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songolocks3.jpg (12132 bytes)Maine Fresh Water Fishing Season Opening Day 2000

Sebago Lake

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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 statepark2.jpg (9311 bytes)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 gravitate towards.

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.

statepark5.jpg (9302 bytes)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.

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Flow Ice in the Lower Bay


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