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by Pete Kallin
The week began with sunny, windy weather. I hiked several local trails, including BRCA's Mountain Trail off Mountain Drive in Rome.
There I met Ken Louis hiking with his sister from CA, his daughter from MA and assorted grandkids, nephews, nieces, and dogs. All were enjoying the beautiful weather and magnificent scenery on the Long Pond Loop. It was just a few short months ago I last ran into Ken and his wife while skiing in the Kennebec Highlands near McIntire Pond.
I also met the Hall family from Manchester enjoying the view of Great Pond on the Outer Loop. It was their first time hiking this trail. When I asked them how they found out about it, young Olivia (roughly 8) said that when she got up, she told her parents she wanted to spend the day hiking. Her dad then went online looking for hiking trails and somehow ended up on the website for the Wings Hill Inn in Belgrade Lakes. They have a page called "Local Attractions" that includes links to local hiking trails, including The Mountain. It looked attractive so they decided to try it.
I was also pleasantly surprised to meet my friend, David Richards, who runs the Margaret Chase Smith Library in Skowhegan. Two years ago on 4th of July weekend, David had a near death experience near Greenville involving himself, his car, and a moose. The moose and the car were totaled but David survived. It is good to see him out hiking again and good to see so many families with kids out on the local trails.
This was also the week the hex mayfly (Hexagenia limbata) began hatching at dusk on the lake. These are very large (body about 1.5" and tails another 3") mayflies that tend to hatch in early July and if you spot the hatch it is a great time to catch a lot of nice fish on big dry flies or nymph patters fished just under the surface. You will see fish swirling everywhere the flies are emerging. I have often caught some nice brown trout during this hatch but this year I only caught some nice smallies. The next morning, the lake was covered with the larval exoskeletons and it looked almost as if someone had had a massive shrimp peel for Fourth of July and dumped the shells in the lake.
As the surface water has warmed into the mid to upper 70s, the trout and salmon have started to go deep and are harder to find. If you want to catch a lot of fish, the bass and pike are pretty active, especially early in the morning and in the evening. I like to go after pike with my 9-wt. flyrod and big red and white streamers fished deep (15-20 ft.) near structures or along the edge of weedbeds in about 10 feet of water. I use a special leader made by Rio called, "For toothy critters," which has about a foot of very fine nylon coated wire at the tip. I use the same rig in saltwater when I go after bluefish. Good pike waters include lower Long Pond, southern Messalonskee Lake, and North Bay and Hoyt Island in Great Pond. Big pike are fun to catch on flies and they are quite tasty when properly cleaned and cooked.
This is a perfect time to enjoy the outdoors in this area. Now that school's out, it's easy to take a kid fishing or on a hike, or paddling in a canoe. You won't be sorry.
Pete Kallin is a past director of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance.