Craig Tower from Maryland shows off a lunker lake trout caught while trolling with Tom Roth. Tom Roth / For Lakes Region Weekly

It has been a great summer of fishing and guiding for this old angler. Double-digit catches, big, fat lakers and the occasional salmon to spice up the mix has eased the pain of the rainy summer we have had thus far. Nothing makes me happier than seeing clients, especially kids, battle with the biggest fish they have ever caught, and this season had plenty of those moments. To top it off, most of my large lake trout came by trolling the traditional fly-rod method, trolling fly line just under the surface. Lakers were cruising the lake in search of schools of bait fish and when you found the school, you found the fish.

As we transition into the cooler months, the salmon and lakers will be higher in the water column, so I will continue employing my fly-rod trolling techniques. I’ve had my best luck using shiners and smelt, along with Gulp minnows or other imitation bait. I did use lures early in the season, but bait has done me well thus far. Sadly, the heavy rains did a number on the bait supply, but I found that frozen bait worked as well as fresh – a lesson that has saved me time and money.

It’s derby time

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.

Every year, the Sebago Lake Anglers’ Association holds an annual Sebago Lake Togue Derby and this year it runs Sep. 9-10. Dozens of prizes guarantee the biggest open water derby draws a huge following. There are cash prizes for the top 10 biggest fish and the smallest fish, and all fish caught get the angler entered into the prize pool. This year, like last year, the official weigh-in location is at the boat ramp at the State Park. To register, go to Naples Bait and Tackle, Dag’s Bait in Auburn, Hilltop Mini Mart in Raymond or call Bob Chapin at 655-1028. All participants must be registered. Proceeds from the derby go toward purchasing lifetime fishing licenses for area youth, and each year about 10 or so licenses are awarded. The club meets the second Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the Methodist Church in Naples at 1000 Roosevelt Trail. The club, of which I am a member, is always looking for new members to promote and learn about fishing the big lake.

I’m fishing the derby with coworker and friend Bill Tapley this year and our secret strategy is to catch a large number of big fish. I will likely adopt the “big bait equals big fish” mantra and troll jumbo shiners and suckers over my favorite hot spots. I may also use the old tactic of dragging flatfish across the bottom in sandy spots and may do some jigging over productive waters. Either way, it will be a fun two days for a great cause. Good luck and I hope to see you on the water.

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