Who can’t remember the careless days of youth, when school had just let out, and the entire summer lay before us like a giant smorgasbord? Little League games, trips to the local pool, exploring wooded areas and just being a kid filled the days and nights until summer ended.

If you grew up anywhere near a body of water, be it a lake, pond or stream, at least one summertime excursion was a fishing trip.

It didn’t matter what type of fish you were after, you tried to catch anything that you could. Even if the lowly hornpout was the only fish you bagged, the trip was a success. A streamside lunch, a dip to cool off and a day spent discussing life’s mysteries rounded out the adventure.

With summer before us, it is nice to think back to those careless days of youth and plan a fishing trip.

For a good eating fish, the white perch is a common target for youngsters of all ages out after a meal. For anglers after an easy-to-catch fish that will put up a good battle, the chain pickerel can’t be beat.

Fortunately, a few area spots feature these species and ensure your summer angling trips are successful.

If small, tasty fish are on your agenda, now is the perfect time to go after schools of white perch in area lakes.

If you want to take a home a pail full of perch, Androscoggin Lake in Leeds is the place to wet a line.

Although fast becoming a top bass fishing destination, local anglers may argue that Androscoggin Lake boasts the best white perch fishing in the Lewiston-Auburn region.

The white perch, an inland cousin of the striped bass, can be found in large groups near the bottom.

An electronic fish-finder is helpful, but the fish are so plentiful at Androscoggin Lake that you probably don’t need one. Try anchoring in 25 to 35 feet of water and use a slip-sinker rig baited with small shiners or worms.

You may have to move around a few times to find a hot spot, but when you do, you’ll be busy for as long as you wish to stay. Concentrate on the middle portion of the lake, between Androscoggin and Norris islands. This area harbors the deep water that white perch prefer this month.

Lake Auburn is also a top spot for white perch. Although famous for the spring run of spawning perch that charge up the north end of the lake and enter the river under the two bridges, anglers in the summer months can still catch perch both by boat and from shore. A few years ago, I stopped in to chat with two anglers who had just finished working the second shift at a local manufacturing plant.

They had set a lantern up on the edge of the lake along Lake Shore Drive and had been fairly successful in the short time they had spent fishing. I peered into their buckets and was pleasantly surprised to see several heavy-shouldered fish that weighed at least a pound. This may not sound like a large fish to some, but a white perch weighing a pound or better makes fine table fare.

For some real angling excitement, several local ponds are home to large numbers of pickerel.

The chain pickerel, while not the most glamorous fish, is a voracious feeder, taking anything from live shiners to lures and flies. In addition to its appetite, its twisting, bucking motion when caught makes it quite a challenge to land on a light rod.

The Basin in North Auburn is one of the region’s best pickerel spots.

With shallow waters that barely reach 15 feet in depth, weedy cover and lack of shoreline development, The Basin would be my first stop when exclusively after pickerel.

Anglers fishing The Basin prefer live shiners fished below bobbers, but some avid fly-casters are hitting the basin with streamer flies in an attempt to give their tackle the ultimate field test. Latch on to a three-pound pickerel on a fly rod and you’ll know what I mean. Those who prefer to cast lures are advised to bring the weedless variety.

By early July, this shallow pond is choked with weeds and lily pads, making a snag-free retrieve next to impossible. The best access to The Basin is at a rough boat launch on the Holbrook Road in North Auburn.

Lower Range Pond in Poland, the smallest of the three ponds in the Range Pond chain, is also home to a respectable population of pickerel.

Lower Range Pond has several sections of weedy shoreline that hold pickerel by the dozens.

The southern corner of the pond, near Route 26, is the best spot to concentrate on pickerel.

By using a medium-sized shiner approximately two feet below a bobber, you’ll probably see results within a few minutes.

Although not know for large pickerel, Lower Range Pond can keep even the quickest bait-rigger busy with constant action. Most Range Pond pickerel weigh less than two pounds, but occasionally, a four-pounder is reported.

The best access site on Lower Range Pond is at the launch located in the Range Pond State Park.

Whether you plan to catch a mess of frying-sized white perch or play tug-of-war with a slender pickerel, the Lewiston-Auburn area’s lakes and ponds have enough species of fish to keep anglers happy during the dog-days of July.

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