Trout and salmon in ponds and lakes start dropping into depths now, targets for skilled trollers with the right gear. In rivers and large streams running into still water, salmonids often retreat from the lowering, warming currents to take sanctuary in ponds and lakes, too.
The more certain excitement of spring fishing has ended for all but the most skilled anglers, but one summer exception requires the least expensive equipment and offers solitude – fishing brooks for trout.
In my youth, brook fishing proved ultra-popular but has since fallen from favor because the average modern angler can afford a boat for lakes and ponds, where larger fish swim.
However, brook trout belong to the colorful char family and are native in most woodland brooks – veritable jewels. Brookies usually inhabit Maine brooks, but some waters have browns and rainbows. In brooks I prefer brookies, but when a leaping rainbow or pugnacious brown puts a bend in my little fly rod bought especially for brook fishing, all bets are off about which species ranks as a favorite.
I do love brook fishing for all trout.
First, the sport offers a touch of the hunt, when I sneak to a pool or run as quietly as I would approach a deer.
Second, when making a perfect presentation to an ultra-wary trout, it provides a quintessential fishing thrill.
Third is best of all – the silence of a brook only interrupted by gurgling water, susurrous wind in the tree canopy and calling songbirds and insects.
When those 11/4-inch, greenish dogday harvestflies call, it sounds like a circular saw cutting plywood, common on humid afternoons. Mainers call it a “cicada.”
When deciding whether to fish a brook for trout, a tip helps improve the odds. Walk along any summer brook sliding or tumbling through a tunnel of trees for shade and measure the water temperature.
If the water is 68 degrees or lower, then it’s almost a sure bet that the brook has trout. Any higher, brook trout will be scarce to nonexistent.
More helpful advice:
In summer as water temperatures rise, trout seek the deepest pools.
And yet another tip:
Look at DeLorme’s “The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer” and find brooks that don’t cross a road. Such waters do bubble from the side of mountains or from backwoods pondsand can offer top sport away from other anglers.
I use a fly rod for brooks, but which model takes thought:
I once bought an 8-foot, 3-weight rod for brooks and in open places could cast it 70 to 80 feet, but it was awful on shrub-choked brooks. The rod needed 30 to 35 feet of line in the air to load energy, so it couldn’t throw 15 feet of line well.
My solution? I bought a 6-foot rod for a 4-weight line that casts short distances, perfect for brooks. It also has enough backbone to haul a thrashing 9- or 10-inch trout over head-high alders lining a pool.
I like small bright flies for brooks, patterns such as a Red and White, Mickey Finn, Harris Special, Dark Edson Tiger, 88 or Blue and White tied on a size 10, 2x long hook. Size 6, 4x and 6x long hooks have a place, too.
Dark and light nymphs also make excellent choices.
Dry fly have a place on tiny waters, and in my experience it’s tough to beat variants like a Flick Gray Fox Variant or Dun Variant with the bushy, high-riding hackle that often bring trout topside in a hurry.
Of course, worms are traditional for this sport, and lots of folks do well with garden hackle and ultra-light spinning gear or a simple alder pole – old-fashion to the core.
Ken Allen,of Belgrade Lakes, a writer, editor and photographer, may be reached at: