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by Pete Kallin
Last week, we finally got some much-needed rain. On one of the hot days before the rains came, I decided to hike into one of the remote ponds in the Kennebec Highlands to do a bit of fishing. I grabbed an ultralight spinning rod, a handful of lures, and a landing net that fit in my back. I started off on the Sanders Hill Trail and then bushwhacked to my destination, arriving after a roughly ½-hour hike.
This pond is fished by a few ice fishermen every year but rarely gets visited by anglers once they have to hike to get there. I followed fresh moose tracks to get to the water's edge, started fishing and began catching nice fish on almost every cast. In the next hour and a half, I caught over 40 largemouth bass that averaged almost 3 lb — the largest about 4 lb, smallest about a pound — and a couple of nice chain pickerel.
It was a beautiful day and the surface water temperature was almost 80°, so I just took off my shoes and waded in. Over time, I worked my way around to where the Beaver Brook was coming in at about 64°F, where I have caught some nice trout in the past. The pool at the mouth of the brook is less than a foot deep, so I switched to a small floating Rapala lure. With nearly every cast a nice fish made a beeline for my lure and struck with a big splash.
After catching and releasing about ten fish from the shallow pool, I stopped for a light lunch and headed back to Sanders Hill along the brook. A few years ago, I would have caught quite a few trout in this pond but now it has been taken over by largemouth bass and the trout are probably all gone. It's sad because I would much rather be catching trout, but the bass fishing was awesome and a lot of fun, with lots of beautiful scenery, wildlife, and wildflowers, including a pickerel frog that tried to hide next to my foot rather than jumping into the pond with all the hungry bass and pickerel. I plan to bring a couple of my grandkids back later this summer. There are several remote ponds nearby where this adventure can be replicated. Get out and explore with your kids and/or grandkids.
As COVID-19 travel restrictions are being relaxed, more visitors are able to come to the area. Among the visitors are Dick ("The Dams Keeper") Greenan's son, Jason, and his family, including grandsons Ben (14) and Sean (8). The family is getting in a lot of relaxing recreation including kayaking, water skiing, fishing, and hiking.
This area offers some great outdoor recreation, whether you like to hike, bike, birdwatch, fish, sail, or paddle a canoe or kayak. I encourage all parents and grandparents to take advantage of opportunities to get your kids and grandkids out on the lake for fishing or swimming or up in the hills for some hiking. All the experts agree that outside is the safest place you can be these days. Just be considerate of others and get out safely.
Pick up a map of the local trails at Day's Store or from the 7 Lakes Alliance at the Maine Lakes Resource Center. Individual trail maps can be downloaded from the 7 Lakes website. Make sure you take a kid along on your next outdoor adventure, and please also check the 7 LA Facebook page for details on some interesting events scheduled this summer.
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.