Saving the Best for Last: The 20th Week in Review

Saving the Best for Last: The 20th Week in Review

WEEK 20 UPDATE
SAVING THE BEST FOR LAST

What a glorious way to end the 2022 season: a highly enthusiastic, upbeat group, five days of perfect fall weather, brilliantly painted lake trout swarming the shallow reefs, clear star-filled nights with a couple of northern lights appearances, and a Scott Lake Lodge team that even after working for 95 straight days pouring every ounce of their talents and energy into those final five days. It was a remarkable ending to a season often challenged by wind, rain, fog, cold fronts, or a vicious combination of the above. This week was as smooth as the butter on morning toast. While the total trophy count wasn’t the highest of the season, it was substantial (100 right on the nose), it had something no other week had—the visual feast of seeing the brightly colored lake trout in just a few feet of water. For a few anglers who hit the right reefs, catch rates of well over a hundred trout per day bent their rods and their minds.
For the entire season our anglers were pulling big lakers from the depths—50 to 100 feet. Even though the “Trout on Top” show was a little late due to the warm temperatures, they did show up and thrilled our Week 20 anglers. Many of these trout were the colorful males, showing up first for the annual mating dance, but some heavy females were also moving around the edges of the reefs. The real (or maybe reel) bonus: fighting lakers with fly rods or light spinning tackle; it’s an entirely different experience than bringing in lakers with stiff trolling rods. The end results can be same but for many the fall trout extravaganza is far more rewarding. There are few freshwater fish (musky, peacock bass or golden dorado are contenders) that earn the title of hardest pound-for-pound fighting fish. Lake trout in shallow water on light tackle belong on that list. Their endurance and speed are legendary. Case in point: Mark Yokem is an avid and experienced fly fisherman who had set a lofty goal of landing a 40-inch lake trout on the fly. Sure, it’s good to have goals but on his first trip after lakers to set the bar that high? His guide just said “OK—we’ll try”. On his very first morning (early that morning) his guide took him to an inflow at the northwest corner of Scott Lake. It’s a spot well known for lots of small males who are starting a short migration to a couple of connected lakes. We always get lots of trout there but only rarely anything over 35”. When Mark said, “I’ve got one”, his guide shrugged and was thinking about where he should go next. But the rod was bent to the cork, and this went on for about fifteen minutes. Then the fish surfaced. The big net came out in a hurry. When it was all over, a very fat lake trout was in the net, exceeding Mark’s goal by an inch. Check the box: goal achieved. Shortly thereafter he landed a 41” pike—the symmetry was great. Check another box. Welcome to Scott Lake.

Mark wasn’t the only guest to have a 40-inch goal. Long time Scott regular Andy Johnston had the same number in mind. Another fly fishing addict, Andy has landed a lot of trophy trout here on the fly but never cracked that magic 40-inch mark. At an outflow on a flyout lake Andy had his best ever fly fishing experience with lakers, one of this favorite fish. In rather strong current Andy induced lakers of 37, 39.5 and 40.5” to grab his extra-large streamer. He landed all three. Check his box. Many other big trout ended up on our guest’s lines: 40-inchers were landed by Sonya Boone, Scott Wilson and Dave Swindlehurst; a 39 by Chris Troupis; a 38 by Dough Jacula, and 37s by Paul Rowland, Jack Keys, Jim Troupis, and Xavier Garijo who got a pair. It turned out to be the best trout trophy week of the season with twenty-one trophy trout out of many hundreds (maybe thousands—we don’t count every fish) of lakers.

There were plenty of big pike as well with 43 trophies taken. Jack Keys had the top pike at 46 inches. Paul Rowland landed a 45. Both Chris Troupis and Rebecca Graf got 44s. Grayling were on the fishing menu as well. Some big ones were taken. Ron Wamstad took a 19-incher on his four-weight fly rod. Mark Morse and Ernest Hoover landed 18s. Some anglers just couldn’t stop getting big grayling. Paul Rowland put seven trophies in his guide’s net including a 19.5-incher that looked more like a football than a fish. Andy Johnston had a big grayling day getting a baker’s dozen trophies with a 19-incher at the top.

After all this fishing success and focus how did our anglers have time to do anything else? They did—squeezing ever moment of enjoyment out of their trip. There were many diversions: a group hike on the Tundra Trail, canoe paddles, an evening bonfire, long soaks in the hot tub, some slow cooking in the traditional Finnish sauna, cigar smoking on the main lodge deck, late night poker tournaments and lots of time at the Last Cast Bar and the Lake Lodge Bar. Add the pleasant summer-like temperatures, daily on-time (no fog) fly outs, timely arrival and departure flights and you have the recipe for a perfect week. It’s like we scripted it. And this script had a storybook ending with a dinner party at the Renaissance Hotel in Edmonton. It was simply a wonderful week to end the 2022 season.

