Fish Stories and the Finish: The Last Week

Fish Stories and the Finish: The Last Week


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! – The Week 18 Report

Full on Fall Fishing! – The Week 18 Report


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.

Case of the Angry Pike: The 17th Week in Review

Case of the Angry Pike: The 17th Week in Review


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.

Week 16: Attack of the Bobcats

Week 16: Attack of the Bobcats


Corporate Group Fishing Trip

When one hears the word bobcat there are usually two thoughts—either the furry but sometimes nasty feline wildcat or the neat yellow machines that push dirt around and do some heavy lifting. The only wild felines around Scott would be the illusive Canada lynx and the only thing that pushed dirt and lifts heavy objects on our island is the muscle power from our maintenance staff. But for our sixteenth group we had just over a couple of dozen of real Bobcatters at the lodge for a late summer corporate retreat. They took time off from building and selling those construction site staples to test their mettle against the lake trout and northern pike of the 60th parallel. And just like Bobcats can handle just about anything in the construction world, these Bobcatters handled the best that our big fish could offer. Like their namesake animal they just attacked our lakes.

The result was a pile of trophy pins and a lot of wonderful memories. The group brought exactly 100 trophy fish to their boats. These super-sales guys obviously know how to close a deal and set a hook. Many of those big fish were lake trout. Some were landed while casting for pike. While the temperatures have continued for this time of year to be extraordinarily warm here, the lake trout are responding to the calendar and starting their journey from the deep holes of our lakes to the shallow fall spawning areas. Trolling and jigging is still the path to big trout though. Our Bobcatters took plenty: 38-inch lakers were landed by Jeremy Holck, Jay Robinson and Russ Honeyman; 39s by Dustin Goodsell, Ron Hadaway and Tyler Todd; 40s by Brady Seavert and Scott Nelson. John Grandon got two of the biggest trout of the trip—a heavy 41 and a tank of a 42. But leaders lead. Jeremy Holck put together this trip and he put together a one impressive trout day, getting a bunch including a 40 and a 44-incher, just a blob of a lake trout.

The group dug up some big northern pike too: Brad Claus, Ron Hadaway, Billy Phebus, Jeremy Holck and Jon Grandon landed 44-inchers while Pier-Olivier Catonguay and Tyler Todd landed 45-inch beauties. But the big pike of the week belonged to Matt Ross who brought a massive pike a full four-feet long to his guide’s net. Sprinkle in a few grayling and you have a great fish stew in the making. On their last day at Scott the group had a festive shorelunch that included everything but fish stew. Fourteen guides served up six different fish dishes with all the sides. It was a perfect ending to a four-day escape from the real world of phone calls and meetings. While no one saw a real bobcat or the rare Canada lynx, several of the group saw bears and muskox along with our standard wildlife mix of loons, eagles and ospreys. It was week of great fishing and even greater fun—everything a corporate group fishing trip should be.

Summertime Fishing Still: The 15th Week Update

Summertime Fishing Still: The 15th Week Update


Even though the calendar and yellow leaves on the birch trees give away the inevitable change into fall, summer is hanging on with everything it’s got. This late season it has stayed in the full summertime fishing mode with warm nights and very pleasant days. There have been a few windy days, but with the warm temperatures it just hasn’t been a big deal. The lake temperature is hovering around the 60-degree mark, only a couple of degrees cooler than the mid-summer temperature. A week earlier it looked like fall was creeping up on us, but this week we were still in summer mode and, it was wonderful. With no morning fog the fly outs were humming along like clockwork every day, and guests were eager to get into the boats for their day on Scott. Since our fishing territory covers roughly 9 million acres, we do get a variety of weather on any given fishing day. For the most part though, the rain gear stayed in the bottom of the waterproof bags each guest takes with them. With some northern lights, lots of bear and moose sightings and evening campfires as a bonus, it was simply a great week at Scott Lake Lodge.

Oh, yes and there were a few fish caught. Many hundreds if not a few thousand, but to be exact 150 of those fish hit our benchmarks as trophy fish (pike of 40”, lake trout of 35”, arctic grayling of 15”). That’s an impressive number but the size of many of those trophies was even more impressive. We had seven pike over our Supersized mark of 45-inches and nine lake trout over our Supersized mark of 40-inches. We have had just an incredible year with huge lakers. This week both Robert Watson and Brad Courvelle landed lake trout of 45-inches, ridiculously large lakers. With that pair of monsters, we are at eight lake trout over 45-inches for the season. To put that in perspective, over the previous ten seasons we had exactly that number–eight. Some years 42s or 43s were our biggest trout. This year trout that size have been routine, especially this week. Brad and his son Adam closed out their trip with three lakers over 40” on their last day, fishing right on Scott Lake, a 40, a 43 and the 45. Paul and Rebecca Sawyer also had a celebratory last day, also fishing Scott. They landed five trophy trout, including a 39 and a 41-incher. The big trout just kept on coming this week. Aubie Cambell and Mike Campbell got 39s; Todd Thorp, Adam Courvelle and Randy Dismuke landed 40s; Randy also got a 41 along with Suzanne Noble and Paul Sawyer; Aubie Campbell stretched a tape to 42-inches and Brad Courvelle put a 43 into his guide’s big net. That’s just an incredible number of big lake trout.

