Three Part Harmony: Week 7 Update

Three Part Harmony: Week 7 Update

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.

A Wonderfully Average Week: Week 6 Fishing Report

A Wonderfully Average Week: Week 6 Fishing Report

A WONDERFULLY AVERAGE WEEK

Average gets a bum rap. In our media-saturated era, everything must be way above average to be respected. If you don’t see words or phrases like “the next level”, “over the top”, “stupendous”, “sensational” or “tremendous”, you just want to tune out. What if average though was still good or even great? Take our Week number six. Having average weather (some sun, some rain, some clouds but not much heat), having a group of anglers with average experience (some pro level, some early in their angling careers), and having the imperfect but functional marker of an average number of trophies (at 143 to the boat which was higher than three of the previous weeks, but way below the other two—so average), it was a classic average week.

But those are just numbers. Let’s look at an average week of fishing at Scott Lake Lodge. We did realize our #1 goal here: everyone we talked to had fun and had a safe trip; that’s the top priority of management here. No one at the dock when the floatplanes landed to take our group south was eager to leave, especially those who did have some extraordinary days on the water, like Bog Hoagland who landed six trophy pike in a single day, or Tim Fierbaugh, Frances Sun and Tom Granneman who had five. Our guests who thought skill, luck or some combination of those two elements caught super-sized fish certainly didn’t think their trip was average. I’m sure Paul Granneman, Dan Spielman, Frances Sun, Tim Fierbaugh or Tom Granneman didn’t think their 45” pike were average. Without a doubt having a 46 incher on the line didn’t feel average to Jeff Christiansen. What about experiencing the fury of a monster 48.5” pike? Ask Dennis Hetler. He did it in an average week, but that’s about as far from average as you can get. Tim Fierbaugh battled successfully with a 41-inch lake trout. That’s a lifetime memory. While smaller fish, the big grayling of the week (fish of 18” or more) provided some huge angling satisfaction to the lucky group (Frances Sun, Frank O’Neil, Craig Brown, Randy and Mickey Moret) who went to our northern rivers to bend their light rods against the current and beautiful, high-jumping arctic grayling.

An average day doesn’t describe the “Done in One” Trophy Triple days of Dan Spielman, Frances Sun or Craig Brown who landed trophy-sized fish of all three of Scott Lake Lodge’s gamefish in one day. Frances had a very special day because her three big ones totaled 102 inches, putting her in the exclusive 100+Club. There were, of course, many moments that just can’t be quantified: enjoying the traditional and delicious fresh pike shore lunches; the sight of a soaring eagle; the unearthly calls of the common loon at night; that first bite of the prime rib, the duck confit or the New York strip steak—just a few of the twelve entrees served to our guests. Maybe the most above average experience was the warm feeling of being in a room full of excited, happy anglers who loved this northern experience. If this was an average week, we’ll take it. It was wonderful.

Weathering the Weather: A Wild Week 5

Weathering the Weather: A Wild Week 5

Weathering the Weather

Anglers are well known for their patience. It’s a good thing because it was tested during our fifth group of the still young 2019 season. They had to wait out some of the worst mid-summer weather we have seen in the twenty-three years of the current ownership. In less than a month of operations we have seen it all—intense, burn your bare feet on the floor of the boat heat, the six-layers of clothing cold front, the calm lake surface that goes for miles and wind and waves right to the edge of fishability. This group got the six-layer option. It was damn cold, unprecedented for this time of year. Since, as we’ve often commented in these posts, pike love warm water and sunshine, the first four days of this five-day trip turned out to be quite challenging for pike fisherman. They were patient enough to wait four days before the sun finally made an appearance and gave our group a shot of vitamin D and a shot at some real good fishing.

 Despite the nasty wind and cold, our anglers kept heading out and, except for one day of ridiculously high winds, did quite well, catching a lot of fish and some very impressive fish. Fish like the monster pike of 47.5” that Nate Naprstek induced to grab his fly just 15 minutes from the lodge; the 47” pike that Andrew Troop landed; the 46 inchers taken by Josh Nardo, Brent Laing, Dave Morales 2nd, and Tom Wigglesworth, or the 45 brought to the boat by John Green. Considering the weather, there were some amazing results.

As often happens the big pike came in clusters: Josh Nardo and Brent Laing enjoyed seven-trophy days; John Green had a six-trophy day and Andrew Nardo had a five-trophy day. Frank and Susan Saraka had a wonderful mixed bag (pike, trout and grayling) of six trophies each, earning them the Trophy Triple hat. Andy Nardo left wearing one too. Gerry O’Brien got the whole enchilada, joining the 100+Club with trophy pike, trout and grayling that collectively measured over 100”. His total was a fat 102.

While the pike story this week was pretty good, the best story was the lake trout. That was the one benefit of the cold conditions—it kept the lake trout up shallow, right on the surface where anglers casting for pike could tie into some great fish. No weights. No heavy tackle. Just great fights with fish that typically are much deeper. With any tackle a lake trout of 38” or better is a tough customer. On pike gear they are downright nasty fighters as Susan Saraka and Andrew Nardo found out. Getting a 40” plus trout that way is a real angling achievement. Ask Chris Kasper or Gerry O’Brien who landed 41” lake trout or Frank Saraka who got a 41.5” beauty. How about a 12-year-old dealing with that much raw power. Colter Sloan knows how that felt. He got a fish of a lifetime, a 41.5” lake trout, on the coldest and wildest day of the week. Congrats to Colter, but the poor kid is now ruined for fishing anywhere else.

That was the four-day story. On that fifth day the sun did shine, and the trophies rolled in, 32 on that final day. Bruce Koslowski got five pike, topping out at 47”. Gerry O’Brien and Andrew Troop got a mess of big grayling and Will Waltrip pulled in four trophy pike and a 39.5” laker. It was a great way to end the trip. Rain or shine, wind or calm, the Scott Lake trip always ends too soon. That’s why almost everyone comes back the next year: it’s an addiction that brings only smiles.

A Community of Anglers: Week 4 Update

A Community of Anglers: Week 4 Update

A COMMUNITY OF ANGLERS: WEEK 4 UPDATE

Rolling right along, the 2019 season here at Scott Lake Lodge has welcomed just over 100 anglers who have landed at our dock in Beavers or Otters to be greeted by fourteen guides looking sharp in their crisp “changeover whites” fishing shirts. Only ten of those 100 anglers were first-time Scott Lake Lodge guests. It didn’t take long for those anglers to realize that Scott is a unique fishing lodge. They quickly witnessed the “More” in our slogan of “World Class Fishing and More”. The More isn’t just the resort-like amenities. The best part of the More is what our new guests experience on their first evening at the lodge; it’s the high level of energy, the animated conversations, the handshakes and hugs between both guests and staff. There is a buzz in Laker Lodge that’s rare: it’s the buzz of friendship and community. That community definitely includes the 32 staff members. Here at Scott we deliberately blur the line between guests and staff who all sit down at the same dinner table and enjoy the same meal—together, catching up on their last twelve months and sharing their travel experiences (most of the Scott staff are world travelers in their off-season). This doesn’t happen just anywhere; we do more.

Every week, bonds between guests and between staff and guests are formed and deepened; it’s an extended family without the family fights. After dinner on most evenings there will be spontaneous games—cards, darts or beanbag games on the expansive deck. Sometimes this transient community even organizes events like the annual Week 3 3rd Annual Ken Thome Euchre Tournament (for non-Midwesterners, it’s a card game) that had a two dozen, two-person teams this year or the new Kracum-crowd organized Mario Cart Challenge (for the over 60 crowd, that’s a video game) that had an equal number of teams, evenly mixed between guests and staff. The “More” is pretty heady stuff around here. So, do we have time for fishing? Isn’t this a fishing lodge?

Indeed, it is. There is always lots of time for fishing, just no time for boredom. Fishing is the core activity and we did it up big on Week 4. Apparently, some anglers perform best under pressure. Like pro athletes, they save their best for late in the game. For four days Sam Bajalia and his fishing partner Curtis Fellows pulled in some good fish, a number of which surpassed the trophy mark, but they wanted more; they wanted a truly memorable day. So, on their final day they flew out to one of Scott’s 22 fly out lakes for one more shot at glory and they made it a good one. Before their last day ended, Sam had landed four trophy pike with a pair of 45 inchers while Curtis delivered on a 46 incher and a mammoth 48, along with dozens of smaller but hard fighting cold-water pike.

