LIGHTS OUT: THE WEEK 17 UPDATE
Sometimes being last is OK. At least that’s the way it turned out for our final group of the season. They had a “lights out” trip, literally. Many of our guests had expressed interest in seeing the northern lights. Well, the lights were out and, for those willing to stay up late, they got a great show. Of their five nights on this island smack on the 60th parallel, four featured northern lights; two nights were average and two were, to borrow a phrase from the 60s, out of sight. One doesn’t need to understand the northern lights to enjoy them. It’s just a light show on a very big stage. While the lights seem to hover pretty close, they are actually quite far out. They do their thing in a range of 50-300 miles above the earth, the result of a giant electrical discharge created by a cosmic generator using the earth’s magnetic field and the solar wind which interacts with the oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the atmosphere. And that’s just the beginning of the science, none of which is nearly as poetic as the experience of just watching. Watch our group did, often right on the deck of the main lodge. It was indeed a highlight of the trip for many.
There were many other highlights. People do come here to fish and not just enjoy the many amenities of the lodge life. Fish they did. With the small to medium sized lake trout now up and shallow, the numbers were impressive. Of the several thousand fish landed in five days, 124 met our trophy standards, not a record week but a very good week. Jim Kusar had his own version of a lights out trip. He had a day any pike angler would dream about. How about six trophy pike in one day that included lifetime trophies like a 46 and a 48 incher? Just to rub it in, he added a 45-inch pike a couple of days later. That’s a trip. He wasn’t alone in watching huge pike slide into a guide’s big net. Joan Schackmuth, Adam Strobel, Gerry O’Shaughnessy and John O’Shaughnessy all had pike of 45 inches or better. For some it was a much smaller fish that made their trip. Grayling were back in the news this week. We have found a real grayling mecca. Mark and Rebecca Graf were there and pulled sixteen trophy grayling out of the rapids with both landing 18 inchers. Dave Dalvey, Debbie Blue and Grant Mitchell also put 18s in their guide’s grayling-sized net.
The lake trout were on the move. In late August and early September, thousands (maybe tens of thousands) lake trout move from the deep water to stage near their spawning grounds on shallow, rocky reefs. One of our 22 fly out lakes is smaller than others and has a history of an early trout spawn. Paul and Tess Rowland were there to meet them. The deeper edges of the spawning reefs were alive with trout. They caught dozens upon dozens. These weren’t the monster trout that we get trolling in deep water, but they were fighting fools of 25 to 35 inches. Pound for pound these far north lake trout can hold their own in fighting speed and stamina with any of the more storied freshwater fish like peacock bass, tiger fish or golden dorado. You just need to meet them on their own terms—cold, shallow water. Of their many trout, one was quite memorable; it was the disappearing trout. Paul brought a beautiful trout painted in vivid fall colors to his guides waiting net. The guide expertly removed the hook. The fish was calmly swimming in the huge net as he reached for the measuring tape, but when he put his hands in the net, he found not a heavy trout in his net but a hole at the bottom of the net. Always a good sport, Paul just admired a new quality in his guide—the magician who can make a trout disappear. In truth, measured and photographed, it would have been just another trophy trout. This way it’s a story. Many other nets had no holes and dandy trout were actually measured. Mark Graf, in over 30 trips to Scott Lake Lodge, has caught some huge trout, one of our biggest ever in fact, but he never landed a trout that looked as ancient as the 42 incher that came out of one of our newer fly out lakes—the picture says it all. Other big lakers made the trip for Grant Mitchell (a 40.5” lake trout that was in six feet of water and landed on spinning gear), Ron Juergens (a 39.5-inch beauty) and Liz Snyder (a deep water 39 incher). Patrick O’Shaughnessy had a four-trophy trout day topping out at 38 inches.
The group had four wonderful fall days until the fifth day when a cold wind sent many of our guests back to the lodge and the warmth of their cozy rooms. They had all caught plenty of fish and had their own stories and memories. Long time guest Dave Dalvey just had to go to one of his favorite fly out lakes. He got the last trophy fish of the season, just a regular nice 41-inch pike, but it was special to the lodge. It was trophy number 2,674 for the 2019 season, blowing away last year’s record total of 2,221. Yes, it was a good year, a very good year.