It’s been hot, incredibly hot for May, on Scott Lake. In our twenty years of operations we have never had the lake open in May. But it just could be this year. The lake is just one windy day away from breaking up. What a contrast to last May when the temperatures were hovering just above freezing for most of the month. Our island in the north has been basking in temperatures in the high 60s, even 70s for a couple of weeks now. An intrepid crew including guides Paul Hamilton, Cody Mychalyshyn and Jan Phoenix flew in by helicopter on May 12th to start the process of getting camp ready for the 2015 season. Instead of wearing down coats as our early-in crew last year did this year the appropriate apparel has been flip-flops, shorts and T-shirts. You can follow their exploits, including an interesting version of a “northern bath” by checking out our Face book site (www.facebook.com/scottlakelodge). At least we have a season when we will have a leisurely and enjoyable opening. After the drama of 2014 we’ll take it and enjoy it.
The crew has a lot to do yet before we are fully ready for our June 10th opener. The gang is putting the finishing touches on a new quadplex staff dorm. We have been increasing our staff numbers over the past few years and now have a lot more elbow room in Guideland. Also on the agenda are the many routine but time consuming tasks we do every season: take down all the plywood boards on all the cabins; connect all the water lines and install the large submersible water pump; unload thousands of gallons of Jet fuel for the Otter, AvGas for the Beaver, unleaded gas for the boats and diesel fuel for the two generators. This year we are also setting up four new 18’guide boats for Scott and four new 16’ boats for the fly out lakes. Of course there are the fourteen fly out lakes to set up as well. We have nearly forty outboards motors to check out and service. And a few hundred spruce trees to cut down, haul to the island, run through the municipal-sized wood chipper and then spread over the quarter mile of island trails. And unload and store several tons of food and supplies. And inspect, clean and maintain the 28 buildings around the island. And the list goes on and on and on. This season all those “ands” will require about 2000 hours of what can only be called what it is—hard labor. But ask any of the Scott Lake crew: it is a labor of love. And the early birds love every minute of their work, especially with warm temperatures making everything just a bit more pleasant.
One guy not working very hard is our Sales Manager, Jon Wimpney. His work is essentially done. We have had very few cancellations this year (a tangible sign that the economy really is back to pre-2008 levels) and he has only a handful, a small handful, of open spots to fill. Call him at 306/209-7150 if you have the itch. If the dates work he can scratch it.
It’s getting pretty warm in the north. The last few days of April will see temperatures into the 60s with rain forecast in early May. That’s quite a contrast to the below freezing temperatures of last May. It is looking good for an early ice out. Scott Lake Lodge, with its collection of 28 buildings, is also looking good. A crew led by Jason Hamilton, Scott’s General Manager, returned recently from an inspection trip. There were very few snowmobile tracks in the area (the caribou that lure snowmobiling hunters north stayed much further north this winter, leaving the lodge untouched). Everything was exactly as we left it last September. The final loads of lumber and supplies were flown in with a single Otter on skis to complete the new staff dorm that was started last fall. A small group, including guides Paul Hamilton, Jan Phoenix and Cody Mychalyshyn, will be flown in by helicopter (the skis come off the planes very soon) in mid-May to finish that job and get the island ready for the June 10 opener.
SOME NEW/MANY FAMILIAR FACES
The entire guide team will back for the season. Steve Yanish and Shaun Ledoux will be splitting the season with Shaun on deck for the first half and Steve for the second. And we are very pleased that long time Scott guide Greg Hamm is returning after a few years in civilization, if you can call working in potash mine civilized. All of our guys will be ready, willing and eager to show their anglers a fantastic trip this summer. There are some new faces in the Shore Staff group, arriving from all compass points except north—Ontario, British Columbia and Saskatchewan. We have a new massage therapist, Sydney Raeburn. Returning veteran Dani Grunberg will be the Hospitality Manager this season. She will be bringing into the fold three new servers—Brenna Savery, Mary Reid and Jackie Tourand. Head Chef Jeff Walker has all of his team back except for Sefan Beattie. Those shoes will be filled this year by Nigel Rivera. Agnes Ramos, our Hospitality Manager for several years, will be heading to the lodge office to take over as Office Manager. She will be utilizing her organizational expertise to keep track of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of logistical details and dilemmas that get passed off to that position. Everyone at Scott appreciates the hard work and big smile that Agnes always brings to her work.
WELCOME RON SPORK, NEW SHAREHOLDER
After 19 years of going solo as owners, Tom and Pat Klein are delighted to share the risks and rewards (yes, we do have secret, private water) of ownership with Ron Spork. Ron owns and operates Consolidated Fabrication and Contractors, Inc., a Gary, Indiana company specializing in building custom petroleum storage tanks and other equipment for the gas and oil industry. Ron has been a Scott “regular” for several years and shares with Tom and Pat a tremendous love and appreciation for Scott’s pristine lake environment. And he does love to fish as well: lake trout are at the top of Ron’s favorite fish list. Ron’s stated goal for joining the shareholder group is to “make sure that the unique culture at Scott doesn’t change”. It will not. And with his sons he will be doing some Scott Lake fishing for many years to come when his busy travel schedule allows. The management structure at Scott will not change at all: Tom Klein will continue to do what he’s always done over the past 19 years—interact with customers and fish. Jason Hamilton will run the place. It’s a great system—for Tom.
