The Gang is All Here
Well, most of the gang is here. Thanks to an early ice out we were able to start bringing in our staff on May 29th.. That’s the earliest date for floatplane landings over the past twenty years at least. We had a group of four, led by senior guide Paul Hamilton, on the island for nearly a month prior to the first splashdown. They came in on a chopper to get a head start on a long checklist of spring work. Now we are a dozen strong with more arrivals every day until the full crew of thirty is assembled just before our June 10 opener. The pre-season is always an exciting time. There is a lot of activity on the island and in the air. Our Otter and Beaver floatplanes are running almost non-stop trips to bring in the needed supplies for the season and set up the 20 fly out lakes scattered over nine million acres of the Northwest Territories. And there are other birds in the air – geese, loons, terns and lots of migrating songbirds, many heading much farther north. It’s a great time to enjoy the quiet of the lake before the guide team gets their boats in the water.
There has been a lot of hard work put in already. The biggest item on the list this spring was a major landscape improvement project. All the logs edging our woodchip trails have been replaced with beautifully stained logs. The logs came from a burn area so you might say that they were kiln dried. Unlike the fresh cut logs we have been using for years these will resist rotting for many years. But it’s a major job. After hauling the logs to the island, the guys need to strip off the bark, pressure wash and then stain each log. Not a small task. About two hundred were prepared and put down to make our walkways more than just a mode of conveyance – they are a thing of beauty. Of course we also need tons of woodchips. More trips to distant shores to cut standing dead trees.
The crew has been busy.
As if we needed more to do, the ice decided that we needed to rebuild one of our docks, the north dock where our Beaver is parked during the season. When wind and ice conspire, wood and rock are no match. A team of four will spend at least two full days getting the dock back to a functional status. There has been inside work too. Customers will be pleased to see a new bar and some additional dinner seating in the main lodge. Several cabins have been stained. Getting around to the twenty log-sided buildings takes both time and some cooperation by the weather.
Completing special projects is challenging when there are lots of important “regular jobs” to do: cleaning the cabins; getting the water and power running smoothly; putting fifteen guide boats in the water and servicing the outboards; rigging 168 rods/reels (each guide has twelve outfits to cover all the fishing situations at Scott); unloading load after load of freight from our planes, and doing all the little things that make Scott Lake Lodge a unique fly in destination. But everything is getting done. In just three more days the place will be ready for prime time and the first group of customers. We thank all our 2016 guests for making this wonderful summer in the wilderness possible for our staff who would rather be here than anywhere else in the world. It’s a special place.
New Chef in Town
Scott Lake Lodge has been blessed with some fine chefs over our twenty year run. After nine years of providing excellent dining experiences (both as sous chef and executive chef), Jeff Walker decided it was time to do some traveling and explore new horizons.
We know we have another winner with Jeremy Hobson, who greeted arriving staff on Friday evening with a magnificent prime rib dinner, (there will be more for guests). It was a sign of great dinners ahead. Jeremy has traveled and cooked widely around Canada, spending six years as Banquet Chef and Executive Chef at the Waskesiu Lake Lodge and Convention Center near the Prince Albert National Park and working some very high end catering jobs. He has personally cooked for some very internationally well known touring musicians such as the Red Hot Chill Peppers, the Foo Fighters and Neil Young. His most prestigious assignment though was cooking for Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister, and Francois Hollande, the French President. So he will not be intimidated cooking for our world class anglers. Rest assured, you will enjoy his culinary talents. His approach to his assignment at Scott Lake Lodge: “I see every day as a blank slate on which I create something new and exciting that will leave guests talking for days to come.” Not a bad attitude. Come on up and experience Jeremy’s creative expressions for yourself.
Not Too Late
We are ever so close to a complete sell out of the season. There are only six empty cabins left! Be one of the dozen to make 2016 your most memorable summer ever. Our Sales Manager is taking emails in between fighting with the damaged dock. And he has an incentive to fill that last spot.
