COVID-19 IMPACT: UPDATES FOR THE 2020 SEASON
Sadly, this is our final update on the Covid-19 pandemic. While the full story on the outbreak will not be written for many months, our story ends here. As the message below details, we have, after carefully consideration, decided to cancel the entire 2020 season. All our 2020 guests will receive both an email and a personal phone call to confirm details of the cancellation. We thank our guests for their patience and cooperation as we have all lived through the frustrations and anxieties created by this most unwelcome guest to our shores. We will have a team busy on the island all summer to make a broad range of infrastructure improvements—the only silver lining in these very dark skies.
May 15, 2020: “Go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
While this sounds like a delightful Zen koan, it is a quote from the King in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”. It succinctly captures the surreal, upside-down world we are all living through now, and captures the spirit of our decision to finally accept the inevitable about the 2020 season at Scott Lake Lodge. Urged along by many conversations with guests who really wanted to see this season happen, our team went on for as long as we could, exploring every avenue, talking to bureaucrats and politicians, always looking for a path that never appeared. Unfortunately, instead of being resolved, the challenges and obstacles to open this year just kept growing.
The final nail in the coffin of the 2020 season was Delta Airline’s decision this week to suspend all service to Saskatoon. When and if they resume is unknown, but their return will not happen before September 30. Since 70% of our guests use that connection and since alternative airlines have all severely cut their schedules, just getting to Canada this summer will be difficult, even if the current border closure is lifted. The list of obstacles is long:
- Saskatchewan’s current mandatory 14-day quarantine period for all international travelers which will run well into the summer and perhaps until this fall
- Northwest Territory’s ban on outfitting for the entire summer (most of our fishing water is in the NWT)
- Multiple vendor issues, especially aviation becoming untenable, and most daunting…
- The closure of the Stony Rapids airport to all but essential workers and health care professionals, part of a highly restrictive travel ban in what’s called Saskatchewan’s Northern Administrative District.
The list could go on but why torture ourselves.
Clearly the phrase “circumstances beyond our control” has become quite an understatement: we have hit the end. This would have been our 25th season at Scott and some of our guests have not missed a single year. We know how much all our guests love their trip and how much our staff loves to make guest’s trips memorable. So, with great sadness, we must cancel the entire 2020 season at Scott. There is just no way to pull it off, either safely or legally.
What do you need to do? NOTHING!
*Your trip will be moved to the exact same calendar dates next season with the same cabin and guides. While the prices for 2021 will be going up, you will not be charged any additional fees. Unless you want different dates for 2021, you do not have to do a thing. You have already been placed in our 2021 calendar.
*You will receive a courtesy phone call from me or our Sales Manager, Jon Wimpney, to ensure that all details are covered. Since contacting 300 folks is a big job, please have patience. We will call people chronologically by week, starting with Week 7, our July 8th group. (The first six groups were cancelled earlier and all 168 of those anglers are now happily booked for the 2021 season.)
*You will receive as confirmation a new invoice with a zero balance unless you have not paid the full amount for your 2020 trip. Any remaining balances need to be taken care of by September 30, 2020.
What does this mean for Scott Lake Lodge?
It’s a big financial hit for sure. We will have to absorb the fixed costs (maintenance, insurance, salaries, etc) for two seasons with one season of income. As a US-owned company, we will probably not be eligible for Canadian relief programs, and as a Canadian corporation, we are definitely not eligible for any US support. We may be on our own, but we want to assure our customers that Scott Lake Lodge is a financially secure company. We will be there for you in 2021 and beyond.
The good news is that for the first time in 25 years we will have the opportunity to deal with infrastructure improvements in NICE weather. There will be no snow to shovel or holes to drill in the five feet or more of ice to get drinking water. Instead we will have 20 hours or so of daylight and ideal conditions to attack the long list of island improvements that had already been scheduled for fall, winter or spring work over the 2021-23 period. As soon as we can get them to the island (easier for Saskatchewan residents), we will have a construction team composed mainly of our guides and maintenance crew; they will have a busy summer. When you land in front of our dock next summer, you will see a brand-new place.
What does this mean for the Scott Lake Team?
There will be some heartache and tears for sure. Most of our guides have made the annual pilgrimage north for two decades or more. Most of the shore staff are over or well into their first decade. We are determined not to lose a single one of them to this damn virus. All of our 2020 employees will be paid in full for the entire season, even if they are not on site. It is our commitment to long term quality customer service. And simply the right thing to do.
For our entire staff, I want to thank our customers for their patience, cooperation, and support. There will be a big hole in all our hearts this summer. For me it will be strange. I have enjoyed immensely the 24 seasons of bantering with guests over breakfast and dinners, people who first came as guests but became good friends. It will be quiet on the island. If I can get up there myself (as a US citizen that’s not a given at this point), I promise to be easy on the big pike. I’ll have to give some a little exercise though. The pike will have a nice rest and will be back in the bays; the lake trout will love their peaceful summer in the depths and the grayling will just have a wonderful time eating bugs without being bugged. They will all be waiting for your cast next summer.
Stay safe and be careful until we all get through this pandemic. We will. See you on the dock at Scott next summer.
Download our essential guide – perfect for first time guests – with all of the details and lists you need to get ready for your trip to Scott.
Everything you need to know about stocking your tackle box.
A few reminders
Reserve your airline tickets early. Several carriers serve Saskatoon (YXE)
All travelers to Canada require a passport
Luggage is limited to 50 pounds
- Your Scott Lake luggage tags (mailed to you in May)
- Checkbook (checks are the preferred method of payment for any purchase but we do accept MC/Visa and Discover however no AMEX)
- Prescription medication (be sure to pack in carry on luggage)
- Quality rain gear, jacket and pants (review our detailed clothes packing list)
- Lightweight waterproof boots
- Swimsuit (for the hot tub or sauna)
- Waterproof hat for sun or rain
- Sunscreen – at least 30 SPF
- Polarized sunglasses (available at our tackle shop)
- For early June trips neoprene gloves and warm boots (just in case)
- Insect repellent – Deet is recommended but no aerosol cans
Scott Lake Lodge US office: (888) 830-9525 or (715) 362-7031
Travel Ex (travel agent): (800) 882-0499 or (847) 882-0400
Saskatoon Inn: (800) 667-8789 or (306) 242-1440
Transwest Air: (800) 667-8789
Saskatoon Expediter: Darren Hill (306) 227-4322; Donna Hill (306) 229-3401
Lodge Office Satellite Phone (emergency only): 306-500-4976
Lodge Office email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lastly, bring a relaxed attitude.
Remember this is a vacation, not a test of skill or endurance.