For the team at Scot Lake Lodge and for many of our valued customers the most important holiday of the year is the one that starts with their first step off the floatplane at Scott Lake. But we hear that there are a few other Holidays during the year, like the ones called Christmas and Hanukkah. All of us at Scott wish all of our customers and fans the very best this Holiday Season. Without the support of our many “Scott regulars” there would be only coal in the Scott Lake stocking instead of 350 deposits for 2013, a record for this date. We thank all our customers for their incredible level of support and their friendship. We will do everything in our power to honor that trust. Our goal is to make 2013 the year when our customer service takes another step forward. The season at Scott is shaping up to be one of the busiest of our seventeen year history. Currently 11 of our 18 trips for the 2013 fishing season are sold out and most of the other seven are going fast. We look forward to welcoming our first timers to Scott as well as welcoming back our many repeat enjoyers who keep proving that the Scott Lake Experience is dangerously addictive.
Every year we try to get our maintenance work caught up after the last customers leave. This fall we tackled a lot of big jobs. In a ten day period we got a big start on a boat rehab project. All fifteen of our 18 foot Alumarine boats were stripped right down to their hulls. That alone was a big job. Next spring before the ice leaves another crew will come in to put in new foam floatation blocks, new vinyl flooring, repaint the interiors and buff the exteriors. New seats will be added to whole fleet. The boats will look and perform like new. Other big jobs tackled included the addition of soundproofing wallboard to the common walls in three of the guest buildings, major repair to the big deck off the main lodge and repair of landscaping timbers. Of course there was the routine but not minor job of shutting down the entire island: draining all water lines, boarding up all the door and windows and giving all the facilities a deep cleaning.
There was some time for fishing of course. One prospective new fly out lake was given a three day check but unfortunately failed the tough standards applied to the collection of jewels in the lodge’s fly out roster. There was no failing the big fish test though for Mel Linder, dad of long time guide Biff Linder. Just a couple of days after the last customer group flew south, Biff and Mel fished the Wayo cabbage, a popular spot all season. It’s usually a good spot but it usually doesn’t produce a 48” pike like it did for Mel and Biff. Just another monster pike to punctuate a season full of huge fish. That fish though wasn’t a surprise to some of the guides. Head guide Cory Craig was still on the island when he heard about the big fish. “I saw that one three times this summer but would it eat for me?” was his lament but only after congratulating Mel on his personal best pike. That’s fishing. The big ones are usually there but you never know when one will decide to hit. It was the last in a very long string of August monsters. In just 24 days there were 176 trophy pike caught in August, but 33 of those were 44s or better. There was an incredible run of supersized pike: seven @ 45; eleven @ 46; two @ 47; one (Mel’s big one) @48; two @ 49 and the lodge record 51 incher. While customer demand is much higher in June and July when the typical day’s numbers are higher, August (or fall as it’s known at Scott) produces the big gals.
There were some great northern lights nights to entertain the staff, but this was more of a solid work post season than most. The weather was typical of fall—a sunny day here and there mixed in with windy and rainy days. Weather is even more unpredictable this time of year than in our two other seasons (spring which is June and summer which is July). It’s amazing looking back at the three months to realize that there are typically three distinct seasons in that short window. Winter covers the other nine months. It’s always difficult to leave our island. This year was no exception even though it was a miserable day with spitting rain and a low ceiling. But as the Beaver taxied for takeoff it was sad looking back at the island: all the doors and windows boarded up; the main dock sitting on shore; the solar collectors covered on all the cabins; no boats in the water and the beautiful spruce wood chips in disarray from a downburst the second day of the Post Season. The island will be a lonely witness to the freeze up which will start in early October. But in May the island will be bustling again as a work crew descends to bring it back to life: finishing the boat work, cutting hundreds of spruce trees to provide chips for the walkways and getting the entire system up and running for the June 11, 2013 opener, a date that for most of the Scott Lakers can’t arrive soon enough.
