It’s amazing how quickly another year has passed. The holidays are a time to reflect, spend time with loved ones and celebrate the year that was. If you are receiving this email, there is a good chance tales of fishing and adventure on the 60th parallel enter the conversation.
We can just imagine the scene…a favorite beverage, the family gathered together, phones full of photos passed around for all to enjoy…maybe the globe (or Google Maps) comes into play. Scott Lake Lodge is truly a special place, the culture and relationships built here are incredible. It’s tough to explain, but so many of our guests do an amazing job. How do we know? They come back! They bring friends and their family. A trend that we are so proud of is the number of folks that come up “fishing with the guys”, and then think this remote fishing camp would be a great place to bring my wife and family. The hard work over many years to improve all facets of the lodge and make it more comfortable and inviting to all has paid off. We aren’t done.
The Scott Lake team has big plans for 2024 and beyond to enhance our offering and continue toward our goal of providing the best lodge fishing experience in North America. There are more cabins to renovate (Bear is next on the list for a nice facelift.) More pilot/staff accommodations to build, more fuel tanks to chopper in, and new boats and motors to add to the fleet. The work doesn’t stop, even over the holiday season. Our staff is a little more spread out, but we continue to work toward these projects. For 100 odd days, our team is concentrated on a 12-acre island, living and working together closely. Over the holidays they celebrate Christmas across Canada (British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick) and in the southern climes of the Bahamas, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Nicaragua. But the pull of the north always draws them back to Scott each spring.
As we pass through the shortest day of the year, we look forward to June when we spend the longest day of the year in 24 hours of sunlight at the lodge with you. From our family to yours, we want to wish everyone the happiest of holidays and the very best for 2024. We hope you can join us for some fishing and fun on the 60th!
We have lots on the docket for this winter. First up, we will be at the Dallas Safari Club sportshow January 11-14th. Stop by and visit us at booth #2019 if you are in the area. We would love to catch up. Dani and Amelia will be hosting a Women’s Lunch on Saturday, January 13. If you are interested, email Dani for all the details.
Next up are some trips to the lodge to move fuel tanks and bring in all sorts of construction materials. These are tough but fun trips, landing the plane with skis on the frozen lake, wading through waist-deep snow, digging into the cabins, and hauling 5 or 6 tons of materials around the island.
Meanwhile, some of our hospitality team will be expanding their wine acumen and seeking out new offerings for our wine list.
Scott Lake, which straddles the SK/NWT border, sits in one of the largest remaining wilderness areas in the world. Travelling across the 500 miles from the lodge to the arctic ocean, there is nothing…well, almost nothing. As you fly north the black spruce thins, shrinks, and then outright disappears…you’ve entered the tundra. A wonderfully diverse ecosystem which holds some of the Earth’s most recent shaping by the receding glaciers, the mountains of ice left behind rocks, hills and most importantly lakes. We have been fortunate to acquire Tukto Lodge and the rights to fish some barely touched northern gems, Mosquito and Dubawnt Lakes. They are far off, full of giant lake trout, arctic grayling, and wildlife.
We have recently added a Cessna Caravan to our aviation program which will greatly enhance our ability to bring adventurous anglers swiftly and safely to these new waters. Are you ready to explore with us? We can’t wait to welcome you aboard.
Give the Gift of Adventure
Imagine surprising your family with a truly unique Canadian wilderness fishing trip: first-class accommodations, exquisite dining, amazing fishing, and unmatched customer service. Our team of veteran professionals are ready and waiting to provide an experience that you just need to tell your friends about. If this sounds up your alley, we implore you to get in touch with sales manager Jon Wimpney (306-219-7150 call/text) now. There very few openings remaining for 2024 as our guests chose to rebook in record numbers. But Jon will work his magic to get you in for 2024 or 2025. We don’t want you to miss the chance to share this adventure with us.
OK, let’s start with a dandy fish story. And we know that all anglers love fish stories; it’s in our DNA. It goes like this. Long-time guest Dan Spielman was already having a great trip with some trophy pike and grayling in the books. Then on his last day he and his guide, Jan Phoenix, decided to go for one of the more elusive gamefish on Scott Lake—the Lake Whitefish. Whitefish are the prime prey for big lake trout and pike, but are substantial fish. Big ones on Scott can hit seven or eight pounds. To get one an angler needs to be in just the right place at the right time. On Scott Lake those two variables need to be the Northwest River (in logically the northwest corner of Scott Lake) and late August or early September. Covering those two bases, Dan was drifting his tiny nymph (a very small sinking fly) on his equally tiny 4-weight fly rod. Getting a big whitefish on this rig is a thrill and Dan had subdued three nice ones, over two feet long. Big fish on a 4-weight. Then something grabbed his fly that really meant business. This was no whitefish: it was a freight train with fins. It turned out to be a trout and not just any trout but a massive 42.5-incher. Under normal circumstances, it would be almost impossible to get a trout that size on such light tackle. But the trout made the wrong move, running parallel to the boat, and the guide was quick with his net. Jan scooped up the trout before he made it to deep water where the battle might have lasted for an hour or more with an uncertain ending. But everything fell into place for a fish story for the ages.
