Sebago’s ice was covered with shacks this weekend.

RAYMOND (AP) – John Paine stood on the frozen surface of Sebago Lake, and peered down into a dark hole. Eighteen inches of ice stood between him and 110 feet of water.

This is life on the ice, Maine style, at the annual Sebago Lake fishing tournament that got under way Saturday with thousands of anglers spread across the ice on Maine’s second-largest lake.

The fishermen arrived at the lake while it was still dark. By sunrise, it was a virtual city on ice, with shacks equipped with propane heaters and grills.

After drilling a hole in the ice, John Paine, a sophomore at Mount Desert Island High School, dropped 75 feet of line into the water. With the jig pole in his hand, he made quick snaps of his wrist.

“It’s exciting,” he said as he waited for a bite. Payne was fishing with his father, Bill Paine, a lineman for Bangor Hydro Electric Co.

Elsewhere on the lake, Bernie King and Mike Pierce, both of Bridgton, were trying their luck. Pierce, a retired federal investigator, was keeping close watch on his two jigging holes, using smelt for bait.

The 46-square-mile lake, with 50 miles of shoreline in six towns, is second in size only to Moosehead Lake.

Besides promoting good fishing, the Derby Fest raises money for charities, including Camp Sunshine and the Maine Children’s Cancer Program, and for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Sebago also holds a legendary place in Maine fishing lore.

It’s the home of the one-time world record (and still state record) for landlocked salmon – a 22.5-pounder caught Sept. 12, 1907.

Trout weighing more than 25 pounds occasionally have been pulled from Sebago.

In April 1985, Reginald Allen of Harrison caught a 25-pounder that measured 39 1/2 inches from head to tail. At the time, it was the largest fish ever landed on that lake.

AP-ES-02-22-04 1230EST



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