Join in with the winter Scott Lake Lodge Crew as they recount some bear stories from quarantine at the lodge.
THREE-PART HARMONY: WEEK 7 UPDATE
As we approach the mid-point of the 2019, the music is changing. For the first six weeks we had one beautiful and loud note—pike. Our other Scott Lake Lodge gamefish (the arctic grayling and the lake trout) were mainly MIA. It was a lonely note. No longer! With the grayling and lakers now playing well in our waters, we have real music, with three-part harmony. As has been noted several times in these updates, it’s been a very cool summer and, while no heat wave has entered the scene, some seasonal movements (down and up) are showing up. While the warming surface temperatures are pushing the big lake trout down, that same trend is pushing the grayling up where there are a few more bugs to keep them busy near the surface. So, thirty-five days into our season, we’re catching some nice lake trout on the bottom and lots of grayling on tip. Its’ no longer a one-note pike show.
Not that pike have not been a big part of the show. They are–big time. During this week, there were probably 3,000 of the aggressive “tundra sharks” caught with 117 reaching our trophy status of 40”. With lots of big fish on the prowl, some went way over that mark. There were 45 inchers landed by Peter Myhre (he also got a 46), Gary Parzych and Dave Wallace. Eight-year-old Colton Erickson landed a fish he will remember 50 years from now—a girthy, beautiful 45.5” pike, almost as long as Colton is tall. Bruce Bush had quite an introduction to Scott Lake Lodge. On his first trip to Scott Bruce had two-thirds of the giant pike hat trick, landing 47 inchers on consecutive days. Welcome to the Scott Lake Lodge family! Steve Nicholas had top pike honors of the week, getting a monster that stretched the tape to just under 48”. The very honest guest and guide called it 47 and three-quarters. A bunch of anglers landed a bunch of big pike in a single day: Peter Myhre with seven, Dave Bensema and Bruce Bush with six, Peter again with five and Jerry Kyle with four. When the fishing is good here, it’s very good.
So, pike were still the main act, but they had to share the stage this week. Arctic grayling made a big splash (many splashes) this week. Over 50 trophy grayling were landed on the inflows or outflows of our fly out lakes. Most were taken on 4-weight fly rods, some on ultra-light spinning rigs. No fish in the north has more dramatic coloration with vividly spotted dorsal fins or a feistier attitude. If you match the tackle to the size, it’s an exciting gamefish. We had some dandies this week: 19 inchers, a very big grayling in these parts, were landed by Mark Graf, Colton Erickson and Wyatt Erickson; 18s were taken by Garth Olds, Ted Erickson and Angie Erickson. These fish, the second part of our three-part harmony, added an interesting, more contemplative, contrast to the smash-mouth pike fishing.
And the third part? Our big lake trout, after randomly cruising the cool surface waters for over a month, have finally started to drop into deeper water where they can be more effectively targeted. Some nice trophy-sized trout were taken. Trevor Myers and Mark Graf landed 38s. On the last day on Scott, James Finney got his biggest laker ever, a fat 40 incher. On a memorable day on one of Scott’s 22 fly out lakes, Mark Graf and his son, Foster, found trout heaven. They landed around 90 lakers and one was a heart stopper. Foster knew he had something big when his line just plain stopped; he wasn’t snagged, but he had just hooked a huge lake trout. About fifteen minutes later he saw the fish in his guide’s big net. He needed a big net to land this massive lake trout with a huge girth. A quick look with the tape showed 45” before the magnificent beast went gently back into the lake. Foster and Mark had been through this before. Seven years earlier, almost to the exact day, Mark landed a 46”X28” trout that he nicknamed Tubby. Well, Foster got Tubby II and the Foster story isn’t over. Earlier in the trip he landed a 46” pike and a 17.5” grayling, giving him membership in the 100+Club with a whopping 108.5 total inches, one of the highest totals ever.
It was a great week for big fish. A total of 183 trophies were taken. Everyone in the lodge caught multiple trophy fish. We almost ran out of trophy pins. The three-part harmony was very sweet music indeed.
FISH STORIES: THE GROUP THREE REVIEW
Here’s a good fish story for you. Imagine a guy who has fished for pike for a few years and done well with his spinning rod. He decides to get into fly fishing and has his guide show him the basics. So, his guide works with him on technique, but the cast is pretty basic. There is no double haul, not even a single haul. It’s kind of a straight arm flop. But the guide has faith and encourages the guy to go for it. What does the guy do? Nothing more than cast to a sighted fish, set the hook and land a magnificent 49” northern pike, our biggest of the season. Not a bad start for a beginner. The “guy” is Bernie Heile and the story is absolutely true. That fish alone would have made a great trip but a couple of days earlier, Bernie used his spinning gear to land five trophy pike in a single day while his friend and fishing partner, Len Dorr, landed eight trophies that day including a 48 incher, the third biggest of the season. Not a bad trip for the boys.
As with the previous two groups, the fishing story for our third group was all about sunshine. For the first three days of the five-day trip, we had glorious sunshine and lot of heat. It brought the pike out of the shadows of the deep water into the shallows. These fish were aggressive, even angry. Our daily trophy counts jumped like a startled frog (even though we don’t have frogs up here). Day 1 tallied 46 trophies; Day 2 registered 56 and Day 3 brought home 40—all incredible numbers. Then the wind changed from the balmy southwest to the nasty northeast. It felt like the change brought the air all the way from the Greeland ice sheet. The temperatures dropped from the 70s and even low 80s all the way down to 50. Our pike were not impressed. They dropped out of sight and our daily counts dropped to 13 on Day 4 (including three trophy lake trout) to 7 on Day 5.
With three amazing days in the books, no one complained about the slower days on the final two. Anyway, it’s fishing. Who do you complain to? There were a lot of fish in the books before the weather turned. One of our guests with a long Scott history, Steve Bandt otherwise known as “Big Dog”, had quite a trip. Steve had three consecutive days with five trophies. That was no flash in the shorelunch pan. Joe Novicki, who has been coming to Scott for over 20 years, had the pike six-pack. Greg Larson and Jerry Maunus had five trophy pike days. When you’re in the right spot they often just keep coming. Of the 157 total trophies for the week, nine were huge fish. In addition to the 48 and 49 of Dorr and Heile, Grant Larson, fishing just 15 minutes from the lodge, hauled in a fat 47. Rory Wright got a 46.5” even closer to the lodge. Steve Bandt, Dave Thome, Peter Jewett, Phil Proctor and Chase Larson all nailed 45s. Lots of big fish. The lake trout were still shallow but scattered around all our lakes, making them fun to catch but difficult to target the big ones. Lots of smaller lakers were taken but Steve Bandt did that trick too, getting a 39.5” beauty. To cap things off on Day 5 David Thome and Poach found a buzzer beater 47” giant!
It was a fantastic wildlife week with the most bear sighting ever (we lost track of that count). Almost everyone saw a bear on four consecutive days. They seemed to be everywhere. Everyone though got through their shore lunch without an Ursus Interruptus. Overall a great week. Probably 4,000 fish landed with plenty of trophies. Lots of smiles on the departing anglers. And again, lots of people rebooking: out of 26 guests 24 are coming back next summer. There will be fish waiting for them.
Taking a fish photo, it seems easy, doesn’t it? You’ve done the hard part already by travelling to a prime destination, finding the fish, tempting it to eat and getting the beast in your net . . . the photo is the easy part. Right? At Scott Lake Lodge, there are tens of thousands of fish brought to the boat every summer. Several thousand of those specimens pose for a quick photo. Over the years we’ve seen it all: a fish with half a thumb over it; a beautiful fish with the angler cut off; so much hat and sunglasses that the angler’s face looks like a mugshot, and on and on. We’ve also been lucky to see many spectacular photographs. We’ve had some of the top professional outdoor photographers in the business work at the lodge. They have done justice to the amazing beauty of northern Canada and the excitement of fishing for monster pike and lake trout. They taught our guides the drill. Now our guides know how to capture the full experience, honor the catch and create something worth sharing with fishing friends. With a little study and effort, you can do the same.
First and foremost, the concern of the Catch Photo Release (CPR) process should be the fish. All fish should be handled gently and with great care to make sure it swims away to grow into a photo fish for another angler. Unless it is destined for a hot oil bath at a shore lunch, keep that fish healthy; make sure it’s not bleeding and keep in resting in a net or cradle until you are ready for the shot. Your fish should not be out of the water for more than 30 seconds. Secondly, don’t limit the photo process with just a “grip and grin” shot. Get some action of the fight, the release, your buddy napping after shore lunch, the “bird’s nest” line tangle, and all the small details that are part of a day on the water. Build a narrative of the trip; it is often what happens between fish catches that makes the memories. The key to do this is keep a camera handy . . . wildlife usually won’t stand around and wait until you’ve dug the camera out of your bag.
We asked some of our photographer friends to share their experience with us. We asked two questions of them: 1) What makes a good fish photograph and 2) Any suggestions for capturing the entire experience, not just the grip and grin fish picture. Below is the result of millions of photos taken capturing angling adventures around the world. For their time and expertise, we thank them. Here’s a short course from the best:
Manitoba’s Jay Siemens (https://www.jaysiemensmedia.com) a fisherman and guide, who’s talent for capturing moments on photo and video has led to worldwide travels documenting the outdoors shared this:
What makes a good fish photo? This may seem obvious, but the #1 attribute of a good fish picture is a healthy fish. It doesn’t matter if the fish is 50 inches long, if it’s bleeding from the tail or looking bone dry, it’s not attractive. I love to see a fish still dripping with water, and a perky dorsal fin (especially if it’s a walleye or a grayling). I know we all want a picture of our trophy fish, but the fish’s health is always number #1. Always have the camera ready before you even hook the fish.
