Up Beat is a new section of the Bangor Daily News dedicated to uplifting stories. Look for tales of people helping people and things that will make you smile.
If you grew up here in rural Maine, chances are good that you spent a fair amount of time tromping through the woods, worms in a pack and a fishing rod over your shoulder, in search of a good place to catch a fish.
When we were kids, there was something magical about those outings, when the days seemed longer, the air fresher, and when the black flies seemed fierce enough to carry us off. But fish, we did. And fun, we had.
Unfortunately, few of us carried cameras in our pockets to capture those moments spent with our brothers, sisters, friends and parents.
Now, things have changed. And as my editor pointed out to me just the other day, after finding a stunning Instagram collage posted by a Maine writer and poet, there are few things as powerful and mood-enhancing as a beautiful picture of a Maine kid enjoying the simple act of fishing.
I agree. Today, I’ll share some of those images. We all need to find more reasons to smile, after all. And I think these photos will fill the bill.
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First, the photos that started this whole project, from Erinne Magee. Magee recently released a book, “This is Camp: Poems and stories about Maine’s most celebrated getaway,” and she has always had a knack for describing myriad ways that the state is special.
The photos of her daughter, Lexi, were taken at Pleasant Lake in Stetson about four years ago, she figures. Her Instagram description is (not surprisingly) poetic. Here’s how Magee describes the collage: “Not all anglers are created equal. Some wear camo … others, party dresses. Some fish for bass … others, branches or whatever. Some have a method to their cast … others, twirl and hope for the best. But no matter … an angler always gets what they’re after, in one way or another.”
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A more straightforward submission came from my BDN colleague Fred Stewart, who spent some time with his 10-year-old son, Freddy, on the Penobscot River on Saturday.
This spot, on the Brewer side of the river just downstream from the old Bangor Dam site, is one of Freddy’s favorites. There’s a beach that’s perfect for wading. And there’s a really cool rock that a nimble angler can climb up on to cast and check out the scene.
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The most original submission came from Debbie Ladd, who proved that it’s possible to have fun fishing even if you’re nowhere near the water.
Her photo shows her grandson, 5 ½-year-old Ashton Ladd, “fishing” while lying next to a chalk mural that his dad, Justin Ladd, drew in Scarborough on Sunday.
“His father drew this scene, along with others, to have fun and have some quality outside playtime,” Debbie Ladd said.
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Lisa Rancourt checked in with a cool shot of her two sons enjoying some time fishing at the Dover-Foxcroft public boat landing. Alex Rancourt, 7, and Andy Rancourt, 4, proved that there’s more to fishing than catching fish.
“They didn’t catch anything but had a good day,” Lisa Rancourt said.
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Richard Barron, the men’s basketball coach at the University of Maine, is also an avid fly fisher. So, too, are his children, and on Thursday, Barron shared a few photos from an epic 10-salmon day at Grand Lake Stream with daughter Lane, 16, and son Billy, 13. They fished with registered Maine guide Jeff McEvoy, owner of Weatherby’s resort — Maine residents are allowed to employ Maine guides despite the pandemic, so long as they observe social distancing rules — and saw few other anglers.
That’s good, in one way, but bad, in another. And Richard Barron said he’s concerned for the state’s hard-working guides, most of whom rely on out-of-state clients for the bulk of their income.
“[I worry] about those guys staying in business. Although I appreciated the lack of competition from other anglers and don’t want to stress the fish, if Mainers don’t support our guides, they will disappear with no tourists allowed,” he said.
The Barron family did their part, shopping locally. And McEvoy did his, putting them onto plenty of fish. The smiles of Lane and Billy tell the tale best of all.
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Kate Anderson, a K-2 teacher at Airline Community School in Aurora, shared a fun pic that was the result of an online lesson she shared with 7-year-old Grace Cobb.
“[Grace and her 3-year-old brother, Max] went fishing this morning after Grace and I read a book “A Great Day to Go Fishing” together during our virtual lesson time,” Anderson said. “Grace is one of my first grade students and loves to fish. She was very excited about catching this bass today!”
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And finally, another BDN colleague, Laurie Lozier, sent along a photo of her outdoors-loving 2-year-old, Carter Lloyd Lozier. Carter, as you may remember, caught the fishing bug this winter when he caught his first fish through the ice.
Now, he’s an avid open-water angler as well, heading out on the boat with mom Laurie and dad Joe Lozier.
“He loves going fishing! The first thing he said this morning was ‘Go fishing today, Mama?’” Laurie Lozier said.
John Holyoke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org