As the 2012 season at Scott Lake Lodge moved through August, we had a bow wave of huge fish to pull us through the month. It was nothing short of amazing. According to conventional fishing wisdom, August is a month to stay home and watch fishing shows on TV. “You can’t get big pike in August” is a refrain here all over the north country. Some fools believe pike lose their teeth in August and can’t even feed. Others just believe the water to be too warm to catch fat, healthy pike. Those skeptics should have been watching the real life fishing show here at Scott. On the 60th parallel the big pike really get moving in the fall, a season here that starts right around August 1st. As in most seasons, this year our pike fishing rocked in August and the trout fishing wasn’t shabby either.
When the final group of anglers left our dock late early in the evening of August 24th they were a tired bunch, wore out from a week of pike wrestling. When the fishing and the counting was done, it was pretty obvious that our anglers caught an amazing number of huge fish in the final third of the season. And for a lot of anglers size does matter. While June and early July always produced the big numbers and often the most trophy pike (fish 40 inches or better), it’s usually August that produces the really, really big fish. Some fisherman may lie but our Scott Lake Lodge trophy numbers don’t. We don’t ask guides to do daily fish counts (fishing here isn’t a competition) but we do recognize big fish and keep track of trophy sized pike, trout and grayling. The numbers for August were more than impressive. There were 340 trophies caught in 24 days in August, an average of 14 per day. (Since we were full up every week all season, we are looking at apples to apples or trophy to trophy comparisons.) June had 240 trophies in 20 days, an average of 12 per day and July had 401 trophies in 31 days, an average of 13 per day. In August big trout were solid with ten trout over 40”, double the number in June for about the same number of days fished. July has always been the peak time for giant trout. This year was no exception with 22 over 40”, nearly one per day.
But when we look at the “supersized” pike category, those at or over 45 inches we see an entirely different story: August is when the big gals go grocery shopping. This August in 24 days of fishing Scott anglers landed 26 pike over that fish of a lifetime size and nine of those fish were real whoppers at 46.5 inches or longer. There were two at 47, two at 49 and the fish of the summer, the 51 inch goliath described in an earlier update. July had plenty of supersized pike with 14 in 31 days of fishing and June had 12 in 20 days of fishing, but it doesn’t take a math whiz to see that August was the month to catch the really big pike. This August was blessed with a long run of very mild weather. But as in most years August had a lot of wind, a condition big fish and our guides just love. The flat, hot glassy days are great for boat rides but not for big fish. The final day of the 2012 season put a big red line under the big fish theme: Peter Myhre and Connie Schmidt both got 46.5” pike on Scott and Dave Ellis added a 45.5”, also on Scott.
The fall season had all the other elements late season Scott guests love: migrating geese and loons, some incredible northern lights, cool nights for sleeping and no bugs. What’s not to love? The 2012 year will be remembered for fantastic fishing, superb dinning, lively post dinner fish photos, great shore lunches, some memorable evening bonfires and the best customer service team this lodge has ever put together (that’s saying a lot for a lodge that built a reputation as the lodge with the friendliest, most personalized customer service in Canada). Our thanks to each of the 30 Scott Lake team members for going above and beyond normal effort delivering what we like to call “extreme customer service”. And thanks as well to the people who made this wonderful year possible—the 2012 customers who invested in the Scott Experience. We are every bit as proud of our customers as our staff. They arrive with a great attitude, looking for fish and fun. We hope all of Scott’s nearly 400 guests left with a feeling that they had experienced the best fishing trip of their lives.
And 2012 will be remembered fondly by Scott Lake Lodge management as the year with the highest rebooking rate in our history. On closing day this year we were sitting with deposits for 330 anglers. Only 380 were at Scott in 2012. That’s an off the charts rebooking rate of 91%. Guests like something about the place. But mainly 2012 will be remembered as the year when the “big ones DIDN’T get away”.
A FISH STORY (happy ending included)
This is the story of four anglers, diagnosis a guide passionate about big fish and of course a big fish. During the 2012 season twelve year veteran Scott guide, Biff Piston (his real name is Steve Linder but no one knows it besides his parents and now everyone on the Scott Lake Lodge mailing list) spotted a really big pike at what became known as Biff’s Rock. It wasn’t a real special looking place, just a narrow channel adjoining two parts of Premier lake, a drop dead gorgeous lake adjacent to Scott lake and reached with a 20 minute boat ride. Mid-season last year Biff saw this really, really big fish in the clear water of Premier. He kept going back to the spot, as did other Scott guides—there are no secrets here. Three different times with three different anglers (you know who you are) that fish was hooked but three times something went wrong: the hook set wasn’t quick enough or it just plain shook off; big fish do that. Usually three times is a charm but for this fish it took four tries.
