It’s Hard to Say Goodbye
Saying goodbye to both the “Summertime in the Belgrades” and guiding/living here for 20 years is very difficult, but change is good for a human and this is going to be a huge change! While I’m looking forward to exploring the Bar Harbor/Acadia National Park area with my family and experiencing all its beauty, leaving such a wonderful place as the Belgrades is not easy. How do you say goodbye to your home? There’s so much to cherish here: the people, the lakes, the fishing, the hunting, the hiking … it’s a dreamland … its home. Personally I’ll miss the people most. When you do what I do, you make lifelong friends; people you care about even if you only see them once or twice a year. Guides find themselves looking forward to seeing their “sports” when they visit for vacation, and I’m going to miss all my friends very, very much.
Rather than being sad and melancholy, I’d rather say goodbye with a smile on my face and keep the memories that will forever be burned into my mental CD. The best part has been watching youngsters grow up from year to year and seeing them go from “duffer” fishermen to expert casters and fish catching machines! So many examples but one that really sticks into my mind is Andrew Volkers who comes up and stays at Whisperwood Lodge with his dad Russ. These guys are icons at Whisperwood and I’m privileged to be their friend. The first time Andrew and I fished together he was only 13 and just learning modern fishing methods. Now he’s a grown man and out-fishes just about everyone with precision casting and a knack for catching the big one. Fishing is in his blood and it’s been a joy watching him develop into an expert! We got to fish this past week for largemouth and some northern pike. The bite was really good, and he actually caught big largemouth, smallmouth, northern pike and pickerel all in the same day. That’s what the Belgrades offer to anglers, a smorgasbord of fish and a chance at a trophy around every turn. We caught some fish on live bait and some on spinner baits and swim baits too. Russ caught a big largemouth on a 6 inch Senko rigged Texas Style. During the heat of the summer, larger baits seem to work better for big fish. The largemouth don’t want to expend energy unless there’s a meal worth eating – you know the old saying … big bait = big fish.
A few years ago my friend and fellow Belgrader Dr. George Spann was retiring as President of Thomas College (my alma mater). George and I are friends and can talk candidly about any topic. When he was giving his goodbye speech at TC, just before they dedicated a building to him and his wife, George said goodbye but didn’t say thank you to any specific people. There were just too many to thank and the fear of leaving someone out is horrifying. I couldn’t agree more, so in my last article, I leave my friends with this personal thought:
Thank you all so much for making my time in Belgrades so special and memorable. The Belgrade Lakes are an amazing place that can change a person, make them understand how extraordinary their surroundings are. Loons, fish, deer and eagles are only part of the scene. Watching the pollen blow off the pines in the springtime or the lupine bloom in the fields is only part of the beauty. Thunderstorms rolling across the lake or two-foot blizzards are only part of the power. What I will never forget are the people who make the Lakes Region tick. You are the true beauty and I thank you so very much for all the memories. Please, everyone, take care of our lakes. They are so precious and special. I wish you all tight lines, big smiles and everlasting memories. Good Luck this week.