May 1, 2011

Allen Afield: Look off the beaten path for trout waters in May


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Native brook trout can be active in May in smaller rivers and streams, near stocked lakes and ponds, when water temperatures hover in the high 40s through the mid-60s.

Staff file photo

Oh, yes, the forked caudal fin might work for identification part of the time, but all salmonids have a forked tail when an exhausted fish can no longer hold the fin erect, or so biologists have told me.

(I once wrote here and have lived to regret it that the sure way to determine a splake begins with counting the pyloric caeca, which requires killing the fish and eviscerating it to see the fatty nubs on the viscera. Brook trout have 23 to 55, splake have 65 to 85, and lake trout 93 to 180. No one needs to count pyloric caeca, though, because 99.9 percent of the time, the red-spot method will do. However, some readers misunderstood and thought counting all the nubs was essential for identification. My apologies.)

When foliage starts to unfold and the water temperature ranges into the mid-50s to low 60s, fishing can boom in these marginal fisheries. They surely provide me with sport until north-country fishing picks up in places where many of the waters have nothing but native brookies.

When a holdover 16-inch brookie or 20-inch brown from a previous stocking bends my rod double, though, I often forget that it's one of those "trashy" hatchery fish.

Early in the month, before north-country fishing picks up, these marginal waters offer plenty of lifelong memories.


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


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