That fourth time happened on August 9th, again in Biff’s boat. This time everything went right for Biff and Charlie Dannewitz who was on the other end of the line. He was throwing his Mepps spinner with little plastic tail and right at the boat all hell broke loose. BIG FISH ON. Charlie played it like a champ with his dad, Chuck, and Biff doing some frantic coaching. From the start everyone knew that this was a special fish. No real drama though. No close calls. Just a great fight and then, just like in dreams, the huge pike was pulled right into the waiting cradle. The cradle closed and so did the saga of the fish at Biff’s Rock. The fish is officially now a 51” trophy, the biggest in the lodge’s history. (A history by the way that features accurate, no stretch, measurements.) For Charlie it was the fishing thrill of a lifetime. For Biff it was redemption. For the rest of us it’s hope. The monster was hooked right in the corner of the mouth: she (the giant pike are all females) swam away strong. Every guide for years now will stop at the rock and have their guests make a few casts, hoping. What a story. Now look at the picture again. That’s a fish!
We went from blissful summer to invigorating fall in a single day here at Scott. There was a glorious run of fifteen consecutive days of full sun, blue skies and light to no winds. It was heavenly to be on the water. These were the lazy, hazy days of summer but the fish were a bit lazy too and our hardcore guides were screaming for a change in the weather. They felt there had been enough of the swimming at shore lunch, T-shirts and flip flops. They got their wish. On August 5th, the first day of our 12th group of the season fall arrived with authority. After days of flat water a huge west wind charged through the area, putting waves even in the smallest bays. Fishing on August 5th was rough and tough. It was difficult to get anywhere but the wind did its job, stirring things up very well. On cue on August 6th the winds dropped to a more reasonable level and the fishing just plain exploded. It was a day to remember. The number of fish caught zoomed up from single digits to the dozens and the size of the fish took a quantum leap. A total of thirty trophy fish were tallied in a single day. (That would be a good season for some lodges.) Just how big were some of these fish? Ask Brad Finney how it feels to land lake trout of 36, 39, 41.5 and 42 inches—all in one day. Ask Vianne Kucera about her day: a 39.5” laker, a trophy grayling and pike of 41.5 and 47 inches. Better yet ask her husband Jack. He had an epic day, one of the most dramatic in our lodge’s sixteen year history. He got his trophy grayling, added a trophy lake trout and watched his guide get a bit giddy putting the cradle under pike of, get this, 40, 41, 42, 45 and 49 inches. Both Vianne and Jack had the rare “Done in One”, getting the 100+Club jacket in a single day. What a day! So much for the old wives tale about pike losing their teeth in August. This August day at Scott turned out to be our best day of the season, so far, but there is a lot of August to go.
The wonderful string of summer days did produce many fishing memories. Those two weeks since our last website update, July 20 to August 4, offered a more than boat rides. A lot of big fish were taken, especially lake trout. Lakers over 40” were landed by a bunch of anglers: Mike Stanford, Beth Rini, Jared Penfold, Wes Odeguard, Mike Scheidt, Mike Latcham, Tom Hellwig, Dave Wallace and Pat Purcell. All “supersized’ their lake trout experience. But the trout day of the summer belonged to Joe Wright and Dave Wallace. They had a reel Day on Beauvais, one of our premier lake trout fly out destinations. Between the pair they collected eight lake trout trophies, the biggest stretching the tape to 42”. Pike fishing with the glassy water was tougher. The ambush predator takes vacation days when prey and predator can see each other too clearly. But two fat 45s were caught, one each by Mike Thornbrugh and Ernest Papacek. Balancing the perfect summer days with the slower fishing produced a lot of very happy customers and a rebooking rate of nearly 100% for those three groups.
THE WINDOW IS CLOSING—FAST!
