Fishing brooks and small streams for brook trout interest me, and one huge appeal includes lack of competition and often fast action.

On my pet waters, signs of angler traffic like empty beverage cans and bottles, Styrofoam worm containers, empty fly-fishing leader packets, cigarette packages and even footprints in clay and loam are nonexistent.

And, folks, Styrofoam and glass bottles last millennia, so lack of these items emphasize the sparse traffic. Of course, falling autumn foliage covers trash, but obviously in the 21st century, brook anglers need not rush to get ahead of others.

I often fish trout brooks east of Augusta, particularly into Waldo County. This region has incredibly fertile soil, according to retired deer biologist Gerry Lavigne, so one square mile of land supports more deer and grouse than the same area in most other sections of the state.

The fecundity leaches into the water, so a mile of brook in Waldo supports more brookies than the same length and size water in Kennebec County.

When getting serious about brook fishing, though, I look at Map 57 in DeLorme’s “The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer”, which just might show the best brook-trout brooks and streams in all of Maine. Ponds and lakes in this area are so popular with anglers that brooks and streams really get ignored.

First, find the Aroostook, Mooseleuk and Machias rivers and Munsungan and Millinocket streams, most in the middle half of Map 57, and then check out all the tributaries running into these bigger waters.

An angler could spend a lifetime on Maps 56 and 57 and never tire of all the brooks and small streams, which often support 8- to 10-inch brookies and in some instances much larger.

In the latter case, brookies run upstream or down from large rivers or ponds and lakes, so at times, small brooks can have brookie that folks describe in pounds, not inches.

In September in low, warm water, brookies often migrate up small brooks and fall storms may send these char upstream to escape faster flows in rivers.

A digression about late summer and early fall brooks says it best: While bird hunting on Oct. 1 many years ago, I pushed through alders into a gully and stepped across a shallow brook narrow enough to, well, step across. Water exploded beneath me as tightly packed brookies panicked and had nowhere to go. The brook was so shallow that their dorsal fins often poked above the surface like little sharks.

This happened 31 years ago, but one point made it memorable. The brook ran into Lemon Stream in Vineyard, which doesn’t strike me as quality brook-trout habitat. Brookies filled the tiny tributary, though, showing how small brooks offer cool, life-sustaining sanctuaries.

On Maps 56 and 57, a seemingly endless array of small, blue lines shows brook after brook and several streams, and some of the small streams are much larger than — say the well-known stretch of the Sheepscot River below Sheepscot Pond — but without its angler traffic.

On Map 57, Bob Cram, a registered guide from Medway, likes LaPonkeag Stream (a somewhat large water at C-3), Little Mooseleuk Stream (C-2) and Fourmile Brook (C-4), but most streams and brooks in this region hold brookies.

As usual, the further an angler walks from the remote, gravel roads, the better the angling, but exceptions exist. As a general rule, folks fishing this region hit ponds and lakes for the larger salmonids and stay away from the alder tangles along small waters. In short, a pool just beyond sight of a road may not see an angler from one season to the next.

Beaver ponds and dead waters can routinely hold foot-long brookies and bigger ones, but I prefer pocket water and glides.

For fishing brooks, I often use a 6-foot fly rod that casts well in tight quarters, but some brooks and streams on Map 56 and 57 flow so widely that folks can get by with a 9-foot fly rod.

Ultra-light spinning gear works great for Maine brook fishing, but from Aug. 16 through Sept. 30, bait is illegal.

That doesn’t hold back the spin-fishing crowd, though, and in recent years, outdoors writer Tom Seymour of Waldo prefers Trout Magnets, sold at Walmart. He has no ethical problems with worms, but Trout Magnets keep a bend in his rod without the work associated with live bait.

The best part of this brook fishing begins and ends with complete solitude in the 21st century. And when folks hit a brook or small stream when brookies are running up it, fishing action can be blistering.

The limit now is one brook trout, too, so no one can legally hurt a water that much by killing the daily limit.

Ken Allen of Belgrade Lakes is a writer, editor and photographer.

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