Bangor Daily News outdoors contributor Nolan Raymond shows off a cusk that he caught while fishing late at night near his family camp on Sebago Lake. Credit: Courtesy of Nolan Raymond

Due to an unavoidable educational commitment (school), I spend about nine and a half months of my year dozing off in classrooms and hacking my way through homework assignments.

This year, it left me exactly 92 days to unwind. I choose to spend that time throwing money at lures and boat gas, and embracing the inevitable “hooligans” (my family uses some other words that are inappropriate for publishing) that run around the lake without concern for 18-year-olds fishing in aluminum boats.

Yup, I fish. A lot. About every day, I take my 1977 Sears Gamefisher out to deep water. I usually troll for togue and target salmon when I can. The boat, aptly titled “The Rig,” is a 14-footer equipped with an eight-horse motor. It’s a great trolling boat, and sits fairly high in the water.

This beautiful sunset on Sebago Lake set the scene for the latest nighttime fishing attempt by Bangor Daily News Outdoors contributor Nolan Raymond. Credit: Courtesy of Nolan Raymond

I do try to limit my trolling to the morning and evening hours, when I’m relatively protected from unsafe boaters. It may sound ridiculous, but I’ve had my fair share of close calls and scary situations with other boats, and try to avoid traffic when I can.

I’ve recently begun to try out something relatively new to me: night fishing. We keep our large pontoon boat on a mooring in front of our camp, in about 40 feet of water. I’ve been paddling out in the evening, equipped with a sleeping bag, and spending the night on board.

I have a 10-foot saltwater rod and rig it up with a sliding sinker rig, circle hook and large, dead baitfish. I cast toward deeper water and manage to get my bait to where it settles unceremoniously on the bottom at 55 feet.

I tried this for the first time last August, and was surprised to have luck — a lot of luck. I landed a 29.75-inch togue in the wee hours of the morning, which was one of the highlights of my whole summer.

A few days ago, I spent another night on the boat. After paddle-boarding out in the fading light, I cast my heavy rod, baited with a dead sucker, into deeper water. I flipped the “baitfeeder” switch, which allows line to come off the reel with the sound of a clicker and minimal resistance. I set up my sleeping bag and read for a while, before dozing off.

I awoke at around 5 in the morning by falling off of the vinyl seat onto the sandy floor. After regaining a little bit of consciousness, I realized that my reel was rolling out line!

I snatched up the rod, and nearly taking an unfortunate swim, I began to reel in the mystery fish. It fought well, but didn’t shake like a salmon might; it was mostly dead weight.

This nighttime photo shows the fishing rod of Bangor Daily News Outdoors contributor Nolan Raymond positioned to hook up with a fish. Credit: Courtesy of Nolan Raymond

After a couple minutes, I got the creature to the boat and netted it. On deck, I quickly identified the slimy fish as a cusk, a bottom-feeding fish that primarily hunts at night. I have experience with cusk from previous ice fishing seasons, but it’s pretty uncommon to catch them in the summer.

Cusk, which in other places are known as burbot, have white, delicate meat that flakes nicely. They are considered a delicacy by some. I have always had good luck with cusk chowder because of how delicate it is. I’d heard that there’s a way to cook cusk to taste like lobster, and was willing to give it a shot.

The recipe is simple: mix water and Sprite (yup, the soda), 50-50, into a pot. Bring it to a boil and drop in the cusk meat, cut up into chunks. They don’t need to boil in there for long, just until they begin to float on the surface. Take them out, allow them to cool and dry, and dip them in melted butter.

I’ll be the first to admit it. I was skeptical of this “poor man’s lobster.” I figured I’d give it the benefit of the doubt, and I’m glad I did!

I got my Sprite and water boiling in a lobster pot on the grill. After dropping my “cusk nuggets” into the briny mix, it was only about five to eight minutes before they began to float. I was pleasantly surprised that it tasted exactly like lobster, right down to the texture.

It just goes to show that there’s more than one way to get on the water in a way that works for you. I strongly believe that you don’t need the biggest, best equipment to have fun catching fish. Night fishing is a great way to stay out of dangerous boat traffic and to enjoy some unique fishing.

Nolan Raymond, a junior at Hermon High School, enjoys Maine’s hunting, fishing and trapping opportunities. He is involved in Dirigo Search and Rescue as well as Boy Scouts of America. He also plays the...