Angler Bill Tapley of Lisbon shows off an early lake trout on Sebago Lake. Tom Roth / For Lakes Region Weekly

After a disappointing ice fishing season, my fellow guides and I are looking forward to open water season. While stalwarts like guide Glen Gisel of Raymond have been trolling the lake all winter, most of us are waiting for the waters to warm up a tad. With year-round open fishing in effect, I am working diligently to get my boat ready for a March launch.

A few years back with a quick spring arrival, I was on the lake in March and managed to drag in few lakers from Sebago Lake. Fishing was slow as the water was barely above freezing. I was using spoons and trolling at a good clip along Mineral Springs in Jordan Bay. Streamer flies would have likely worked, as well.

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.

Anglers fishing Sebago before April 1 must remember a few rules. First, you can’t keep salmon and must release them immediately. Second, you have to stay away from the mouth of the Songo River. That means staying outside the imaginary line drawn along Bear Point to Outer Island. As of April 1, salmon are open and on my agenda and you can troll right up to mouth of the Songo, if you want. The smelt run that coursed up the Songo has diminished and alewives have become the more abundant bait source for the last few years. However, there is still a smelt run, so you will still find anglers cruising just off the last buoy marking the river channel. I like to drag a fresh smelt on sinking fly line, a traditional method, in about 20 feet of water at the opening of the Songo and still do catch fish there. Old habits die hard.

Streamer flies also work well trolled at a good clip in early spring. The magic speed for this angler is between 2.5 and 3 mph with streamers on a fly line. Old patterns like the gray ghost, black ghost and Joe’s smelt work well for me. The Miss Sharon (invented by old-time Sebago guide Art Libby) is another go-to for me, mostly because of the history it invokes. There’s something about a modern guide using a legendary guide’s fly and catching fish on it.

Crow season

If you are content to wait for warmer waters, you can get in some great wing shooting in March. Until March 30, crow season is open. Go out to any farm field at daybreak and you are bound to see flocks of crows descending on the fields, especially if there is any leftover grain. Add a few crow decoys and an electronic call and you will draw birds in from other nearby fields. For more excitement, place an owl decoy nearby and watch the birds attack the owl. For some reason, crows hate owls.

Crow hunting is great training for bird hunting later in fall. Use the same shotgun you’ll hunt duck and other birds with to maximize the training. Crows are rather tough, so I use shot size 4 or 5. I like to practice with both my grouse gun and my duck gun, so I shoot the 20- and 12-gauge shotguns. Both are potent enough for crows.

Whether you opt to fish or hunt, March signals the start of spring. This year, spring has come quickly and summer will be here before you know it.

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