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by Pete Kallin
The weather this week has been very windy, which has cut into my fishing a bit. However, it has made for nearly perfect hiking weather — cool with a brisk wind to keep the bugs away. I hiked several of the BRCA hiking trails this week and ran into many others out doing the same.
At Mount Phillip, I ran into the Webelos Den of Boy Scout Pack 436 of Waterville. Webelos, derived from the words, "We'll Be Loyal Scouts") are 10- and 11-year old boys who are transitioning from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts. Several of the boys were earning their "hiking belt loop" on the trail, which is just challenging enough to give the boys the taste of climbing hills and earning a beautiful view at the top without being so difficult it discourages them. I managed to get a few of them to sit still for a photo (It was slightly easier to get the adult leaders to sit still).
The adult den leader had first hiked that trail almost 40 years ago when he was 6 or 7, well before BRCA purchased the property in partnership with Pine Island Camp in 2004. He said it is much nicer and better marked now and is a popular destination for the Waterville scouts. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and Girls Scouts of America (GSA) are great programs for getting young people introduced to basic outdoor skills and learning other valuable life lessons.
Also at Mount Phillip this weekend was Julie, a young software consultant and sales representative from Cambridge, MA, who was up for the weekend. Julie grew up in Oakland and last hiked Mount Phillip with her parents when she was "a little girl." She said that while Cambridge is exciting and stimulating, she loves coming back to Maine in the summertime to hike in the woods near the lakes to relax and recharge her batteries.
Most of the fishing I've done this week has been targeted at catching small fish in the weedy shallow areas where small fish try to hide from the big fish that like to eat them. My purpose was to collect some specimens for the fish tanks at the Maine Lakes Resource Center (MLRC). Normally transporting live fish in Maine is illegal and subject to fines up to $10,000 but we received a special, limited-time permit from IFW to stock our tanks, including a display permit for a mud puppy in a separate tank.
These tanks have become a huge attraction for visitors to the MLRC, especially the kids of all ages (including some collecting social security). During the farmers' market last weekend, one girl of about 9 spent an hour in front of the tanks writing down "discriptions" (sic) of the fish in a journal. Possibly a budding ichthyologist in the making. Stop in to the MLRC to check out our new displays.
During my collections I caught a 4 in. landlocked alewife, which I had never caught on rod and reel before. This fish is the primary forage fish in Long Pond that is eaten by our bass, trout, pike, and salmon. I also spent about 10 minutes playing a roughly 8 lb. pike near the Great Pond boat launch from the Maine Lakes Society's 30-ft pontoon boat, the Melinda Ann. It finally wrapped my 2 lb. test line around a mooring and took off with the tiny jig I was using for yellow perch.
On Sunday, June 26, at 2 p.m., Mel Croft and I will be leading a hike on BRCA's The Mountain property to show how the Belgrade Lakes region has changed over the past 200 million years. Mel will discuss how plate tectonics and various ice ages sculpted the basic landscape over the past 199.985 million years. I will then talk a bit about how the bare rocks and lakes containing lifeless, melted ice water evolved in the past 15,000 years or so since the last ice age to become the forested landscape and lakes teeming with life that we have today. In the meantime, take a kid fishing or on a hike, or paddling in a canoe.
Pete Kallin is a past director of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance.