The Season Ahead

The Season Ahead

As promised a month ago, we have been waiting and watching. Carefully. While the Covid news on the US side of the closed border has been a stream of good news with the return to normal life just around the corner, the news from the north is not so good. Canada is in the grip of a third wave of infection that has created their greatest health crisis of the pandemic. Ontario, the most populous province and politically the big dog of the country, is in a tight lock down with their highest positivity rates of the pandemic. Several other provinces are also locked down. There is nothing encouraging to report from the north.

EARLY SEASON CANCELLATIONS

We made a tough call this week. Weighing the best available evidence, we have cancelled Weeks 1-6, our June 14th to July 8th trips. We made that call by weighing the best evidence available on the prospects of the US/Canadian border opening. We are assuming that the current border closure currently in effect until May 21 will be extended to June 21. If the border does open then, we will need a couple of weeks to orchestrate the wide range of logistics required to offer a world class fishing trip. If it’s humanly possible, we will get it done. This has been a fluid, fast moving situation; we don’t want to sabotage your trip on a hunch. We will continue to press for more clarity from governmental officials and report back with any breaking news. Everyone wants to get back on northern waters.

CHARTER FLIGHT REVISION

In recent days there have been several fight time changes into the Saskatoon airport. To accommodate guests who are planning on flying into Saskatoon on the same day as the charter flight, we are changing our charter flight departure to Stony Rapids to from 3:30 PM until, 4:30 PM. To keep a margin of safety for our float flights from Stony Rapids to the lodge we cannot extend that time any longer. If you feel your connections are too tight consider arriving, as do roughly half our customers, the night prior to the charter flight. Obviously, there are a lot of balls in the air here. We will do our best to catch them all.

Can we be certain that the border will be open without restrictions by July 8? Absolutely not. We are dealing with uncertainties, but we’re trying to keep options open. Should you book your commercial flights now? Tough call, one we can’t make for you. Most airlines have been generous about offering credits for cancelled flights, but that could change; many of our customers are holding off. We’re short on crystal balls.

We will keep you in the loop whenever we have enough clarity to make decisions. We wish it were different. Our staff will be on salary and on call to arrive on our substantially refurbished island as soon as we get the green lift. All of the Scott Lake team will welcome you with open arms when the time is right.

April Check In 2021

April Check In 2021

It’s that time of year when thoughts (often right in the middle of a meeting) drift to blue water, gentle breezes and of course tight lines. After the year we have all endured, those thoughts are especially persistent.
While there are still a lot of unknowns yet about the 2021 season at Scott, it is clearly OK to start thinking about fishing and to binge some virtual fishing excitement.

Making Lemonade

With the border closed and the Lodge empty, we decided to make some lemonade out of those sour lemons. We brought in a 12-person work crew to revitalize the island infrastructure. It proved to be an extremely productive summer, constructing new buildings and re-staining all 28 log faced buildings on the island. That alone took two people almost the entire summer, but it was worth it. The entire island is refreshed and looks amazing.

Despite it all, last summer was an extremely productive one for improvements around the island.

The New Fly Fisher TV Show

While the border for our US customers was closed last summer, it didn’t matter to the Canadian-based crew of The New Fly Fisher, a video production company that pumps out great fly-fishing shows. We managed to convince the New Fly Fisher team to visit a totally empty Scott Lake (boy, that was a tough sell.)

Led by host Phil Rowley, the crew had all 160,000 acres of Scott and Premier Lakes to themselves and made the best of the opportunity, capturing some dramatic top water pike action and some surprisingly great trout action in mid-summer—all on fly rods. Unlike most “grip and grin” fishing shows, The New Fly Fisher productions teach as well as entertain. Drawing on the talent and expertise of our own Scott guides as well as the film crew, the producers provide detailed descriptions of fish behavior, habitat, presentation methods and of course gear—all fly anglers love to hear about rods, lines and flies.

For the pike sequences the show focuses on top water flies with smashing results. There is nothing in fishing film quite like the slow-mo of a pike engulfing top water flies. For the trout action, Phil shows that lake trout are not just an early or late season activity. With the right lines and techniques even mid-summer lakers can be talked into a dance on the end of an 8wt. Combine the exceptional Scott Lake fishery and guiding with good electronics, tackle and techniques and you’ll put lake trout on the end of your line in any season.

Sit back and enjoy the full 45 minute episode.

It’s the next best thing to being there!

Ask a Guide – They Know What Works

If you’re in the market for new raingear don’t ask your neighbor what he buys and don’t go shopping in southern, sunny cities. If you happen to be in places like Vancouver, Seattle, Minneapolis or Boston, you might find good stuff, but why not just go online and get some guide-tested stuff? 
 