See you all next summer! Now go fishing somewhere else.

Welcome to Fall Fishing…Scott Lake Style – Week 12 in Review

Welcome to Fall Fishing…Scott Lake Style – Week 12 in Review

WEEK 12 UPDATE

WELCOME TO FALL FISHING, SCOTT LAKE STYLE

It happened suddenly on the fourth day of this group. Fall fishing arrived. It’s not the fall on the calendar which is still a long way off, but it was the first feeling of fall. Maybe it was the slant of the light, just a little lower. Maybe the cool slap in the face of the morning air or just the crisp edge even a sunny day. Or was it the terns? Just a couple of hundred yards north of our island on the 60th parallel there is an exposed reef where a colony of terns has nested for as long as anyone can remember, probably hundreds of years. The come, about 60 strong, every year, arriving right after ice out. On Day 4 of Week 12 they made the big decision: they were heading south. On Day 3 there they were, noisy and agitated always, flying around any boat that gets too close, adding a little excitement to the day. On Day 4 the reef was empty; they were gone, not a feather to be seen on the rocks. First day of fall, for sure. One more signpost for fall—the first northern lights viewing of the season. While the lights were a bit ephemeral, they were still impressive, a preview of the more sustained and dramatic shows ahead.

Early Fall Fishing

So, how’s early fall fishing? Pretty damn good! Our early August anglers hit it hard, on cool, cloudy, sunny days. It didn’t matter: they fished and fished hard, pitching their offerings eight or nine hours a day. And many of those offerings were well received. The trophy count was right in line with the last several weeks—120 with a nice mix of pike, lake trout and grayling. That number included some dandies. The lake trout were in the spotlight again. Everyone gets excited about big trout—they are the ultimate freshwater predator. Whatever prey they want, they get. Some were fooled by shinny imitators. Bret Walker convinced a huge 43.5” laker that his spoon was really a whitefish. It was our biggest of the week but not by much. Nick Degaetani was right behind with a fat 43. Jim Tallman got a 40 as did Doug Abraham who added a 39 to his troutfest. Priscilla O’Donnell just missed the supersized mark with a 39.5” laker.

Northern Pike Fishing

Most anglers at Scott Lake Lodge are here for the northern pike fishing and it did not disappoint. There is an adrenaline rush when a hefty pike smashes into your fly or lure at lightning speeds that just can’t be matched. Pike don’t have the stamina of lake trout, but they know how to put on a show. Like with the lake trout top spot, it was Bret Walker who pulled the longest tape with pike, a 46.5” dandy. The pike parade was a long one. Dave O’Donnell landed a 46 along with a 45. The father/son team of Jim and Nick Tallman had quite a day, landing clones—a pair of pike each exactly 45.5 inches. And Jim got another 45.5” pike a couple of days later. Must be his favorite number now. A number of guests hit the 44- inch mark: Dave Wanderer, Randy Northcutt, Kathy Scott, Todd Kalish, Ryan Robbins and Chris Budeski. For fishing lodges to the south of Scott a week like this one would represent an entire season of big pike. Just another week here.

Grayling Trophies

Some big arctic grayling trophies were in play too. Jeff Towers and Ryan Rich almost got 20-inchers, a rarely seen number here. But they were quite happy with their 19.5” beauties. Nick Degaetani and Ryan Robbins pulled 19s out of the rapids and Nick Tallman supersized at 18”. You know what’s next. With all those big graylings, there had to be some hats and jackets earned. Indeed. We had plenty this week. The Trophy Triple hat was placed on the heads of Nick Tallman, Priscilla O’Donnell, Amy Towers, Jim Tallman and Nick Degaetani with the final three in this list upgrading to the 100+Club jacket. Nick had a big number at 106 total inches, putting him in third place for the season behind Kim Brown’s 106 and Mark Graf’s hard-to-beat 108.5”. But Nick did something no one else has done here: he got the QUAD, adding a lake whitefish, a 15-incher, to his trophy total. Whitefish are a wonderful gamefish but quite elusive. The QUAD has been done only a few times.
So early fall sounds pretty good. Add the typical great customer service, the solitude that guaranteed on our lakes, the elegant dinners and a moose and muskox sighting or two and you have a perfect week in the far north. See you next year.