‘Fly Fishing in Maine’ will hook readers

Posted May 06, 2009, at 8:11 p.m.

Longtime anglers tend to guard the location of their secret fishing holes religiously. Ask some of the most reserved fishermen where they’ve been having luck, and you’ll likely face a stern stare.

Get the name of a county, and you’re probably the angler’s close friend. Find out what town the fisherman’s been spending his time in, and you’re likely related to him.

Yes, our favorite fishing haunts are our own, and many anglers choose to keep that kind of information close to the fly vest, lest interlopers begin showing up en masse and commence to screwing up the cosmic fishing balance.

The general lesson is this: There’s plenty of water out there. Some of it’s good. Some of it isn’t. And those who know where the good fishing is have spent hours, months and years accumulating that knowledge. It’s downright presumptuous to expect folks to share that knowledge with those who haven’t, to steal a phrase from the baseball vernacular, “earned their ups.”

There are, however, plenty of anglers who are willing to give fellow fishermen a gentle prod in the right direction, without giving away a lifetime of hard-earned secrets.

A recent book illustrates that technique in fine fashion.

Bob Leeman of Brewer recently released “Fly Fishing in Maine,” which is subtitled “Rivers, Brooks and Streams.”

Over the course of 117 enjoyable pages, Leeman shares some of knowledge he has accumulated over a lifetime of fishing.

Some of the knowledge. But not nearly all … not even close. And that’s a key distinction. Like the best veteran anglers, Leeman is helpful, to a point, but keeps more than a few secrets under his well-worn fishing hat.

Leeman’s book isn’t a how-to, where-to manual as much as it is a to-do list for those who look forward to exploring as many fishing spots as they can.

Leeman is perfectly willing to point an angler in the right direction. He’s willing to tell them the name of a few brooks or streams or rivers they ought to visit.

He’ll suggest a few flies, and talk about places fishermen can launch canoes. A few color plates of favorite flies, along with tying recipes, are also included.

After that, Leeman leaves it up to the individual angler to head afield, wet a line, and have fun learning.

Leeman sums up most waters in three or four pages apiece, and includes sketches by Mark McCollough and some handsome locator maps.

The author doesn’t wax philosophic in his descriptions, and he opts for straight-forward facts rather than flowery prose.

The reader is left wanting more … and is left realizing that the way to get more is to hop in a truck, pack a fly rod, and start exploring.

Leeman’s book highlights 19 pieces of water, but gives none more than a quick, no-frills treatment.

For readers looking for shortcuts to angling nirvana, that’ll probably be irksome.

For those willing to treat the book as a potential roadmap to countless future memories, however, Leeman’s effort will truly be appreciated.

The author learned his lessons the hard way, after all. Letting the rest of us do the same — albeit with plenty of helpful prods in the right directions — is more than generous.

And a few hours spent reading this volume is guaranteed to generate months and years of future adventures for those willing to put in the necessary legwork.

Leeman’s book costs $19.95 and is available at Van Raymond Outfitters in Brewer, Book Marc’s in Bangor and through the author. Send inquiries to Bob Leeman, 22 Alan-A-Dale Road, Brewer, 04412.

Salmon opinions sought

On Tuesday I asked readers what they thought of the 11th-hour cancellation of the Atlantic salmon season that had been scheduled for the Penobscot River, and which would have run from May 1 through May 31.

After consultation with federal officials, Maine officials decided to pull the plug on the catch-and-release season just days before it was to have begun.

The feds, you likely realize, are in the process of deciding whether the salmon populations of three Maine rivers, including the Penobscot, deserve added protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Responses have been trickling in, and I’ll be sharing portions of those e-mails in a coming column.

If you’ve got an opinion on the matter, I hope you’ll consider sharing it with your fellow readers.

A couple of general rules: I need your name and hometown, and you’ve got to be willing to have that information printed in the paper.

Remember, brief is good. Succinct is good. Calling people names (while it might make you feel better) is not so good.

I look forward to hearing what you’ve got to say.

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