Serious anglers enjoy a reputation for patience, and a recent baseball analogy enforced in my mind how the piscatorial crowd earned this praise.

If a big-league hitter gets 25 hits in 100 times at bat, his batting average figures out to a ho-hum .250. If a batter gets an additional five more hits in those 100 at bats, his average is .300 — star status in the majors. If a slugger gets 32 hits in 100 trips, he has a .320 average — super-stardom.

Compare batting averages to fishing. If an angler landed one salmonid for every 75 to 100 casts and did that all season, it would be remarkable.

This one fish per 100 casts gets even worse in early April, too. If anglers do not believe that claim, I invite them to stand at the Spillway Pool in Belgrade Lakes village on April Fools’ Day and count presentations for a few hours. It would be nothing to see 1,000 casts without a single fish.

Spots such as the Spillway, Wings Mills Dam in the Belgrade Lakes, Grand Lake Stream, the Kennebec River below Wyman and similar destinations acquire solid reputations because they may produce the best cast-to-landed fish ratio, but compared to batting averages, the figures are dismal. The fish-catching average might be as little as .001.

In early April, small brooks rank as my favorite spots to fish, because until the ice goes out later in April, these brooks — in my humble opinion — provide us with the best game in town.

If the brook bubbles from a swamp or mountainside and runs into another waterway without crossing a road, then that water really interests me, because few people would fish it — just too remote.

If an angler dips a thermometer into a brook in August and the mercury stays below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, this spot has great potential, particularly in late April through June. It’ll hold trout all year, though.

DeLorme’s Maine Atlas and Gazetteer helps locate such spots, too.

Just peruse brooks in your area and see which ones begin and end without crossing a road. These are honey holes that will offer sport for life.

Also, and this rule cannot be emphasized enough, brooks crossing a road may not be the end of the free world as we know it because some of them may escape notice.

For example, east of Augusta, a narrow gravel road crosses water that looks like a swamp — not a brook. One windy August day, I stopped to look at this “slough hole” and noticed a subtle current had washed away silt at the end of the culvert on the downstream side of the road. Bingo!

After circling the swamp, I picked up the brook downstream from the swamp, where it tumbled and rushed under an alder canopy before sliding into a springy meadow that looked like an English chalk stream. The wind had stopped me from hearing the small rapids.

It was a hot August day, but the water temperature held in the mid-60s — another bingo.

A few miles downstream, this brook flowed under a state highway, but alders covered the channel. It would take a careful eye to see the brook, and in fact, I found it in 1978 while woodcock hunting in the dense shrubs.

That brook harbors lots of brookies, particularly the stretch by the state highway. And yes, it eventually flows into the Atlantic Ocean, so it has sea-run brookies nearer the coast.

In April, poking around these small brooks gives me great joy and occasional native brook trout.

Here’s another tip. The land southwest of Bangor, including Waldo County, has fecund soil that supports lots of deer and grouse, according to wildlife biologist at IFW.

The same nutrient-rich land leaches into water and supports more trout per mile or acre than most regions of Maine. The exceptions would be York and southern Oxford counties and a limestone belt in Aroostook.

Some of those Waldo brooks are chockablock full of brookies, too, and Lincoln and eastern Kennebec counties run a close second.

Fisheries biologists for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife have electro-fished most of these brooks, and that information is available to curious anglers. I seldom fish a new brook without checking IFW research figures.

I love to poke around my pet brooks this month, and any successes now offer a bonus and promise of what’s to come when water reaches that magic mid-50s to mid-60s range. Forty-eight to 53 degrees ain’t bad, either.

Just don’t expect to average .320 in catches per 100 casts. But action is action before black flies swarm and the leaves on alders reach the size of a mouse’s ear. These two signs coincide with a time frame when action rocks.

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

[email protected]