Imagine yourself in the middle of a pristine wilderness lake on the 60th parallel in northern Saskatchewan or the Northwest Territories.Your guide takes you to his favourite spot, a rocky ledge dropping off into a sandy basin…a favourite spot for summer lake trout to hang out waiting to slurp up Burbot, whitefish or Ciscoes in the cold depths. The guides fish finder has mapped this spot out and tells him when it’s time to drop down. With closely controlled depth and speed you probe the tradition between the rock and sand. All of the sudden the rod doubles over….snagged! Dammit…wait it’s moving! This is the experience fishing for trophy lake trout at Scott Lake Lodge.
Giant Lake Trout at Scott Lake Lodge
Lakers in our part of the world grow to trophy size slowly. a half pound or half inch a year in the cold water and short growing season. That 40″ trout could have been an egg on a rocky Scott Lake reef during World War II. These beasts demand respect in how they are handled. Big nets, bump boards, a quick photo and back down they go. The heads and face of big trout have character, it looks like they’ve seen a lot in their lives.
Each season brings a unique time to fish trophy lake trout at Scott Lake Lodge. Spring finds lakers shallow cruising sand, as water temperatures warm into summer they start dropping down into the depths 70 to 120 feet of water. Later August sees trout start a step stair climb shallower, everyday up closer to fall spawning reefs. This is one of the most exciting periods of the year, trout are in a few feet of water…alot of them and can be targeted with fly rods and lighter spinning gear. What a way to close out the season !
Check out the video below by our friends at Rawfish Creative that captures the essence of the hunt for this ancient giants.
Pike and Lake Trout Fishing at Scott Lake Lodge and on the fly rod! With COVID 19 keeping our guests from the lodge we needed to make some lemonade! Tourism Saskatchewan put us in touch with a great Canadian based fishing show.
First fish on the fly rod!! That’s one for the memories.
Join The New Fly Fisher’s host Phil Rowley while he chases giant Northern Pike and Lake Trout while flyfishing at Scott Lake Lodge. The luxury accommodations of our 5 star Canadian Lodge are the perfect base to explore Northern Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories. We made sure to cook Phil a shore lunch tasting menu, on Canada Day no less…a perfect way to celebrate!
This show has some amazing footage of sight fishing northern pike and all the gear used to chase after them. Covered are line and rod choices for pike and also the best pike flies. Be sure to check out the topwater and dry fly strikes . Learn more about fishing for trophy pike at Scott Lake Lodge https://www.scottlakelodge.com/canada-fishing/northern-pike/
The boys with a giant Scott Lake Trout
Then the guys switch gear to show how to fly fish for lake trout, including the Deep Drop method of getting your line down 70 feet! Lakers are also fished along drop offs and in rapids. Late June is a tough time to target lakers on the fly but a combination of good guiding, good electronics and good angling techniques made it happen. Learn more about fishing for trophy lake trout at Scott Lake Lodge https://www.scottlakelodge.com/canada-fishing/lake-trout/
Due to extremely high water conditions we were not able to visit our Arctic Grayling fisheries on some of the amazing Northwest Territory rivers. The rivers were way back into the willows and not safely wadable.
The video Sight Fishing Monster Pike and Lake Trout on a Fly at Scott Lake Lodge premieres at 9am EST on YouTube
Lake trout are not really a member of the trout family at all, they are actually char, however they will still readily take a fly. From small nymphs and dries to streamers, lakers will take them all. Lake trout are a good, hard fighting fish, making them worth pursuing.
Spring at Scott Lake brings lakers into the shallows. The lakers will cruise the shorelines and reefs in search of bait fish and leeches. If you’re patient enough you can see them on the shallow sand flats looking for stickle backs (a small inch-long baitfish) making it possible to sight fish for them. The river outlet and inlets of Scott Lake also produce numbers of fish. If you would like a more traditional fly fishing experience and you don’t mind a short walk, you can fish the Scott River. Fishing the pockets and deeper holes, you can challenge yourself by trying to land a laker in moving water. In early to mid-June, on a few calm evenings there is a midge hatch (a small aquatic insect the size of a pinhead). They rise to the surface by the billions, creating huge slicks of insects. A few lucky anglers will get to witness rising fish like they have never seen. At a glance you will see fifty to a hundred fish finning and swirling. Casting a small streamer will bring a strike every cast. Using small nymphs, down to a size 18, can make it more interesting. For the ultimate thrill you can wake a dry fly through the slicks and watch as the lakers charge and in-hale your fly. Once hooked these fish will retreat down in to 20-30 feet of water, and the fight begins.
As the water warms in mid-July the trout head for the depths, but you can still find them fairly shallow when they’re chasing schooled up baitfish in channels and bay mouths. The best way to find these fish is to watch for diving birds. The lake trout push the baitfish to the surface and the arctic tern dive in a push it back down.