Speaking of rebooking rates this summer has been off the charts at Scott Lake Lodge. We don’t pretend to understand the economy or the fishing industry. We only know how to take care of customers. But our customers clearly want more of the unique, personalized customer service our team of 28 staff offers. Whatever the reasons for the surge we do know for a fact that for the period of June 11 to July 31 of 2013 we have 240 of the 260 available spots sitting with deposits right now. If you are one of the many who are “thinking” about a Scott trip for next June or July it’s time to stop thinking and jump to your phone or keyboard. Email our Sales Manage Jon Wimpney at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office in Rhinelander, WI at 888/830-9525 (715/362-7031 from Canada or abroad). There is only so much of the Scott Lake Experience to go around. Get some now. We did sell out 100% in 2012 but it took us right to the end of the selling season. This year it looks like an early sell out.We always give customers the right of first refusal for a next year’s booking so we will post August openings later in the month.
The biggest news on our island this summer, apart from the sensational fishing, has been the Olivia/Oliver story. Our pair of island Long-eared owls successfully raised four owlets. Our last update showed the balls of fuzz in their nest. They have learned to fly now and all four have flown the coop. (They were just too spooky and quick to get any good photographs). By now they are already terrorizing mice, voles and other small mammals somewhere in our neighborhood. Congrats to Olivia and Oliver for another contribution to owldom. We’re not sure why but this has been the Year of the Moose around here. It seems like almost every night during our after dinner “fish du jour” show images of moose keep popping up. It could be that the huge fire seasons of four and five years back providing tens of thousands of acres of new birch tree growth—prime winter forage for the biggest land mammal in North America—helped a lot of moose get through the long winters here. There have been many black bear sightings as well. That species also benefits from fire, the new open area are perfect for berries of all color but especially the abundant blueberries. Eagles, osprey and loons of course are seen every day. What would you expect? This is a pristine wilderness area: it is home to a lot of species besides the common anglularius homo sapiens spotted around here.
More on the summer at Scott in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned. And be sure to follow the season via our website (www.scottlakelodge.com). Click on the News from the 60th and read the Tundra Times posted daily. You can read it before the anglers here get out of bed. And take a look at the Pic of the Day for a shot of fish adrenaline every day.
The big lake trout of Scott Lake and its fly out lakes have gone on the attack! It’s downright dangerous right now to be a whitefish, a small lake trout or a spoon on the lakes of Scott Lake Lodge. While June was the month of huge fat pike, July is shaping up to be the month of monster lake trout. Every evening on the TV screen at Laker Lodge (part of our nightly “fish du jour” photo viewing of the big fish of that day) we watch guides struggling to hold up these hard fighting ‘freshwater tuna”. In our last dispatch on News From the 60th, we showed a photo of the 46X27.5” trout caught by Mark Graf in early July. It turned out that this was just the beginning of a series of fantastically heavy lakers. [singlepic id=329 w=320 h=240 float=right] We’ve had a bunch with girths of over two feet, including a pot bellied fish with a 27” girth caught by Mike Wunder on July 17. In total seventy-five trophy lake trout have been landed in just twenty days. Of those twenty-two of these have measured 40” or greater, the mark of a real super-sized lake trout.
Some of these trout were truly memorable. We have seen a lot of fish-of-a-lifetime. Like the 44” laker caught by Loren Larson. Or the super fat 43” that ended up in the arms of John Borden’s guide. Or the 42.5 inchers taken by Matt Quick and Jason Lukert. Or the 42s by Don Rohrbauch, Kyle Mohr, Mike Wunder and Bruce Wunder. Many of these trout had tails of whitefish or other lake trout sticking right out of their mouths. These are voracious, aggressive predators. And a lot of them are now finding themselves posing for photographs with trophy hungry Scott Lake Lodge guides and their happy clients.
The big pike haven’t exactly been hiding either. In the same twenty days a total of 156 trophy pike have slid into guides’ cradles. Some notable fish: a 46.5” hog landed by Jason Lukert; 46 inchers by Tim Buzzell, Mike Babyn and Dick Hutson; 45 inchers by Sonia Miloni, Brent Laing and Mal Myers. It’s definitely been a “you should have been here” period. Mark your calendar for 2013.