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.

Blowin’ in the Wind: The Week 19 Update

Blowin’ in the Wind: The Week 19 Update

WEEK 19 FISHING UPDATE

“BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND”

Over the 2022 season we’ve had spectacular sunny weeks, some rainy weeks, some foggy weeks but this was the first really, really windy week. Our anglers had an inauspicious start when strong winds delayed the changeover, forcing an extra night in Edmonton. But if you’re at the Renaissance Hotel at the Edmonton Airport you don’t suffer at all. The group arrived at Scott on a warm and pleasant late morning and started their fishing trip with great optimism and enthusiasm, missing only a few hours of their five days of fishing time.

Windy Fishing Weather

But a wicked west wind kicked up for their second and third days on the water. The determined group did fish and they caught plenty of fish but there was some rock and roll moments in the boats contending with the wind and waves. Our experienced guides found protected waters and kept everyone safe and reasonably comfortable. We had a resilient group of anglers. On their fourth day everything calmed down and our floatplanes took to the skies. It was a terrific day of fishing. Even though the final day reverted to some big wind, the “net results” (pun certainly intended) were pretty good, especially considering that many decided to spend extra time in the sauna, hot tub, workout room or the quiet comfort of their cozy rooms.

The 100+ Club New Members

Dan Spielman and Peggy Light didn’t allow the weather to stop their march to the 100+Club membership. It’s a case where luck and skill merged to provide some great results. Dan Spielman and Frances Sun had a great day on a fly out landing six trophy pike and five trophy arctic grayling. Jim MacDougall, who is no stranger with collecting Scott Lake trophy pins over the years, had his best grayling day ever. His fly rod vanquished a big bunch of big grayling (too many to count) with his biggest being the biggest of the season—a 20.5” grayling in the shape of a football. His fishing partner, Brian Ermer, had equal success with his top trophy hitting the rare 20” mark. Big pike were in the mix too. Rebecca Graf and Dan Spielman had 44-inchers; Cody Gutherie got a 45-incher and Frances Sun had the top pike of the week at 46 inches. Big trout were taken by Dan Speilman, a 39-incher, and Tess Rowland, a 38-incher.

For a week that was indeed wind challenged the results were great. We always fish the week we have not the week we want.

Here comes the sun: The Week 18 Update

Here comes the sun: The Week 18 Update

WEEK 18 FISHING UPDATE

HERE COMES THE SUN!

What a difference a day makes. Our intrepid anglers for Week 18 arrived on a weather-delayed changeover to find cloudy and windy conditions. After settling in everyone, of course, hit the water for a half day and they did OK. Taylor Abernathy, our 90-years-young guest, did some nice moves in the boat to get the biggest fish of the day—a beautiful 45-incher. But it looked a lot like the previous week when the sun graced the waters for just two hours. However, the next morning dawned bright and clear. That two-hour sunshine mark was eclipsed before the first boat or plane left our docks. What followed was four days of almost continuous sunshine; only the final afternoon got partly cloudy.

Great Pike Fishing

The fish followed the time-tested script: sun equals great pike fishing. After a week of resting our savage tundra sharks started hitting anything that moved. There were some fantastic days. Rebecca and Mark Graf had a five trophy day; Gerald Tiefenbach and Paul Croegaert combined for six trophies; Nancy and Marvin Wehl had their best day ever on the water, landing five trophy pike, including a 44 and a 45, two trophy trout and a big bunch of trophy grayling, the biggest at 19” for Nancy and 18.5” for Marvin; Ron Juergens, who has fished all over Canada, had one of his best pike days, teaming up with Joel Snyder for six big pike and a bunch of almost trophy-sized. But the best “big day” story belongs to the father/son team of Mike and Adam Strobel. On the second day at Scott, they had a great day, getting five trophy pike but Adam got four of them. There might have been a little trash talking there. On the third day, dad showed he still had the good stuff: he let Adam take the pictures while he put seven trophy pike in the guide’s net with one a fat 45”. Father knows best.
There was no shortage of big pike. In addition to all those mentioned above, there were a bunch of 44s caught—Eric Klein, Mark Graf, Paul Larusso, Jim Kusar and Peggy Light hit that mark on the tape. Joel Snyder, Mark Graf, Trent Kusar, and Jeff Berg put the tape one inch longer with 45s. That’s a lot of big fish. And we’re not done. What’s a fishing update without mentioning the Lake Trout?

