines at Day's Store and more out-of-state license plates than Maine plates on the cars parked in the village. The 7 Lakes Alliance (7-LA), formerly the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance, and the Friends of Messalonskee Courtesy Boat Inspectors (CBIs) have been on duty since Memorial Day weekend at the public boat launches in the Belgrades, doing their part to prevent the spread of invasive plants into our lakes. Last year, these CBIs inspected over 15,000 boats between Memorial Day and Labor Day and made multiple "saves" of invasive plants entering (and leaving) our lakes. Please help in this effort by learning how to properly inspect your boat yourself, especially when the CBIs are not on duty.
This past week has seen a mixture of weather some hot, some cool, some wind and finally, the remnants of Tropical Storm Alberto brought a bit of rain in what has been a relatively dry spring so far.
As the weather has warmed, the trout and salmon have headed for deeper, cooler water while the bass, sunfish, and landlocked alewives have headed for shallower, warmer water. The pike have finished their early spring spawning and are hungrily chasing whatever they can catch.
On a recent afternoon, I was on Long Pond in the late afternoon and the water surface was like glass. I could see several large schools of alewives breaking the surface as they were being chased by a pair of loons in about 25 feet of water. Every now and then a large swirl indicated the presence of large fish taking part in the action. I moved in and began casting my 6-wt. flyrod with a weighted streamer fly that imitated the alewives. In the next 20 minutes, I caught and released four nice (3-4 pound) smallies casting into the school, letting the fly sink down about ten feet and then a slow jerky retrieve.
Suddenly I had a particularly vicious hit followed by a strong deep run. As I worked the fish in I discovered I was playing a pike about 28″ long. Luckily the fish was hooked at the top of its upper lip and wasn't able to chew through my 5X (~5 lb. test) leader and I was able to net the fish after a ten-minute battle. This one went home with me to become filets and chowder. They are quite tasty if cleaned and prepared properly.
Recently, some new neighbors moved into my neighborhood. Jason and Sarah Toner are avid outdoor enthusiasts and have already discovered many of the local biking and hiking trails. Even better, they have signed up for the 7-LA Stewardship Committee to help take care of those trails. Recently, they had their grandkids, Carter and Brody, over for a bit of kayaking and a little swimming, although the two young cousins and the dog seemed to be having more fun in the 65° water than the grandparents.
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 7-LA at the Maine Lakes Resource Center. Get out and explore! Sign your kids up to learn to sail through the Great Pond Yacht Club. And make sure you take a kid along on your next outdoor adventure!
Pete Kallin is a past director of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance, which merged with the Maine Lakes Resource Center in December 2017 to form the 7-Lakes Alliance.