SASKATOON TRAVEL: GET YOUR TICKETS EARLY
For any angler traveling to northern Saskatchewan, Saskatoon is the jumping off point. It is a very busy summer city. With the recent pull out of United Airlines, commercial air travel to Saskatoon has become a bit more difficult. The only non-stop from the United States is now the Delta flight from Minneapolis. There are connecting flights from Canadian cites to Saskatoon. Air Canada flights from Winnipeg and Edmonton do synch up nicely with the Scott Lake charter flight. Check with the Scott Lake Customer Service Office before you book your flight to Saskatoon or play it safe and do what many Scott customers are doing– arriving the day before their charter flight to the lodge or stay with the daily Delta flight leaving Minneapolis at 1:05 PM. The Scott Customer Service Office number from the US is 888/830-9525 (from Canada use 715/362-7031).
STAY IN THE LOOP
Stay tuned to all lodge developments including ice conditions, the spring work schedule and some great pictures by regularly checking out our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/scottlakelodge). And check out the News from the 60th section of our website (www.scottlakelodge.com). If you can’t make the trip this summer, it’s the next best thing.
JOIN THE FUN BUT DO IT NOW
But a digital, vicarious trip is nothing like the real thing. We have very few openings left for 2015. There are have fewer than normal cancellations this year but we do have a few. We now have openings for two anglers July 10-14; July 20-25 and July 30-August 4. And we have room for up to six for August 19-24. That’s it! Call Jon Wimpney, the Scott Sales Manager, today at 306/209-7150 for details.
NOT LONG NOW
It’s spring, both by the calendar and by the weather here in Bozeman, MT. In fact, for most of the west it’s been spring for several weeks. Not so much for our anglers in the upper Midwest and the east where winter just keeps hanging on. But today, March 22, it’s in the 60s in Montana with a blazing sun that on your face feels like 80—a little elevation will do that. It’s a sensation that’s a perfect reminder of summer at Scott Lake. Its’ just around the corner. Flip a couple of pages of the calendar and we will all be packing our gear. While it is over a thousand miles north of Bozeman, our island in the middle of Scott Lake is getting some nice sun as well. It’s in the 20s at Stony Rapids, 50 miles south of Scott, with a forecast of above freezing for the next week. That may not sound impressive unless you have clear memories of being at Scott in March with temperatures of 40 degrees BELOW zero. Since our ice out depends almost entirely on the temperatures in May, there will be no break up predictions yet. But above freezing sure beats 40 below, like 70 degrees worth.
For all of the Scott Lake Lodge team (and I suspect more than a few Scott customers), the trip to Scott Lake is the emotional peak of the year—sort of the Christmas gift that you never got as a kid. For our staff the lake is home: Scott Lake Lodge employees are like loons (and that’s a good thing). They scatter to warm climates for the winter but return to their home lake every year—for the clean, clear water, the abundant fish and the serenity. We know the feathered loons will be back in June and it looks like nearly all of our staff will be returning as well. Our General Manager, Jason Hamilton, has done a tremendous job rounding up our crew and bringing back a highly motivated and experienced group. Despite rumors of early retirements, every guide on the island last summer will be back in their boats on June 10. And we even dug up an extra one: long time vet Greg Hamm is returning after spending a few years as an electrician, working in a potash mine west of Saskatoon. A customer and staff favorite, Greg will get a big welcome this summer. He will be trading electric lighting a mile underground for the 20 hours of daylight on the 60th parallel—a very good trade indeed.
GET IN LINE FOR 2016
Jason Hamilton hasn’t been the only Scott Lake Lodge employee busy over the winter. Between his ice fishing trips, Sales Manager Jon Wimpney has been systemically filling up the lodge for the 2015 season. And his work is almost done. There are only a few spots left, all in the last two groups of the season. It’s been a terrific booking year for the lodge, so good that a number of people are already lining up to get their fishing vacations for 2016. It’s always been lodge policy to offer our customers the right of first refusal—they can reserve their week, cabin and guide for the following season. We don’t book anyone a year ahead. Even though we get a very high percentage of guests who book at the lodge for the next season before they leave the island, we do get some openings as each week of the season passes. A trip to Scott has always been a hot ticket, but for 2016 those tickets will be red hot. If you want a trip to Scott for 2016, especially if you have your eye on a spot in June or July, give Jon Wimpney a call today at 306/209-7150. Some things are worth the wait: a trip to Scott Lake Lodge is one of those things.
SHOW OFF YOUR FISH! VIDEO CONTEST WINNERS
We are pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Scott Lake Lodge video contest. Contestants had to produce a two minute video about their trip to Scott. With titles and graphics right out of Star Wars, Texan Todd Lee captured the top prize—a free fly out for two to Ivanhoe Lake, one Scott’s premier pike lakes. With great scenes of shallow water sight fishing for pike, including some memorable takes, Doug Roche, Jr. grabbed second place and won a Simms full back logo guide shirt. The Guide’s Choice award was taken home by Samara Moulopoulos. She gets a collection of sure-fire pike lures. Take a look at the three videos in our video contest channel on Vimeo.
NEW DIGS IN SASKATOON
After reviewing the customer evaluations from the 2014 season, it was clear that our experiment with a downtown hotel (even a first class hotel) just didn’t pan out. Most of our guests wanted to be close to the airport on the night before their flight back to civilization. And guess what? A beautiful new hotel, a Courtyard Marriott, opened up this winter in Saskatoon within sight of the airport (about a mile). It’s the perfect fit for our customer’s needs. It will be a very quick ride to the airport in the morning. And it’s a great hotel with a sit down restaurant and many amenities. Just go to their website to get all the details.