This summer, three Maine anglers have underscored a point about our sport — mainly that fishing’s greatest appeal begins with simple fun, free of pretension, and ends with the thought that perhaps no one should take themselves or fishing so seriously that they lose sight of the joys it offers.

For example, not long ago, a friend was telling me — rather excitedly I might add — about catching largemouth bass on Maine’s small, woodland ponds this summer, a very seductive setting for casting to a feisty species.

I’m reluctant to mention this well-known Maine fly rodder by name. He has traveled North America for Atlantic salmon, brook trout and rainbow trout, often north of the continental U.S., so publicity about his bassing exploits might embarrass him particularly since he has caught more large Atlantic salmon on the Gaspe than anyone I’ve ever heard of, many in the 30-pound-plus range and a few over 40 pounds.

He also routinely catches 10-pound-plus rainbows in Alaska, some of them creeping toward the 20-pound mark.

Besides impressive catches, he casts a fly over 100 feet, which requires extreme dedication and superb coordination to master.

When this consummate fly rodder was telling me about bass fishing, a sheepish smile broke across his face, and he said, “I’ve been using a spinning outfit at times.”

With flies or spinning lures, this fellow does enjoy fishing these weedy bass ponds with light development, and why not?

As I said in my June 12 column, Ed Gray, founder of the prestigious Gray’s Sporting Journal, had highlighted Maine bass in his magazine back in the 1970s, an under-fished resource then and now. He was publicizing the sport in the days when Maine natives like me were calling bass “barse.”

I hadn’t heard from Gray for years, but he noticed the June column and sent me an email. Apparently, even after selling Gray’s to another publisher, the outdoors still interest him.

The lack of a challenge has always turned me against bass angling, but mostly that’s my preconceived notion. My Atlantic-salmon friend who has gone nuts over small-pond largemouths this summer said that at times, bass can get lockjaw, making the action darned slow. Naturally, that makes the fast fishing on other outings that much more fun.

Meanwhile, last month, far off the Long Island coast in the Atlantic Ocean, Heather, my oldest child, has fished for tilefish at 800-foot depths, using a jigging rod and 2-pound weight to get the bait so deep.

This all surprised me, considering this 25-year-old fly rodder had never touched any fishing tackle other than an Orvis fly outfit that I gave her when she was 6 years old. When she told me about the tilefish experience, her voice showed enthusiasm, too, not as much as for trout mind you, but animated just the same.

Onward to a different Maine angler. Tom Seymour, a writer from Waldo, can cast a fly with the best of them and fool wily trout, but he has no qualms about using bait and an ultra-light spinning rod.

However, in recent years, he has pretty much quit bait-fishing for the oddest reason — odd to me anyway. He prefers casting Trout Magnets instead of organic bait, because it’s too much trouble to deal with digging worms or capturing bait fish and then keeping these critters alive in hot temperatures. (Trout Magnets look similar to miniature bass lures.)

According to Seymour, Trout Magnets catch trout just as well as fat, wiggly worms or bait fish. He also uses Trout Magnets for black crappie and white perch as well as for salmonids and raves about his success with them. Ultralight spinning tackle and his Magnets keep the good times rolling.

When conditions are right, Seymour still enjoys casting flies to feeding trout and salmon — the all-around, quintessential angler.

Some folks such as myself evolved into fly rodders and then never used other tackle. People like me stick with fly rods for the challenge — no other reason. Others may consider anything other than fly-fishing gear beneath them, a certain snob appeal.

Then there are those people, such as my Atlantic salmon-angler friend, Heather and Seymour, who are seeking fun, not an elite experience.

This coming week is just the time to get out on central and southern Maine bass ponds for a last fling before colder temperatures usher in the fast salmonid fishing and drag many anglers off after trout and salmon.

Small bass ponds offer one guarantee right now — solitude. These waters are never busy to begin with, but as folks think more about salmonids this month, those small weedy waters will be so under-fished that it will be an anomaly to run into another angler.

Ken Allen of Belgrade Lakes is a writer, editor and photographer. He may be reached at:

[email protected]