By the end of July the lakers have moved to the deep holes, anywhere from 40 ́ to over 100 ́. Most would think at this depth they are out of reach for the fly fisherman, but with a little adaptation you can still present a fly to these fish. Using a 30 ́ lead core shooting head, you can cast and let the line sink for about 30 seconds. This will get your fly down to where the fish are and then you start your vertical strip up. Pulling lakers out of these depths with a fly rod is an experience and although it may not appeal to the purist, it is definitely worth a try.
September brings the lakers back into the shallows as they prepare for the spawn. They will start to don their bright spawning colors and start to congregate on the shallow shorelines and reefs. You will once again find them at the river and during pre-spawn these locations produce some phenomenal action. Once the spawn kicks in the reefs load up with lakers. It will change from day to day as to which reefs are holding the most fish, but with a little searching you will find areas with more fish than you could possibly dream of. While fighting a fish you will see numerous others following and chasing. This is the time of year when you lose count of fish caught, take breaks to rest those aching arms, and possibly end the day early because you just couldn’t bring in another fish.
Fly Fishing Tackle for Lake Trout
The average size Scott Lake laker is between 3 to 5 pounds so a 6 to 7-weight rod will do the job. However, 10 to 20+ pound lakers are not at all uncommon so a 9-weight rod will give you the backbone you need to battle those bigger fish.
For spring and fall a floating, intermediate or sink tip line will work well. Whichever you can cast better will work best. Lakers tend to like a faster strip so the longer your cast the longer your fly will be in the water. For the mid summer deep lakers you’ll need a heavy full sink line or a high grain shooting head. Thirty feet of lead core line attached to a running line works best.
Probably the best all-round fly for lake trout is the Clouser minnow. All colors will work but white seems to work best or a combination of white and red or white and yellow etc. Other good flies include Deceivers, whistlers and wooly buggers.
For more information on fishing for Lake trout at Scott Lake Lodge, please see:
What’s the next best thing to actually going fishing? A good fish story…
We asked our guests to provide some fuel for our lack of fishing this summer by way of a Fishing Story Contest. We had many great tales submitted from sea turtles, to cuttthoat, walleye and of course pike! Thank you to all who took the time to share what was happening at the end of your line this summer. Keep an eye out, there might be a surprise in your mail box…
So here they are, in order, the top three fishing stories of Scott Lake guests during their 2020 summer.
The winner earned a ticket for one, anywhere on the flyout map he wants to go.
Both runners up earned themselves a 1 hour massage on us next summer.
Winner: Scott Bixby, TX
7″ Brook Trout ( I have big hands)
August 16: Here’s how it started out. Struck by a wicked case of covid cabin fever in Texas, I decided to try and substitute for our annual August Scott Lake trip with a trek to Colorado.
Half-way through the 14 hour drive, the idea seemed less attractive…it’s never made sense to me why I travel a thousand miles and then bushwhack another 6, in pursuit of a creature with the brain the size of the pea, that usually outsmarts me. But I forged on.
My normal fishing rivers in these parts were desperately low and warm. The trout tend to sleep in these conditions anyway so I elected to climb to higher ground and see if I could catch all four species of trout that hang out in Colorado. I climbed up 1000 feet (okay I drove) to the Flattops Wilderness outside of Yampa, Colorado to the headwaters of the Yampa river. The natives originally called it the bear river, but that’s a longer story. Anyway, I restricted myself to dry flies only to try and catch ‘em the old fashioned way. The challenge with the section of river I chose was the density of willows, scrub and fallen timber I had to conquer to even get within casting distance of the water. I’m too old for this crap, but in for a penny, in for a pound.
After losing my water bottle and most of my patience, I arrived at the river. The water was much higher than I expected… violently foaming over boulders, and looking a lot less fishy than Google Earth had advertised.
But, I wasn’t going bail now, without at least taking a whack at it. First cast I hit some fast water with a caddis and caught this cool little guy exactly where he shouldn’t have been. I don’t know how he even saw the fly through the foam, or had the guts to rise into the torrent of surface flow for it, but that was his choice. A cute little guy and I checked the box for species one.
“It’s never made sense to me why I travel a thousand miles and then bushwhack another 6, in pursuit of a creature with the brain the size of the pea, that usually outsmarts me. But I forged on.”
Colorado River Cutthroat
Cutthroats are not the biggest trout but they are my favorite. I don’t know who designed these things but I find their cosmetics breathtaking. I took a pic on the shore to show off the full color. He’s back in the river ‘tho healthy and happy.
So species two under the belt, I searched for pools that might hold a something else. Then this guy was lured in by my miserable presentation.
Kind of a goofy looking fish with his big mouth but whatever. I caught a bunch more rainbows that day but taking photos with an Iphone by yourself is treacherous enough, and I had the proof of species 3.
So now all I needed was a brown trout. I was getting tired and the sun was getting lower in the sky and I was getting thirsty if you know what I mean. So I started the trek back down the river to my starting point, knowing full well that I was out of cell range and might be found by bow hunters in October if I messed it up.
