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.