A happy angler gives her spring Sebago salmon a kiss. Tom Roth / For Lakes Region Weekly

Spring has sprung. It was a mild winter and the lakes are opening up again, plenty reason to rejoice for this fishing fool. Sebago Lake barely froze this year, parts of Jordan Bay had a brief period of ice and you could fish the coves, but the big lake never caught. The Rotary Club’s Sebago Ice Fishing Derby was canceled, so I think the lakers will be abundant and hungry this year. Salmon hopefully had a quiet, restful winter with no noise from augers or snowmobiles, so they should be ready to take bait and put up a fight. Guess it’s time for this guide to get his boat in the water.

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.

Ice-out angling on Sebago isn’t what it used to be. With the decline in the smelt, the fish don’t congregate at the mouth of the Songo River like they used to. But some smelt do run up the river, so you’ll find me there out of habit. Anglers should remember that fishing the mouth of the Songo River is prohibited until April 1.

I like to start out with smelt on an adjustable bait harness on my sinking fly line. This setup has brought many a Sebago laker and salmon to the net. Troll in about 20 feet of water just outside of the buoys from where you can see the state park toward Inner and Outer islands. You will be fishing right along a steep drop-off where it drops from 20 to 40 feet. Sometimes I dip in closer and troll in 8 to 10 feet, also productive. In years past I had to rely on memory and instinct to be at the right depth; now, thanks to mapping technology, I can set my trolling motor to follow the drop-off and be right along the edge at all times. Ain’t technology great for some things?

Later in the month, I’ll start trolling deep for lakers as they seem to wake up as the water warms up a bit. Setting my downrigger to follow the bottom (another technological advancement) and dragging a copper Northeast Troller spoon or orange Mooselook Wobbler almost guarantees fish. While the water is still cool, I’ll run a fly rod or two off the side of the boat with Orange Crush spoons by Northeast Troller or flies for salmon. Many spring days feature salmon and lake trout combined catches, something my clients and I both appreciate.

My dock isn’t typically in until later in the month, so I typically launch at the state park. The gate is open and you must pay the $10 launch fee on the honor system into the box by the gate. In the past, when the smelt run was heavy, the parking lot and mouth of the Songo River were both zoo scenes, especially on weekends. Now it’s not as bad, but it can get a tad congested. Patience is a virtue and, fortunately, most anglers have some.

Hopefully you can enjoy spring’s best fishing on the big lake. Be sure to wave and say hi if you see me trolling by in the “Black Ghost.”

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