Scott guides are on the water for 90 days every season, and you can be sure that some of those days will feature a hard, cold rain. They know what works and what doesn’t. As the expression goes: there is no bad weather, just bad gear. Too many guests year after year arrive at the 60th parallel with a thin wind breaker and zero rain pants. Nothing like a soaking wet southern half for the duration of a 10hr day on the water. 
 
Our crew has some good advice. Looking at the charts below, there is some variance but the trend is clear. Our guys like Simm’s ProDry jacket and bibs the best. An almost equal number of guides like the Cabelas Guidewear line. They offer a lot of models notably the Guidewear Xtreme parka and bibs. For Helly Hanson make sure you shop in the Sailing Collection. Most of their website is just urban wind breakers. The jackets and bibs in the Sailing Collection are the most bombproof, driest and warmest made but like many good things, they are not cheap. 

Keep Calm and Fish On

Whatever happens with the damn border this summer make sure you go fishing somewhere. We will be ready and more than willing to take care of our guests when the time is right. We know the fish are ready!

2020 Angler Gift Guide

2020 Angler Gift Guide

There might not be as many beloved holiday traditions carried out this season, but exchanging gifts will be one.

If you have an angler on your gift list (of course you do) this collection of must-haves developed by the Scott Lake Lodge Guide Team should make your shopping easier.

(By the way, there is no law against buying yourself Christmas gifts.)

#10 Waterproof Duffel Bag

A waterproof bag like this will save you grief traveling the world over. They are easier to pack on small planes and protect your gear from rain or snow, unplanned dips or anything else an adventure might throw at it. When float planes are involved, luggage weight limits are too. Why use up your allotment with a heavy suitcase? Simms, Patagonia, North Face and Cabelas all make reliable waterproof bags.

#9 Glasses Cleaning Kit

Nothing is worse than dirty glasses. (Well, maybe a sharp stick in the eye.) You won’t be able to see your smiling face on the screen after dinner at the lodge. Even worse you might not be able to spot that big pike your guide is frantically pointing out! A small travel kit with a couple of microfiber cloths will take care of both your shades and your devices.

#9 Glasses Cleaning Kit

Nothing is worse than dirty glasses. (Well, maybe a sharp stick in the eye.) You won’t be able to see your smiling face on the screen after dinner at the lodge. Even worse you might not be able to spot that big pike your guide is frantically pointing out! A small travel kit with a couple of microfiber cloths will take care of both your shades and your devices.

#8 Silicone Dry Bag

These are ultra-light weight and will keep your gear dry in the boat in a pinch. While the more robust version provided in your cabin at Scott Lake will do a better job, these also work to keep wet items separate in your bag on the way home. Perfect for wading or flat boots and raingear wherever you’re fishing.  Opt for a large or extra-large size that can hold these items and it will fold down to take up hardly any space. It also does double duty as a laundry bag.

7. Battery Power Pack

Keep your phone, camera, music or whatever you need rolling with a rechargeable power pack. These can be charged in your cabin and keep you powered up for video action of wildlife or a big fish.  We use the Goal Zero Venture 30.

7. Battery Power Pack

Keep your phone, camera, music or whatever you need rolling with a rechargeable power pack. These can be charged in your cabin and keep you powered up for video action of wildlife or a big fish.  We use the Goal Zero Venture 30.

6. Pliers and Snippers

Invest in a good set of pliers (with a lanyard so they don’t become structure on the bottom of the lake!) and good quality snippers that will cut light wire, braid and heavy leaders cleanly. Your guide will have similar options but it’s best to have a set for the cabin for rigging rods in the evening or as backup in case your guide’s pliers become structure.

5. Multitool

This is a gotta-have for every angler. With a knife, pliers, small scissors, awl and more there are infinite uses: in the boat, cutting wood for shorelunch fires, or opening a nice bottle of Cab Sav. Some of the best are made by Leatherman and Gerber.

5. Multitool

This is a gotta-have for every angler. With a knife, pliers, small scissors, awl and more there are infinite uses: in the boat, cutting wood for shorelunch fires, or opening a nice bottle of Cab Sav. Some of the best are made by Leatherman and Gerber.

4. Gloves

Fingerless, waterproof, insulated.
Gloves for fishing in Canada need a 1-2 punch. In the north the weather can change in an hour. You need a couple of options: fingerless lightweight sun gloves for those sunny days or just cool weather and for the really cold and wet days a waterproof glove to keep you warm and dry, yet still able to reel in a fish.  We like the Catalyst Soft Shell Glove from First Lite.

