This month, trout fishing in lakes, ponds, streams and brooks can rock in central Maine, producing some of the year’s best angling. But despite all the quality fishing destinations, marginal trout streams and small rivers can also shine now, particularly ones running to or from stocked ponds, lakes and rivers. Best of all, these places lack name recognition, so anglers often find solitude.

This poor trout habitat may warm too much to hold trout in July and August, thus the word marginal, but water temperatures are optimal right now and draw brookies, browns or rainbows from still-water sanctuaries. A stocking list and DeLorme’s map book can help folks find these spots.

May’s aquatic insect hatches produce dry-fly action in marginal waters, and here’s just one suggestion: In downtown Searsmont, Bartlett Stream between the St. George River and Quantabacook Lake is a great example. Year-round water quality may be inadequate for trout in summer, but right now such waters can offer grand action for brook or brown trout. By July, though, salmonid fishing there usually stinks. When spring is warm, angling declines before June, but this year cold weather prevailed until this past week.

Since moving from Hallowell to Belgrade Lakes 13 years ago, I have less of a chance to fish Bartlett Stream in Sears-mont, but from the 1980s to the early 2000s May days here often passed with fun dry-fly action on what looked like – to me anyway – an English chalk stream.

In fact, Ursus Productions once shot a television show of me on this water in May, a choice influenced by the quality fishing. In May, stocked trout and a few wild ones ran from the St. George or Quantabacook into this stream section.

Mayflies hatch in the next few days – if not already – and other aquatic insects size 12 to 16 and smaller bring trout to the surface. When trout aren’t rising, mayfly-nymph imitations such as Hare’s Ear, Pheasant Tail, March Brown, Prince, etc. in sizes 12 to 16 work.

Folks new to dry-fly fishing may benefit from three tips:

When trout make delicate rise rings on the surface as opposed to energetic ones, that often indicates mayfly nymphs that float lethargically on the surface. Try to determine what insect interests the trout. (Often, surface-drifting caddis are less common in Maine. More on caddis later.)

If the bugs are mayflies, catch one in an insect net and tie on an imitation that matches the natural in size, color scheme and silhouette. Then carefully sneak within casting distance of a rise and cast upstream of it.

Watch the fly float downstream. If it travels at the same speed as flecks of foam or surface vegetation next to the imitation, that’s great. The fly is drifting naturally like the insect. If it moves faster or slower, that drag on the fly looks bogus to wary trout. They’ll avoid rising to it.

If drag occurs, casters must change their position a little from the initial casting spot and/or cast in such a way as to put a loose leader on the water. With the latter option, the fly floats naturally before the leader straightens out enough to the pull the fly across the water. Never forget the key to success with this presentation – the fly must float naturally.

If trout are making energetic surface splashes for bugs on the water, they are probably chasing caddises up from the bottom and catching them near the surface. Many species of this aquatic insect often hatch like this – bursting quickly from the bottom to escape the miniscus.

When imitating this caddis movement in flowing water, cast quartering downstream and across the current, and feed out loose line to get the fly to bottom – preferably a weighted fly. Then strip the fly back slowly, but not real slow. Trout will chase the fly and hit it like a freight train.

That’s the other secret to dry-fly fishing: Match the fly to the natural and then present it so it acts in the exact same way as the insect.

When imitating these fast-hatching caddis, the toughest part is seeing the hatching fly well enough to match the bug. These insects fly off from the surface and head for shore to hide under leaves on shoreside – a fast escape.

Often during caddis hatches, any flies that fly past long enough to provide me with a quick glance at the body color give me the answer for an imitation to hatch. Let’s say the body is medium olive. An imitation with a medium-olive body and natural deer-hair down-wing will match the hatch.

Seeing the body color of a fast-hatching fly is more difficult to do than newcomers might think at first glance. I’ve stood in a river for a half-hour – and longer – before my eyes can spot body color.

May is dry-fly month in central Maine – a grand time for trout anglers in this state. We need to be on the water whenever possible to take advantage of what at times can be blistering angling action.

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

[email protected]

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