July 31 – August 6, 2020Vol. 22, No. 8

Foraging, Fishing, and Hiking

A veteran and his family, with staff from the Travis Mills Foundation, on top of French Mountain.

by Pete Kallin

It's hard to believe this is already the eighth column of the summer. Last year at this time, the papers were full of "back to school" ads. This year, the schools are a big part of the news as administrators try to figure out how and when to safely restart the schools.

I don't think the kids are reading the paper, though. They are too busy having fun in and around the water and hiking the nearby trails. As the air has warmed to the high eighties and the water into the upper 70°s and low 80°s, more and more people are swimming, sailing, and tubing. The bass and pike are continuing to feed on schools of landlocked alewives, the only schools that seem to be following their normal routine.

A nice smallmouth bass caught by my friend Joel on a Todd’s Wiggle Minnow

The bass are also hitting big Hex mayflies that are hatching in the evening and early morning on several of our lakes, including Great Pond, Long Pond, and Messalonskee. I have had good luck with spotting feeding fish on the surface early in the morning and casting big flies or poppers to them. I have found a Todd's Wiggle Minnow fly to be especially effective. It floats like a popper but dives and wiggles when you retrieve it. A three-pound smallie on a 6-wt. flyrod is a lot of fun. The early morning is also a great time to watch the new loon chicks learning to feed themselves.

We have had some rain and warm weather that has resulted in significant numbers of wild berries and mushrooms in the woods. Last week I picked both red and black raspberries, blueberries, and a few blackberries, as well as yellow chanterelle, black trumpet, and jeweled-puffball mushrooms. In addition to a lot of gourmet cooking for free, I have been getting some of the berries into the freezer and drying some of the mushrooms for future use.

Daughter Joan carrying grandson Bayard, as he points to aof blue blazes on a trailside tree.

Again this week, my younger daughter, Joan, came for a short visit along with my youngest grandson, Bayard. We hiked the French Mountain Trail, with Bayard making a game of spotting the blue blazes marking the trail and trying to touch each blaze as we went by.

When we got to the top, we found a multi-generational family of a veteran staying at the Travis Mills Foundation, along with at least one staff member serving as a guide. They were having a great time just relaxing and "taking it outside" for a while. The Travis Mills Foundation provides veterans and their families the opportunity to come and relax next to the lake and get "recalibrated" while fishing, hiking, paddling, or whatever they enjoy.

Take advantage of the rest of the summer and get out on the lakes or hike or bike in the hills. And take a kid along. You will be creating memories that will last. Check out the events at the 7-LA website and the sign in front of the MLRC. Events are being presented as conditions allow, and the schedule is fluid. 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.

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.