3. Zoleo Satellite Messaging Communicator

Say goodbye to buying or renting satellite phones. Zoleo is a small subscription-based gadget that connects to your smart phone and allows for texting through a proprietary app on your phone, essentially turning your smart phone into a satellite device for messaging home. 

3. Zoleo Satellite Messaging Communicator

Say goodbye to buying or renting satellite phones. Zoleo is a small subscription-based gadget that connects to your smart phone and allows for texting through a proprietary app on your phone, essentially turning your smart phone into a satellite device for messaging home. 

2. Polarized Sunglasses

This is a perennial #2 spot in our gift guide. In our professional opinion, a quality pair of polarized sunglasses should be at the top of your gift list (you can give a pair to yourself you know). Costas are probably our Guide Team’s top choice, but Maui Jim and Oakley make great glasses as well. These companies make different lenses for varied conditions, the percentage of light transmission needed to see on an overcast day or morning is different from just after shorelunch on a sunny day. Having a couple options gives you a backup as well. Copper lens with green mirror for sunny conditions and Silver Sunrise for duller light is what our Guide Team choose. 

1. All-Inclusive Trip to Scott Lake Lodge

You didn’t think that our shopping list was entirely altruistic, did you? What better place to test out your new wares than Scott Lake Lodge?  Trophy pike, giant lake trout and magnificent arctic grayling all set in a backdrop of 15 million acres of unspoiled, exclusive-use fishing area. Not to mention the elegant private accommodations, luxury lodge, spa, hot tub, and gourmet cuisine. We are certainly proud of our fishery and our facilities, but mostly of our staff, who we know without a doubt provide the finest level of customer service in the industry.  We have a just a couple openings for 2021. Don’t you want to cast to some rested fish and see the many upgrades our team developed last summer?

Yes, you do. It’s a gift that will keep giving memories for decades.   

1. All-Inclusive Trip to Scott Lake Lodge

You didn’t think that our shopping list was entirely altruistic, did you? What better place to test out your new wares than Scott Lake Lodge?  Trophy pike, giant lake trout and magnificent arctic grayling all set in a backdrop of 15 million acres of unspoiled, exclusive-use fishing area. Not to mention the elegant private accommodations, luxury lodge, spa, hot tub, and gourmet cuisine. We are certainly proud of our fishery and our facilities, but mostly of our staff, who we know without a doubt provide the finest level of customer service in the industry.  We have a just a couple openings for 2021. Don’t you want to cast to some rested fish and see the many upgrades our team developed last summer?

Yes, you do. It’s a gift that will keep giving memories for decades.   

Give a gift that will make memories for a lifetime

Just Checking In

Just Checking In

For most of the Scott Lake Lodge crew, the calendar flip to November signals the real change of season. For Canadians, November is not late fall: it’s early winter. With it comes the heart of the deer season, great duck and goose shooting, and quite soon fishing on hard water. For our US guests, November covers a lot more ground.
From Florida to Montana, there is a lot of seasonal variation. Some of our guests are still fishing in T-shirts; others are hunting elk in snowy mountains, and most just coping with the times. A lot is going on in the states (like the recently completed election) to distract our crowd of sportsmen and women. While the Scott staff is still working on preparing for our 2021 season, we hope our guests are enjoying some outdoor activities. With times as odd and disorienting as this Era of Covid, we all need a bit of distraction. If you are like most of our Scott guides, you are probably distracting yourself by thinking about big pike. Picturing the bow wake a super-sized water wolf makes when it turns in two feet of water from fifty feet away to chase your lure and makes a bathtub-sized swirl as she engulfs your offering can definitely take your mind off the current situation. Anyway, that’s what our crew is thinking.

We would love to check in with you and hear about any of your recent adventures. We did get some great fish stories for our recent contest but we know there are many outdoor pursuits that don’t involve a hook and line.

Send a note to any of the full time staff: Jon Wimpney, Jason Hamilton, or Tom Klein and we’ll run some of the tales of your exploits on the website. No prizes this time but we hope for some surprises.

Tell us a story, ask some questions, give us some suggestions. We just want to touch base and remind ourselves and you that there will be a northern experience  in the not so distant future. Sadly, we are lacking a crystal ball or Magic 8 Ball to predict the future, but all of us do like to talk, especially about fishing. And we’re just fun to talk to.