Contact Jon at email@example.com
and do it fast. He will be even faster getting back to you (he carries his smartphone around the island.) Our satellites are up and the wi-fi is running well. But when you do start packing for your trip to Scot,t try leaving your devices at home. This is a place to unwind and disconnect. And catch a lot of fish!
P.S. No fishing reports yet. Everyone is working.
It’s now less than two months from the start of the 2016 season at Scott Lake. Along with the entire Scott Lake Lodge gang (30 strong), I am getting extremely excited. A winter’s worth of work behind the scenes is now coming together: aircraft contracts are secured; staff has been hired and trained; hooks are sharpened (that’s an important ritual for all anglers, including our guides), and tons of fuel, food and supplies have been ordered and staged for shipment to the lodge. Now mother nature needs to hold up her end of the bargain with a normal ice out and we will be all set to welcome the first group of 2016’s guests on a sunny (hopefully) June 10th evening. The ice situation is looking good right now. It was a relatively mild winter with ice depth at our last lodge visit about a month ago of “only” 40″. That’s right–that is a lot less ice than most winters. We should be fine with our June 10 opening date. There have been a lot of very mild days in Stony Rapids recently.
Speaking of staff, you will be happy to know we have a lot of the same faces on the island to greet you, including the entire 2015 guide staff. There are a few new folks we’ve added to the fold as well. Stay tuned and we will introduce them to you in the next few weeks. Needless to say we are very excited about the team we have put together and think you will be too.
We are excited about this! Like can’t sleep at night thinking about it excited. After some lengthy discussions and consultation with the Northwest Territories government, we have secured fishing access to four very large new lakes. This brings the swath of Canada’s north for which we have exclusive fishing rights up to nearly nine million acres. Nine million! That’s a bigger area than nine of the US states. Our plan early this season as always will be to focus on Scott Lake and our established network of sixteen fly out lakes. As soon as these are set up and running, we will be exploring, mapping, and moving boats into the new lakes. The 2016 season will be one of exploration of these new waters with limited client fishing. Given that these lakes are much further north than our existing fly out lakes, we are expecting ice out to be late June or even early July.
Did I mention that to our knowledge two of the four lake have never been fished in modern times and never with an outfitter? Want to be on the front end of the exploration of these untouched subarctic lakes? You have to get up to Scott! Securing these new lakes is part of Scott Lake Lodge’s management plan to rotate lakes and keep pressure spread out and low on all our fly out lakes. We are committed to making our fishing experience better every year.
Without further ado the newest additions to the Scott Lake Lodge exceptional flyout destinations are: Wholadia Lake, Flett Lake, Firedrake Lake and Rennie Lake. Have a look online at a NWT map and start drooling. Our sales guy Jon “J5” Wimpney will be ready to take your call. He has the cure.
Now that the news is out about the new waters, (not to mention many new boats and motors on Scott and other fly out lakes) it’s time to talk to Jon to make sure you don’t miss out the exciting 2016 season. There are a few spots scattered throughout the season still available, but not many. We are 95% full! Don’t delay. If you are thinking about it, stop thinking and grab your phone. Just book it! There’s a giant fish up there with your name on it. Do you want someone else to hook it? Contact Jon at 306-209-7150
See you all up there!
Some people have no luck at all. Some had a little luck. And then there are always those who have all the luck. That’s the way it usually goes with most things in life, including fishing and getting great weather on fishing trips. Looking back on the 2015 fishing season at Scott Lake Lodge, we saw the luck game, at least the luck concerning nice weather, play out by the rules of conventional wisdom. While all 16 of the groups attending our “fishing university” this season experienced great fishing and, judging by our re-bookings and by our online evaluations, had a wonderful time, a few groups had, let’s be honest, lousy weather to cope with. Some had a day or two of at least partially sunny weather. A few had three of four nice days. But only one group, our very last one, had all the luck: five consecutive days of brilliant sunshine with soft warm breezes—absolutely perfect conditions for both fishing AND catching. Those lucky stiffs had it all for a perfect fishing holiday: the sunshine for sight fishing, a totally bug-free environment, opportunities to see fantastic northern lights, the sights and sounds of thousands of migrating geese and loons, after dinner bonfires under a clear sky and, rather importantly, incredible fishing. Both the fishing action and the big fish activity were as good as it gets. We apparently did save the best for last. One guest with over ten trips to Scott (mostly in June) had his single best day of fishing ever, anywhere at Ivanhoe Lake, one of Scott’s most popular fly out destinations. Dave Wanderer wasn’t shy about his praise about the fishing: “It was awesome, an absolute orgy of fish— a profusion trout and pike.” He added that the northern lights experience was “the cherry on the sundae”.
