Trophy Trout Lead the Way
Our Week 10 group had it all: good times at the lodge, giant fish and some drama to end the trip. The fun was obvious every evening. This was a group with long ties to Scott that knew how to have a good time. The evenings were celebratory and for good reason: the fish this group caught were huge. Our trophy count of 136 wasn’t top of the heap but the size of many of those trophies was extraordinary.
Where do we start? How about lake trout? We are in the middle of our prime “lake trout season”. The big lakers are now comfortably in their cool water-deep holes. Unlike anglers, lakers like water about 50 degrees which now translates to a depth of around 100’. On Scott, Premier, Wignes and the flyout lakes we have a lot of water that deep. Guides don’t have to motor far to stay in great lake trout holes. They found them this week. We had 45 trophy trout, our highest total of the season. These were not the barely over the trophy mark (35”) fish. Many were hogs with fins. Of the total trophies, 14 were over the 40-inch mark, our measure of “supersized” lake trout. Bill Williamson had a trio of monsters—a 40, 41 and a magnificent 45-incher. Usually, we get one or two 40s in a week and typically those would be the biggest trout of the week. This week we had 6 at 40. In addition to Bill’s trophy trout, other Williamson’s got in that game: Dylan Williamson, Lachlan Williamson and Ken Williamson Sr all got 40s with Ken adding a 41 and Dylan getting a 43. Nick Tallman and Jerry Kolek joined the 40” club as well. On the last very smoky day Mike Rogers landed a 41-incher which put him into the 100+Club at 104”. We’re not done with trout yet! It was our best big trout week of the season. Larry Rohan put on a big trout clinic. He got a 41 and a 45. One or two lake trout at 45 is typically a full season. We were at two early in the week. Then Connor Patrick, grandson of long-time guest Mike Rogers, added the third 45” trout, caught within 10 minutes of the lodge. It was 14-year-old Connor’s first trip to the far north. His fishing in northern Minnesota has been OK but he wasn’t prepared for what he experienced here. His giant trophy trout combined with a 46” pike and 18” grayling shot him into the front of the 100+Club ranks with a 109” total, showing grandpa just how it’s done. We thank our guide Steve Linder, better known as Biff Piston, for getting that big grayling after a three-hour effort. Everyone who knows Biff knows how much he loves fishing for grayling. Biff likes fish with big teeth. Congrats to all involved in Connor’s Quest. It was the Trip of a Lifetime at a very early age. We’re betting on 110 inches on his next trip up.
Our northern pike weren’t exactly shy this week either. In fact, it was also our best big pike week of the season. Ken Williamson Jr landed eight trophy pike on a single memorable day. Mike Rogers and Bill Harvey each had a single day with a 4-pack of trophy pike. The big news though was sheer size: we had 11 of our “supersized pike”, fish of 45” or better, in our week’s bag. The 45s came in pairs, at least for Mike Rogers and Jacob Williamson who both caught not one but two of those spectacular fish. Ken Williamson Sr got his 45 on the same day he landed a 42” pike and four trophy trout with two over 40 inches. Crazy wonderful day. At an inch up on the tape four anglers landed 46s, probably the first time ever we’ve had that many 46s in a week. In addition to the one Conner Patrick got, Rick Spork, Lachlan Williamson (you’ve seen that last name a lot) and Bill Harvey pulled a 46” beauty into their guide’s waiting net. Alex Spork had his personal best this trip, a dandy 47-incher. And on the last day in some of the heaviest smoke we have ever experienced here Mike Pendleton got a 47.5” monster to end his trip on a very high note.
But speaking of smoke we can’t leave this review of Week 10 without mentioning the f-word—FIRE. We have lived with fire here for nearly three decades. It’s part of the overall far north experience to see smoke in the distance. In this part of the world fires are not suppressed unless they endanger lives or significant infrastructure. We are in fact living in a fire dependent ecosystem in the Saskatchewan/Northwest Territories border region. It shapes our landscape. And it can shape our fears. Unlike many parts of Canada, we had a relatively low fire season in this corner of the north. Until last week. A major thunderstorm passed over the Scott Lake area just over a week ago. For 35 days we had not had any serious rain, even during those storms. The land was ready for the spark. It took quite a few days to turn those small fires into big fires, but with some fierce windy weather late in Week 10 we looked at a different world on the last day of our Week 10 group.
What had been irritating but tolerable levels of smoke turned into a thick blanket of heavy smoke on the morning of the final day. It gave us the worst smoke ever seen in our 27 years here. It was dead calm and the smoke just sat. To say the least, this was not good. We watched and waited for a safe window to fly our guests and many of our staff out in the floatplanes. The window opened just enough for just long enough. We got everyone safely to Stony Rapids in floats to the waiting Dash-8 to take them to Edmonton.
We could not in good conscience bring the new group north. A fire north of the lodge was just getting too close. It was a crushing disappointment for those who had assembled in Edmonton to have their shot at a dream fishing trip. But the rule has always been safety first here. We just couldn’t bring new guests into a situation with a known fire/smoke risk. It was the first time ever we have cancelled a trip during season (we’ve had a few ice-related cancellations at the front end of the season). We are currently preparing our island for the worst if a fast-moving fire to our north doesn’t burn out soon. With the right winds it could. The strong winds of July 30 did move out the heavy layer of smoke. Today looks better than yesterday. We will keep our August guests up to date on the situation. Rain is in the forecast.
WORD TO THE WISE:
SOME ADVICE FOR TRAVELERS GOING ANYWHERE IN THIS ERA: GET TRIP CANCELLATION INSURANCE. AIRLINE FLIGHT DELAYS/CANCELLATIONS COULD END YOUR TRIP TO SCOTT LAKE (OR TO ANY DESTINATION LODGE) BEFORE IT STARTS . WE STRONGLY ADVISE THAT TRAVELERS SECURE COVERAGE FOR JUST THIS SORT OF EVENTUALITY. THE RISK AT SCOTT LAKE LODGE IS EVEN GREATER SINCE THERE IS NOT A SCHEDULED FLIGHT BETWEEN EDMONTON (OUR HUB) AND STONY RAPIDS (OUR FLOAT BASE). IF YOU ARE DELAYED AND MISS OUR CHARTER IT WILL BE DIFFICULT IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE TO GET TO THE LODGE. NOT TO MENTION FIRES UP HERE.