Sebago Lake is synonymous with landlocked salmon. After all, it is one of the original homes of that fish in Maine. Yet most who venture out on Sebago’s ice this time of year are in search of lake trout, more commonly known as togue.

It’s been nearly three weeks now since Sebago’s Big Bay froze over, and the ice fishing has been hot (sorry, just couldn’t resist).

If you are wondering how good the ice fishing is, or just what condition the ice is in, you’d be hard pressed to find a better source that Jordan’s Store in the town of Sebago. This time of year, the general store has all you need for a successful day out on the ice, including tip-ups, stout jigging rods, a variety of bait and jigging lures. Stop in or call, and they will even let you know what you should use and where you should be fishing.

The Cutting family owns the popular general store, and keeps an eye on the ice. Carroll Cutting, the family patriarch, has kept a meticulous logbook over the years, noting the dates of ice-in and ice-out.

This year the Big Bay on Sebago set up the night of Jan. 24.

The Big Bay doesn’t always freeze over. A look at Carroll’s log book shows that in the last 10 years, it froze over seven times.

Last year, the bay remained open throughout the winter, and in fact the ice was so bad all over the lake, last year’s Sebago Derby was canceled.

Carroll’s son Greg has been out on the ice several times this year, and says the togue fishing has been very good.

“One group went out there and caught 71 fish. I’ve been out several times and caught 27 fish the first day, and 44 on another,” said Greg Cutting. He said his biggest was 4.25 pounds, but one angler brought a togue into the store that tipped the scales at 12.83 pounds.

Togue fishing has changed in Sebago in recent years, as landlocked alewives, a baitfish, have colonized the lake, according to Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologist Francis Brautigam. Introduced in Raymond Lake, they have made their way down the water system into Sebago.

They now join a long list of non-native fish that have been introduced into Sebago that also includes crappie, pike and togue.

Brautigam says what impact these alewives will have on the lake’s fisheries remains to be seen, but right now anglers are finding that the togue are feeding heavily on the alewives.

Many anglers are finding alewives in togue stomachs or seeing togue spitting them out as they are reeled in.

One thing fishermen agree on is that the best way to catch togue on Sebago is jigging for them. Greg Cutting has had great luck jigging in deeper pockets of water, just off the humps and ledges, where the schools of alewives have sought refuge in the warmth of the deeper water.

Fishing near these drop-offs in over 100 feet of water, Greg has been using a bucktail jig tipped with a dead shiner, and bouncing it off the bottom.

Bucktail jigs are one option, and other jigging lures that have worked include larger Swedish pimples, Rapala jigs and airplane jigs.

Color doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue, as togue don’t seem to be that finicky as to color.

But don’t be fooled — jigging for togue is not as easy as it looks.

Technique can be the difference between icing up over a dozen fish and hooking up with a few. No doubt about it, togue can be selective. Anglers have been catching them right on the bottom. If you are not getting strikes and others are around you, alter your jigging motion, it may just trigger a strike.

Portable electronic depth finders have become more common out on the ice, and flasher systems seem to be the most effective. These systems offer a real-time view of what is happening in the water column.

With the different colors representing the fish and your lure, you can watch as they get closer, you can view what type of jigging action triggers reactions, you can identify bottom composition, and of course, you can see if there are any fish.

Right now the fish are there in the depths of Sebago, and this year, ice is covering the entire lake, giving anglers access to some excellent fishing.

“The fishing has been very good, the lake trout are abundant,” says Brautigam, “Ice fishing for togue in Sebago has become an outstanding recreational fishery.”

Mark Latti is a former public information officer for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and a registered Maine Guide. He can be reached at:

[email protected]