Big pike were also in the picture. Lots of them. There were 84 pike trophies with many over 45”. Mike Cambell, Tonya McGraw, Aubie Campbell and Adam Courvelle landed 45s, but the high drama belonged to Easton Schwalm. How many 13-year-olds can say they landed a 45” northern pike on a fly rod? We suspect not many. That’s one interesting show and tell for his school mates. Roger Evans went one inch better at 46 and Mark Bixler lead the pike parade with a 46.5” beauty. There were some grayling heavyweights as well. Brad Courvelle, Robert Watson and Roger Evans pulled 18-inchers out of the rapids and Suzanne Noble landed a 19. With all those grayling, pike and lake trout there must have been some 100+Club entries. Indeed there were: four anglers were inducted this week—Suzanne Noble, Roger Evans, Randy Dismuke and Robert Watson, a first-time Scott guest (those are rare birds around here) who hit 104 total inches, an impressive number but still way behind the 109 total inches claimed by Conner Patrick earlier in the season. That’s going to be tough to beat.

What can’t be beat is the smiles of our angles as they just enjoy being in a pristine wilderness with all the comforts of home (a lot more really—who has a personal massage therapist and chef or a wood fired sauna, a hot tub and a gym?). They were all sad to leave on a beautiful late afternoon, but many will be back next year and all will be back again. It’s just how it works up here. Summertime fishing at it’s best.

It Begins: The Week 14 Blog and Fall Fishing


Sometimes you know in an instant when something is about to change. It was on the last day of the Week 14 group: a flock of 50 or so geese in an almost perfect V (the right side just a little longer than the left) flew right over our 12-acre island on the 60th parallel. They weren’t the first of the season, but they were low and loud, a reminder that fall is knocking on our door. There have been plenty of other signals that the season is about to shift gears. We had our first vivid northern lights show just a few days ago; the number of bright yellow leaves on the birch trees are multiplying exponentially, and a humble little plant, improbably named the Bastard Toadflax (Comandra umbellata), has started its transformation to brilliant red, the start of creating the multi-colored fall carpet for our tundra landscape. It’s early fall here and for most of our guides it’s the start of their favorite fishing period, fall fishing.

Fall fishing is often fewer fish but bigger fish. For the Week 14 anglers, it seemed like they got the best of both worlds—the action of early season and the size of fall fish. When the water starts to cool our pike and trout put on the feedbag, getting much more aggressive. Flies and lures are often inhaled rather than just taken. And their fight is definitely more prolonged and spirited than the same fish might have offered two months earlier. Our thickest girths and heaviest fish always come in late August and September. Fishing now is not in our shallow bays as in June but in or off structure—any structure like weed beds, rocky points or drop-offs. Wind on deep shorelines is often the guide’s first line of attack. And it’s been working. Our group had just over 100 trophy fish but in that number were some monsters.

Lake trout again were the top billing, both on Scott Lake and our fly out lakes, notably Selwyn. The father/son team of Dave and Adam Schauer had a banner day on Selwyn, landing seven trophy lakers with six of them over 39”. Adam had already taken a 40” lake trout off Scott. John Duro had a big trout day on Scott getting dozens including a 39-incher. Carl Tanner, his fishing partner, caught a 41.5” and a 43” lake trout on Scott. Chris Ellis bagged a 39.5’, a 40” and a 41” on Selwyn. Shane Fifield was on Selwyn for a 40-incher and long time Scott regular Frank Saraka got his tank of a trout there as well—a girthy 44.5” monster. The biggest of the week though came right the lodge’s backyard and it was massive, a 45-incher pulled in my Linda Watt. Linda also landed a 45-inch pike. Not bad for her first trip to Scott.

Yes, there were plenty of pike, both in numbers and size. Pike at 44” made their appearance on the big TV screen, during the after-dinner fish show, accompanied by their angling friends—Cave Schauer, Cooper Allen and Johnny Davis. Pike of 45 were landed by Cooper Allen and Jim Loken. Bobby Regan tied Adam Schauer with the biggest pike of the week at 46.5 inches. There were a few Trophy Triple hats handed out as well this week. Graham Allen, Cooper Allen and Johnny Powers all pulled off the hat trick of getting all three of our species (northern pike, lake trout and arctic grayling) in trophy size. Cooper and Johnny had enough total inches of their three biggest to earn entry into the 100+Club. They will be wearing a custom jacket from this fall fishing.

It wasn’t a particularly sunny week and there were a few showers but the atmosphere in the lodge was always bright and sunny. We couldn’t help but notice how the dozen first-timers at the lodge arrived as strangers here but left with many new friends. Sharing the experiences of fall fishing in this remarkable wilderness surrounded by a team of customer-focused lodge staff creates just the right environment for friendships to develop. It happens all the time. It’s a Scott Lake Lodge tradition. It’s why we often use the slogan “World Class Fishing and More”. That’s the “More” and it’s the best part.