The Final 2021 Season Update

With deep regret, knowing we tried our best to make a truncated season happen…we have to make the decision to cancel 2021 in its entirety. Travel issues, border doubt, short timelines and the lack of confirmed guests just made the risks too great to bear.

Owner Tom Klein, gives a brief update about 2021 and how we’ve switched gears to focus on 2022. We have the place almost entirely full. If we are interested in a spot for 2022 now is the time to act! Contact j5@scottlakelodge.com to get one of the few remaining spots.

 

The Final 2021 Season Update

The Final 2021 Season Update

“You can’t push the river” was a catchphrase of the late 60s, attributed to everyone from obscure Chinese philosophers to New Age guru Fritz Perls.  Whoever said it first fully understood the type of dilemma we faced here at Scott Lake Lodge after the surprising and dramatic announcement this week about the opening of the Canadian border.

For the last three days we have burned the phone lines (actually the Wi-Fi link) with hundreds of phone calls and emails to vendors and customers, but the current against us was just too strong. 

With gut wrenching disappointment we have concluded that there are just too many obstacles to pull off even a shortened season. One can imagine that quickly repopulating a small village on the 60th parallel brings with it a lot of expense and risk. Not enough of our current customers could make the commitment to make the trip. Commercial air travel and border issues were the tough issues for too many.

To justify the investment of bringing in staff, supplies, paying a premium to vendors to short notice responses we needed a full house for six groups. At only a third of our critical mass, we weren’t even close. And we just ran out of time to secure new guests and rather critical things like airplanes—fairly important at a fly in lodge. It was probably the most difficult decision in my 26 years of running the lodge. Jason Hamilton, our General Manager who put his heart and soul into getting the place ready, landed on the same decision. This was a tough call but the risks of not delivering a quality experience from your home to our dock were too much.

We can now devote all our focus on getting our island ready for the 2022 season. Our construction crew here can take a deep breath and finish with care and quality all the infrastructure work that is currently underway. We have five remodeled cabins and all thirteen have been enhanced. Hundreds of gallons of paint and stain have been put on the 28 buildings on this 12-acre island. And we have several other big surprises for our guests. We want to make sure that 2022 will be the season guests will all remember (not a patched-up season with very complicated travel arrangements and lingering Covid anxiety). Our customers’ support and trust got us through these two bizarre years. We will never take that trust for granted and we will never stop working to earn it. We will reward it.

We did have a few of our 2021 guests pass on 2022 trip and opt for refunds. So, we have some open spots for all interested anglers. We sell out every year. Don’t wait. Give our Sales Manager, Jon Wimpney, an email or better yet a phone call at 306/209-7150. With two decades of guiding here Jon can tell a fish story or two. Or if you’re lucky book you into a great angling adventure in one of the most pristine areas of the globe next summer.

The July 20 Update: Enigma Cracked

The July 20 Update: Enigma Cracked

The enigma has been cracked. Yesterday the Canadian government announced that the border will be open for non-essential visitors. And Scott Lake guests that means YOU.

But we can’t get ahead of ourselves. To open our doors involves a lot of time, effort, and expense. To make a sound business decision, we need to reconfirm our guest’s commitment to still do their trip. BASCIALLY IF YOU’RE READY, WE’RE READY. So, let’s find out quickly if we can work together to make the season happen.

First, here is the FINE PRINT (there’s always fine print) on the border opening:

  1. Visitors must register online with ArriveCan. This is a piece of cake, just providing basic arrival information. Even me, a digitally handicapped person, did this part last week as an “essential” visitor in less than two minutes.

2. Visitors must have proof of vaccination of vaccines approved by the Canadian government. These include two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna products or one dose of the Johnson and Johnson product. For all vaccines, the final dose must have been given at least 14 days prior to arrival at the border

3. Visitors must have proof of a negative Covid-19 molecular test, commonly known as a PCR test, that was taken within 72 hours of arrival at the border. This has been a common international travel requirement.

4. Visitors must fill out a quarantine plan via the ArriveCAN app in case of positive test in a random screening (see #5).

5. Visitors may be subjected to a random Covid-19 molecular test. What does random mean? Just that, there is a small chance you will be selected to do a PCR test upon arrival. In the highly unlikely event you test positive, you would be required to quarantine in Canada for 14 days. The odds of a false positive with the molecular test are exceedingly low.