About halfway down I found a big deep pool that I had somehow missed on the way up. I managed to tightrope along a fallen tree to about midway across the river. (I am smart enough to not wade through boulders into 4 foot deep rushing water, but not smart enough to not try and balance on a mossy log.)
I made frankly the best presentation of the day with a super dry fly across the flat, glassy eddy. Boom! Now all I had to do was somehow get this fish to my net. I hadn’t really thought about that part before the cast. I fell, but of course cared a lot less about sacrificing my health vs. losing a fish.
It wasn’t glamorous but I got him in the net.
And there he was, a nice little Brown Trout to round out the species hunt. I took a ridiculous photo perching my IPhone on some junk by the side of the river. But it’s proof nevertheless.
After a long hike back to the car, I pulled off my waders and boots, and took down my rod tossing them into the back of the car a lot less carefully than I had that morning when I left the house.
I was tired but content, and pretty proud of myself for wrangling all four species. Then I grinned looking down looking at the logo on the fishing shirt I had chosen for that day.
So that’s the story. No trophys…but a great day in the wilderness doing what I love.
The only thing that was missing was the comradery of Poacher & Curtis, and all of you at Scott Lake Lodge.
And a healthy serving of Super Chips.
Runner Up: Amy Blackstone, SD
West Slope Cutthroat Trout
Caught on the fly
Even though we watched the news to see when the boarder might open and texted constantly to find out what everyone’s heard… ultimately, COVID put a halt to our fishing trip to Scott Lake Lodge. This was such sad news… hadn’t we been good for the past 3 months? Didn’t we use our hand sanitizer enough? Did we not hoard enough toilet paper???? To have my favorite trip forbidden truly felt like a punch in the stomach. You see, I love to fish. Not just fish, but to spend time outdoors, with good friends, on the water and in the lodge, toasting the trophies of the day and drooling over some good ‘ol fish porn.
When we go fishing, Jim always fly fishes and I tend to use a spinner or bait caster. I’ve tried fly fishing but just haven’t had the time to truly work on it. Well guess what? We’ve sure got the time now!
Traditionally, we celebrate my June Birthday at Scott Lake. This year, we were with friends at a lake and Jim showered me with all the gifts a girl could want…. waders, wading boots, tackle and the promise to indoctrinate me into the addiction otherwise known as fly-fishing.
So, over the fourth of July we drove 12 hours to Missoula Montana (still social distancing) packing lunches and sleeping in the truck, all so we could float the Bitterroot river and I could fly fish for trout!
Just being able to float and enjoy the beautiful outdoors was rejuvenating, but to also gain a skill that I’ve only watched others do made this time so much more meaningful.
We were at Kelly Creek, Idaho (from the movie, A River Runs Through It); when it happened; Wading in the fast waters, casting, a perfect loop, the remote gorgeous setting and watching a big west slope cutthroat trout take the fly. Everything at the moment came together.
Don’t get me wrong, I still have a lot to learn, but after fooling some cutthroats I know the grayling stand no chance and I’ll resolve to catch at least one trophy pike on the fly if Jim will let me use the front of the boat…a matter that is still under negotiation.
Thank goodness Jim has the patience to deal with this left-handed, determined angler.
Runner Up: Valarie Strobel, FL
My mom and I have never fished before we got invited to go to Scott Lake a few years ago by my dad. Yet, my mom somehow made it to the 100 club before anyone else in our family. Therefore, us girls believed we could tackle this sport and that’s when we found ourselves floating down the Gunnison River in Colorado fly fishing. Our guide was not nearly as funny as the guides we’ve had in Canada (shoutout to Biff), but he would do.
Before we jumped into the raft for our float trip down the river the guide asked if we had ever fly fished before, the answer was no, and it was met with complete silence. Pretty awkward if you ask me, but we had to reassure him we knew how to fish, and I even showed off some pictures of our Northern Pike and Lake Trout.
When people say fly fishing takes time and patience they’re not lying. About halfway through our four-hour reserved time we had yet to catch anything. It was cold and rainy and nonstop casting that our hands were cramping badly. Yet, there was no time for a break because we were on a mission of trying to catch rainbow and brown trout.
Losing hope by the minute and after a few castings gone wrong (like when my mom hooked the guide in his hat) I finally was able to hook the fish and reel in the most beautiful rainbow trout. Gleaming with joy I couldn’t believe I had finally caught a trout on a fly. In that moment I could feel the high of fishing (and it wasn’t just because I was in Colorado).
The next two hours passed quickly and there were many trout caught that I felt I was now a pro angler (or at least better than my dad and brother at fly fishing). This past week was when my family and I were supposed to be in Canada, but not everything can go according to plan. That’s when my mom and I had the opportunity to go fish in Colorado we took it because we needed our dose of fishing for the year. This will hopefully hold us over for a bit until we find our way back to Scott Lake next year.