Sebago Lake (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 5 C1) is the largest lake in southern Maine and the second largest one in the state. This body of water is well known throughout the region for its superb landlocked salmon and lake trout fishery. The fishing strategy today is to troll along the northern shore of the lake, between Thompson’s Point and Cub Cove, in the general area of Sebago Lake State Park where the Crooked River enters the lake. The north shore is a popular early-season spot to catch landlocks and lakers: these fish are eagerly chasing after schools of rainbow smelt which are getting organized in that general area to migrate up the Crooked River for their annual spring spawning runs. My son Joel and I buy a dozen live smelt from Jordan’s Store on Route 114 at Long Beach. We’ll also use DB Smelt lures which have worked well for us on this lake in the past. We reach Nathans Beach in North Sebago at 7:30 am and launch Joel’s motorized canoe. The air temperature is in the mid 20’s and the water is still a frigid 36°F. In fact, several coves (e.g., Lower Bay in Standish and Jordan Bay in Raymond) are still partially covered with ice. The surface of the lake is completely calm this morning, with not a breeze to stir things up. The sky is mostly cloudy which reduces the light intensity and will hopefully keep the fish high in the water column.
We quickly motor up towards the north shore and get ready to troll. We both attach a smelt to a sliding-hook rig and use our downriggers to set the bait 5 ft (me) and 10 ft (Joel) below the surface. Each of us also casts a DB Smelt lure to fish right below the surface behind the canoe in the wake of the engine. Boy, we’re not alone this morning. We count 27 (!) boats in the area. A creel counting crew also motors up to each one to inquire about fishing success. When they finally reach our boat, they tell us that no one has landed a fish yet. Mmm, that doesn’t sound promising, given the number of hooks in the water. I suspect that we’re still a bit too early in the season and that the smelt haven’t started migrating yet.We get or see no action over the next 1.5 hour. At that point, a guy in the boat right next to ours hooks and lands a nice 19” salmon. That’s positive! We shout our congratulations and ask him how deep he’s fishing. He replies that he was 12 colors down (he was using lead core) and used a big sucker. Here’s an old fishing joke: “You know, Bobby, all fishermen are liars, except for you and me, even though I’m not really sure that I can believe your stories”… Anyway, we continue trolling with renewed hope, changing lures and adjusting the depth for our live bait, but to no avail.
We motor back in the direction of Nathan’s Beach by 10 am to fish around one of the offshore sunken islands that rises up from >100 ft deep and forms a shallow (35 ft deep) submerged shelf which attracts fish from the surrounding area. Joel is using the GPS on his phone to get us to our new spot when I notice that the wind has markedly picked up and is starting to blow dangerously strong out of the southeast. The white caps emerge within 10-15 minutes and the waves are getting menacing. One does not challenge Sebago Lake in a small boat, so we quickly decide to turn around and head back towards Nathan’s Beach and the safety of solid ground.
The results: nothing (nada) after 2.5 hours of trolling.
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