As we have experienced year after year, we see the big pike really come alive during August. Some magnificent fish were brought to the boats during those final five sublime days of the 2015 season. On the afternoon of the final day of the season, Sam Bajalia landed probably the last trophy of the season. It was a dandy. You could not find a more perfectly marked or superbly healthy looking 47 and a half inch pike anywhere in the world. It was just a beautiful fish. Long time guest Mike Manship got another monster that week, his personal best pike, a very girthy 47 incher. Kay Myhre “supersized” with both pike and trout that week getting a 46”pike and a 41.5” lake trout. Peter Myhre and John Sober both added 45” pike to the parade of big fish, but Chris Rowland brought in a real heavyweight, an extraordinarily fat 42” trout.
A BIG FISH BONANZA
While the perfect weather for the last group (August 24-29) caught everyone’s attention, the fishing was equally good for the two earlier groups (August 15-19 and August 19-24). There were a total of 187 trophy pike landed during the last fifteen days of the season. That’s not an outrageous number compared to many of the June and July weeks, but inside those numbers were some real hogs. The late season feeding frenzy by big pike is a fact. During these two weeks so many modest sized fish (both trout and pike) were crashed at boatside by huge pike, or “T-boned” as the guides like to phase it, that it was hardly a topic of conversation. It happened multiple times every day. These were aggressive fish, ready for a fight. And a fight many of them got. Some successfully won their battles by getting off, but quite a few ended up posing for pictures. Of the 23 pike of 47 inches or better landed during the 2015 season, 12 were caught over the last fifteen days. That’s 53% of the giants in just 17% of the season. In addition to the big fish described from the final five days, there were boatloads of big pike netted in the previous ten days. On the screen after dinner during the “fish du jour” presentations, there were supersized trout, pike or grayling every night (trout of 40” or better, pike of 45” or better and grayling of 18” or better). Big pike showing up on screen included 45 inchers landed by Scott Bixby, Richard Spork, Allen Clark, Sonya Boone, Laura Velas and Joe Daugherty; 46 inchers by Alex Spork, Patrick Spork, Ned Bixby, Ross Purpura and Sonya Bonne (Sonya wasn’t happy with just a 45); 47 inchers by Kay Myhre, Peter Myhre and Laura Velas (her personal best); and a pair of 48 inchers by Bill Langford and Doug Vorhees. That’s a lot of jumbo pike in just ten days. There were some huge trout as well: 40 inchers by Kay Myhre and Joe Velas. Lonnie Thompson picked a pair of huge trout, a 40” and a 42”. Late summer is the best time for big grayling and these sailfish of the north did not disappoint those anglers who flew to the connecting rivers between Scott’s expansive network of seventeen fly out destinations. Supersized “ling” of eighteen inches were taken, mostly on dry flies, by Barbie Purpura, Taylor Lajoie, Joe Daugherty, Mary Daugherty, and Peter Myhre. Paul Rowland took top honors for the week and the season with a beautiful twenty inch grayling.