How do you capture the entire experience? Take a lot of photos! Yes, we all want the photo of the big fish, but what about taking a photo of your buddy’s expression after he loses a fish right beside the boat, or what about a photo of your guide tossing some pan-fried fish at shore lunch. We all want to see the fish photos, but looking back you’ll never regret taking too many photos! Want to try doing some video? GoPro cameras are very simple to use and can capture some incredible footage, if that’s too intimidating, you can’t go wrong with a cellphone. They take amazing quality videos as well! Keep your whatever camera you’re using accessible… you don’t know the next time you might see a moose…or a moose nest!
Denver Bryan, bases from Bozeman, MT and travels the world to get the shot of fur, feather and fin in their natural environs. His images can be seen in his books and numerous magazines. Learn more at http://www.denverbryan.comc/index.php
Three primary elements usually come to bear when creating or capturing a good fish (or other) photograph…i.e. subject, light and composition. A beautifully-colored northern pike or lake trout photographed in great light (usually early or late in the day) with an interesting composition or great fisherman model come to mind. REALLY look at and study some of your favorite images, take note of these elements and then incorporate them in your own images. The fish and fisherman may be central to your fishing trip but there are so many nuances of fishing that add layers of depth to your photography…. i.e. the expression on a fisherman’s face, the trials and tribulations associated with fishing, the ‘tools of the trade,’ the camaraderie, the destination, etc. Taken all together and they give you a much fuller accounting and memory of your fishing experience.
RawFish Creative’s Jeff Andersen (http://rawfish-media.com) has spent days and weeks capturing fish photos for numerous company’s and magazines. Between guiding assignments, Jeff & his brother Joe came up and documented Scott Lake Lodge in a series of videos. Here is what he had to say.
The best photographers capture an image before even taking the photo. They can recognize the moment then use the tool, the camera, to capture it. While you travel look for those opportunities. They are everywhere. Take photos of things you find interesting, you are documenting your trip after all. Cell phones now days take amazing images and are most often closest to hand. They can be blurry in low light because of the Auto Shutter Speed. To help sharpen your picture use pressure with your fingers on both sides of the phone to keep it steady. Even better invest in a small bendable tripod to hold your phone steady in most any situation.
Another Montana based photographer, Brian Grossenbacher has been responsible for countless covers, photos essays and catalogues in the fishing and hunting world. See more of his work (http://www.grossenbacherphoto.com/About) Brain gave some technical advice on working with a DSLR camera.
My favorite fishing photos illustrate authentic, unscripted action that capture the grace and athleticism of the sport. Whether this is the angler loading the rod on a big cast or setting the hook on a monster pike, or even a tight shot of a jumping fish throwing water droplets throughout the frame. Depth of field plays a huge role in the creativity of each of these 3 scenarios and you control Depth of Field by adjusting the Aperture or F-stop in your camera. The easiest way to remember the relationship between Aperture (F-stop) and Depth of Field DOF is the lower your f-stop, the smaller your depth of field, and the larger the F-stop, the greater the depth of field.
To easily manage your depth of field try shooting in Aperture Priority Mode (A) so that you only have to worry about the depth of field you want and let the camera control the shutter speed according to ambient light. For a casting shot, the shallower depth of field (larger aperture 2.8-5.6) the angler will be the focal point and the background will be soft and out of focus. Also, the wider opening of the aperture allows for more light and subsequently faster shutter speeds to capture the fast action of the cast.
For a shot with the angler in the foreground and the fish jumping in the background, you will need a larger depth of field (larger f-stop f8-f11) to keep both the angler and the fish in focus. Because the aperture will be smaller, less light will enter the sensor, so keep an eye on shutter speed. If the camera drops it below 1/1000 second, then bump up the ISO a bit (400-640) to give the shutter speed a boost. You will need the faster shutter speed to keep the movement of the jumping fish in focus. To capture a tight shot of a jumping fish I like to keep the aperture at 5.6 and keep the shutter speed as fast as possible to freeze the dynamic action of the water spray, shaking head and pumping gills. Try to keep the shutter speed in the neighborhood of 1/1600 sec or faster by bumping ISO or you may want to shoot this in full Manual Mode (M) and purposely underexpose the image as the jumping fish will be the brightest spot in the frame. Take a few practice shots to make sure you are not too bright or too dark in the frame and then keep your head in the game so that you are ready when your buddy finally hooks one.
If you absorb some of these tips, you will take better photographs on your next fishing trip. Or if you just don’t want to bother just come to Scott Lake Lodge every summer. Our guides will provide professional assistance. We even send our guests home with a flash drive of photographs that distill the essence of your fishing adventure. At this point we are at 98% of full capacity. But we’ll bet you only need two or maybe four spots. Our Guide/Sales Manager, Jon Wimpney, can still sneak you in. Give him a call at 306-209-7150. Do it right now!