COLUMBIA FALLS — The annual Bog Stream Pickerel Fry in Beddington will highlight the 1994 ice fishing season for several Columbia Falls area fishermen and their friends, who will have plenty of live baitfish with which to pickerel.
At the Pickerel Fry last January, four foreign exchange students from Washington Academy in East Machias received their initiation into ice fishing. They were shown techniques of live baiting, and practiced puling the torpedo-shaped freshwater predators up through holes sawed in Bog Stream’s 18 inches of ice. Later, during the outdoor fish fry, the students were treated to large servings pickerel prepared by veteran members of the annual wintertime outing in western Washington County.
Paloma Inda, an exchange student from Spain, had never seen a frozen stream or lake prior to the winter of 1993. In her traditionally polite manner, she asked if she could “walk on the water.” Soon, after overcoming her initial fears of sinking, she ran and slid in her boots across the frozen surface of the pool.
In addition to her sponsors, Jean and Vance White of Jonesboro, Inda was accompanied on the outing by students Kyra Persy of Germany, Monica Earrillo of Equador and Marianna Ramos of Mexico.
Lester Look, a junior from Narraguagus High School and a fisherman for the annual fish fry, said he and other ice anglers had no problem catching more than enough pickerel to provide several servings for each member of the party. “Tips were coming up all over the place” as the fish took the live bait.
The art of filleting fish was taught by Vernon Scott of Columbia Falls, who positioned himself at his old belt-high cedar tree stump. After securing his filleting board to the stump’s top, he processed about two dozen pickerel that ranged in length from 13 to 24 inches.
Willie Maynard of Columbia Falls kept a barrel full of fire crackling under a giant frypan provided by Sewell Look. “Each piece of fish was deep fried to a golden brown. You couldn’t cook `em fast enough. Everyone just loved it and kept on eating,” Look said. “Good thing there is no limit on the amount of pickerel you can take.”
Preston “Pep” and Doreen Strout made sure the crowd didn’t run out of bread rolls and tartar sauce.
A bonus for the 14 people who participated in the annual fry, Look said, was watching a pair of adult bald eagles that nest in the Bog Stream area. “We’d take a few of the smaller pickerel and scale them out onto the ice, and those eagles would come down and get them,” Look said. “It was a sight we’ll all remember.”
While the group was picking up its fishing gear and cooking equipment, the eagles flew down from their perches and feasted on leftover fish and other scraps. “They stayed there the whole time, watching and waiting for us to leave. That was a big part of the event,” he said.
Before the end of January, Look and the other veterans of the Bog Stream Pickerel Fry will complete their invitations and will point their cars and trucks to Beddington. “What we want is for people to be able to drive right up to the cooksite, so everyone can really enjoy it,” said Look. “And there will be plenty of free baitfish. Lester and I have established a new baitfish business this year. I’m sure we’ll all have a lot of fun again.”