There are proven methods of catching lake trout in Sebago Lake.
Modern tongue anglers employ a variety of tactics including trolling for smelt or sewn minnow, or dragging flatfish lures along the bottom.
Chasing big lunkers means dredging up Maine’s second largest and deepest lake (316 feet), located in Cumberland County. Modern technology, including fish finders, GPS systems, and automated downriggers, is contributing to this effort.
Dean Ferris of Westbrook prefers to take a more traditional approach in his quest for the Sebago trophy togue.
Seven years ago, Dean Ferris and his wife Becky parked their motorcycles after 20 years of summer travel and purchased a seasonal RV at the Naples KOA Holiday on Trickey Pond.
Ferris wanted to get back to boating and fishing. His father, the late David “Red” Ferris, was an outright salmon fisherman and his brother, Dave Ferris Jr., is an avid togue fishing enthusiast who often catches Sebago.
“I started fishing for bass in and around Trickey Pond,” said Dean Ferris. “I really started to choose my brother’s brain over the way he fishes.”
Ferris purchased a lead core trolling outfit from Cabela and made his first solo togue foray on Sebago – by kayak. He chose a calm day, letting eight or nine colors escape with a quivering flatfish at the end.
“I grabbed a togue of about 22 inches. It kind of towed me a bit, ”Ferris said with a laugh. “I put it myself in this little kayak and ever since I got hooked.”
Ferris knew he would need a stronger wind and wave fishing platform on Sebago, and now has an 18ft Bass Buggy.
Ferris, 55, who works for Casella Waste Systems, has spent hours fishing on the weekends. But togue fishing was unusually slow in 2021.
“This year has been so frustrating. I lost a lot of gear, ”said Ferris, whose trolling method involves repeatedly releasing and then collecting enough lead pits to keep his T4 or U20 size flatfish on the bottom.
His persistence paid off.
On Saturday, Ferris set off on his own shortly after 5 a.m. in calm, not too hot, and unproductive conditions.
Five hours later, fishing west of Frye Island, Ferris switched to a silver and black flatfish. It trolled in 45 feet of water to 105, then slightly to 97.
A fish appeared on the depth finder, and a few minutes later the tip of his rod dipped and he wondered if he had hit bottom again. But when he grabbed the rod, it was obvious it was a fish. Ferris staggered for a short time before the line slackened.
“I thought I lost him, so I started to turn really fast,” he said, starting to recover the 600 feet – or 20 color anglers – of the line he had dropped. “When he was about 100 feet from the boat, [the fish] finally started shooting.
The Fish fought an ultimate fight before Ferris approached the boat. He knew it was a good one and opted for his rubber net.
“I put him in the net and flipped the net post on the railing and pushed down to lift it out of the water and it folded my net in half,” Ferris said. . “Then I was like, ooh, yeah, that’s a big fish.”
Ferris took a few photos with the fish on the deck and called Becky to share the news. The togue was by far his personal best: 38 1/2 inches, 18.58 pounds and 20 1/2 inches in circumference.
He headed to Jordan’s Store in East Sebago, a popular lakeside establishment, where he officially had the fish weighed and measured by Greg Cutting.
“It was just a big old lunker hanging out at the bottom,” Ferris said. “I was just in the right place at the right time.”
The landing of the big togue was a nostalgic moment for Ferris. He recalled his father’s love for fishing and the constant guidance and support provided by his brother Dave.
“I wish my dad was here. He was a great fisherman. He would have been tickled if he had been there to see this fish, ”Ferris said.
Ferris eagerly sought help from seasoned anglers like Dave Ferris and Ted Reny, both of whom volunteered to share their experience and expertise, as well as guide friends.
Ferris said his guide friends on Sebago rely heavily on gadgets to ensure the success of their clients. He sometimes uses a downrigger on one side of his boat, but for him it is more rewarding to use a big reel, lots of lead core, a long nylon leader and a variety of Flatfish to get the job done.
Even if the results are less frequent.
Ferris readily shares his methodologies – including locations, depths, and equipment – with any angler who asks him how he can catch large lake trout.
“He doesn’t catch a lot of fish and it’s not for everyone, but he will produce giants,” Ferris said.
Last fall, Ferris reconnected with Reny, a Westbrook resident who is one of Sebago’s most successful anglers, for the Standish Fish and Game Club Lake Trout Shootout. They hooked two fish simultaneously, Dean carrying an 8 1/2 pounder which won the heaviest fish tournament.
“I would love to catch the state record [togue], “he said.” I can’t even imagine a 39-pound fish, a fish twice the size of mine. It must be like rewinding a bucket of cement.