Ice fishing for brown trout and largemouth bass on Little Sebago Lake, Gray, Maine (February 5, 2017)

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The boys with the toys have more fun!

Little Sebago Lake covers 1,898 acres and is located in Gray and Windham, Maine (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 5 C3).  The public access point is reached by driving north on Route 302 in Windham, turning right at the light (by Bob’s Seafood Restaurant) on Anglers Road, driving past Pettingill Pond, turning right on Woodland Road, and then turning right again on Mount Hunger Shore Road. Follow this road until you reach the boat launch. My son Joel and I decide to bring out the “side-by-side” vehicle and our two four-wheelers to give us mobility to bring his family and I out on the lake. We want to fish the south-facing shore of Ridgewood Island, located amongst a set of islands on the largest of the four bays that make up this beautiful lake.




There’s always the (frozen) beach to keep the young ones entertained when the bite is slow!

Little Sebago Lake supports a sturdy largemouth and smallmouth bass fishery, although our focus this morning is on trying to catch brown trout or rainbow trout. Both species are stocked sparingly every year (about 1000 brown trout and 500 to 700 rainbow trout), which typically makes for slow trout fishing through the ice. However, these fish are known locally to grow fast by feeding on the abundant forage base that lives in the lake.  Click here for a depth map and more fisheries information. The bottom contour along the shoreline of Ridgewood Island is interesting and varied, dropping from a few feet deep to over 20 ft in a matter of yards. Yet, further away from the island, the water depth stays at a flat and boring 25 ft or so. Steep drop-offs attract weary trout like browns and bows because they can find food in the shallows but also quickly retreat to deeper waters if needed. I note here that the area encompassed by Ridgewood Island and its nearby siblings (e.g., Crescent Island, Horse Island, Crow Island, and Loon Island) provides great trout habitat during the hard-water season.


This gorgeous brown trout was caught within 5 minutes of deploying the tip-up.

We reach our target island on Little Sebago Lake by 9 am. That’s a whole lot later than I’d like to but it just takes time to get all the equipment and the two boys ready. Joel and I immediately get to work setting out our 20 tip-ups. The ice is a solid 14” thick and is essentially devoid of any snow. We place 14 traps in 4 to 8 ft of water close to shore to find trout. Their hooks are baited with small 2” shiners placed midway down the water column.  I place one of those trout traps at the end of the island which has a bouldery spur that curves and juts out into the lake, forming a bowl-shaped area close to the shoreline. I’m intrigued by it: the shallow water in that area quite suddenly drops from a few feet deep to 22 ft in no more than 3 yards. I have to drill three holes right next to each other to find the sweet spot of 7 ft deep.  The spur also forms a kind of wall that would tend to confine cruising fish in that immediate area. We deploy the remaining six traps in 20 to 25 ft of water with 3” to 4” shiners placed 2 ft off the bottom in order to attract bass.



The smile says it all!!

We get three flags during the hour long set-up process, which gives Anthony (6-years old) a small yellow perch. The flag from the trap deployed at the end of the island pops up 5 minutes after I baited the hook. I’m excited to see the spool turn when I get to the hole. I’m even more excited when I feel hard fighting at the other end after I set the hook. My day is positively made when the fish appearing by the hole is a hefty 17” brown trout!! It’s too bad that the kids were playing at the other end of the island and didn’t see the fish plop on the ice. Giovanni (8-years old) gets his chance an hour later when the flag is triggered in one of the deep traps. The spool still turns when he reaches the hole. He sets the hook and yelps from excitement when he feels resistance. He slowly brings up the largest fish he’s ever caught in his young life: a 17” largemouth bass. He’s beaming. Joel and I look at each other with satisfaction. Giovanni really “gets” the whole ice fishing thing and is getting hooked more and more!



The results: We landed a yellow perch, largemouth bass and brown trout in four hours of fun fishing.


I’m sure that the guy who did this to his car was NOT smiling 🙁

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