What if catching fish was as easy as playing your favorite video game?

That’s the gist of what Josh Treadwell, an avid angler from Goffstown, New Hampshire, is doing on the water.

Treadwell and his friend Ryan McCarthy spent Oct. 7-8 fishing at Sebago Lake in Cumberland County. Using modern technology, proven techniques and lures designed for the outing, they landed 104 fish, including 103 lake trout.

“We slayed them,” said Treadwell, owner of Bend It Fishing, who has been a full-time YouTuber for the last year. “We could have caught more if we had found them a little sooner.”

On Oct. 7 alone, the men boated 65 fish, including one salmon. They fished from 6:30 a.m. until about 5 p.m. and spent six hours in one spot.

On Oct. 8, after a productive morning visit catching splake, brook trout and smallmouth bass at an area pond, Treadwell and McCarthy returned to Sebago and caught another 39 lake trout during a five-hour span.

“I was exhausted on Saturday,” said Treadwell, who described how the anglers had to frequently reel up their jigs at both places to keep them away from a large group of loons that were diving to eat baitfish.

Treadwell, 34, whose father introduced him to fly fishing when he was a youngster, sells gear and apparel on his website and posts videos featuring many kinds of fishing on his Bend It Fishing YouTube channel.

The recent visit was only his third time fishing at Sebago, but it was by far his most successful trip. It didn’t go unnoticed.

“It’s a great lake, but we did piss off one person because they kept trolling around us and not catching anything and we caught like 40 in front of him, so he was a little grumpy,” Treadwell said of one disgruntled Facebook poster.

Anglers spend countless hours every year fishing at Sebago, Maine’s second-largest lake. During open water season, most target landlocked salmon or trophy-sized lake trout by trolling, dragging a lure or bait through the water behind a moving boat to attract fish.

That can produce good results, but Treadwell has turned the fishing method known as jigging into a head-turning endeavor.

He drives around, and can go 15 to 20 mph, until he finds bait fish using sonar equipment. Seagulls hovering over the water also likely mean game fish are pushing bait to the surface.

At Sebago, that means locating freshwater alewives, which were illegally introduced to a tributary and years ago found their way into the lake.

Treadwell hovers near the bait on which the togue are feeding, lowers his homemade jig bait down with a spinning rod, works it while observing how the fish react in real time on the live imaging, then sets the hook when they bite.

“This is the way that I hunt for fish,” Treadwell said. “I have what’s called live imaging, where I can see how big the fish is on the screen. I can see which direction it’s swimming. I can see if it’s swimming to my jig or my buddy’s jig.”

The process is so efficient that he can witness the exact moment the fish hits his lure in order to set the hook.

“It’s super cool,” Treadwell said. “It really is like a video game.”

There are limitations on the accuracy of the imaging once you get below 120 feet of water. That’s the depth at which he and McCarthy have targeted lake trout at Lake Champlain in Vermont.

“You start to lose the picture of your jig, because you’re staring at something that’s 6 inches long,” Treadwell said.

Most anglers use similar electronics to fish for bass and walleye in less than 30 feet of water.

“That’s what they’re really, really good at,” he said. “I’m pushing my technology to the limit and seeing down 100 feet.”

Rather than trying to guard his secrets, Treadwell instead enjoys sharing the keys to fishing success. He posts videos on the Bend It Fishing YouTube channel so people can learn how to do it themselves.

“That’s why I started the YouTube channel,” the former tournament bass angler said.

And because most of the lakes where he fishes using the live imaging are large ones laden with lake trout and other species, he has no qualms about providing the tips.

“I’m not worried about people overfishing Sebago,” Treadwell said of sharing all his secrets on how to fish for togue there.

Treadwell said he will continue polishing his fishing skills by adapting to changes in electronics, gear and bait. As a lean manufacturing consultant, one who tries to help companies streamline their production processes, he knows how to present the information.

There are things anglers who want to try the same kind of jigging need to know.

First, the equipment Treadwell uses costs approximately $5,000. It includes a 3K Garmin 93SV sonar unit with LiveScope Plus, along with a 2K Minn Kota Terrova trolling motor with i-Pilot Spot Lock.

“The sonar does a lot of work, but we have a trolling motor that holds us in one GPS location all day, no matter how windy it is,” Treadwell said, stressing the importance of keeping the lines vertical at all times.

He admits that using the same tactics with similar, but less expensive equipment, also can produce great results for anglers who know what to do.

Treadwell said jigging is not only a more effective method to catch lake trout than trolling, but more enjoyable.

At Sebago, Treadwell used one of his own baits, a 6-inch Grub Tail Super Glow rubber jig lure that glows in the dark. It also has produced lots of fish at Lake Champlain. 

If the bait and fish suddenly disappear, they’ll drive the boat around until they find more. He said fish behave differently depending on the time of year and the water temperature.

The proliferation of lake trout since their introduction at Sebago in the 1970s has been a concern for Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists for many years. Slot limits encourage anglers to remove all togue under 26 inches from the water, but allow for only one fish over 26 inches, per day, to be harvested.

Treadwell isn’t a fan of eating freshwater fish, and couldn’t find any place in the area that wanted them, so he and McCarthy threw back all of the fish they caught.

The trip featured more action than an October 2021 visit to Sebago that yielded 35 fish. That included an 11-pound togue that ranks as Treadwell’s personal best.

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...