Hot Spot: Lake Damariscotta - The Fisherman

Hot Spot: Lake Damariscotta

Lake-Damariscotta

It’s been a long time since I wet a line in Lake Damariscotta, but the memories that came from fishing this massive natural lake will stay with me forever. This hotspot will be more of a memory log and less about telling you exactly where to go, but I think, by the time you finish reading this, you’ll want to visit.

Damariscotta Lake, oddly enough, shares zero percent of its shoreline with the town Damariscotta, that lake itself is nestled between Jefferson, Noblesboro and Newcastle, ME; with a public boat ramp off of Route 213 in Jefferson. The times that I went there, I wasn’t even old enough to drive a car, but I was firmly immersed in that time of life when time ticks by so slowly and, someone like me, is able to fish as many of those long, carefree minutes as they would like.

This was a time when people weren’t so worried about what might happen to their kids if they wandered out of sight. My friend Jeremy and I took the canoe out onto this expansive lake in the morning and returned only to eat or to swim. The adults would take the Bass Tracker out and troll nightcrawlers for togue, northern-speak for lake trout, fishing the 50-foot hole near Spectacle Islands or the nearly 100-foot depths up in the northern portion of the lake, known as Great Bay; you know a lake is big when it has a bay!

My friend and I fished mostly the southwestern arm of the lake. We fished inside the marsh ‘estuary’ just west of Brandt Island, where we caught largemouth bass, pickerel and sunfish. We fished along the shorelines of Brandt Island and the Spectacle Islands for smallmouth bass, largemouth bass and rock bass. These fish were aggressive and would crush topwater baits, especially right at dark.

The greatest memory though, came when we convinced the grownups to abandon their quest for a togue to take us all the way down to a huge mat of lily pads we’d been eyeing all week but didn’t relish the long paddle there and back. As we puttered along the lilies, casting hollow frogs to every patch of open water, we landed largemouth after largemouth, most of them in the 1- to 2-pound range, a few bigger and a few smaller.

Even back then, at age 13, I was a keen observer and I spied a bulging wake in a patch of open water framed by arrowhead leaf. I kept quiet until I was within casting range, using my way-too-light Ugly Stik and 8-pound Magna-Thin mono, I plopped my frog right in that tight little hollow. I lurched the frog forward once and it was gone in a loud pop. The fish was big and easily had its way with me, buried in the slop I was able to gain some line, but as we drew close, she grew tired of the game we were playing, turned, and with brute force… broke the line. I could have cried!

In my memory it was just minutes later when we saw a wolf pack of large smallmouth bass blitzing on bait. We motored to the spot and the fish had sounded. My memory of what we used has faded, but if I had to guess I’d say it was a Power Craw, Berkley’s precursor to today’s Chigger Craw. We deployed the baits and within seconds we were both tight to smallmouth bass in the 3- to 4-pound range.

And every night, after dinner was done and everyone was relaxing in the darkness, we’d fish worms and leeches on the bottom in the dark and catch piles of slab white perch, a few bass, a bunch of bullheads and even a few American eels. As a growing angler, it was hard to imagine a better place to be. And as an adult looking back, I’d have to agree.

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