While that was a dramatic day, Joe Novicki and Bill Calabresa had an even more sensational day a few days earlier. No strangers to Scott with an incredible 65 trips to Scott between them (people can come to Scott more than once a season as this duo figured out long ago), Bill and Joe have done pretty well up here. They almost always earn the 100+Club membership where anglers land all three Scott trophies whose collective measurements hit or exceed 100 inches. In fact, Bill led the 100+ parade in 2017 with Joe in third position. In 2016 they had the same rankings but with Joe at #1. So, it’s not surprising then that they pulled it off again, but to both do it in a single day, the rare “Done in One, that’s surprising. Joe did his up big, landing a massive 44” lake trout, a 43.5” pike and a fat 19.5” grayling (about as big as they get up here) in one memorable day, getting a total of 107” for his leading 100+Club standing. Bill landed at 101.5”.

More than those four anglers enjoyed some great fishing action. Our Week 4 gang brought in 132 trophies (109 pike, 19 grayling and 7 lake trout), none more memorable than young Kai Boland’s 39” lake trout that was nearly as long as Kai. Just 16 but with some major league fishing cred and five Scott Lake trips behind him, Griffin Kristo did what he’s always done at Scott: land big fish. This season he registered the second biggest pike of the week, a very photogenic 46.5 incher. Rich Kracum and Tom Lind got 45s. Matt Klenk, Craig Mataczynski and Tom Lind all had exciting single days with five pike trophies. Scott Lake Lodge got some trophies too. For the fourth consecutive year we had 100% rebooking. The Week 4 Community will reconvene in 2020. That’s loyalty.

The Week 3 Fishing Report

The Week 3 Fishing Report

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. 

IT’S ON!!! The 2019 SEASON IS ALIVE AND WELL!!!

IT’S ON!!! The 2019 SEASON IS ALIVE AND WELL!!!

For nearly all our guests, the trip to Scott Lake Lodge is something they roll around in their brain for months. In the middle of a sentence in an email, there will be the image of a nasty looking pike engulfing your fly or lure. A dinner conversation might have a pause as thoughts of sitting on the big deck after dinner, just absorbing the sounds and sights of the big lake, intrude. All the planning, preparation and the splendid anticipation .  .  .  And then, it’s here: you’re on the dock at Scott Lake Lodge. It will happen 442 times this summer.

We welcomed our first 2019 guests, nearly all Scott Lake regulars (all but four anglers had fished Scott before) on a quite cool evening on June 9th. Change was the arrival theme. Right by the docks was a new Fitness Center and, on the hillside, a new guest cabin, Ptarmigan, which replaced Moose, an older cabin. There was a new floating dock and a new staff cabin for our pilots. But the absence of change was also noticed immediately. Every one of last year’s guides were there to greet our guests as they stepped off the floatplane. Of course, it’s been that way for many years. Now the average guide tenure at Scott Lake Lodge is 16 seasons. As our first guests made their way to Laker Lodge, they noticed that the Hospitality, Maintenance, Management and pilot groups were also the same. Sometimes no change is a good thing.

SPRING FISHING

Many guests were surprised to see a bit of white on the north facing shorelines—ice hanging on after a cool spring. They were shocked to find out that four of our fly out lakes were still covered with ice, a vivid reminder of just how far north they were. The first couple of fishing days had a definite northern feel. Our anglers were layered up well as they jumped in boats and floatplanes on our first day. It’s wasn’t our best opening day ever, but it wasn’t bad. Peter Myhre got things rolling, landing five trophy pike, the biggest a fat 47 incher, and a trophy lake trout. There were plenty of other super-sized pike (our nomenclature for a pike over 45”) as the week went on and the temperature started to rise. Things really started rocking on Day 3 when the cool spring immediately turned into summer. The sun came out of hiding and so did the pike. Over two days 75 trophies were landed. There were some big days: Peter Leonovicz had a seven-trophy day; using his fly rod like a magic wand, Paul Hanna landed a six-pack of trophy pike including a 46 incher; Rob Shafflo grabbed his own six-pack of pike, and Tom Goebel brought five big pike to his guide’s net with a 45 and a 46 incher. Mike Sackash, John Goebel and Victor Digeronimo all super-sized their trip, getting 45” tundra sharks.