Getting a trophy grayling is a requirement for earning the Triple Trophy hat, earned by catching a trophy of all three Scott species. With the lower water levels of late summer and some warm temperatures, the fishing for grayling was terrific over the last two weeks of the season. Lots of our anglers left wearing their hats. It’s a long and impressive list for just fifteen days: Robert Patterson, Foster Graf, Mark Graf, Dave Forman, Alex Spork, Patrick Spork, Kay Myhre, Peter Myhre, Taylor Lajoie, Doug Lajoie, Barbie Purpura, Ross Purpura, Mary Daugherty, Todd Rosenberg, Simon Rosenberg, Paul Rowland and Chris Rowland (we almost ran out of hats). Many of these anglers upgraded to the 100+Club by having the total length of their three biggest trophies in each species reach or exceed 100 inches. Those lucky and skilled anglers (it’s not all luck) will get a customized logo jacket with the length of their big fish embroidered over outlines of the three Scott Lake game fish. She didn’t get there until the last afternoon of the last day but Kay Myhre jumped to the top of the 100+Club leaderboard with a 41.5” laker. During her stay she landed a pike of 47, the trout of 41.5 and a grayling of 17.5. That’s a great fishing trip. Her total of 106 inches was top for the season, inching out the 105 inches totaled by Chase Larson way back in June (Kay was sorry to steal the title from 14 year old Chase but we deal in facts here and he has a lot of fishing years ahead of him). Chris Rowland and Alex Spork tied for the third spot with 104 inches. Other 100+ members from the last fifteen days included Foster Graf, Mark Graf, Dave Forman, Patrick Spork, Joe Daugherty, Peter Myhre, Taylor Lajoie and Paul Rowland. There was real surge in 100+Club membership in late August. For the entire season only nineteen of our guests achieved that lofty goal and twelve of those (an amazing 63%) did it over the final fifteen days of an 85 day season.
Those twelve anglers, along with everyone else at the lodge for the late August slot, all have wonderful stories to tell: tales of the big fish landed (and usually the bigger fish lost), the laughter and jubilation in the boat, the quiet interludes when the infinite silence of this vast sub-arctic wilderness soaks into the psyche. Those stories will keep the fishing fires burning over the fall and winter, to be replaced by new stories from the 2016 season. Most of those stories will include tall tales of the northern lights. Starting in mid-August we had regular late night light shows. For some staying up until midnight was just not an option. Fishing for ten hours a day was all they could handle. But for many sitting up at the bonfire by the main lodge was a nightly rite. We had some incredible northern lights this fall. And we had for a bonus the Perseid meteor shower which lasted several days. It was perfect this year. The new moon was August 14, creating a very dark sky (the nearest source of light pollution is Saskatoon, 550 miles south), providing the ideal contrast for watching the northern lights and the meteor shower. We had a couple nights where the fiery meteors streaked right through the northern lights, a remarkable sight. For some at the lodge it was the highlight (pun definitely intended) of their trip, exceeding the satisfaction of landing big fish. It was memorable and making memories is what a Scott Lake trip or any Canadian fishing adventure is all about. It’s an experience that changes people in very positive ways. One guest, Dolores Bandow, expressed it beautifully and with a zing of humor: “Scott Lake is my new favorite place. I arrived as a virgin and became a downright skilled hooker.” She had been a bit apprehensive about coming to a fishing camp, probably thinking of thick cigar smoke, cafeteria quality food, lukewarm showers and gruff guides who hated to see a woman in their boat. What she discovered at Scott was very different: “I was surprised how attractive Scott Lake Lodge was to be as a woman—the staff was so gracious and accommodating. Our guide was amazing. I felt completely welcomed.” That’s a good feeling, one shared by most if not all of the 2015 Scott Lake Lodge guests. Our customer service team always finds ways to make everyone feel at home, part of the extended Scott Lake Lodge family. The Scott Lake team thanks all the season’s anglers for helping to make 2015 a memorable season, even if we did miss our breaking our trophy pike season record (it was so close, just 14 less than last year’s record number of 1,184). And our thanks to all the fish who offered to dance at our party. Except for the shore lunch volunteers, they will all be around for the 2016 party.
