Summertime in the Belgrades
June 29 – July 5
Fishing and Hiking
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by Pete Kallin
The week began with a Father's Day picnic at Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park in Freeport with two of my kids and their families, which happened to include both my grandchildren, as well as my grandkids' "other grandparents," Rem and Taylor Briggs. We hiked the perimeter Harraseeket Trail, a roughly 2-mile loop and then had a picnic lunch on the beach overlooking Casco Bay. The weather was perfect, the trails scenic and well-groomed and a good time was had by all. It was "Maine Day" at the park, with free admission for all Maine residents so we had plenty of company, especially as the day wore on. It is a beautiful park and well worth a visit.
My friend, Mike Guarino, who used to write this column, spent Father's Day fishing on Messalonskee Lake with his daughters, Elena and Kate. Kate is a Pre-veterinary student at the University of Vermont and Elena is a junior at Messalonskee High School, doing well on the girls' soccer team. The girls each caught a couple of nice smallmouth.
Earlier in the week, Mike, the new President of Friends of Messalonskee Lake, had been involved in the rescue of a loon on the lake that had gotten tangled in fishing line and couldn't feed. He helped capture the loon along with another friend of mine, Rob Jones, the President of the East Pond Association and dedicated volunteer for Avian Haven, who transported the loon there for treatment. Avian Haven is a wild bird rehabilitation center in Freedom, Maine, that has helped rescue over 15,000 birds since 1999. The story had a happy ending as Rob later transported the loon back to the lake after treatment and released it.
Avian Haven is a great organization and I encourage you to visit their website to learn about their work (and perhaps make a donation) and contact them if you find a bird in trouble. This incident is a vivid reminder of the importance of fishing "lead-free" and properly disposing of all fishing line. It is also a reminder of how many dedicated volunteers help take care of this special place in different ways.
I had one of my oldest friends visiting this week from Michigan and we spent time fishing on Long Pond and on the Kennebec with Mike. The day on the Kennebec was spectacular, with lots of fish but even more impressive, schools of herring and stripers in the river, and at least a dozen eagles soaring around or having lunch along the shoreline. Over the course of the day, we had at least twenty giant sturgeon leap out of the river within a couple hundred feet of our boat. All in all, a really special experience that will live on in our memories (and I suspect the fish will continue to grow!)
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 Lakes Alliance at the Maine Lakes Resource Center. 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.