Some people have no luck at all. Some had a little luck. And then there are always those who have all the luck. That’s the way it usually goes with most things in life, including fishing and getting great weather on fishing trips. Looking back on the 2015 fishing season at Scott Lake Lodge, we saw the luck game, at least the luck concerning nice weather, play out by the rules of conventional wisdom. While all 16 of the groups attending our “fishing university” this season experienced great fishing and, judging by our re-bookings and by our online evaluations, had a wonderful time, a few groups had, let’s be honest, lousy weather to cope with. Some had a day or two of at least partially sunny weather. A few had three of four nice days. But only one group, our very last one, had all the luck: five consecutive days of brilliant sunshine with soft warm breezes—absolutely perfect conditions for both fishing AND catching. Those lucky stiffs had it all for a perfect fishing holiday: the sunshine for sight fishing, a totally bug-free environment, opportunities to see fantastic northern lights, the sights and sounds of thousands of migrating geese and loons, after dinner bonfires under a clear sky and, rather importantly, incredible fishing. Both the fishing action and the big fish activity were as good as it gets. We apparently did save the best for last. One guest with over ten trips to Scott (mostly in June) had his single best day of fishing ever, anywhere at Ivanhoe Lake, one of Scott’s most popular fly out destinations. Dave Wanderer wasn’t shy about his praise about the fishing: “It was awesome, an absolute orgy of fish— a profusion trout and pike.” He added that the northern lights experience was “the cherry on the sundae”.
As we have experienced year after year, we see the big pike really come alive during August. Some magnificent fish were brought to the boats during those final five sublime days of the 2015 season. On the afternoon of the final day of the season, Sam Bajalia landed probably the last trophy of the season. It was a dandy. You could not find a more perfectly marked or superbly healthy looking 47 and a half inch pike anywhere in the world. It was just a beautiful fish. Long time guest Mike Manship got another monster that week, his personal best pike, a very girthy 47 incher. Kay Myhre “supersized” with both pike and trout that week getting a 46”pike and a 41.5” lake trout. Peter Myhre and John Sober both added 45” pike to the parade of big fish, but Chris Rowland brought in a real heavyweight, an extraordinarily fat 42” trout.
A BIG FISH BONANZA
While the perfect weather for the last group (August 24-29) caught everyone’s attention, the fishing was equally good for the two earlier groups (August 15-19 and August 19-24). There were a total of 187 trophy pike landed during the last fifteen days of the season. That’s not an outrageous number compared to many of the June and July weeks, but inside those numbers were some real hogs. The late season feeding frenzy by big pike is a fact. During these two weeks so many modest sized fish (both trout and pike) were crashed at boatside by huge pike, or “T-boned” as the guides like to phase it, that it was hardly a topic of conversation. It happened multiple times every day. These were aggressive fish, ready for a fight. And a fight many of them got. Some successfully won their battles by getting off, but quite a few ended up posing for pictures. Of the 23 pike of 47 inches or better landed during the 2015 season, 12 were caught over the last fifteen days. That’s 53% of the giants in just 17% of the season. In addition to the big fish described from the final five days, there were boatloads of big pike netted in the previous ten days. On the screen after dinner during the “fish du jour” presentations, there were supersized trout, pike or grayling every night (trout of 40” or better, pike of 45” or better and grayling of 18” or better). Big pike showing up on screen included 45 inchers landed by Scott Bixby, Richard Spork, Allen Clark, Sonya Boone, Laura Velas and Joe Daugherty; 46 inchers by Alex Spork, Patrick Spork, Ned Bixby, Ross Purpura and Sonya Bonne (Sonya wasn’t happy with just a 45); 47 inchers by Kay Myhre, Peter Myhre and Laura Velas (her personal best); and a pair of 48 inchers by Bill Langford and Doug Vorhees. That’s a lot of jumbo pike in just ten days. There were some huge trout as well: 40 inchers by Kay Myhre and Joe Velas. Lonnie Thompson picked a pair of huge trout, a 40” and a 42”. Late summer is the best time for big grayling and these sailfish of the north did not disappoint those anglers who flew to the connecting rivers between Scott’s expansive network of seventeen fly out destinations. Supersized “ling” of eighteen inches were taken, mostly on dry flies, by Barbie Purpura, Taylor Lajoie, Joe Daugherty, Mary Daugherty, and Peter Myhre. Paul Rowland took top honors for the week and the season with a beautiful twenty inch grayling.
