I’m spending the weekend with my family at Sebago Lake State Park, which is located at the northern end of Sebago Lake in Naples. I love camping at this location in early June because we have the camp ground (almost…) to ourselves, yet the weather is warm enough to make an overnight stay a pleasure. It is only later on in the summer that the park becomes crowded and noisy on weekends. My son Joel and I decide to get up at 6 am on Sunday morning to spend two hours fishing for smallmouth bass in and around the Dingley Islands before the rest of the family gets up. The Dingley islands consist of two dozen or so small to large islands located in the northwestern corner of Sebago Lake, near South Casco (see The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 5 C1).
They provide great smallmouth bass habitat, consisting of a warren of sunken reefs, boulder fields, steep drops, and shallows. The substrate is made up mainly of large boulders, cobbles, and rubble. The whole area is also ideally suited as prime spawning habitat for smallmouth bass. The stony shelves around the islands provide the required breeding shallows, whereas the nearby drop-offs are available for hiding and resting.
We leave the camp ground boat launch at 6:30 am and head straight for the Dingley Islands located 15 minutes to our east. It’s a gorgeous morning. The sun is up, the sky is blue, and Sebago is like a mirror. I’m surprised to see that the water temperature on the surface is already a balmy 66°F! My goodness, we’re only in early June and this water is almost swimmable! It’s been awfully hot and humid over the last 3 days and it shows. More importantly, I’m concerned that the smallmouth bass are done spawning and may already have scattered away from the shallows…
We reach our destination and immediately start fishing the shoreline of one of the small islands using a crayfish crankbait, a surface plug, and a soft stickbait. Within about 15 minutes, I hook but miss a tiny smallmouth whereas Joel hooks and lands another tiny smallmouth. I don’t like the looks of this pattern: these are not the spawning bass we’re after, but instead are juveniles that are hanging around the shoreline in the morning. We continue moving around the Dingley Islands and consistently marvel at the high quality of the habitat and the absolute clarity of the lake water.
It is also obvious that the spawn is over and that the larger bass have already moved away from the shallows and retreated to nearby deeper areas. We just don’t have the time to go look for them around the drop-offs and so continue pounding the shoreline in the hope that some are still hanging around there. And we are rewarded accordingly… In the end, Joel catches two 10” smallmouth bass and I catch one of the same size. We missed another half dozen in the same size range. All in all, the fishing was rather disappointing. Luckily, the surrounding area was beautiful and I enjoyed the quietness of an early morning on Sebago Lake with my son.
The results: Joel caught two 10” smallmouth bass and I caught one of the same size in two hours of fishing.
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