POST SEASON WRAP UP
There were not a lot of fishing stories from the post season. It was about work. It’s no small job to shut down an island with 28 buildings–draining water, staining some cabins, winterizing plumbing, boarding up every building, placing nail studded bear boards around cabin entrances, closing seventeen fly out lakes, winterizing the fleet of sixteen lodge boats, taking apart the floating dock and on and on and on. This fall a crew led by guides and ace carpenters Paul Hamilton and Cory Craig banged out a sizeable storage building in just over a week. Now there are 29 buildings on the island. The new one will keep our lumber, tools and machines out of the weather over the long winter. There was some time for fishing and for a few days some warm and sunny weather. The favorite target of our crew this fall was the whitefish. Generally a deep water fish, many of our whitefish head to the Northwest River, not surprisingly located in the northwest corner of Scott Lake, to spawn. There is no greater kick for many of our guides than hooking these hard fighting fish on light fly rods with tiny trout nymphs. Up to seven or eight pounds whitefish are also the best eating fish in the lake. There were quite a few smoked whitefish on the after-season menu. So, Scott Lake Lodge is shut down for the season. Soon some wolves and bears will be swimming to the island to check things out. Until next June the island belongs to winter, that great stretch of silence interrupted only by the calls of the ravens or a howl of a wolf.
While it seems a long way away now, the 2016 season is filling up quickly. Over half of our customers come back to Scott year after year. Some weeks are already full. If a Scott Lake Adventure is on your bucket list, now is the time to lock in your dates. Our guide/Sales Manager Jon Wimpney is ready to take your phone calls or emails to answer any questions or to just talk fishing. Jon can be reached at 306/209-7150 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. If your experience with Scott Lake Lodge has been all virtual (reading these e-newsletters and following the Tundra Times on our website) it’s time to trade the virtual for the real thing. Stop thinking about the trip to Scott and book in for 2016. Call Jon today. He is never far from his phone, even when he is fishing.
Summer arrived at Scott Lake Lodge, on the border of Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories, about a month late. It was worth the wait. Since our last report (July 25th), our guests have seen blue skies and felt the power of the intense sub-arctic sunshine almost every day. Our anglers have enjoyed mainly warm southerly or westerly winds and found little use for their rain gear. Only an occasional isolated shower passed through this part of the world, insuring that the past three weeks were a time for sandals, T-shirt and shorts. In our lodge shop, sales of sun block far outpaced sales of stocking caps (known here in Canada, of course, as toques). We had some very windy days but it was never cold. Not even cool. It was wonderful.
Good Weather, Good Fishing
We focus a lot on weather in these reports for one simple reason: good weather and good fishing are two sides of the same coin. When the air temperature is warm, the water temperature is warm and the pike fishing is good. It’s that simple. Any week of our season could be the best or the worst depending almost entirely on temperatures and sunshine. So, if we could predict the weather, we could predict the fishing. But here on the 60th parallel predicting the weather, even for the short term, is a fool’s game. We just fish in whatever weather gets thrown at us. Over the past twenty days the good stuff was thrown at us and the fish responded. The fishing was actually more than good during this pleasant stretch of warm weather. Pike treat sunshine like candy-they just eat it up. They were also eating up spinners, plastics, flies and spoons. With sunshine pike get active and go hunting. It doesn’t seem to make a difference if they are holed up in bays, hanging off of drop-offs or seeking prey in the tangles of aquatic vegetation-those precious lily pads, coon-tail plants, eel grass or in the gold standard of aquatic vegetation-pond weed, also know in fishing circles as “cabbage”. Wherever they are, pike respond to sun and warmth. Like any cold blooded critters, they get active when they are warm. We have seen a lot of active pike over the past twenty days. Of the 352 trophy fish landed in this period, 244 were pike (trophy size is 40″ or better).
