The author with a Sebago Lake togue, taken while jigging in Jordan Bay. Tom Roth / For Lakes Region Weekly

With 2020 behind us, we can only look forward to a bright new year and a whole calendar of outdoor adventures. For most sports in the region, January heralds the start of ice fishing season. While the big lake (Sebago) won’t be iced over for a while, other smaller ponds make ice fast and draw the hardwater crowds, for good reason.

Perhaps the most popular early season spot in the area is Otter Ponds in Standish. This chain of small, shallow ponds is heavily stocked with brook trout and provides some fast and fun action for anglers of all ages. Easily accessed, the Otter Ponds received a healthy dose of brookies from the stocking truck. Just since November, more than 1,700 brook trout ranging in size from 8-16 inches have been planted there for anglers to enjoy. I’ve seen some of those 16-inchers and they are fat fish!

Anglers fishing Otter Ponds do well with traps baited with worms or nightcrawlers or small shiners. Jigging anglers report good success with small spoons. I’d even give that bottled trout bait a try, you can never tell.

Just to the north, the Range Pond chain of Upper, Middle and Lower Range Ponds draws early anglers as it freezes rather rapidly. The Range Ponds are heavily stocked to include the Trout Trifecta: brook, brown and rainbow. Easily accessed at a variety of spots, these ponds also hold hungry bass and a variety of other species for anglers to chase. If you set your traps in shallow water and then move deeper, you should be able to target all the ponds offer. Bring along worms, small and medium shiners and a shiny jig and you have your tackle needs covered.

Once Sebago catches, and we all hope it does soon, anglers will be on the ice targeting togue. The abundant lakers draw thousands to the lake and this year will be the 20th anniversary of the Sebago Lake Rotary Derby, scheduled for Feb. 20-21. It looks like the derby has been given the green light to proceed following COVID-19 protocols. I’m glad to see this event take place as each year it brings in money for worthwhile causes and generates a lot of fishing fun.

Anglers on Sebago do well both jigging and with traps. I like to set four traps with large suckers and jig one hole. I subscribe to the “large bait-large fish” theory and have dragged some nice lakers onto the ice with suckers. Last year, traps out-fished my jig rod, which is a first for this angler.

With the mild December we had, it’s anyone’s guess what the Sebago ice will be like this year. I predict that the big bay won’t lock up solid this year, but I’d like to be surprised. In any case, be sure to exercise caution anytime you are on the ice. Weak spots and pressure ridges abound.

As we hang a new calendar on the wall, let’s look optimistically to the new year and have a great season on the ice.

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.

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