Trout On the Move

While the trout are now moving up the water column in a pre-spawning move, the big ones are still deep. Liz and Ed Snyder, with a little help from their guide, found them. They had an epic day. There is no other word. They landed ten trophy lake trout, great but not a headline. six of them were over 40 inches long—that’s a headline. Liz got the biggest at 44 inches, one of the biggest of the season. The picture tells the story. Gerald Tiefenback landed a 38” and Paul Croegaert got a 39” lakers. Lots of smaller trout were taken while anglers were casting for pike. In just a few days the first waves of lake trout will be on the spawning reefs, visible in only two to five feet of water. Add some great grayling fishing and you end up with a great week on the water and two new members of the 100+Club–Marvin and Nancy Wehl who did it all this week.

Everything Swimming and Dancing

Fish weren’t the only critters swimming in the water. It was an unusual wildlife week with some rare sightings. How many people have seen a porcupine swimming? Jeff Berg and Peggy Light have now. We also had guests who watched swimming otters, a muskrat (quite rare in these parts), mink, pine martin and black bear. But it was a black bear on terra firma who was the big show. We had on Gardiner Lake a spectacular blonde black bear (yes black bears vary in pelage color) that did a dance right in front of Mark and Rebecca Graf and their guide Greg Hamm, who came by boat answering a distressed radio call from our Beaver pilot, Evan Barlow. Evan had been chased (in a non-threatening way, if that is possible) around his plane before he could jump in. Then the bear grabbed a coil of rope, rubbed his back against a tree and did these amazing dance moves. This was a very big bear. The video is priceless. Nothing could top that bear dance, not even the great northern lights, the Tundra Trail hike or the two evening bonfires. It was the kind of week everyone dreams about for their fishing vacation. And that’s what we do best up here: make fishing dreams come true.

Foggy Notions: The Week 17 Update

Foggy Notions: The Week 17 Update

Week 17 Fishing Update

We Had Anglers

In the 27 years of operations at Scott Lake Lodge, there have been some with lousy weather, but no week in our history compared to what our week 17 guests encountered. There was wind, big waves, rain, clouds and exactly two hours of sunshine (around noon on the third day). Oh, and there was morning fog on four of the five days that precluded any fly outs. Yet, our intrepid group kept a positive attitude and most fished through most of the challenging weather. They apparently believed in the wonderful quote from 60s era songwriter and cultural provocateur Tom Leher: “Bad weather always looks worse from the window”. We didn’t have window watchers. We had anglers.

Pike Love the Sunshine

We would love the happy ending here where we could say that they had the best fishing of the season, but there is no such ending when there is no sunshine. Pike and sunshine go together like ham and cheese. Sadly, the pike fishing was slow. In cold and cloudy conditions pike typically go on a hunger strike not a Mepps spinner strike. There were some notable exceptions. Steve Martin found a willing 44.5” pike and his son Justin landed a 45.5”. On the one flyout day Paul Box got four trophy pike topped by a girthy 45-incher; Susan Saraka had her best day ever bringing seven trophy pike to her guide’s waiting net, and on the last day Scott Lake offered up a fall fat 47-incher to Carl Sparks and he made sure that fish got in the net. There were some solid trout fishing days in the rain and gloom—lake trout are deep and don’t need that shot of sun to keep them active. Dick Smith bagged a 36” and 39” lake trout. Marvin and Nancy Wehl had a great day fishing trout landing six trophy trout, the biggest a very nice 39.5” fish.