It was a relatively quiet summer on our island, except for the sounds of saws, hammers and the occasional swearing about mosquitoes interfering with the extensive infrastructure work. A dozen of our hardiest and handiest staff members spent the entire summer working some major improvements on the island. We could send photos, but we’d rather wait until you get to the island and see for yourself: you will be impressed. What was missing this summer was the sound of the piston Beaver or turbo Otter firing up at the docks every morning. With an average of four fly outs per day taking our guests to even more remote waters, our summers are always filled with the exciting sounds of floatplanes. Not this summer. A Twin Otter bringing building supplies and no doubt some beer landed only once every two weeks.

Other than their workmates and the Otter pilot, our crew saw no one for nearly three months except one TV crew. A Canadian company (they obviously didn’t have any border crossing issues), The New Fly Fisher, filmed a TV show, capturing some amazing footage of top water pike action. We’ll let you know when that show airs. Let’s all hope that there is never another summer like that at Scott Lake again—ever.

To all our Scott Lake friends/guests: stay safe and stay excited about solid hooksets on big pike and trout. The entire Scott Lake team badly missed the good times we all have together on the little island in the middle of nowhere. We’ll do double time of fun next summer.

Summer of Covid

Summer of Covid

by Tom Klein, Owner

For 24 consecutive summers, I have stared into the transparent waters of Scott Lake, always looking for those dark shadows that turn into streaking, savage northern pike.
For most of those seasons, I arrived in our vintage Beaver, GQD, when there was just enough open water to make a safe landing. I usually stayed on until the first snows of late September signaled the bitter end. In between those chilly arrivals and departures were summers packed with memories: engaging dinner conversations with guests who became friends; the lingering June sunsets watched from the lodge deck; the thrilling laughter of Scott’s resident loons; the transfixing beauty of late season northern lights; the sight of hundreds of lake trout swarming the shallow spawning reefs in September; the smells of shore lunch on sandy beaches; the kayak excursions on hot July days; and, of course, the adrenaline pumping shock of savage pike strikes, literally thousands every summer. These countless memories of two plus decades have layered into a single impression of summer in the far north—contentment, being in the right place at the right time.

Well, that string of summers, the pearls of my life, has been broken. Despite having a work permit, a long history in Canada and a good attorney, there was no way to beat the border closure this summer. When heard recently that even the Toronto Blue Jays could not play their home games in their own country, I did feel a little better. Yes, Canada is serious about Covid. My sense of loss about this Summer of Covid is shared by most, if not all, of regular guests, many who have called just to talk about how much they miss their annual trip.

The summer of 2020 will be remembered and discussed for generations. It is a marker like D-Day, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Moon Landing or 9/11. In context against the immense economic, emotional, and physical pain, along with now nearly 160,000 deaths this pandemic has wrought, the loss of a summer in paradise or a fishing trip pales, but it’s still real. So, we all just been making the best of it: keeping on keeping on.

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How can any place compare to Scott Lake?
For me and my wife Pat the loss of living on a lake has been the toughest; we’ve had 35 consecutive summers on a lake, either Scott or our previous home in northern Wisconsin. We don’t have a late at our home in Montana. Since we are living adjacent to public land that stretches over 60 miles from our backdoor all the way to Yellowstone, I don’t expect crocodile tears from anyone. It could be a lot worse. After living here for 21 years, this has been our first full summer in Montana. We have tried to get our taste for water satisfied by renting a home for a month on Flathead Lake, the largest natural lake west of the Mississippi, about the size of Scott, in northwest Montana. It was nice but it wasn’t Scott. Located less than an hour’s drive from Glacier National Park, there were just way too many people. But how can any place compare to the privacy, purity, and serenity of Scott Lake?
I attempted to get my pike fix there. The area has a reputation for producing some huge fish. I tried. Four times, twice with a guide, I went into fabulous looking pike habitat—six to twelve-foot cabbage patches, thick lily pad bays and sharp drop-offs. I tried floating, intermediate and full sink fly lines, all kinds of flies, fast strip, slow strip, in between strip. I tried it all and landed exactly one pike, a massive 12 or 14 incher. Boy, do I miss the real north. My fishing for predator species will have to wait until this September when I will travel back to my home ground in northern Wisconsin to take on, I hope, a few muskies. I did just fine with cutthroat trout on the Flathead River, but really isn’t that kind of fish just bait? (I do like fish with teeth.)

What Did You Do This Summer To Get Your Fishing Fix?

Write a short description of your best fishing day this summer (with photos) and email it to Jason Hamilton, our General Manager.  We will select what we think is the best fishing tale and give the winner a fly out to any of Scott’s two dozen fly out lakes on their next trip to the lodge.

Seriously, that’s worth a few minutes of your time to share your summer of 2020 fishing stories with all the Scott Lake regulars!

