FALLING FOR FALL: WEEK 16 UPDATE
What makes a great fall fishing trip? There isn’t an app for that, but there is an old school checklist. A fishing trip with no annoying bugs? Check! Some wildlife sightings? Check! Northern lights? Check! An after-dinner campfire? Check! Pleasant conversation over fine dinners? Check! Great guides who actually help you catch fish? Check! How about some big fish? Double check!! It was clearly fall for our second last group of the season. While there were cool nights (make that some cold nights) and lots of cloud cover, those conditions didn’t seem to bother these fish of fall. Right off the bat on the first day, Zak Skolnick had a wonderful six pack day—six trophy pike. Bob Nettune and Mike Menedeo, long time fishing partners, had a mirror image day on their first day: each landing three trophy pike with both getting 46 inchers—that’s friendly fishing. Unlike early season pike, fall pike are just plain piggy. A typical 40-inch trophy caught in late August or early September is about 20% heavier than the same fish was in June: they spend all summer eating, but chow down especially heavily in August. All week on the nightly “fish du jour” presentation we were seeing exceptionally fat pike, some with girths hitting 20 inches. There were two very heavy 45s caught this group, one by Zac Skolnick who had a fantastic trip and one by Frank Saraka who we saw on the big screen more than once. Carl Fernyak had a big day with seven trophies—two lakers topping out at 37.5 inches and five pike with the biggest 44 inches. That’s a nice mixed bag.
Like the previous week, grayling were in the news. Of the group’s 158 trophy fish, 62 were pike and 81 were arctic grayling. And there were some dandy grayling. Annamarie Fernyak, who earned the Trophy Triple hat in a single day of angling, the “Done in One”, and Scott Sheldon each landed 19.5-inch miniature sailfish in the fast water of one of our most northerly fly outs. Grayling of 18.5 inches were taken by Carl Fernyuak, Shane Benson and Bill Russell who used that big grayling to join the 100+Club. (Their big grayling also helped Carl Fernyak and Suzanne Billing join the exclusive club.) Still a huge grayling, 18 inchers were landed by Zac Skolnick and Gina Cabrera-Benson. When grayling are on, they are really on. Scott Sheldon landed 17 over our trophy size of 15 inches. Annamarie and Carl Fernyak ended up with 18 trophies on their grayling stop which is typically just an hour or two during a full day fishing for pike and lake trout; Suzanne Billing and Zak Skolnick had 18; Shane Benson and Gina Cabrera-Benson got an even dozen. Everyone who went out for this compact but beautiful fish got them in bunches.
The lake trout didn’t come in bunches this week. With a lot of cool weather some of the big trout were shallow, some were mid-depth, and some were still deep, making catching them a bit more challenging. Bill Russell was up for the challenge, landing a massive 43.5-inch laker on the first day of his trip. Mike Minedeo and Keli Wall almost hit our 40-inch super-sized mark with 39-inch beauties. There were another dozen trout trophies in the books as well.
So did this group fall for fall fishing. We can’t read minds, but we can read our rebooking results. Of the 26 anglers, 20 booked the same room, guide and week for the 2020 season. That says it all. It was a great fall experience.