When hot July days and nights send the respectable angler in search of shade, our lake trout seek the cool comfort of deep water pockets and Sebago is a top spot for laker fishing. With fish ranging from ounces to possibly 20 pounds or more, July provides great angling, despite sweltering surface temperatures.

Tom Roth is a freelance outdoor writer who lives in Raymond on the shore of Sebago Lake. He has been fishing and hunting in this region for more than 30 years and is a Registered Maine Guide.

Sebago Lake was stocked with lake trout, aka togue, in the 1970s and they have thrived. Despite increased bag limits and derbies aimed at reducing their numbers, they seem to remain steady. Fish in the 3-to 8-pound range are regularly caught, as are some larger fish in the double digits.

Anglers seeking trophy togue from Sebago Lake use two basic methods: trolling or still fishing. Trolling anglers fall into a variety of categories, but primarily, anglers either troll bait or they troll lures. Bait anglers have a simpler choice, of shiners or smelt. Many will argue the natural food for togue is the rainbow smelt and opt to use fresh or frozen smelt. This time of year it is hard to find live smelt, so frozen may be the only choice.

Many anglers use lead core line and add a lead rudder to really get the line down fast. Anglers attach the lead rudder to the lead-core line with stainless steel wire. I rig my trolling lines in the following manner: First, I attach the lead-core line to a heavy-duty brass barrel swivel. Next, I twist a 2-foot section of .029 diameter 174-pound test steel wire to the other end of the swivel. The wire is then attached to the rear portion of the lead rudder. From there, I run 4 feet of 20-pound monofilament line to a bait harness, fly or lure. I opt to use 20-pound test when after togue, knowing Sebago Lake can produce a monster at any given moment.

Other anglers prefer lead core line with a dodger or flasher followed by a leader with a fly, lure or baitfish. You really need the lead core line to get your offering down, but each angler has their own method after that. I like the dodger and fly method, preferring to use a Barne’s special or Gray Ghost on any of my togue outings. A bait harness with a frozen smelt or live shiner works well for many other sports. Sewn-on smelt are also popular by those die-hards who still practice this art.

The authors shows off a hefty Sebago Lake togue, taken while trolling along the bottom. Photo by Tom Roth

Lures are another top way to troll up big togue. Mooselook wobblers, DB smelts and Helin’s flatfish work well when towed behind lead core line and just bumped along bottom. It takes a skilled angler to keep the lure on the bottom without snagging a submerged rock, but those who keep their bait down low reap the benefits of their skill and care.

Downriggers are very popular on Sebago Lake and not only help togue anglers, but summertime salmon anglers, too. Salmon find a certain temperature and hold in that depth. Locating fish with a depth finder and sending lure or bait to that precise depth is a sure-fire way to get a July catch.

“Plugging” is a time-honored method for taking togue while still fishing with bait. Plugging consists of utilizing a slip sinker rig, also known as a “fish-finder” rig. Today, most anglers use an electronic fish finder to locate a fish or group of fish on the bottom and then anchor within casting distance. As soon as the bait settles to the bottom, anglers leave the bail open on their reel and secure it in a holder. By leaving the bail of the reel open, the baited line can flow freely through the open tube of the fish-finder rig as the bait swims seductively near the bottom of the lake.

Early morning outings on the lake will typically help you avoid recreational boaters on popular Sebago Lake. If you try the tactics and techniques that veteran anglers employ, you will not only get to enjoy the beauty of Southern Maine’s premier togue lake, you may latch onto a trophy fish of your own!

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