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Home » PEOPLE AND PLACES in ME » MAINE (all topics) » Sebago Lake, Maine
Evening on Sebago Lake
Sebago Lake, Maine

Maine's Deepest Pool and Home to Record-Breaking Fish

By Don Perkins | August 17, 2012

Don Perkins fulfills a long held ambition to build his own boat to sail on Sebago Lake.


A half-a-dozen kids in a small fishing boat motored alongside for a closer look. One asked, "Does it have a fireplace?" I guess they had never seen a homemade houseboat before. I'm starting to get used to this situation: boaters pulling alongside with cameras at the ready and astonished looks on their faces.

I ply the waters of Sebago Lake with a converted pontoon boat named "Moonrise." I feel blessed to be on Sebago, one of the most unique lakes in New England. Located in southwestern Maine approximately 20 miles northwest of Portland, the lake takes its name from a Native American word meaning "big water." With 28,000 acres of surface and over 100 miles of shoreline, the vast lake holds nearly one trillion gallons of water.


Carved out by the glaciers some 14,000 years ago, the lake is 316 feet deep and one of Maine's premier fishing destinations. It’s the second deepest lake in New England behind Lake Champlain. In 1907, the world record for landlocked salmon, a 22-pounder, was hauled out of these deep, cold, glacial waters. A record that stood for some 80 years, until landlocks got introduced to waters all over the globe.   So noted is Sebago as one of the great ancestral homes for landlocks, the Latin name for this great fish: salmo sebago, descends directly from this lake.

Why is Sebago so deep? Its cavernous abyss is striking when you consider its footprint.   By comparison, Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire is 46,000 acres, nearly twice the area of Sebago, yet it’s some 100 feet shallower. Geologists say Sebago’s depth is in the bedrock.   The deepest part, its northwest basin, has softer bedrock than its southern end.   And with foothills to the north providing a backstop, the glacier ground a deep hole in between. So deep that nearly 50 feet of this lake is actually below sea level. It’s a perfect home for great fish.


I've lived here for the past 16 years, and before 2009, had only traversed this expanse by canoe. As a woodworker and writer who loves to create my own version of everyday items (like homemade canoe paddles and truck caps), it wasn't long before I began dreaming of a unique watercraft—my own writing retreat. Unlike a canoe, I wanted something that would allow me to spend hours out on the water; safe from the beating sun.   Somewhere I could write poems, blessed with lake-inspired insights and a freshly-brewed cup of tea. The image of a floating cedar-shingled shanty began to fill my imagination. Still single, I decided to find an old, but solid, pontoon boat, strip it and start building. Unsure of what might actually take form.

Someone once said "life is the sort of thing that happens when you're busy making plans," and so it proved.   For 10 years, while I got married and went back to school, Moonrise was a crazy scheme that appeared headed for the scrap pile. In 2005, I acquired some funds and realizing it would be now or never, I spied an ad for a used 24-foot pontoon with a 50hp outboard engine.


Last July, after some four years of building Moonrise, which included hand-dipping every cedar shingle in linseed oil, my dream was realized. She was launched July 12, 2009. To celebrate that first season, I spent the night anchored off an island writing a poem about the lake’s greatness.   Drawing on the moon-—a favorite subject for inspiration—I composed some words, and with that, realized a long-awaited dream.

I look forward to many more summers on Sebago Lake.

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