There were a lot more fish stories on this final week of the 2023 season. One of our top flyout lakes, Wholdaia, provided many of our fish stories this week. The McClain group went there to get into some arctic grayling, a beautiful and bit exotic fish that frequents the rivers of the subarctic. They got a bunch. Between the four anglers (Bill Clawater, Jim McClain, James McClain and Clay McCain) dozens of trophy-sized grayling were landed with eleven of them hitting our “Supersized” standard of 18-inches or better. In that batch were two at 19.5 inches, the very top size of grayling in these parts. Grayling in the far north are “chunky” fish and very strong fighters, especially in the fast water they love. Two other anglers had an equally exciting grayling fest. This one was on Smalltree Lake where Bill Sandbrook and Sonya Boone landed a baker’s dozen grayling trophies with six of them over 19-inches.
Pike came in bunches as well. Wholdaia was a multi-species provider and offered Mark and Rebecca Graf with some great story material. They landed nine trophy pike on a single day. They liked that lake so much they went back for a second bite of that apple and Rebecca got four more trophy pike including a 44-incher and her personal best, a fat 46-incher. Tom Caldwell was fishing Wholdaia and landed not one but two 45-inch pike. Other flyout lakes offered more fish stories. On Selwyn Lake the father/son team of Peter and Jon Myhre had an eight-trophy pike day with two 44-inchers and a massive 47-incher that Peter subdued. Jon had a three-trophy day with a 46-inch pike on Sandy Lake.
Even when they didn’t come in bunches, the trophy fish were quite cooperative for our fall anglers. A total of 151 trophy fish were caught, one of our higher totals of the season. In addition to all the big pike listed earlier, 44s were taken by Heidi Becker and Sara Caldwell who also got a 45. There were plenty of big trout as well, some taken while casting for pike. Finally, some of the bigger trout made their journey from the deep holes and offered some wonderful angling opportunities. Trout of 38-inches were caught by Bill Sandbrook, Heidi Becker and James McCain; 39-inches by Greg Rothman, Jim McCain and James McCain; a 40-incher by Bill Clawater; a 41-incher by Julie Heinmiller and that fabled 42.5-incher by Dan Spielman.
Quite a few anglers (Kathy Norton, Heidi Becker, Bill Sandbrook and Sonya Boone) left with their Trophy Triple hats. Three anglers upgraded to the 100+Club. James McClain got his entry as Done In One getting huge pike, lake trout and grayling on the same day. Bill Clawater hit the mark as did Dan Spielman, propelled by his big laker.
Scott Lake Lodge has a slogan: World Class Fishing And More. For Week 19 the “More” covered a lot of ground and sky: the northern lights that showed up for two of the five nights, the remarkable fall colors that made every view one look like a Monet watercolor, the evening bonfires with the calls of loons in the background, the fantastic shore lunches, the incredible evening dining and the exceptional camaraderie that evolved over the trip. Plus, one of the best parties we have ever thrown on the island. On the evening of the third day, we went back in time and hosted a Disco Party that put John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever film to shame. (And it was on a Saturday night.) Having been warned about the event, many of our guests dug out their best 70s outfits to the island; some really committed. Mark and Rebecca Graf brought up a few hundred pounds of party equipment (a major league fog machine, seven dancing lights systems and piles of bling) to give this an authentic disco feel. It was way over the top. The event was even crashed by Big Foot (we’re not making this up). At Scott we do fishing and fun-ing well. Apparently, we did save our best for last. The team that had been on our island for around 100 days (some longer) threw all their energy into these final five days. And the guest evaluations showed it. With warm weather all week it was the perfect way to end our season. Our thanks to all the 2023 guests for making the season one of our best. We’ll see most of you in 2024.
