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 SolarFlex SunGlove from Simms or 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.

We Have a Winner! The Fishing Story Contest

We Have a Winner! The Fishing Story Contest

Summer 2020 Fishing Story Contest

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SEPTEMBER, 2020

What’s the next best thing to actually going fishing? A good fish story…

We asked our guests to provide some fuel for our lack of fishing this summer by way of a Fishing Story Contest. We had many great tales submitted from sea turtles, to cuttthoat, walleye and of course pike! Thank you to all who took the time to share what was happening at the end of your line this summer. Keep an eye out, there might be a surprise in your mail box…

So here they are, in order, the top three fishing stories of Scott Lake guests during their 2020 summer.

The winner earned a ticket for one, anywhere on the flyout map he wants to go.

Both runners up earned themselves a 1 hour massage on us next summer.

Winner: Scott Bixby, TX

7″ Brook Trout ( I have big hands)

August 16: Here’s how it started out. Struck by a wicked case of covid cabin fever in Texas, I decided to try and substitute for our annual August Scott Lake trip with a trek to Colorado.

Half-way through the 14 hour drive, the idea seemed less attractive…it’s never made sense to me why I travel a thousand miles and then bushwhack another 6, in pursuit of a creature with the brain the size of the pea, that usually outsmarts me. But I forged on.

My normal fishing rivers in these parts were desperately low and warm. The trout tend to sleep in these conditions anyway so I elected to climb to higher ground and see if I could catch all four species of trout that hang out in Colorado. I climbed up 1000 feet (okay I drove) to the Flattops Wilderness outside of Yampa, Colorado to the headwaters of the Yampa river. The natives originally called it the bear river, but that’s a longer story. Anyway, I restricted myself to dry flies only to try and catch ‘em the old fashioned way. The challenge with the section of river I chose was the density of willows, scrub and fallen timber I had to conquer to even get within casting distance of the water. I’m too old for this crap, but in for a penny, in for a pound.

After losing my water bottle and most of my patience, I arrived at the river. The water was much higher than I expected… violently foaming over boulders, and looking a lot less fishy than Google Earth had advertised.

But, I wasn’t going bail now, without at least taking a whack at it. First cast I hit some fast water with a caddis and caught this cool little guy exactly where he shouldn’t have been. I don’t know how he even saw the fly through the foam, or had the guts to rise into the torrent of surface flow for it, but that was his choice. A cute little guy and I checked the box for species one.

“It’s never made sense to me why I travel a thousand miles and then bushwhack another 6, in pursuit of a creature with the brain the size of the pea, that usually outsmarts me. But I forged on.”

Colorado River Cutthroat

 

Cutthroats are not the biggest trout but they are my favorite. I don’t know who designed these things but I find their cosmetics breathtaking. I took a pic on the shore to show off the full color. He’s back in the river ‘tho healthy and happy.

So species two under the belt, I searched for pools that might hold a something else. Then this guy was lured in by my miserable presentation.

Kind of a goofy looking fish with his big mouth but whatever. I caught a bunch more rainbows that day but taking photos with an Iphone by yourself is treacherous enough, and I had the proof of species 3.

So now all I needed was a brown trout. I was getting tired and the sun was getting lower in the sky and I was getting thirsty if you know what I mean. So I started the trek back down the river to my starting point, knowing full well that I was out of cell range and might be found by bow hunters in October if I messed it up.

About halfway down I found a big deep pool that I had somehow missed on the way up. I managed to tightrope along a fallen tree to about midway across the river. (I am smart enough to not wade through boulders into 4 foot deep rushing water, but not smart enough to not try and balance on a mossy log.)

I made frankly the best presentation of the day with a super dry fly across the flat, glassy eddy. Boom! Now all I had to do was somehow get this fish to my net. I hadn’t really thought about that part before the cast. I fell, but of course cared a lot less about sacrificing my health vs. losing a fish.

It wasn’t glamorous but I got him in the net.

And there he was, a nice little Brown Trout to round out the species hunt. I took a ridiculous photo perching my IPhone on some junk by the side of the river. But it’s proof nevertheless.

