The Goretex Gang: Week 2 Update

The Goretex Gang: Week 2 Update

If only . . . If only the entire week could have been like the fourth day of our Week 2 adventure. On that day we were gifted the most precious far-north commodity—bright sunshine. The sun on the water woke up the big pike and brought them scattered from deep water to bask in the shallows. Amazingly, it only took one day. And with sunlight, you could see the big pike in the shallows! For our anglers, it was a glorious day. For the after-dinner trophy announcements at the main lodge, the stack of trophy slips filled out by the guides was thick, 38 slips thick. That’s a lot of big fish for a single day (for some lodges further south of here that could be a week’s, a month’s or even a season’s total). And they came in bunches. There were four-packs of trophy pike for Rory Wright who landed a 44” and 45.5-incher, and Jeff Berg, who landed the biggest pike of this young season at 47.5”. There were three-packs of pike for Abe Martinez, Vinnie Purpura, Don Luke and Erik Luke. There was even Julie Heinmiller’s 40-inch trout thrown in for good measure. It was a hell of a day, but historically not an unusual day for the spring fishing at Scott.

Unfortunately, it was our only day in the sun. The other days, well to put it in a single phase—they sucked. It was cold, rainy or windy or all three simultaneously. Our anglers often had to work hard and fly far to find fish. Despite the tough conditions, there were fish landed on other days. We had a total of 115 trophy fish, not bad. Don and Eric Luke each landed four big pike trophies on Day 3, Don with a 44” and Eric with a 45.75” pike (now that’s a tight tape). On the same day, Jeff Quick landed three pike trophies including a 45-incher. Jeff Berg got a 47 (yes, he got two monsters on his trip). On Day 2 Conrad Schmidt caught four trophy pike. Notable fish were scattered throughout the week. One of our rare “first timers” at Scott, Al Malinowski, got his first ever big pike on his second day here and it was a dandy at 45-inches. There were 44-inchers taken by John Heinmiller, Abe Martinez, Peggy Light, Chris Luke and Jeff Quick. On the last day Ross Purpura Jr, not far from the lodge, brought a fat 47-incher into his guide’s net.

Given the high winds and limited sight conditions a lot of guides and anglers opted to troll for lake trout. There were many hundreds landed. Among those trout were some good ones. Ross Purpura Jr got a 38” laker; Ross Sr got a 37.5” lake trout; Peter Schmidt got in the trout game with a 37; Connie Schmidt landed a pair of 36.5-inchers; Judy Schmidt scored a 36-incher. The big 40-inch trout for Julie Heinmiller, along with a big 18.5” grayling and a nice 43.5” pike, gave her the first 100+Club membership of the season at 101.5 total inches for her trophy trout, grayling and big pike. Congrats to Julie.
So, despite having to bundle up against the wind, rain and cold our group did great in the fish department. And they all were determined to make the best out of some tough conditions. Our hats are off to them. Next time we hope they get only one day of rain instead of one day of sun. Then they can enjoy our marvelous shore lunch experiences and the sight-fishing we’re famous for. Of course, as all anglers know you fish what you get and our gang did just that, quite successfully.

The Long Wait is Over: The Week 1 Update

The Long Wait is Over: The Week 1 Update

It had been 270 days since the last group of the 2022 fishing season stepped off the dock at Scott Lake Lodge and climbed in our floatplanes to head south. For all our staff and the many Scott Lake Lodge regulars, the wait for the new 2023 fishing season is a long one. But there is magic in the waiting. Stories are told and retold; that next deadly lure or fly is purchased and admired long before it hits the water; travel arrangements are made, and in the weeks just before departure, the anticipation hits a fever pitch. So it was with just over two dozen anglers who opened our 2023 fishing season on June 9th. They arrived at Scott on a beautiful blue-sky day. Unfortunately, that was the only blue sky they saw for the next five days. But they were watching for fish at the end of their lines not gazing at clouds. The cloudy and dark days did compromise the sight fishing for pike but plenty of pike and lake trout added their own sight to the equation and provided some classic northern Canadian angling.

