WINTER FISHING........As mentioned in my last report, the Fishing Derby was on tap for this past weekend. Here is a fellow that makes a living during the winter trapping bait for such activity. He had snowmobiled up to Sprague Pond and used a chain saw to cut openings in the ice. Then, he would bait traps, one of which you see in the picture, and drop them through the hole. He used dried dog food for bait, but also mixed in a few shrimp to lure Shiners into the traps. Periodically, he would check the traps and remove the small fish to be sold as bait. He was only interested in trapping bait, not fishing for the larger edible fish. He also caught a few Smelt, but it was the Shiners he wanted to catch. How would you like to do this to make a living during the winter? This fellow had a smile on his face as he shared his passion.

Later, he explained, he moves to fresh water streams to net Elvers, small eels that are also marketable. They are sold to Chinese markets where they are raised to maturity and command a big price. Finally, when summer comes, he traps lobsters to complete his cycle of living off the earth. I admire him.

The weather over the weekend was perfect for the Fishing Derby, though a bit chilly. At least that meant the ice was safe for multiple vehicles to drive around as fishermen set up housekeeping. I thought it was funny when a phone rang in one such fishing shack, as if they were home! They say the ice was about a foot thick. Each fisherman could place five traps for their catches, each with a flag to signal a fish had taken hold of the bait. Kids were playing around on four wheelers, skis, and snowshoes. It was a family party time.

Here is one fellow that was fortunate enough to catch a Brook Trout. He brought it out of his shack to show me, though I'm not sure it would be a winner. As you can see, these fishermen were well dressed for the cold.

Another outing on the same day took me into Bath for a hike along a canal route that was supposed to link the New Meadows River with an inlet from the Kennebec. This route would have made it possible to make a shorter connection without going all around Small Point. It was never fully utilized, but is an interesting part of the history of this area. The hike itself was over frozen waterways, some wider than others, in areas it was just a frozen creek bed. It was not an easy trek, but here in Maine there are a lot of game hikers. What better way to spend the day while waiting for the Super Bowl?! Some hikers used snowshoes, others managed even without cleats. It was definitely treacherous in places. So this is a bit of life up here in cold Maine! 2/10/10 Ronnie, among fisherpeople!