HIGH DRAMA ON THE 60TH PARALLEL
Every life needs a shot of drama now and then. Our seventh group of the season got their share, from the waters and from the sky. First the water. As we have written often in this space over the past couple of decades, at Scott Lake Lodge and in most of Canada generally pike fishing and weather go hand in hand: cold temperatures with no sun equals cool fishing; warm temperatures with plenty of sun equals hot fishing. After several weeks of cool (no, call it cold) weather and slower than normal fishing, the weather turned starting with the sixth group. And then it just got better and better. The lakes warmed up and the pike woke up and looked around. They found Blue Fox spinners, Havoc soft plastics, good ‘ole Len Thompson and Half Wave spoons, flies like bunny leeches, whistlers and deceivers. They just didn’t see them: they engulfed them. The group’s second day was memorable. Everyone caught a lot of fish and big fish. For some it was extraordinary. Peter Myhre, a fifteen day guest, continued his hot hand and landed eight trophy pike, topped by a 47 incher, on that day alone; the father/son team of Mike and Nick Manship boated nine trophy pike, both getting 47 inchers as their top pike; Terry Walker and Tom Granneman had a banner day getting a baker’s dozen big pike with a fat 44 as their top pike. That’s just five anglers on one day. With 139 trophy fish taken there were many other great days and great stories. All thanks to the sunshine.
The sun also turned on the arctic grayling. After catching dozens of pike on a nearby flyout lake, Marc Pierce and Nick Witaker hit the rapids to try dry flies for this northern icon. They found them by the dozen and landed fourteen trophies, each getting nice 17 inchers. The sun didn’t help the trout fishing (lakers prefer cloudy weather) but Nick Manship landed a 37 and 39 inch pair.
Big pike though were the show on Scott and our flyout lakes. In addition to the three 47s mentioned earlier, there were three pike at 46 inches (Mike Manship with one and Peter Myrhe with two); three at 45 inches (Mike Sackash with one and Peter Myrhe with two), and nine at 44 inches (Chad Castro, Mark Peterson, Terry Walker, Tom Granneman, Adrian Levy with one each and, yes, a few by Peter Myrhe, four to be exact). Peter had one heck of a week.
That’s a lot of fish drama, but it was only part of the week seven show. It was the sky’s turn. In this corner of the world, hot weather like we had isn’t common and it generally creates some turbulent weather. Really hot weather creates really turbulent weather. With temperatures nudging over 90, the conditions were ripe for some summer thunderstorms. Those with any outdoor experience could feel something brewing in the skies. Our management team and our pilots definitely felt it: they were focused on just one thing—getting the fish-eager new group in and fish-saturated group out. We almost pulled it off. All the signs for a real “frog-drowner” were there so we tried to hustle up our changeover. One group of nine arrived in a private plane before out charter flight, a Dash 8-300, from Edmonton landed. We quickly got that group on an Otter and headed them out on the 50-mile flight from Stony Rapids to the lodge. With lightning at their heels, they landed safely at the Scott dock. With three more flights to go, Mother Nature had her say. That was the last flight to land for another three hours. With twenty-six anglers at the lodge waiting to go south and nineteen still in Stony waiting to head north, all hell broke loose. The skies at both ends of that trip opened up with driving sheets of rain, steady drumbeats of arresting thunderclaps, and way-too-close lightning.
It was a Biblical storm, probably the most violent in the twenty-five years of Scott Lake’s history and of course it hit on a changeover day when all 52 guests wanted to get to Scott or get home. For the aviation crew all hands were busy triple-tying down the three remaining floatplanes. In a minute they were drenched to the skin. The folks at Scott were warm and dry in the Last Cast bar enjoying drinks but the folks in Stony were huddled in a small float base office watching a new river running down to the real river. Then the power went out in Stony, so it was impossible to fuel the planes. It looked like it might be a long night in a town not famous for nice hotels. Then just like that the cell passed and the sun came out. The power returned; the planes were fueled, and the plane parade south and north continued without incident. There was a wonderful opening night dinner at the lodge, just three hours late. The returning guests jumped on their flight to Edmonton for a midnight snack before continuing home the next morning.
Everyone stayed safe and dry (except the pilots and ground crew) and all had a bonus—a great story. Just another week in the far north.