Monday, July 4th, 2011 at 6:59 am
As I sit out on the back deck listening to the world wake up, I’m enthralled by the sounds of nature. Belgrade woke up suddenly this morning, as if my teenager flipped the switch on her stereo, blasting a modern day tune filled with multiple beats that simply don’t jive in my head, but somehow have a harmony to them. A symphony of sounds that really shouldn’t go together but strangely make beautiful music. The dawn concert started with my favorite sound of the season, a tom turkey gobbling as he flew from his roost. He’s about 500 yards away or so, making that guttural noise that causes my heart to pound every time I hear that sweet gobble. . . .gobble. . . . gobble. He’s searching for his lady friends, wondering where they flew to and trying to keep them close at hand (or in this case wing). This is common spring behavior for a turkey and he will gobble to stir up his girlfriends or he will holler when he hears an owl or crow. Only this morning he’s gobbling Belgrade style; he’s gobbling each time the loon out front wails. I’ve been turkey hunting most of my adult life and have a pretty good understanding of how the game is played, but in all the places I’ve hunted, never have I heard a turkey get so angry at a loon! So now the band consists of two of the larger birds found here in the area and they are really setting the tone for the morning concert. There are also a couple of crows cackling and a hummingbird is feeding only a few feet from me. Hummingbirds really are beautiful, so sleek and fine tuned with just a hint of red highlighted on his neck. Don’t you wish you had a hummingbird’s metabolism rate? Just for one day?
So now there are more bird noises than I can pinpoint and my little piece of heaven is really awake when I hear the motor of a fisherman trolling down the lake. Ahhh, now that’s a sound I really like! I’ve got to finish typing and get my fanny in my boat soon too, but there’s still coffee in my cup and one last sound that’s worth waiting for. It puts a smile on my face every morning. Soon the porch door will open and my favorite Belgrade dweller will emerge with “good morning daddy.” That’s the perfect lyric to end the morning’s show!
Speaking of noises, loons have four basic calls that make up their vocal communication. This information came from the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute.
• The yodel is a territorial call given by male loons. The call begins with three notes that rise slowly and are followed by several undulating phrases. It communicates to any loons in the area “I am a male loon, I’m on my territory, and I’m prepared to defend it.”
• The wail resembles a wolf howl. Individual loons use this call to locate other loons. If you listen closely, you will hear a wailing loon saying, “where are you?” Indeed, that’s what they are asking.
• The tremolo sounds like a quavering laugh. It is typically used when loons are disturbed. A variation of the tremolo is the flight call. It is usually given over lakes and is a loon’s way of requesting clearance for landing. If a loon on the lake responds with a yodel, the one in the air usually flies on to the next lake.
• The hoot is a soft, one-note call loons use in close quarters to call to chicks, mates, or even other loons in a social flock. In social groups, the hoot can be thought of as the loon’s way of saying “hi.”
Now that the coffee is gone and I’ve received my good morning hug and kiss, it’s time to go fishing! June is my favorite month to fish the local waters because there is so much variety available to anglers. Trout and salmon fishing shifts into high gear right now and some beautiful fish have been caught locally on Mooselook Wobblers and Sutton Spoons along with smelt imitating streamer flies like Jerry’s Smelt & Gray Ghosts. Most of the trout are still relatively high in the water column, especially at dawn or dusk, so a couple of colors of lead core line on a fly rod should get you into fish. Mooselooks come in a wide variety of sizes and colors and are a staple in every trollers tackle box. Back when I was a kid, an old time Maine Guide told me to fish “bright when it’s bright and dark when it’s dark”. I can still picture Gene telling me that and what worked 60 years ago still works today. What he meant was, on sunny days, fish silver, white, chartreuse, etc and on overcast and rainy days we should fish copper, gold, green or orange. Obviously, this is just a rule of thumb, but it’s a rule I obey as often as possible.
If bass fishing is your gig, you’ll be happy to know that the smallies are making beds like crazy and aggressively protecting the nests. People often talk about “world class fishing” and our bedded smallmouth bass opportunities are certainly as good as you’ll find anywhere! I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the importance of putting this fish back on the bed after you catch them. One of my favorite ways to catch bedded smallmouth is with top water lures. Sure, casting a senko or tube jig at the bed is the most efficient way to catch these fighters, but watching them crush floating baits on a calm morning is awesome. I can’t stand it anymore – time to go!