Those are the governmental requirements for entering Canada. Scott Lake Lodge has just one: YOU NEED TO BE IN SASKATOON BY 2:30 PM ON THE DAY OF YOUR CHARTER FLIGHT TO THE LODGE from the private charter facility adjacent to the commercial airport. We need our charter flight to depart at 3:30 PM to allow some cushion for a safe and comfortable float plane flight from Stony Rapids (your charter destination) to the lodge. Unfortunately, the same-day arrivals from Toronto and Calgary arrive too late. You may have to arrive the night before, as most of our guests already do. Starting August 7th there are many more Canadian cities available to international travelers. The best options for your connecting flights to Saskatoon are through Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, or Vancouver.

The clock is running on our decision process about making this shortened season happen. GIVEN THE CONDITIONS DESCRIBED, WE NEED YOU TO CONFIRM YOUR INTENTIONS ABOUT KEEPING YOUR CURRENT RESERVATION. PLEASE SEND AN EMAIL TO OUR SALES MANAGER, JON WIMPNEY, AS SOON AS POSSIBLE BUT NO LATER THAN THIS THURSDAY, JULY 22ND.

We realize this is a lot of ask on such short notice, but these aren’t normal business operating conditions. We have a lot of vendor coordination to arrange and literally tons of supplies to order to make the season happen. Most Canadian lodges threw in the towel weeks ago, but we are not most Canadian lodges: since we know how much you value the Scott Lake Experience, we wanted to keep your options open.

If you have any questions please call our Customer Representative, Shirley Albrent, at 888/830-9525 (from Canada use 715/362-7031). While he will be extraordinarily busy, Jon will do his best to also take calls at 306/209-7150. With your help, we can get you up here for a sensational trip. We will have the team and the facilities ready. I can guarantee that our island has never looked better, and we have never been more eager to welcome guests. It’s been a long wait. You will have to wait just a little longer. We will, as promised in the last update, announce our plans and provide more travel suggestions on July 26. Nothing will make us happier than seeing you on our dock.

The July 12, 2021 Covid Update

The July 12, 2021 Covid Update

“A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” 

Winston Churchill, October 1939 

Churchill of course was talking about Russia’s unclear intentions at the dawn of World War II, but he could have been talking about Canada’s equally unclear border opening intentions in the second summer of Covid. We have been sorting tea leaves, analyzing ambiguities, and parsing every word from on high. It is a guessing game. From statements made by Trudeau in the past few days we know only that unvaccinated visitors will not be welcomed for “quite a while”. OK. But for all of us fully vaccinated potential visitors the only message is that there will be a message “in the coming weeks”. That’s just not soon enough for 52 of our Scott Lake Lodge guests. We have simply run out of days to provide them proper notice to arrange their travel and schedules. And to provide time for our 30-strong staff to arrive on the island and make all the preparations necessary to offer the world class service we have become known for.

Regretfully, we are now cancelling the two groups of Weeks 13 and 14, covering the dates from August 7 to August 17. We will be calling all those guests over the next few days to discuss their options. 

While it has become routine of late to just lay the blame on Canada’s Prime Minister, in truth he just being a politician, one who follows not leads. A recent public opinion poll of Canadians demonstrated that Canadians are quite accepting of the non-essential travel ban: only 15% wanted the border opened “now” while a majority (56%) did not want the border open until fall or 2022.

So, our last stand, the final hill, will be determined by July 26 when we will either announce an opening date of August 17 or we will cancel the remainder of the season. What makes this issue difficult to understand is the tremendous progress Canada has made with their vaccination effort. Since our last report, just two weeks ago, they have gone from 22% fully vaccinated to 44%. In another week or so they will exceed the fully vaccinated percentage of the US, even though they had a very late start. We were so close . . .

We will keep the now even smaller group of possible guests informed if any meaningful information develops before July 26.

July 2021 Covid Update

July 2021 Covid Update

It’s summer, right? Time for a roller coaster ride! If you have followed the Canadian Border Saga, you don’t need one. All our staff and guests have been on a dizzying ride for the past fifteen months. We are all exhausted, but the ride continues.

In our June update, we reported that the government had finally settled on the key metric for opening the border. Whee!  We’re at the top. Then we found out that the number would be 75% of the adult population fully vaccinated. Damn. We’re at the bottom since Canada was at only 4% fully vaccinated at that time: an open border seemed remote. Now a month later Canada is 22% fully vaccinated and adding between 1 and 2% a day to that total. With 76% of their over-12 population having had one dose of the two dose vaccines, getting to 75% fully vaccinated is getting more realistic. Back near the top of the ride? Close, but no cigar. While the progress north of the border has been remarkable, especially considering the very slow start, it’s not good enough for us to confidently project that we can open Scott Lake Lodge on the previously announced July 28th date.