No cheating: All contributions must be within the limits of all angler’s stories—a little embellishment but no outright lies!

We’ll be watching for your entry.

2021 SEASON: LOOKING AHEAD

There will be a gap of 21 months without a customer on the island, but all I can focus on right now is the 2021 season. The prospect of a Covid vaccine by next spring now appears to be more than a hope. The campaign to get an effective vaccine and treatment is the Manhattan Project of our time: it will happen. We know one thing for sure. The Scott Lake team and infrastructure will be ready. We have assurances from the entire staff of their return for 2021. And our island will be transformed. Just keep reading—details ahead. We are not allowing the opportunity of summer work season to slip by. As you are reading this there is the wonderful sound of hammers hammering and saws sawing—something we never do when customers are present.

Jon Wimpney did an incredible job contacting our 2020 customers. Since nearly everyone (all but eight customers) rebooked for 2021, we are completely full now for the 2021 season, EXCEPT for the trip we’ve added to the end of our typical season. Next summer we will have a new five-day trip on September 5-10. That should be smack in the middle of the trout spawn where the vast numbers of lake trout in our lakes move onto rocky reefs of one to two feet in depth. It’s an amazing experience. On clear, sunny days they are spooky but long casts generally end up with a spectacularly colored lake trout on the end of the line. According to Jon, at this point it’s wide open except for one late season veteran (Andy, you know who you are) who jumped at this opportunity. There are still pike to be caught in early September and they will be fat and heavy, but the Troutfest is reason alone enough to make this trip. By the way, it is the only time when fly anglers can effectively target lakers. Yes, you will use floating lines. The lake trout spawn is temperature driven (50-degree lake water is the magic number) so, like all fishing, there are variables and no guarantees. Over the past decade though these dates have produced exciting fishing for the staff who were hanging around, shutting down the lodge.

Get On The List

Lock in your own 2021 lake trout experience in shallow water or get on the wait list for any cancellation for 2021. Every year we get a few, but with the uncertainties of travel these days we may have more than normal. It’s a first call/first serve program to fill cancelled spots.

With a full season of rest for all our fish, 2021 will be a memorable year.

Be there, call Jon today: 306-209-7150

INFRASTRUCTURE UPDATE

by Jason Hamilton, General Manager

What to do with a full summer on Scott Lake without a single guest on the island? The first answer from our group of a dozen staff members was, of course, FISH!  Well, they got to do some but just a little. The objective for the summer was to condense five spring, fall and winter construction seasons into a single three-month period. The long daylight and absence of inclement weather make that ambitious goal possible, but that timeline didn’t allow a lot of time for fishing. This was a summer for work. We are extremely fortunate that our staff has a level of dedication unrivaled in this industry. This group came to work and work they have been doing. It helped that we had a quite a few team members with solid skill sets in construction. All had an incredible hard work ethic made this tall task easy for me to manage.

Hitting the docks later than normal this season (we had a late ice-out), we noticed one thing immediately—the ice had been particularly hard on two of our permanent docks. In fact, the ice was batting .500 on destroying docks. So, the group donned waders, and made our finest dock effort to date. Back on land, there were countless jobs refinishing, staining, repairing and building. By the time our next guests arrive on June 9, 2021 five of our thirteen cabins will sport major face lifts or be brand new (not counting Ptarmigan which debuted last summer). Major upgrades to our water and electrical system have been made. Thankfully, we have in Greg Hamm a licensed electrician. Since very department on the island wanted more storage, we have been building storage areas. (This is like a small city.) One of the biggest jobs that’s still on our agenda is a new, state of the art walk in cooler and freezer. It will be finished before we leave the first week of September. Every deck on the island been has water sealed. And there a couple of big surprises you are just going to have to wait and see with your own eyes once you step on our dock next summer.

It’s been a great summer: productive, fun, sweaty and weird. Despite the shared camaraderie our team has badly missed sharing this place with our visiting anglers. It’s a strange feeling to be in the lodge in the evening without the buzz of fishing stories and the excitement of who caught what. The blood, sweat and sometimes tears that went into this busy summer of improving the place will be completely forgotten though with the smiles and excitement of our guests seeing all the changes next summer. Scott Lake Lodge has always been about continual improvement, but this summer made a quantum leap.

Now, don’t think for a minute there hasn’t been a bit of fishing and some shore suppers up here. We need to keep the fish exercised and the fireside cookery skills sharp. We look forward to seeing the  entire extended Scott Lake family next June. Until then stay safe and stay tuned to our media outlets as we let some previews out!

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