June’s first half passed with below-normal temperatures, which kept brooks in grand shape for brook-trout anglers. As long as flowing water remains cool into summer, brook fishing will rock, and here’s why: These conditions encourage trout to stay in brooks rather than retreat to ponds, lakes and dead water to wile away hot spells in still-water depths.

Even if several consecutive days heat up, folks can still find good brook fishing. A stream thermometer for reading water temps at midday can lead anglers to productive brooks. How? If water stays 68 degrees or lower all day – common in spring-fed brooks beneath foliage canopies – those places will likely hold brookies.

Brook fishing for trout has everything to recommend it, including two biggies: 1) Anglers must read water accurately to find productive hot spots and; 2) They must approach these places with a hunter’s stealth.

In short, anglers must use all their fishing and hunting knowledge to ascertain where trout hold while resting, feeding and escaping sunlight. Also, anglers must sneak to pools and runs with the same care as hunters stalking big game, stepping silently and staying out of sight. After sneaking into position, folks must wait for trout to settle down before the first cast.

Fly rodders, hardware casters and bait anglers should choose the lightest tippet possible for each water. A fly rodder can get away with a 1-pound tippet in pools with no obstructions but may go as high as 4 pounds if rocks and sunken wood litter the bottom – the same for hardware or bait anglers.

A 6-foot fly rod that requires little backcast to work the rod’s action offers a huge advantage – i.e. making ultra-short casts. Also, short rods for all angling styles have a place when walking through dense cover.

I fly-fish exclusively and like short leaders on canopied brooks – say 5 to 6 feet. If we have little room for a backcast, a long leader will hook overhanging foliage behind us.

Secret Brook, one of my favorite destinations, offers pocket water and small pools that slide between mossy boulders and ledges. Mint patches grow between rocks on water’s edge, and stretches of floodplain have moss layers and some lichen. Where the rich, narrow flood plain extends farther from the bank, false hellebore, common ferns and wild sarsaparilla carpet the ground beneath mixed-growth forest.

When I recently approached this brook’s shaded bank, the mid-June water temperature was 63 degrees, so air by the brook felt cooler. I stopped near a patch of false hellebore – thigh- to waist-high plants with a tropical look and a stem half again wider than my thumb. It resembled plants in a movie about dinosaurs. Patches of this hellebore are so common in this state around trout waters.

A hemlock with an 18-inch trunk grew on the brook bank, so I hid behind it for eight to 10 minutes to rest the pool before casting. While lurking there, I watched an undercut bank on the farther side, a sure spot for hiding trout. Where the small falls ended in a series of rapids, trout hid where the oxygenated current splashed into the pool. I’d cast below the falls first and undercut bank second – a good plan. Both spots held 8- to 11-inch trout – the latter a trophy from that brook. The narrow, fast runs also held fish this June. That’s central Maine trout fishing in small brooks.

When I was a kid, Mainers pounded brooks, but these days many of my brooks have no sign of humans. Folks claim modern anglers are too lazy to walk brooks, but here’s a better explanation: The IFW stocks ponds and lakes with larger brook trout than the department did in my youth. Many anglers do not want to fish a brook that holds flippity-flop brookies when they can land 14- to 16-inch brook trout in a pond – a matter of bragging rights.

If brooks flow into or out of ponds, these waters may hold bigger trout. Without a pond, catchable brookies in brooks would grow 4 to 10 inches long. With the pond, though, trout 16 inches long and bigger may migrate from a pond to a brook – bonanza time. Imagine a 16-inch brookie in shallow confines, splashing and thrashing against a 6-foot fly rod.

Once, I was fishing with a woman on Secret Brook when she made a comment that captured one allure of rivulets. When first looking at the pool below the low falls and rapids, she said in awe with an ebullient tone, “This looks like Hobbit land!” Sometimes, small brook make me giddy, too, and I’ve fished them all my life.

That’s reason enough to head to a trout brook and solitude in an unspoiled woodland near a city. Also, exceptions to the rule of finding solitude are just that – exceptions.

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

[email protected]