And some of those trophies were monsters. As in every other season over the past two decades, the big pike start “going on their feed” in August. When the calendar page flips from July to August, we are into fall fishing patterns. The total numbers of fish caught are often lower, but the big gals (all the really big pike are female) start feeding heavily, knowing or just feeling that the long winter months of near dormancy lie ahead. These are the pike of fall that hit much harder and fight much harder than the fish of June or July. These are the pike with substantial girths, often too big for the guide to get his hand around. These can be bruisers and we have seen some of late. Three pike of 47 inches or better have been landed by lucky and skilled (it takes both elements) anglers: Bob Rennebohn and Bill Buckholz got 47 and a half inch beauties and Ronnie Williams landed a 47 inch pike with a massive head, making that fish look even meaner and more prehistoric than the typical monster pike. There were four anglers who got pike of 46 or 46 and a half inches: Dave O’Donnell, Stan Carter, Rob Borden and Dave Forman. Six more got pike of 45 or 45 and a half inches: Chris Ellerbroek, Casey Myers (he got two 45.5″ pike), Bob Forner, Bill Forner, Bob Chadwell and Frank Arey. That’s a lot of big pike. Our season’s total of trophy pike is now 983, getting very close to the all time record of 1,184 set just last season. But records are meant to be broken. Let’s see if our anglers will topple that mark over the final 15 days of the 2015 season.
Our Big Fat Lake Trout
We have been catching more than pike. Our 352 trophies over this period represented a nice mix of pike, lake trout and arctic grayling. Big lakers made the cover of the Tundra Times (our modest on island daily newspaper) quite a few times. There have been some real hogs. Mike Scheidt, a die-hard trout fisherman and long time Scott regular, put a particularly fat lake trout in his guide’s cradle. It measured in at 41.5 inches by the tape but by Mike’s smile it was a mile long. A trout of 41 inches was taken by Steve Bandt, aka “Big Dog” who has been at Scott for 17 consecutive seasons; he always seems to get a big trout or two. Foster Graf who at only 14 has caught quite a big trout already in his fishing career also landed a 41 incher, a fatty with a measured girth of just under 25 inches, a very impressive fish. Foster’s dad, Mark Graf, kept things even in the family by landing his own 41 incher on the same day. Other super-sized trout (the lodge’s name for trout of 40″ or better) were taken by Chip Webster, Larry Carter, Bob Forner and Don Beasley, who got his big one in the last hour of the last afternoon of his trip. There was a lot of trout action in what we term “jigging holes”, deep water trout habitat that hold lots of trout but rarely big trout. Small to medium size trout (28-32″) were just fine for a lot of anglers who love action. The vertical jigging technique used provides the same jolting strike as casting and does require concentration and close attention. Trolling for the big trout does require a firm grip on the rod and a strong hook set but it does free up one hand for a can of beer.
Acrobatic Arctic Grayling
While the arctic grayling can’t compete with pike and lake trout in size, they hold their own with attitude. No 50# test Power Pro or stiff rods with grayling. Just ultralight spinning gear or 4 weight fly rods. Size the gear to the fish and every species can be challenging and exciting. Grayling definitely meet that test. They are strong and delicate at the same time. Wonderfully acrobatic, they are a delight on light tackle. We have a number of guests who love the grayling experience: flying to a remote river that connects the many Scott Lake Lodge fly out lakes; getting into waders and stepping right into the river; carefully placing either dry flies, nymphs or tiny spinners into the pools and runs; and lightly lifting the rod to set the hook when one of the sailfish of the north takes the bait-it’s a ritual, a very satisfying one. Grayling fishing always gets better as the season progresses. It’s been excellent. Like pike, grayling love sunshine. It brings out the aquatic insects that comprise the bulk of a grayling’s daily diet. Fishing dry flies is the purest form of grayling, requiring a bit more skill and finesse. Lots of grayling were taken on dries over the past few weeks. Several guests have super-sized their grayling with fish of 18 inches or better. Jim Borden, Dave Lenz, Dave Forman, Casey Myers, Chris McKenzie, Andrew Hansen, Michael Smith Sr. and Jeff Monsein all landed grayling at this upper edge of grayling size in this part of Canada. Getting a grayling trophy (minimum of 15″) puts anglers in the running for a Trophy Triple Hat, earned by getting a trophy sized grayling, lake trout and northern pike. A number of angers pulled the hat trick lately: John Durant, Jeff Siebert, Dave O’Donnell, Priscilla O’Donnell, John Borden, Jim Borden, Casey Myers, Tom Fridel, Andrew Hansen, Oscar Rytting, Jackie Scott, John Pachuta, Bob Patterson and Charlotte Jannach. One angler, Casey Meyers, broke the 100″ barrier, getting three trophies collectively measuring 100 inches or more, and earned the 100+Club membership. He will get a fancy logoed jacket this Christmas with the images of the fish and their respective sizes embroidered on the front. Hitting that 100″ mark is not easy but it is challenging and fun.