While pike were the main attraction, there were a lot of lake trout cruising near the surface. Many were caught while casting for pike. Alexa Moulopoulous was the leader of the trout parade, landing four trophies with the biggest a 37.5” fish. Her brother, Aris, had the last word in a sibling trout rivalry. He latched onto a 41” monster that took him for a ride—probably the best fish fight of the week. Robert Shaffalo and Richard Chernus pulled in 38” lakers. Despite the slow start to the week, the group landed a very respectable 115 trophy fish and had more black bear sightings than we can remember. It was a great start to a promising season.

BRING ON THE HEAT: SUMMER FISHING

We did the shift from spring to summer in a day. There always seems to be one group that lands not just on the clear waters of Scott Lake but also in a big pile of 4-leaf clover. Sometimes it’s early in the season; other times it’s mid or late season. While there are sixteen more groups to make that landing, it may be hard to beat the luck of group number two. Fishing at Scott and elsewhere in the far north is all about heat. Pike crave warm water. When the intense sub-arctic sun hits the water, the pike feel it and head for the warm shallow bays and channels. Starting on Day 2 we had the sun and the heat. While temperatures in the low 80s don’t make headlines to the south, they do on the 60th parallel (at least in the Tundra Times). Our pike just went nuts with that sun. After a nice batch of 38 trophies on the first day, things almost got out of hand. Day 2 was Father’s Day and the father/son team of Joe and Ty Daugherty celebrated by landing 16 trophy pike between them. In that haul was a 48.5” monster landed by Joe. It’s the biggest of this young season. What a day it was: 62 trophy fish. The big show though was Day 3. Our experienced anglers set the camp record for the most trophies in a single day—78.  The big pike came in big bunches:  Peter Myhre landed nine on his best day; Joe Daugherty landed nine on two different days in this memorable week; Don Luke also had nine in a single day including two 45s and a 46;  Rory Wright took seven; Judy Schmidt six (she did that twice); Eric Luke, Ross Purpura, Mike Rogers, Peggy Light, Ryan Luke, and Connie Schmidt, all with five. With another day of bright sun and considerable heat, the really big fish came out of the shadows into the shallows.

On Day 4 there was another big batch of trophies, 62, but some real dandies. Adding to his legendary status around here, Joe Daugherty brought in a 47.5” pike along with a 40.5” lake trout. The father/three sons of Team Luke put on a real fishing show. The fearsome foursome collected 25 trophies on Day 4 with all three sons and dad getting a 45” or better pike. It was dad’s day though: Don Luke landed nine trophy pike with two 45s and a 46. Dick Emens got a 45 and 46 that day, giving him four super-sized pike for the week. Simon Horan got into the 45 game as well. That made 10 pike over 45 in one day. Remarkable. Big trout for the week included a spectacular 41 incher by Peter Schmidt and a 37 incher by Bridgette Jennings.

On Day 5 some clouds moved in and slowed down the pike juggernaut, but it was still a good day with 21 trophies including the first grayling of the season. Peter Schmidt became the first 100+Club member of the season. It’s a tough admission standard. You must catch trophies in all three species whose collective measurements hit 100 inches or better, not an easy task. After getting an 18.5” grayling to go with his 41” trout and 43” pike, Peter totaled 102.5 trophy inches. Barbie Purpura got a 45” pike on the last day, making the supersized pike total a fat 15 for the week. Stay tuned. The Day five trophies put the week’s total at an amazing 261, blowing out the prior one-group record of 203 which was set last year. It didn’t hurt that our Week 2 group had among them taken 332 trips to Scott Lake Lodge. Experience is a great teacher. They put on an awesome display of casting and hooking setting. Let’s see what Week 3 brings. Let the sun keep shining.