The Resort was More Than Fishing

As our guest discovered this is a fishing resort. There are many diversions other than fishing. The Finnish wood-fired sauna got a real workout with some guests even doing the post-sauna plunge into 60-degree water. The hot tub was in use every day to warm up after a cool day on the water. There were card games, loon watching and even some musk ox watching on the north end of Scott. And a two-hour hike by nearly a dozen guests on the nearby Tundra Trail. There was more time to enjoy the workout room and the two bars on the island. The diner hour became more like a two-and-a-half-hour affair and the dinners were magnificent. The canoes, kayaks and paddleboards though stayed on their rack this week.

Bad Weather, Still Had Fun

The group did get a bonus of sorts. For only the third time in 378 changeovers, the charter flight was delayed to the floatplane flying conditions: they got a bonus extra night at the lodge and had a farewell dinner of slow-cooked prime rib and an evening of free drinks. Our patient and relaxed group did what everyone does on their vacation: they had a great time. And many rebooked for the same week in 2023. They all proved that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear. We made sure everyone had good gear and stayed safe and warm. And we proved that even in the worst of weather Scott Lake is a fun place to be.

Better Late Than Never: The Week 15 Update Arctic Grayling Steal The Show

Better Late Than Never: The Week 15 Update Arctic Grayling Steal The Show

WEEK 15 FISHING UPDATE

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

Another gorgeous week at Scott Lake Lodge. For the third straight group summer made a visit to the far north. And when the sun shines on the lakes and forests of the border county between the Northwest Territories and Saskatchewan there is not more beautiful place anywhere on the planet. Perhaps there’s a bias there but it’s what we keep hearing from our guests. And we believe them. We know one thing for sure about sunshine up here: it really turns on the arctic grayling. Often overshadowed by the heavyweights of our lakes (the northern pike and lake trout), the grayling is clearly the iconic species of this part of the world. You will not find them in the lakes of the upper Midwest, not even in Michigan which has a city named for them. Our most visually stunning fish, the grayling’s dramatically high dorsal fin is its calling card, but its coloration—a bluish/silver accented with a dash of pink/purple iridescence—is a feast for the eyes. With appropriate tackle (ultralight spinning or a 4-weight fly rod) it’s a worthy gamefish, often putting on an acrobatic show. And sun on the water makes them crazy as many of anglers discovered this week.

Arctic Grayling: Showtime

Two of our gang, Andrew Troop and Paul Barth, put on a grayling clinic on a remote river about one hundred miles from the lodge. No one watched it but the eagles, osprey and loons, but they had an incredible grayling experience landing twenty-five of trophy class with seven over eighteen inches. Taking off some time from their pike quest, Darrell Massie and Bill Sandbrook landed three over eighteen. Michael Hammes and Greg Limback landed a dozen trophies and Armond Arci caught a pair of 18s, our supersized designation. It was time for this remarkable fish to come out of the shadows.

Pike and Trout Trophies

It is Scott Lake; pike and lake trout are still the main show. Our home lake kicked out two 47-inch pike on the last day. John Kreiling and Bill MaGraw were on the other end of those lines. Tracy Kreiling and Tony Madonia had a big day on a fly out lake bringing in nine trophy pike. Darrel Massie landed a 45; KelseyGilbert-Kreiling and Maureen O’Leary caught 44s. There were some of the other heavyweights in the mix this week. Jay Kreiling got a 40-incher; Tony Madonia landed a 41 and Maureen O’Leary had the top trout of the week with a very heavy 42-incher. That big trout with her 44 pike and a 18” grayling earned Maureen admission into the 100+Club with a very respectable 104 total inches. Congrats to Maureen on joining the exclusive club and getting the jacket. Bill Sandbrook and Armond Arci just missed the 100+Club but did leave with the Trophy Triple hat and lifetime memories.

Beyond Fishing

With the beautiful weather there were many relaxing and leisurely shore lunches enjoyed. The Kreiling group added some special blends of margaritas to theirs. Why not? The evenings featured great dining, some poker games, cornhole throwing and just lake watching from the big deck off the main lodge. The annual Massie/Sandbrook fishing contest tradition was continued but ended in a tie, each group getting exactly the same number of fish, something that’s hard to do; but the ladies did have the biggest fish. Scott Lake was again visited by the herd of muskox that have taken up residence near Scott Lake. Jim Bourgeois and ______Hutchinson watched this remarkable ice-age relic cruise the shoreline in the far northwest corner of the lake.

