If you locked a dozen Hollywood screen writers in a room for a week they could not have dreamed up a better finale to the 2013 Scott Lake Lodge season than Ma Nature wrote across the flat horizon of the lake. Those last eight days had it all: big fish, one exciting storm, several nights of vivid northern lights, glorious yellow/gold birch trees and six absolutely perfect sunny fall days with four days without a breath of wind—the big lake was gorgeous.
It was still sandals and T-shirts into September. The final scenes in the script of 2013 featured relaxed shore lunches, after dinner bonfires with laughter blending with the cries of the loons, small groups of guests and staff gazing in disbelief at the power and beauty of the aurora borealis dancing overhead and of course some exciting action sequences involving unpaid actors dancing at the end of a line.
There were some notable catches over those last eight days. There was an exceptionally fat 45” pike taken by Ray Newkirk. And a beautifully colored 46” pike caught in just two feet of water by Ken Wollin when the guide recognized the potential of the warm weather to push big pike back into their spring spots. It sucked in a black leech just like it was mid-June. Probably the biggest big fish day of the season was enjoyed by Peter Myhre when on a fly out he brought nine trophy pike to his guide’s cradle, the biggest being 47 inches, and caught three trophy lake trout, one 39 inches, on the same day. It was a scene stealer of a day for sure. Joel Elfman also bagged a big trout—a fat 40 incher. In a memorable angling moment Joe Daugherty got a personal best pike that pulled the tape to 48 inches, topping the 47 he got on an earlier trip (Joe comes two or even three times a year—he knows how to live.) With that trend line he should have a 50 or 51 next season. As with any fishing trips there were tradeoffs. The flat water days made getting pike tougher. Our guides love and pray for wind to create some disturbance down under that gives a predator an edge over prey and gets them moving. But who can’t enjoy totally bug-free days with the reflections of the clouds and trees providing a surreal experience, while in T-shirts. It was simply glorious.
On September 6 the sound of the last Twin Otter arrival of the season roared over Scott Lake Lodge. It’s always a bitter sweet time for the Scott Lake Lodge staff and management. They had spent nearly 100 consecutive days together on a 12 acre island; forming a deep bond during the fast paced, at times intense atmosphere while making sure all 26 guests have the trip of a lifetime, even if it’s their 30th trip. Yet when that last Otter started its takeoff run loaded with the last 26 happy customers of the season there was a cheer heard across the island. For a few minutes there was the pure joy of knowing that the job was done and well done. But it was also time for reflection, some hugs, some tears and always the talk of NEXT SEASON. There is a strong Scott community. It’s why over half of the Scott guides have been at Scott for at least 12 years: this is their home. They know, along many of the long time shores staff team members like Jeff Walker, Head Chef, Shaun Ledoux, out chef turned guide, Jerry Yanish, the Silver Fox running the maintenance department and eleven year veteran, General Manager John Gariepy, that the next season will be even more satisfying and exciting than the one before. That’s how it’s been for 17 years. There are no reruns at Scott—just great new movies season after season.
THE POST SEASON
Unlike football, baseball or hockey the postseason doesn’t feature a lot of drama. It’s primarily work. This year fall was like summer revisited. There was an incredible Indian Summer at Scott in September right up until the day the last four of us were scheduled to leave on September 17th. Then all hell broke loose with an arctic blast straight from the north. There were no floatplanes in the air nor any chance of even taking a boat even around the island. We had gale force winds with four to five foot waves banging onto the back dock. But even in the maelstrom of wind, rain and flying debris the internet still worked. Strange feeling actually. The other world is never that far away even on the 60th parallel. With the temperature dropping to below freezing, the bigger lake trout finally came to their traditional spawning reefs. For nearly a week the smaller males were present in large numbers, patrolling the shallow rocky areas of the lake, patiently waiting for the females to make their appearance. With a little snow on the shorelines and a lower surface water temperature the bigger males and some of the females arrived.
We got out in the boat on the 18th when the winds abated a bit. The fishing was great. But it was still a violent scene on the lake. The fishing was like the early days of the Lodge when the peak of “reefer madness” would land around the tenth of September. The warmer lake temperatures of recent years have delayed the spawning and stretched out the season. While pike fishing is still great in September, it’s hard to focus on deeper water pike when trout that typically live in 100 feet of water are in two feet or less. Closing down the fly out lakes, especially Dunvagen, Smalltree, Gardiner and Ingalls gave the “closers” a look at some huge shallow water trout but time for any fishing was short. There are eleven fly out locations needing attention, too many to take time to fish. There were many tasks over the dozen days after the last customers left: boarding up every cabin, draining water lines, sinking some leftover beer and pop, cleaning up the kitchen, pulling the big water pump, cleaning all the bedding, washing all the linens, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So now it’s the 19th and still no window for a flight out. But we plan to fish today. Why not? Not a bad place to get stuck!
It’s been a lot of work but things are in great shape for the “opening” crew that will land right after ice out to get ready for the 2014 season. It will be worth waiting for. Our deepest thanks to all our 2013 customers for making this season so memorable.
PS: On September 20th the skies cleared just enough to offer an escape route. It was not clear sailing with a lot of low hanging clouds. On the flight to Stony the clouds did part often enough to show the glorious yellow landscape created by the birch trees in full fall color. It was time to head home for all of us but it was still hard to leave.