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The fertile waters of Sebasticook Lake have drawn people to its shores since prehistoric times. This Maine Highlands lake is the site of one of the oldest dated fishing weirs, a series of stakes used by ancient fishermen to herd fish into a cluster for easy capture. The stakes, discovered in 1992, are estimated to date back 5.800 years. The Fish Weir display, representing the town of Newport's Native American heritage, is open to the public at the Newport Cultural Center. Today, anglers resort to different fishing methods, but the draw is still the same. Anglers flock to the lake to pit themselves against the "big one."
Historically known as Great East Pond, Sebasticook Lake is located in central Maine, conveniently located near I-95. The lake is full of largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, chain pickerel, white perch and yellow perch. Black crappie were inadvertently introduced into the lake, and their population has increased providing an unexpected opportunity for anglers. In the winter, ice huts pop up on the lake for ice fishing.
Sebasticook Lake covers parts of Penobscot County and to a lesser extent Somerset County. Surrounded by the town of Newport, it is the largest lake entirely within an individual municipality in the state of Maine. Sebasticook Lake is part of what drew settlers to the area, and Newport was established in June of 1814. By the late 1800's the lake's popularity as a recreation destination was growing, and the 1880's saw an impressive fleet of sailboats gliding across the lake. Boaters still seek out the lake and with 4,537 acres of water, there is more than enough room to swim, canoe, boat and water ski. A public boat ramp on the southern end provides access to the lake.
Human impact on Sebasticook Lake took its toll, however, and by 1960 the lake was classified as excessively nutrient rich (hypereutrophic). A concerted effort was made by government agencies and citizen groups to eliminate contaminants, and the water quality gradually improved. In the mid 1980's the town of Newport built a dam at the outlet of Sebasticook Lake so water levels could be lowered. Every year in September water levels are drawn down to flush the phosphorus from the lake. As a result, water quality improved by 2000, and it continues to improve today. The Sebasticook River, which makes up the lake's primary inflow and outflow, is also cleaner than it has been in over 100 years. The Sebasticook River Watershed Association works to protect both the river and the lake.
Lakeside campgrounds, cabins and vacation rentals are all available around Sebasticook Lake. There is residential development on the shoreline as well as real estate available for sale in Newport and nearby Dexter and Corinna. Any amenities a visitor might need including restaurants, shops and convenience stores are all easily accessible from the lake. The area receives a significant amount of snowfall every year, and trails for snowmobiling, skiing and dog sledding are all nearby.
Sebasticook Lake is a year-round Maine Highlands destination. The effort made to protect and preserve the lake ensures it will be a fantastic getaway for years to come. Its fish-filled waters are sure to call to future generations of anglers.
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