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Review of  the Sebago Region Ice Fishing Season

2000-2001 - Taken from Dick Pinney's weekly fishing reports.

Compiled by Mike Christy


Even though only the coves and sheltered bays on Sebago Lake have any ice cover, the Sebago Region has seen some very good fishing already. Regional Fisheries Biologist John Boland reported that you need to exercise caution, but conditions are good for this time of year. Surveys taken yesterday by fellow biologist Francis Brautigan, who was checking fishermen on Little Ossipee Lake and Mousam Lake, were impressive. Little Ossipee was giving up nice landlocked salmon and some decent white perch, while Mousam had produced brown trout in the 14-16 inch range and some brookies just under that size.

Carroll Cutting at Jordan's Store in East Sebago, noted that although the big lake had frozen last night, the ice had already broken up in front of his store. "But we've already had some nice fish brought in from local ponds--a brown trout that weighed 5.89 pounds caught at Hancock Pond in Denmark, a six pound largemouth that we suspect also came from Hancock, and a four pound brookie that came from an area pond."


Carroll Cutting reported that some of Sebago Lake's more sheltered waters, especially Sebago Station, were seeing some fishing pressure and shanties were going on the ice there, but warned that the main part of the lake had not frozen and that there were plenty of areas with only an inch or so of ice that were snow covered, creating a deadly trap for the unwary. "They are catching some togue at the Station," he noted. While we talked, Warren Gamash of Camp Ellis, ME was weighing in a togue that he'd caught this morning. The huge fish was 37 inches long, had an 18 inch girth and weighed 15.5 pounds. Gamash was fishing at Sebago Station on four inches of black ice, which extended out to Indian Island.


There's been some pretty good togue fishing. My son Greg and his buddy caught some fish in 105 feet of water off Harmon's Cove. Stinger jigs tipped with shiners were working there. There's been a few cusk also taken off the beach there, but it's been spotty. Most of the cusk fishermen are waiting for the Camel's Pasture to get enough ice to be safe. That's probably the best cusk grounds on the lake," he suggests.


"When the ice finally did get safe out here, the fishermen swarmed," laughed Carroll Cutting at Jordan's Store in East Sebago. "We've witnesses some great catches. My son Greg and two friends took 15 togue in three hours of fishing on Wednesday. Guide Chris Burnell caught 14 togue himself, fishing near Greg, releasing all but his five fish limit. Most of the togue were spitting out smelt, so this confirms the fisheries people's belief that the togue are adversely impacting the smelt population," Carroll advised.

"Best bets for lures have been jigs, with the glow-colored Stinger in one and two ounce sizes being one of the best producers. You want to tip the Stinger with a piece of cut bait. This lure isn't just for togue, either. Our neighbor Jeff Crabtree caught nine cusk in an hour one evening this week on a Stinger and cut bait," Cutting added.


"Most of our fishermen fish with jigs and cut or whole shiner bait. The best jigs so far have been bucktails, with the Stinger Jig in one and two ounces being very popular. Swedish Pimples, Leadfish, and Airplane Jigs also produce good catches. Water depths don't seem to make a lot of difference. The best fishermen won't fish much more than a few minutes in one location unless they find fish. They may only move fifty or a hundred feet away, cut a new hole and try again. When they do find a concentration, limit catches in an hour or so are often produced. You've got to keep moving," he instructed.


"It was like a zoo here," laughed Carroll Cutting at Jordan's Store in East Sebago, one of the derby's checking and weighing stations. "The weather was awful, the fishing really wasn't at its peak, but the family type atmosphere and cooperation between fishermen and the others on shore was outstanding. And when the prizes were handed out, a lot of the glory went to a couple of youngsters that earned their right to the honors by toughing it out right alongside the adults," Cutting said.

Top prize of $5,000 went to 13 year old Katie Parker of Sebago, for her togue of 12.45 pounds, followed closely by a togue of 12.09 pounds caught by Raymond Martin, who traveled from Downeast Steuben, Maine to take the $1,000 second prize. Third place togue was about five pounds smaller, a 7.35 beauty that was caught by a local angler, Russell McGinness of South Casco. This fish landed Russ a $500 cash prize.


Carroll Cutting, at Jordan's Store in East Sebago, echoed the two previous reports, and had some details on some of the big togue taken last week. "On Thursday, we had one party come back off the ice with 15 togue. Gerry Ford of Wells had one that weighed 16.96 pounds and told of loosing one larger that wouldn't come up through his fishing hole! On Saturday, David Libby brought in a togue that weighed 17.12 pounds and Bob Reynolds had one that went 12.3 pounds. It was one heck of a week," he laughed.


We had some very nice togue (lake trout) show up this weekend, the largest was a 15.66 pounder caught by Mike Farrell. Cusk fishing has also been excellent. Everyone seems to have their favorite cusk spot, but nearby Camel's Pasture probably has been the most productive over the years. One of our customers had pulled nine cusk out of one hole using a glow-in-the-dark Stinger jig and bait. He was fishing on the Camel's Pasture. There are also great cusk grounds off the Dingley Islands and Raymond Cape," Cutting advised.


Sebago Lake fishermen were facing tough traveling conditions, especially late in the day, after the sun had got at the ice, according to Carroll Cutting at Jordan's Store in East Sebago. "It's okay early in the morning, but by noontime, the going gets tough in the slush and wet snow. Both snowmobiles and ATVs have been getting stuck and are having a hard time. There's plenty of ice. We're going to be looking at a later than normal ice-out. But that's okay with a lot of our togue fishermen. They are still catching a lot of fish. One party of two people caught nine togue in a few hours last week. We weighed in a togue caught by Scott Gonyea at 16.75 pounds, 37 inches long. He also had one that was close to eight pounds. Scott caught those two big fish on an Airplane jig with cutsucker bait. We also had a six-year-old neighbor, Eric Gunther, catch a four-pound togue on his first-ever trip out on the ice. That was quite a thrill for the little fellow," Cutting laughed.

A Special thanks to Carroll Cutting, owner of Jordan's Store located on RT144 in Sebago for loaning New England Sportsman these photographs. Jordan's stocks a complete supply of fishing tackle including togue killer flatfish, hand tied salmon flys and many types of lures, not to mention live bait. Please visit them on your next trip to the big water.

Angler Photos:

1/29/01 Richard Crosby Jr. - Lake Trout  18.12lbs 39.5" 20" Girth
1/1/01 Justin Chick - Brown Trout 5.89lbs 25"
1/19/01 Christine Saucier - Largemouth 7.05lbs 22.5"
3/4/01 David Libby - Lake Trout 17.12lbs 36.75"
2/15/01 Jimmy Morrill - Togue 14.66lbs 34.5"
1/8/01 Warren Gamash - Lake Trout 15.26lbs 37.5"

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