With a good winter for making ice, Sebago Lake is still active this month, and it’s the place to go for big togue and ugly fish. March typically means punky ice and time to pull your shack before you lose it. This year, thanks to some brutally cold nights, anglers can fish well into the third month.
Anglers on the ice on Lower Bay in Standish are reporting excellent togue catches with multiple fish, along with some decent-sized specimens. This angler concentrated on the hard water of Jordan Bay and noticed something unusual this season – I had more action with traps than with jigging. Typically, you will find me sitting on my vintage Ski-Doo bouncing a Swedish pimple tipped with a strip of sucker. This is my go-to set-up and rarely fails to deliver.
This winter I went with big bait on my traps, using foot-long suckers. While I had plenty of reel-stripping runs, I didn’t have any luck landing the fish. The fish would stay with the bait until I got them close to the hole and then they would drop the sucker. I even had once nice-sized laker drop the bait as I raised him from the hole, only to slither back down into the icy water before I could grab him. The sucker would come out all scarred up, but the hook in the dorsal fin did not engage the fish. I tried moving it forward and back to no avail. I am working on a bait harness, so look out lakers. Jig anglers using the Swedish pimple had some good catches, and I heard from anglers using airplane jigs that they did well, too.
As for those ugly fish I mentioned, there are two ugly fish in Sebago in my opinion: pike and cusk. Pike are just plain nasty with their voracious appetite and toothy jaws. Some misguided soul thought it would be wise to plant this invasive species in our beautiful lake, so now we have one more threat to the salmon and lake trout population. If you want to do the lake and all of us anglers a favor, set some traps with steel leaders in the shallow waters this month and try to cull some of these killing machines out. Big shiners or suckers in water under 12 feet deep are a big draw for pike. If you know where the weeds are, concentrate there.
The runner-up in the ugly fish contest is the cusk. This cousin of the saltwater cod resembles a cross between an eel and a hornpout, but offers up some mighty tasty eating. Anglers after cusk do best by sinking a dead bait on bottom in sandy locations at night. Anglers can park at the boat launch in Raymond and fish that bay easily. The law states you must tend your trap once an hour, so sit in the truck, stay warm and catch a few Z’s. Just be sure to set an alarm.
This is the month to get in some last-minute ice-angling. Whether it’s lunker lakers, invasive pike or the fine chowder flesh of the cusk, Sebago is still hot. Up next month: ice-out salmon action. I can’t wait.
Tom Roth is a freelance outdoor writer who lives in Raymond on the shore of Sebago Lake and has been fishing and hunting in this region for more than 30 years.
Nice lake trout like this one are being jigged up from the depths of Sebago Lake this month.