After a long hike back to the car, I pulled off my waders and boots, and took down my rod tossing them into the back of the car a lot less carefully than I had that morning when I left the house.

I was tired but content, and pretty proud of myself for wrangling all four species. Then I grinned looking down looking at the logo on the fishing shirt I had chosen for that day.

So that’s the story. No trophys…but a great day in the wilderness doing what I love.

The only thing that was missing was the comradery of Poacher & Curtis, and all of you at Scott Lake Lodge.

And a healthy serving of Super Chips.

Runner Up: Amy Blackstone, SD

West Slope Cutthroat Trout

Caught on the fly

Even though we watched the news to see when the boarder might open and texted constantly to find out what everyone’s heard… ultimately, COVID put a halt to our fishing trip to Scott Lake Lodge. This was such sad news… hadn’t we been good for the past 3 months? Didn’t we use our hand sanitizer enough? Did we not hoard enough toilet paper???? To have my favorite trip forbidden truly felt like a punch in the stomach. You see, I love to fish. Not just fish, but to spend time outdoors, with good friends, on the water and in the lodge, toasting the trophies of the day and drooling over some good ‘ol fish porn.

When we go fishing, Jim always fly fishes and I tend to use a spinner or bait caster. I’ve tried fly fishing but just haven’t had the time to truly work on it. Well guess what? We’ve sure got the time now!

Traditionally, we celebrate my June Birthday at Scott Lake. This year, we were with friends at a lake and Jim showered me with all the gifts a girl could want…. waders, wading boots, tackle and the promise to indoctrinate me into the addiction otherwise known as fly-fishing.

So, over the fourth of July we drove 12 hours to Missoula Montana (still social distancing) packing lunches and sleeping in the truck, all so we could float the Bitterroot river and I could fly fish for trout!

Just being able to float and enjoy the beautiful outdoors was rejuvenating, but to also gain a skill that I’ve only watched others do made this time so much more meaningful.

We were at Kelly Creek, Idaho (from the movie, A River Runs Through It); when it happened; Wading in the fast waters, casting, a perfect loop, the remote gorgeous setting and watching a big west slope cutthroat trout take the fly. Everything at the moment came together.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have a lot to learn, but after fooling some cutthroats I know the grayling stand no chance and I’ll resolve to catch at least one trophy pike on the fly if Jim will let me use the front of the boat…a matter that is still under negotiation.

Thank goodness Jim has the patience to deal with this left-handed, determined angler.

Runner Up: Valarie Strobel, FL

My mom and I have never fished before we got invited to go to Scott Lake a few years ago by my dad. Yet, my mom somehow made it to the 100 club before anyone else in our family. Therefore, us girls believed we could tackle this sport and that’s when we found ourselves floating down the Gunnison River in Colorado fly fishing. Our guide was not nearly as funny as the guides we’ve had in Canada (shoutout to Biff), but he would do.

Before we jumped into the raft for our float trip down the river the guide asked if we had ever fly fished before, the answer was no, and it was met with complete silence. Pretty awkward if you ask me, but we had to reassure him we knew how to fish, and I even showed off some pictures of our Northern Pike and Lake Trout.

When people say fly fishing takes time and patience they’re not lying. About halfway through our four-hour reserved time we had yet to catch anything. It was cold and rainy and nonstop casting that our hands were cramping badly. Yet, there was no time for a break because we were on a mission of trying to catch rainbow and brown trout.

Losing hope by the minute and after a few castings gone wrong (like when my mom hooked the guide in his hat) I finally was able to hook the fish and reel in the most beautiful rainbow trout. Gleaming with joy I couldn’t believe I had finally caught a trout on a fly. In that moment I could feel the high of fishing (and it wasn’t just because I was in Colorado).

The next two hours passed quickly and there were many trout caught that I felt I was now a pro angler (or at least better than my dad and brother at fly fishing). This past week was when my family and I were supposed to be in Canada, but not everything can go according to plan. That’s when my mom and I had the opportunity to go fish in Colorado we took it because we needed our dose of fishing for the year. This will hopefully hold us over for a bit until we find our way back to Scott Lake next year.

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.

dog_deck
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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