Maine Fresh Water
Fishing Season Opening Day 2000
By Mike Christy
NAPLES, ME. - Maine fresh water anglers were treated to a picture perfect spring day of
deep blue skys, mild temperatures and fantastic fishing as the 2000 fishing season began.
Sebago lake was the destination for many fishermen who hoped to hook into a landlocked
salmon or lake trout. Many of those anglers were rewarded with fine catches, including
Mike shown here who caught this 20 inch salmon on his second cast of the morning. He
fished near the Songo locks using a Krocodile spoon as his lure of choice, and obviously
the choice of this fine landlocked salmon too.
Angler Kurt Olsen began fishing at 4am and it paid off. Between 4 and 8 oclock he and
his partners boated 5 togue and this 1 salmon. Low light conditions and swen on smelt for bait turned out to be
the succesful combination for them.
Sebago Station at the southern end of the lake was blocked in with flow ice which
extended approximately 100 yards out from shore, rendering the new town dock unfishable.
All other access points on the lake were available to anglers including Nason's Beach,
the state park and the Raymond boat ramp on RT302.
Shore anglers had ice free access to all the regular spots including the Muddy River,
Songo locks and Panther Run. Lady fly fishing enthusiast Merrial who was working a black
ghost pattern in the sluiceway of the songo lock noted the water level and how it was
lower than previous years. Normally the water would be spilling over the dam but was not
on this day. Reduced current flow was readily apparent, a current that salmon natuarally
On the surface opening day appeared to be exceeding most everyone's expectations
including Maine biologist John Boland. Although, John was being cautiously optimistic even
with this being one of the best opening days in recent years. His primary concern wasn't
necessarily for the gamefish being caught, although he did weigh and measure each one that
returned to the state park boat launch. His immediate concern was with the condition of
the Sebago smelt population.
A slip in the growth of Sebago's salmon has triggered focused attention on what they
primarily feed on, rainbow smelt. Smaller salmon tend to do well when the smelt population
is not necessarily at it's peak. The issue really begins to show itself when one starts to
look at larger salmon that are over 14"-16" long. Their length to girth ratio
tend to be out of proportion to their younger relatives. This is because there is not
enough feed in the lake to support the larger fishes growth. Opening day is the first
time in the fishing season to take these measurements and begin to form fisheries
management policies for Sebago lake.
As John weighed and measured each fish brought to
shore by anglers, a trend began to emerge; the larger salmon were starting to look like
racers, or were thin compared to the smaller fish, a trend that John had
suspected. And that trend pointed to a possible problem with the forage fish in the lake.
The suspected decline of the smelt population does not affect the voracious lake trout.
Togue feed on a varity of food sources including insects and larvae, as well as smelts,
the primary food of Sebago's larger landlocked salmon. Of the lake trout measured on this
day, all were healthy fat specimens; and there were many of them caught.
Causes of the smelt decline are difficult to determine. Many factors can have an impact
including a mysterious late season smelt kill, sudden poor smelt runs, an increase in
smelt preditation by lake trout. In short, the Sebago smelt population could need
assistance by looking at the initial data. Although one day of data collection can not
determine an entire lake's management, it does have an impact.
Some management techniques to assist Sebago's forage fish could be the recommendation
to target lake trout more often as a gamefish. Sebago now has liberal creel limits
pertaining to togue. Other management techniques which may be used are reduced stocking of
young salmon, and increased planting of smelt eggs.
Opening day 2000 was a success for many anglers who had fine catches of landlocked
salmon and lake trout. Successful fishing for future anglers depends on dedicated
biologists like John Boland, and the lake side data he collects. Please support him in his
efforts, and help make Maine waters world class fisheries for many generations to come.
Flow Ice in the Lower Bay
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