FULL ON FALL FISHING
When you think of fall in the far north, you naturally conjure many images: migrating loons and geese; the fall colors of brilliant yellow birch leaves, the smoky gold of tamaracks and the vivid reds of many groundcover plants; low scudding clouds, powerful east and north winds; wet boat seats from rain or heavy dew, and just maybe the mental image of an achingly beautiful day with puffy white clouds sailing through a perfectly sapphire blue sky mirrored in the transparent waters of Scott Lake. Well, our Week 18 crew saw all of the above (Day 4 was that perfect day) and enjoyed a very sensory week with the calls of the migrating geese and loons of several species, the pleasant smell of a nightly campfire by the main lodge, the wafts from the kitchen (duck, lamb, steak on the big Traeger to name a few) and the unmistakable pungent smell of just plain fall. It was Full On Fall—the real thing, not the teasing signs that we’ve had in prior weeks. For many of our guests, hailing from Arizona, Texas or even the upper Midwest, stepping off the floatplane onto the dock at Scott was stepping into a new and much cooler world, a wonderful transition. But not cool to the point of cold. For these five days it was just right for fall fishing, cool enough to be refreshing but not requiring five layers of clothing or gloves. Not yet anyway. Everyone fished all day, every day. And everyone caught a lot of fish with nearly everyone getting a trophy pin (25 of our 26 guests to be exact). There were plenty of trophy sized fish, a trophy count that hit the Century mark (exactly 100) for the second time this season. Most of those big fish were pike, 81, with only a few grayling this week. Just enough grayling though for one Trophy Triple hat. Paul Lorusso accomplished a rare “Done in One” day on Ivanhoe getting trophy pike, lake trout and grayling in a single day. There were plenty of big pike. Repeat guest Peter Myhre continued his torrid pace this season getting three 44-inch pike and a 45-and-a-half. Kay Myhre also got a 44-and-a-half pike along with Tim Maclean and William Friedman. William landed a 45-and-a-half pike as well, joining Rebecca Graf, Larry Noesen and Peter Myhre in the ranks of our Supersized pike collectors, anglers getting pike of 45” or better. Lake trout were in the mix too. In this transition from deep to shallow, some were hooked at 80 feet and others at 8 feet. They can be anywhere now making them harder to target but more of a surprise when casting for pike. We had 18 trophy-sized trout with Tess and Paul Rowland and Rebecca Graf landing heavy trophy trout. Jason Sikenga got a 40-incher and Shanna Bohac topped the big trout list getting a 41.5-incher.
Fall fishing is an exciting time to be at Scott. The days are shorter of course but the change of season brings its own magic. Everyone this time of year will get to experience two fall seasons—the one at Scott and the one back home in the lower 48. The northern lights were a no-show this group, but typically they light up the trip for our fall guests. The migrating birds, the fall colors, the frequent sightings of bears and muskox and the hard fighting pike made up for their absence. The senses were full to the brim. It was a great package.
P.S. There were no new 100+Club inductees this week but we did miss listing a couple of new members in our Week 15 update. On that week Adam and Brad Courvelle were part of one of our biggest weekly group ever of 100+Club members. With Adam and Brad we had eight that week. Brad at 106.5 inches is in third place on our 2023 list behind Connor Patrick and Mark Graf.
THE CASE OF THE ANGRY PIKE
After watching his third trophy pike just inhale his fly, a white whistler, Mark Baker shouted “Damn, these pike are angry”. After conversations with a bunch of other guides and guests it became clear that Mark’s comment was right on target: our pike right now are plenty mad at anything that moves near them. The strikes, often right at boatside, are savage and deadly. They don’t often miss their target. This is not an unusual late season phenomenon. We have watched this nasty angry pike behavior over nearly three decades of fishing at Scott Lake. For most of our guides fall is their favorite season. As the daylight shortens and the water temperature starts dropping, these far northern pike know that the clock for their heavy feeding is ticking down. They are on the move, putting on the feedbag. With our unusually warm water temperatures many of these pike are being caught in very shallow water. One of Mark’s fish came out of a two-foot-deep weed bed, typically a scenario for early June not the last day of August. In recent years though getting big pike on flies has become a season-long pursuit, not just a June thing. We had a dozen fly-fishing-only anglers in camp this week and they claimed 30 of the 85 trophy pike landed this week.
Adding the trophy lake trout and grayling into the mix, our Week 17 guests tallied an impressive 114 trophy fish. Maybe the trout and grayling weren’t angry, but they were still feeding. While our trout fishing bonanza has slowed down from previous weeks, (the trout are moving up the water column and can again be found in one to one hundred feet), we did have one monster lake trout this week, a fat 41-incher caught by Scott Sievert. Scott was on quite a run this week. He also got a 45” and a 47” pike. There were plenty of other Supersized pike (our term for pike of 45” or better): Mark Graf led the pike parade with a 47.5” beauty, along with a 45. Jared Sharer, Dave Delange, and Bruce Bennett all landed 46-inchers. And guide Paul Hamilton at the urging of his guest made a few casts and got his own 46. A few guests took time off from their pike quest to fish for arctic grayling. There were some dandies landed in the river segments between our fly out lakes. Rebecca Graf, Michael Bird and Mark Graf got 18s and Mark captured our biggest grayling of the season, a very chunky 20-incher.
Mark is on his second turn at Scott this season. He had already joined the 100+ Club from his stay in July but his giant angry pike and grayling pushed his total up to 108.5”, just a half-inch under Connor Patrick’s 109” from June. It’s a real horse race now. Mark still has time to hit that mark or even exceed it. Our all-time record of 110 inches is even in reach. Jeff Berg joined the elite club this week as well. Dave Dalvey and Mike Bird left the lodge with their Triple Trophy hats, getting trophy-sized fish of all three of our species. It was a week of big fish and big fun. The weather stayed mild all week with mild wind. It was a perfect week to be on the water, especially at Scott Lake Lodge.