Angler Mark Carroll of Raymond, Maine, and Hingham, Massachusetts, shows off a beautiful Sebago Lake salmon caught while fishing with Tom Roth. Tom Roth / For Lakes Region Weekly

All through the month of May, the fishing on Sebago has been epic. I’ll venture out on a limb, but I think many anglers will agree with this statement: The salmon fishing has been the best it has been on Sebago in decades. There, I said it. But what makes the current salmon fishing so good this year? Many factors.

First, a recent spin net survey of the lake trout in Sebago has shown a 30% reduction on lake trout over past survey years. Less lake trout equals less predation on smelt, which equals more and healthier salmon.

Second, the smelt run was heavy this year, especially up the Songo River. Smelt also ran the shorelines during the spawn. A good smelt run equals a good bait supply for the salmon and lake trout. Shortly after ice-out, the fishing was great in front of the Songo River. It always was in the past, but that was because there was a smelt run. That lasted about 3-4 weeks, and then the fish followed the smelt to the shorelines. Fishing is still good for salmon as I pen this column.

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.

Third, the salmon have been healthy. While I’ve caught a few smaller stocked salmon, many of them have been native fish with deep bellies. This means they are feeding well and the few I saved to eat had smelt in their stomachs. Another good sign. How do you know the salmon you caught were stocked, you ask? The stocked fish have one or more of their fins trimmed before stocking to keep track of the year class they belong to. I keep a log of fish caught and submit it to the state’s fisheries biologists at the end of the season. It allows them to see the length of the fish and possibly the year it was stocked. For example, if they clipped the adipose fin on all fish stocked in 2022 and they stocked them when they were 12 inches long, then I catch a fish with a clipped adipose fin that is 15 inches long, the fish has grown 3 inches in those two years. It’s an easy way to chart the growth rate of stocked fish. Now, not all stocked fish get clipped fins. I was told that during COVID, many stocked fish did not get their fins clipped. Also, a fish can “sneak out” of the clipping process, but generally a fish with unclipped fins is a naturally reproducing fish in Sebago. But purists don’t despair. The stocked fish are from the original Sebago strain, so they are really keeping that lineage pure so Sebago fish are Sebago fish.

Early in the season when the smelt were running, I used live, frozen and pickled smelt as bait. Lately, I’ve been having more luck with lures at a good clip, 2.5 to 3 mph. My luckiest lures have been pearlescent white patterns such as the DB Smelt or Mooselook Wobbler with that pearly white finish. Pink lures and orange lures have also worked well on salmon.

Many anglers are reporting great lake trout catches, too. I’ve been catching more salmon than lake trout, but that’s because I am targeting salmon more. As the water warms and the salmon disperse more, I’ll switch to more of a lake trout setup. This means downriggers set to follow the bottom. I may switch back to bait, albeit large and extra-large shiners. If not, I’ll use my Northeast Troller nickel/copper spoons. These are very productive for lakers on bottom.

This fishing continues to be hot on Sebago Lake. Get the boat in the water if you haven’t already and get out there.

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