Let’s look north of an imaginary west-east line crossing the middle of a Maine map from Coburn Gore by the New Hampshire border to Woodland by the New Brunswick line. That magical region ranks as brook-trout country, and this char stays active there much of June.

In that northland, some lakes and large ponds, small ponds, rivers, streams and brooks intrigue fly rodders plenty, and piscatory photos of their adventures have adorned many a calendar, magazine cover or what not. We’ve all looked at images of a wader in a tea-colored, boulder-strewn stream bordered by alders or a canoeist in a pond surrounded by cedars, spruce or fir. On and on it goes.

While on the topic of trout fishing, a salient point about the sport began to dawn on me before my 10th birthday. It mattered little if the sun shined or didn’t, the wind blew or didn’t, rain fell or didn’t, the temperatures dropped or rose. Trout fed enthusiastically on most any day that aquatic or terrestrial insect hatches prevailed.

About the time that aphorism became part of my psyche, I made a commitment to fly-fishing. In my humble opinion then, insect hatches meant visible signs of feeding trout to pique my interest, and experience taught me that if an imitation fly matched the natural in size, color scheme and silhouette, action would be fast.

Before I forget, let me underscore a point. That imaginary line across the state has exceptions. For instance, I grew up on a small river to the south that held brook trout, brown trout, landlocked salmon and Atlantic salmon, and it was a perfect classroom for learning to fly-fish. In those days, I lamented not being born in Rangeley, Eustis, Millinocket, Grand Lake Stream, Presque Isle or Limestone, where brookies were king. Where I lived, hatchery brookies were far more common in still water.

Sitting in a canoe or kayak and casting to pond brookies offers a grand allure, but I prefer wading in rivers and streams this month, and a close destination to my central Maine home would be Rangeley. Three of my favorite flowing waters there would be the Kennebago (“The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer,” Map 28, D-3 and D-4) and Cupsuptic (Map 28, D-2 and C-2) rivers and South Bog Stream (Map 28, E-4 and Map 18, A-4).


Hundreds of brook-trout ponds with native fish surround Millinocket, but rivers and streams north of that town look like calendar photos that have graced homes since World War II, beginning with Wassataquoik Stream (Map 51, D-4 northwest to B-4), Seboeis River (Map 51, A-4 to C-4), Nesowadnehunk Stream (Map 50, B-4 to D-4) and of course the Penobscot’s West Branch between Ripogenus Dam and Ambejackmockamus Falls (Map 50, D-2 to D-3). The latter river is mostly a salmon water but it has brookie holes, often where tributaries enter.

Presque Isle country has a limestone stream with limestone tributaries, Prestile Stream with heavy hatches and fat trout. When I fished Prestile 25 years ago, this stream quickly taught me that brookies often ran small through the day, but at dawn and evening they ran larger. I sold an article to Fly Fisherman magazine about fishing this limestone water, and even today I may meet a fly rodder who mentions it. Check Map 59, B-4 to A-1. I like the Mars Hill to New Brunswick stretch.

It never hurts to match the hatch or forage (baitfish) and polish the presentation – say a perfect dead-drifting dry fly to match dead-drifting mayflies or duplicate the swimming movement of baitfish or insects. Matching the proper movement or lack of it is particularly true on heavily fished waters, but on streams and brooks that see virtually no pressure, a brightly colored fly cast quartering across and downstream and then retrieved straight back can keep a bend in the rod.

I know many Maine trout waters called brooks that are as wide as the Sheepscot River between Sheepscot Pond and the deadwater near Route 105 in Somerville. Those bigger trout brooks all have tea-colored water, gravel bottoms and hanging alders offering hiding spots that require precision casting.

Whenever mayflies or caddises aren’t hatching, a nymph as simple as a Hare’s Ear, Flick March Brown, Pheasant Tail, Prince or Casual Dress drifted below the alders can keep a bend in the rod. Drifting nymphs (or wet flies) beneath alders on sunny days or casting downstream and across before the retrieve on cloudy days duplicates the usual tactics employed by our grandfathers and great-grandfathers – a touch with the past.

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

[email protected]

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