It was July, a perfect summer day, in the early 1970s. For reasons that now elude me, I wound up fishing for togue on Sebec Lake, a fabled togue fishery at the time.

V. Paul Reynolds, Outdoors Columnist

My buddy, who liked to fish but did not have much togue time under his belt, asked me to show him the ropes.

His gear was marginal at best. The old rod and Sal Trout reel that once belonged to my buddy’s late father had obviously laid dormant in an attic for years. What I didn’t like the looks of were the faded colors of 10-pound lead core line, but a couple hard tugs did not separate the line.

Less than 20 minutes after the old lead core line was bobbing a sewn smelt and a Murray Spoon just off the bottom, a hookup. From hours of togue fishing with my dad as a kid and young adult, I knew this was no ordinary lake trout. It was no doubt a lunker.

My fishing partner could barely move the sulking togue off the bottom. He played the fish well, and soon, as the fish tired, the old Sal Trout reel began winding the colors back onto the spool.

Not far from the surface, the spent togue got a second wind. It made a valiant run for freedom, and, dagnabbit, the old lead core line parted and the big fish, free at last, scooted back to the cool depth of Sebec Lake.


We never did lay our eyes on that fish. Was it one of the 25-pounders that are known to inhabit Sebec Lake? Perhaps, but we will never know. My buddy, good-natured about the dashed expectations, took it all in stride, much better than I.

Sebec has an interesting togue history. A fish survey in 1955 revealed very marginal togue population in the lake. Biologists theorized that the fish were not native to the lake and migrated there from some other neighboring waters, and that there was no appreciable togue reproduction taking place. In 1961, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife conducted some serious stocking of togue in the lake.

Today, according to the regional fisheries biologist in Greenville, Tim Obrey, there are indications that lake trout spawning is taking place.

Obrey is convinced that Sebec Lake may hold togue as big as 25 pounds. Last fall, he and his team installed PIT tags on 59 togue, which will allow the state to get a better understanding of togue habits there.

Says Obrey, “We will have very good insights into the population and exploitation of lake trout in Sebec Lake, based on the proportion of recaptures, the number of wild vs. hatchery fish, and an estimate of total harvest.”

In Maine, the record togue was for many years a 31.8-pounder caught in 1958 at Beech Hill Pond by Hollis Grindle. Then, in 2022, Erik Poland of Andover boasted a new state record at Richardson Lake. The monster togue weighed in officially at 39.2 pounds.

For togue anglers, finding the heavies, the Mother of All Lakers, is the name of the game. Who knows, Sebec Lake could be ground zero for another state record.

V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal, an author, a Maine guide and host of a weekly radio program, “Maine Outdoors,” heard at 7 p.m. Sundays on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. Contact him at

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