On June 28th strange creatures looking like they just wandered out of a Star Wars movie set were spotted on the shores of Scott Lake. They were stocky with very shaggy long dark coats, horns that belong on a cape buffalo, traveled in a large group, and grunted a lot. People with travel experience in the high arctic will figure this mystery quickly, but for the 60th parallel this was an amazing sighting. They were musk oxen of course, but they have never been seen this far south. It just might be the first time ever that this primitive mammal has traveled the eskers along the north shore of sprawling Scott Lake. Just a little history: musk oxen are creatures of the far north, very far north. Most numerous on the arctic islands like Banks or Victoria, they are also found on the mainland of northern Canada, but usually well north of this neck of the woods. Twenty-five years back Scott Lake Lodge guests who really wanted to see one had to fly in a float plane over two hours north, toward Dubwant Lake to see one. Over two decades sightings were made closer and closer to the lodge. While the trend line was clear, it was still stunning when guests Joe Novicki, Bill Calabresa and guide Jan Phoenix saw a herd of around twenty-five right on the shore of our own lake. Around this small island town this was big news. It’s a new era of wildlife watching.

Bill and Joe weren’t just looking for musk ox of course. They have been fishing hard and successfully. For over two decades the two anglers have been boating big northern pike, lake trout and grayling. This year’s trip was no exception. Both will be proudly wearing their 100+Club jackets. Joe is currently tied for the top spot in that exclusive club with his total of 103.5 inches having landed a 45.5” pike, 39” lake trout and 19” grayling. The other person on top of that leader board is Rich Kracum, another long time Scott guest, with a pike of 43.5”, a lake trout of 41” and a grayling of 19” who landed on the same number. It was a big week for the jacket: Rich’s son John Kracum hit the same number as Bill Calabresa at 102 inches.

It was a big week for a lot of guests. Mira Lechowicz landed four trophy pike one day and three trophy lake trout on another day. Susan and Frank Saraka have been coming to Scott for a long time but can’t remember a better day together than the nine-trophy pike day they had this trip, topped by Susan’s 45” pike. On the same day Cam and Andy Godden hit the same total of trophies but both caught 47 inchers. In any “normal” week a 47 would be the top fish but not this week. Both Craig Mataczynski and Al Wortz put 48s in their guide’s nets. Five pike in the “super-sized” category of 45 inches plus is quite a week. For many lodges in the lower parts of Canada that would be a season’s worth.

The totals for the week were impressive, especially for a week characterized by cool and windy conditions: 112 trophy fish nicely divided among pike, lake trout and grayling. Who knows where those numbers will land when we get our first warm week of the season? Well, about 14 people, the Scott Lake guide team, have a pretty good idea. They want some warm, sunny days to bring those big pike into the shallows. We’re still waiting, but like all anglers, waiting patiently. They will come and we will be ready.