Our opening day was warm and inviting. The south wind was what we always hope for to bring a warm wind. This one brought some smoke as well, but it didn’t bother the fish or the anglers. While there were twenty trophies brought to the guide’s hands, there was one very memorable catch. Twelve-year-old Anthony Ragone has been dreaming of being a Canadian fishing guide. He has some hoops to jump through with immigration. But catching a big pike on your first day of fishing in Canada can happen. And it did. Anthony handled a scrappy 41” pike like a pro and created a lifetime memory. His dad, Lou, landed a 40 incher the same day. Anthony is permanently hooked. It will be hard to go back to bluegills and perch. We had a great opening day with twenty-two trophies tallied. Chase Masuga had a big day, bringing in six trophy pike. His top fish was a 45.5” fatty. Peter Myhre a long-time guest with a knack for catching big pike had a nice string of five trophy pike with his biggest of the day at 43”. Peter ended up with a total of 14 trophy pike for his trip. Not his record but a very respectable number. There were some heavy-weights in the batch of 82 trophies for the week. Scott Manley and fishing partner Sam Hanna landed back-to-back 44” pike; Rob Shaffalo got a 45-incher and Ken Conley pulled in a dandy 46. But the fish of the week was another 46 that may turn out to be one of the heaviest pike of the2023 fishing season. On Premier Lake, another adjacent boat-to lake, Nathan Heiter looked down in a quiet bay and saw a “wolf pack” of big pike. Big pike are typically loners, but this was an impressive group of fish that were all way over 40”, our trophy mark. Fortunately, he threw his spinner to the biggest one. After an impressive battle a very impressive pike went into the guide’s big net. It didn’t look like a 46-incher because it had such an incredible girth. We get a lot of pike around here over 45” (124 last season alone). Most of those will have a girth of 16 or 17 inches. Occasionally we see a jumbo that tapes 19. Rarely does one, even the 48 to 50-inchers, pull the tape to 20”. That’s a fat fish! Nathan’s pike measured 21.5 inches around a belly that went from pectoral fin to caudal fin with essentially the same girth. It was simply a spectacular slob of a fish. What makes it so unusual is that a pike in June tends to be a bit skinnier than the same pike in August or September when they really put on the feedback getting ready for winter. If caught again this fall Nathan’s fish will be even more amazing. Everyone will be looking for that porker. Big pike weren’t the only story for the week. Early June is when the water temperature allows lake trout to cruise anywhere on the lake they want. They are comfortable in temps around 50 degrees, right where most areas of our lakes were sitting this week. Hundreds of lakers were landed, many while casting and many more while flat-line trolling just under the surface. Paul Hanna led the trout parade. His gorgeous spring trout hit our super-sized mark of 40-inches. A year ago Paul landed a 49” pike during our first week. He loves the early season. There were many other trophy trout (our trophy standard is 35”) this week: John Goebel and Patrick Goebel got a pair each while Lou Ragone, Tom Goebel and Chase Masuga all landed a trophy laker.

Bottom line: it was a wonderful opening week with very little sunshine and a determined group of anglers that faced cold and windy weather like pros. It wasn’t the sunniest opening week of our 25-year history, but it featured great numbers and enough big fish to keep everyone’s excitement level nice and high. At the main lodge the dinner hour echoed fish stories throughout the room. After dinner hour we had more stories and songs and a general excitement about the time and place we were all in. That’s what a fishing trip is all about—fish stories and the warmth of friendships created and or enhanced in an intimate wilderness setting. Add the world-class customer service that Scott Lake Lodge is famous for, and you have the ingredients of a fantastic week. Despite some tough conditions everyone left the lodge with a big smile. Just ask any of our Week 1 guests: the long wait was worth it.

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

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



What a glorious way to end the 2022 fishing 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.

Fall Trout Extravaganza

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.

40 Inch Lake Trout

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.

40 Inch Northern Pike

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.

Beyond Fishing

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



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.