Getting a trophy grayling is a requirement for earning the Triple Trophy hat, earned by catching a trophy of all three Scott species. With the lower water levels of late summer and some warm temperatures, the fishing for grayling was terrific over the last two weeks of the season. Lots of our anglers left wearing their hats. It’s a long and impressive list for just fifteen days: Robert Patterson, Foster Graf, Mark Graf, Dave Forman, Alex Spork, Patrick Spork, Kay Myhre, Peter Myhre, Taylor Lajoie, Doug Lajoie, Barbie Purpura, Ross Purpura, Mary Daugherty, Todd Rosenberg, Simon Rosenberg, Paul Rowland and Chris Rowland (we almost ran out of hats). Many of these anglers upgraded to the 100+Club by having the total length of their three biggest trophies in each species reach or exceed 100 inches. Those lucky and skilled anglers (it’s not all luck) will get a customized logo jacket with the length of their big fish embroidered over outlines of the three Scott Lake game fish. She didn’t get there until the last afternoon of the last day but Kay Myhre jumped to the top of the 100+Club leaderboard with a 41.5” laker. During her stay she landed a pike of 47, the trout of 41.5 and a grayling of 17.5. That’s a great fishing trip. Her total of 106 inches was top for the season, inching out the 105 inches totaled by Chase Larson way back in June (Kay was sorry to steal the title from 14 year old Chase but we deal in facts here and he has a lot of fishing years ahead of him). Chris Rowland and Alex Spork tied for the third spot with 104 inches. Other 100+ members from the last fifteen days included Foster Graf, Mark Graf, Dave Forman, Patrick Spork, Joe Daugherty, Peter Myhre, Taylor Lajoie and Paul Rowland. There was real surge in 100+Club membership in late August. For the entire season only nineteen of our guests achieved that lofty goal and twelve of those (an amazing 63%) did it over the final fifteen days of an 85 day season.
Those twelve anglers, along with everyone else at the lodge for the late August slot, all have wonderful stories to tell: tales of the big fish landed (and usually the bigger fish lost), the laughter and jubilation in the boat, the quiet interludes when the infinite silence of this vast sub-arctic wilderness soaks into the psyche. Those stories will keep the fishing fires burning over the fall and winter, to be replaced by new stories from the 2016 season. Most of those stories will include tall tales of the northern lights. Starting in mid-August we had regular late night light shows. For some staying up until midnight was just not an option. Fishing for ten hours a day was all they could handle. But for many sitting up at the bonfire by the main lodge was a nightly rite. We had some incredible northern lights this fall. And we had for a bonus the Perseid meteor shower which lasted several days. It was perfect this year. The new moon was August 14, creating a very dark sky (the nearest source of light pollution is Saskatoon, 550 miles south), providing the ideal contrast for watching the northern lights and the meteor shower. We had a couple nights where the fiery meteors streaked right through the northern lights, a remarkable sight. For some at the lodge it was the highlight (pun definitely intended) of their trip, exceeding the satisfaction of landing big fish. It was memorable and making memories is what a Scott Lake trip or any Canadian fishing adventure is all about. It’s an experience that changes people in very positive ways. One guest, Dolores Bandow, expressed it beautifully and with a zing of humor: “Scott Lake is my new favorite place. I arrived as a virgin and became a downright skilled hooker.” She had been a bit apprehensive about coming to a fishing camp, probably thinking of thick cigar smoke, cafeteria quality food, lukewarm showers and gruff guides who hated to see a woman in their boat. What she discovered at Scott was very different: “I was surprised how attractive Scott Lake Lodge was to be as a woman—the staff was so gracious and accommodating. Our guide was amazing. I felt completely welcomed.” That’s a good feeling, one shared by most if not all of the 2015 Scott Lake Lodge guests. Our customer service team always finds ways to make everyone feel at home, part of the extended Scott Lake Lodge family. The Scott Lake team thanks all the season’s anglers for helping to make 2015 a memorable season, even if we did miss our breaking our trophy pike season record (it was so close, just 14 less than last year’s record number of 1,184). And our thanks to all the fish who offered to dance at our party. Except for the shore lunch volunteers, they will all be around for the 2016 party.
POST SEASON WRAP UP
There were not a lot of fishing stories from the post season. It was about work. It’s no small job to shut down an island with 28 buildings–draining water, staining some cabins, winterizing plumbing, boarding up every building, placing nail studded bear boards around cabin entrances, closing seventeen fly out lakes, winterizing the fleet of sixteen lodge boats, taking apart the floating dock and on and on and on. This fall a crew led by guides and ace carpenters Paul Hamilton and Cory Craig banged out a sizeable storage building in just over a week. Now there are 29 buildings on the island. The new one will keep our lumber, tools and machines out of the weather over the long winter. There was some time for fishing and for a few days some warm and sunny weather. The favorite target of our crew this fall was the whitefish. Generally a deep water fish, many of our whitefish head to the Northwest River, not surprisingly located in the northwest corner of Scott Lake, to spawn. There is no greater kick for many of our guides than hooking these hard fighting fish on light fly rods with tiny trout nymphs. Up to seven or eight pounds whitefish are also the best eating fish in the lake. There were quite a few smoked whitefish on the after-season menu. So, Scott Lake Lodge is shut down for the season. Soon some wolves and bears will be swimming to the island to check things out. Until next June the island belongs to winter, that great stretch of silence interrupted only by the calls of the ravens or a howl of a wolf.
While it seems a long way away now, the 2016 season is filling up quickly. Over half of our customers come back to Scott year after year. Some weeks are already full. If a Scott Lake Adventure is on your bucket list, now is the time to lock in your dates. Our guide/Sales Manager Jon Wimpney is ready to take your phone calls or emails to answer any questions or to just talk fishing. Jon can be reached at 306/209-7150 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. If your experience with Scott Lake Lodge has been all virtual (reading these e-newsletters and following the Tundra Times on our website) it’s time to trade the virtual for the real thing. Stop thinking about the trip to Scott and book in for 2016. Call Jon today. He is never far from his phone, even when he is fishing.