Beautiful weather, plenty of big fish (119 trophies to be exact), great dinner conversations, the evening serenade of loon calls, eagles soaring, and just the sheer pleasure of being in a remote, pristine landscape—just another week in Paradise.

Let the Good Times Roll: Fishing on Fun in Week 16

Let the Good Times Roll: Fishing on Fun in Week 16

WEEK 16 FISHING UPDATE

LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL

Some weeks at Scott Lake Lodge it’s all about the fishing and only the fishing. We’ve had groups who turn in before dark (actually not that early up here) and hound their guides to get out early for long days on the water. They talk fishing constantly and fall asleep thinking about the one that got away. This wasn’t one of those groups. These folks came to have a good time: they certainly accomplished that goal. There was a pleasant buzz around the main lodge every night and there were several very late nights at the bar. One memorable evening witnessed most of the group hanging around the bonfire, watching the northern lights and passing around the guitar, singing duets with the local loons. Those not by the campfire were inside the lodge dancing and pretending it was New Year’s Eve. With three days of fly outs cancelled due to heavy morning fog, there was plenty of time for leisurely shore lunches which were greatly enjoyed by everyone.

A Fishing Vacation

There were nature hikes and evening card games and drinking, plenty of drinking. That’s what a fishing vacation is all about: simply having a good time. Fishing yes but fun first.

Lake Trout Trophies

Of course, good times up here mean fishing as well. Even without many fly outs, there were a lot of big fish caught. The trophy count was just over a hundred, not bad for a bunch of party animals. The group from Wisconsin was all business went it came to lake trout. On an amazing day six that group landed sixteen trophy trout. Joanie and Scott Peterson got half a dozen; Bob Chadwell got six by himself including a 40,42 and 44” monster; Larry and Shanna Bohac only got four that day, but Larry got a 40-incher and Shanna won an epic battle with our biggest trout of the season, a whopping 46-incher with a massive girth, so heavy the guide begged them to take the picture quickly. While they didn’t score any trophies at the outflow of Kimiwan Lake, Mike Diaz and Jeff Woods really got into nice lake trout on flies. Throwing streamers into fast water they hooked and landed 32 fat lakers, all bigger than the biggest trout caught anywhere in Montana or Wyoming.

Great Graylings

Grayling fishing was on the mind of several anglers. This is the time of year when the rivers at their lowest levels making wading our rivers easier, and when grayling are primed for taking dry flies. Wading in a wilderness river with no company but your fishing companions, your guide and maybe a musk ox is heaven for many of our guests. (Speaking of musk ox, we had several sightings this week but one of them was south of our lodge, the furthest south we have ever seen one of these prehistoric beasts.) When we could fly, grayling were often the target. Joanie and Scott Peterson got a bunch with a fat 18” as their biggest. Peter Santry, Charlie King, Chris Maybury and Marty Cannon attacked a river with vengeance, all getting numerous big grayling in the 18”+ range. Jeff Woods and Mike Diaz also put 18s into their guides nets.

… And Pike are Still Big

Pike fishing for this group was good but not great. We didn’t have the sunshine we like to keep pike actively feeding. While there were plenty of trophy pike landed, we didn’t get as many of the giants as we do in a typical week. Scott Peterson and Dave Ellis landed 44-inchers. Dave Tenney had the best big pike day getting a 44 and a 46.5” beauty.

Ending With an Ovation

Did this group have a great time? The evidence was clear. After the final night’s awards ceremony and fish du jour pictures, the group gave a rousing standing ovation for our staff who have now worked for 80 consecutive days without showing even a hint of fatigue. Their efforts to make these fishing trips enjoyable were deeply appreciated by this wonderful group of anglers. Not the most or the biggest fish were caught this week, but enduring memories were formed as well as many new friendships. Not bad for a foggy week.