SADLY, WE ARE NOW CANCELLING OUR WEEKS 11 AND 12, COVERING THE DATES OF JULY 28 THROUGH AUGUST 7. FOR THESE TWO GROUPS WE HAVE SIMPLY RUN OUT OF TIME TO MAKE NEEDED PREPARATIONS. ALL CUSTOMERS IN THOSE TWO GROUPS WILL BE GETTING A PHONE CALL THIS WEEK TO DISCUSS THEIR OPTIONS.

But there are still 40 days until the Week 13 group could arrive. At 1.5% fully vaccinated rate per day, Canada could reach their magic number in time for an early August lodge opening. Could. Everything else would have to run perfectly: a Covid passport or something similar, increased staffing at border crossings, etc. We know we can be ready, even though it will be quite an effort to ramp up on short notice. Many Saskatchewan lodges have already thrown in the towel for the 2021 season, but we will hang onto ours for a bit longer.

There have been encouraging signs. Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has been back peddling like Michael Jackson doing his famous Moonwalk over the past few days, saying easing of the border is “weeks not months away”. It looks like he’s trying to signal things could move quickly. Quickly enough? We don’t know, but we can hope and plan. It is very unfortunate that the Canadian government just can’t seem to reach clarity on this situation, but we have to deal with the information we have, as vague and incomplete as it is, and make the best decisions for our customers.

So Here's The Plan

We will do another update on July 12. If there is a “green light” which we define as an open border without the requirement of a new covid prc test at the border (which would delay travelers for an unknown period) or any quarantine requirements, we’re in business for August 7.

If there isn’t, we will cancel weeks 13 and 14 (August 7-17). Our final update would then be July 26 when we will either announce our opening day of August 17 (the start day for week 15) or cancel the remainder of the season.

Both of those timelines allow customers nearly a month to secure commercial plane tickets and arrange their lives. We do not recommend getting those commercial tickets yet if you don’t have them. The arrival times for flights from Calgary and Toronto to Saskatoon have been fluid. To keep safe float flying, we will need to keep our charter flight from Saskatoon to Stony Rapids at the 3:30 PM time. As most of our guests already do, you may need to arrive in Saskatoon the day before our charter flight.

This is the best we can do under the circumstances. If Trudeau waves his magic wand and opens with border with only a requirement of proof of vaccination (please note that we are reasonably assuming a hard copy or digital proof will be required—bring both if we get to that point), we will be on the phone 18 hours a day to contact everyone booked for August 7th forward. That’s a Hail Mary pass completion, but in this crazy era anything is possible. We’ll keep watching and waiting.

June 2021 Covid Update

June 2021 Covid Update

For weeks, the management of Scott Lake Lodge has been asking anyone and everyone in Canada’s chain of command what the key metric will be for opening the US/Canadian border. Well, we finally got an answer, but it’s one we don’t like.

The government’s current position (it could change) demands that 75% of the Canadian population be fully (two shots) vaccinated prior to the opening of the border. Considering that just under 4% of the population has both doses now, it might seem like an impossible mountain to climb, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. Canada has gone with a single dose first strategy and have just over half of their population covered with the first shot. After many delays, their deliveries of vaccine have increased dramatically. Currently Canada’s vaccinations per capita exceed that of the US. Canada will hit that benchmark. But exactly when?

Looking at the math of expected vaccine deliveries from government sources, we are convinced that it will not happen in time for our guests arriving before July 28.

TO HELP OUR JULY GUESTS PLAN THEIR SUMMER, WE ARE NOW CANCELLING WITH REGRET OUR WEEKS 7, 8, 9 AND 10, COVERING THE FOUR GROUPS STARTING ON JULY 8 AND ENDING ON JULY 28.  

We do want to keep everyone’s options open for trips starting on July 28. There are a lot of optimistic signals over the past week. At last, discussions between the US and Canada have started over opening procedures. Also, Canada is in discussions with the European Union about international travel protocols. Since the EU (in the near future) will allow international travelers into the EU countries for vaccinated people, Canada may reconsider their position on not having any special consideration for vaccinated travelers. That, of course, is pure speculation on our part, but there is still hope for some season at Scott Lake Lodge.

Our staff will be on payroll in early June and will be on call to get to our island in the far north on short notice. Our required Covid plans have been submitted. We have the transportation links from Saskatoon to the Lodge secured. Our infrastructure will be ready. Once that stop light at the border turns green, we will do everything we can to get as many people as possible on our beautiful northern waters.

As we did last year, we will have a small work crew on the island for June and July to complete the construction work started last summer. There will be no rest for them as they make our facilities just a little bit better. There will be rest though for the fish on Scott and the 24 flyout lakes. They will patiently await your arrival. We want to thank you for your patience and loyalty as we sort through the Covid mess. We hope you can wet a line somewhere this summer.