In March, friends call or stop at my home to tell stories about early open-water fishing adventures in flowing waters in the bottom third of the state, and the up-to-date news fascinates me big time. It also spurs me to get on the water.

Each year, weather dictates the number of contacts. When the third month delivers unseasonably warm temperatures and moderate to low currents conducive to good angling, angler interest increases greatly, but deep snow, plenty of ice and high water slow fishing news to a trickle.

Surprisingly to me, fly rodders far outnumber bait dunkers in March, but some dedicated hardware and bait flingers take advantage of the early season. The number of angling participants grows each year, but fly rodders really get out now when meteorological events cooperate.

In March, successful wader-clad fly fishers cast weighted nymphs and equally weighted baitfish imitations and bounce offerings along bottom. … More on proper early-season, fly-fishing techniques later.

Anglers cannot fish in every Maine brook, stream or river until April 1, but rivers such as the St. George, Medomak, Nezinscot, Presumpscot and Mousam and streams such as Cobbossee or Pocasset can be fished year-round in certain stretches or in the entire river or stream, depending on regs.

(Please check the fishing-law booklet for details.)

One of my key observations about March fishing also applies to November and December. For at least 10 to 15 years, Maine’s fishing bulletin-board have shown photos of salmonids, illustrating people are mastering early and late-season fishing skills, an evolving process.

When cold-weather fishing in Maine began gaining a small following in the 1990s, posts and photos were few and far between. Each year, though, the photography output picked up as folks began figuring out how to catch trout in icy water. Successful anglers wanted to show their catches, and the increase in photos each year proved they were getting better at it.

Success begins and ends with slow, slow presentations that bounce flies on or near the bottom where lethargic fish wait for food to drift close to their maws.

At this time of year trout, salmon and bass seldom move far for food, but exceptions exist. Don’t they always. But consistent success calls for knowing where fish lie on bottom and drifting the fly slowly through the target zone — over and over.

Folks who love fishing often read outdoors magazines, and this time of year, readers can depend on finding articles about fishing flies, hardware or bait slowly in cold water. Everyone knows the routine.

Or do they?

Veteran anglers know how to fish in March (or November) and have mastered the slow presentation. The great anglers have a rule, too. When they think the offering is going slowly, they slow it even more.

Let’s say a brown trout lies on bottom, watching its world go by. A caster comes along and drops a weighted fly, lure or baitfish above a known hot spot and lets the fly drift downstream toward the targeted lie.

The current might be a little strong there, and the fly drifts eight inches above the brown’s nose. The fish may not want to move so far in frigid water and lets the imitation forage pass above it — over and over again.

An experienced March fly rodder ties on a heavier fly or changes positions to get the presentation near bottom — maybe a pattern that floats with the hook point riding upright so the offering can bounce above an obstruction-littered pool or run without snagging up. Generally, that plan draws more strikes than a lure riding high above bottom in the water column.

Bait anglers might add more weight and the hardware crowd might choose a deep-diving lure and also add split shot to the line.

When reading fly-fishing bulletin boards, I often notice posters talk about the difficulty of casting weighted flies. A weighted fly will never cast as easily as a weightless one, but it need not be a nightmare for fly rodders who learn proper casting technique.

When the fly zings by the caster’s head, shoulder or butt, causing flinching or even ducking, it’s time to master the basic casting stroke and timing of the back-cast.

A great way to master casting weighted flies begins with fly-casting weightless patterns under the eye of a competent casting instructor at a place such as L.L.Bean or Orvis. Then, folks should graduate to small, weightless flies and then to medium choices and eventually to heavier ones.

A short casting stroke and perfect timing mean everything, and a weighted fly exaggerates a flaw in the caster’s mechanics. That’s why average to poor casters have fits with weighted offerings.

Of course, the hardware crowd with lures such as Trout Magnets, Swedish Pimples and the like do well now as do bait-dunkers

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For information or tickets for the Salt Water Sportsman National Seminar Series 25th Anniversary, please call 1-800-448-7360, write Outdoor Associates, Inc., 9930 N.W. 59th Court, Parkland, FL 33076, or check

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