Better and Better
Everything seems to be better with beautiful weather. In this sunny period, people really enjoyed the traditional Canadian shore lunches which up here are anything but traditional. The guides love showing off their outdoor cooking skills by preparing tasty and memorable lakeside meals of baked, blackened, stir-fried or just good ole deep fried fresh fish. They turn out some amazing meals, making this mid-day break a high point of the trip for many guests. As a bonus over the past few weeks, guests have enjoyed some incredible northern lights. The “show” on August 12th was nothing short of breathtaking. It was also the night of the Perseid meteor showers. We had shooting stars falling through a fast moving northern lights display. The entire sky was alive that night and every guest at Scott Lake Lodge watched with awe and deep appreciation. As we like to say, Scott Lake Lodge offers “World Class Fishing and More”. We certainly had the More over the past three weeks. In addition to the great fishing guests had some exciting wildlife sightings: several bears, some moose, a couple of wolves and even a close encounter with a musk ox on Smalltree Lake, the first sighting there of a musk ox which typically are found much further north. Many guests took advantage of the canoes, kayaks and stand up paddleboards and had some quiet evening paddles. Camp fires were a big thing as well. When it gets dark (something that doesn’t happen here in June or July), what is more soul satisfying than staring into a late night fire? It’s a primal feeling. We’ve had many late night campfires over past three weeks. Our chain saws have had a workout keeping up with the demand. So the More in “World Class Fishing and More” really blossomed in the first half of August. With 15 more days ahead who knows what more things our guests will enjoy. It just keeps getting better.
On the 60th parallel, July is the heart of summer—THE MONTH, the month of high, intense sun; endless blue skies; ripening blueberries and bearberries; countless wildflowers in full bloom, and smiling anglers. It would be wonderful to describe the last twenty days in that vein. But that would be writing about last season or maybe next season, but not this season. The 2015 season is batting a measly .200 (one for five) on the above criteria. Apparently the weather gods in this neck of the woods didn’t get the memo about all that sunshine we are supposed to be having in July. It’s been one of the cloudiest and wettest of the past two decades.
But it’s also been one of the fishiest. Neither rain, wind, clouds nor cold have kept our guests and guides off the wilderness of water of Scott Lake and the dozen fly out lakes scattered through distant reaches of the Northwest Territories. They have been fishing (and some cases even singing) right through the frequent showers. When nature gives you lemons, stir in the rain and make some tasty lemonade; that’s been the attitude around the lodge this summer: our anglers have kept their focus on the mission at hand—catching fish and enjoying the shore lunches, fine dining and the luxurious amenities of the lodge (the sauna has had a lot more use than in other years). It’s been inspiring to watch our crew face some tough conditions. But they have been rewarded with lots of fish and lots of big fish. No one complains about clouds and rain when they are at the other end of a savage pike or a bulldog lake trout. We have a tough group around here. They keep going and going and going and fishing and fishing and fishing, running on the EverReady batteries of the fishing world—the twin hopes that the last cast didn’t get quite close enough to the monster below but that the next cast will.
The past three weeks have afforded anglers great action along with a lot of trophy fish. In just twenty days 347 trophies were tallied: 246 pike, 70 lake trout and 31 arctic grayling. The pike total is getting very impressive. We are now at 739 trophy pike, a number that exceeds the entire 2012 season, is only 32 short of the 2013 season and is closing in on the all time record season of 2104 which saw 1,184 pike of 40” or better end up in the guide’s hands. That’s nothing short of sensational pike fishing, especially since on average our anglers catch about fifty smaller pike for every trophy landed. That’s a lot of fishing thrills. The trophy pike of the past three weeks have not been just a bunch of barely over the 40” mark either: we have seen some real hogs. Of the 246 trophy pike 17 have been in the “supersized” category of pike over 45”, a real fish of a lifetime. Six anglers landed 45s: Liz Shively, Derek Henderson, Bryce Wallace, Tim Smith, Bill Hendershot and Todd Lee. Another lucky six pack of guests added an extra inch to their supersized pike, landing 46s: Dave Wallace, who caught three 46s in a single day, Sydney Hasselkorn, who at twelve years old has the determination and skill of anglers many times her age, Ken Williamson Sr, Bill Williamson, Jason Loughran and Walter Keller. Then there were two anglers who really went deep into supersizing. On her first pike fishing trip Emma Shapiro brought a 48 incher to the boat and Dave Pepe landed his biggest pike ever, a 49” monster that was lurking on the edge of a rocky drop off and just could not resist the little plastic turbo pike at the end of Dave’s line. Both were fat, heavy pike.
We are in the middle of lake trout season now and the big ones have been turning up in the guide’s landing nets or cradles. In June and early July the cool surface water of our lakes allow lakers to spread around. They could be suspended at shallow depths over two hundred feet of water or in pike bays. They can be anywhere which often translates to nowhere. But when the surface water temps increase the trout head down where they can be more predictably targeted. Our electronics can find the trout but they can’t make them eat. Fortunately the Scott guide team has some tricks up their sleeves. Those arcs on the graphic displays of fish finders have been metamorphosing into fat lake trout posing for pictures along with some lucky anglers. People like Sydney (yes, that twelve year old again) Hasselkorn who had a trip of her young life: with no help from anyone she brought up a fat 40” lake trout, not an easy task for anyone. Others joining 40 inchers for photographs were Liz Shively, Jeff Keller, Dave Huntley, Evan Hendershot and Peter Amanatidis. Jack Potts and Jim Lande posed with 41 inchers and Al Williamson, a long time Scott Lake trout hunter, smiled along with a very girthy 42 incher.
There is still one other gamefish on the Scott Lake fishing agenda—the arctic grayling. Found in river segments between fly out lakes, the arctic grayling is easy to overlook. They have an image problem: they are small fish. When you only weigh a few pounds it’s tough to compete with bruisers like 49” northern pike. But for some of our guests grayling are just the right size. There are few fish that are as acrobatic and cooperative as grayling. It’s an understatement to say that they are not finicky: they love tiny spinners or almost any fly that either floats or sinks. Wading in a fast moving stream and casting to grayling is a satisfying experience for many of our guests. It’s quite similar to fishing streams in Montana, Idaho or Wyoming with one big exception: you will catch a lot more grayling here than trout there. Our supersize for grayling is 18” and we’ve had a few recently: Jim Williamson, Ken Williamson and Jason Loughran pulled in 18s and Jim Lande landed a 19” “sailfish of the north”, a descriptive tribute to the outlandish dorsal fin of the arctic grayling.
Getting a trophy grayling is one of the accomplishments needed to earn the Trophy Triple Hat or the 100+Club jacket. By getting a trophy in all three of our species, Al Ritter, Steve Ritter, Dave Huntley, Mark Jansen and Peter Amanatidis earned their hats. Ken Williamson, Al Williamson, Ken Williamson Jr got the hat plus the custom 100+Club jacket by catching trophies in all three species whose collective lengths reached or exceeded 100 inches, not an easy goal. For the season 14 year old Chase Larson still holds the top spot with 105 total inches. Al Williamson is at 103.5 and Joe Novicki is at 103. But the season is still young with 35 fishing days to go. Often our biggest fish of the year show up in August. Maybe this year August will be THE MONTH for both sunshine and big fish. Our angles will be waiting and watching. Stay tuned.